in the news on-line, 14 November 2012

00:30:33 local time map of china CHINA

*  ‘Re-shoring’ jobs to US not as easy as it seems:

When Louisville, Kentucky-based GE Appliances rolled out production of its latest hybrid hot water heater last February, the event was viewed as a milestone in the recovery of US manufacturing.

It wasn’t just because GE seemed to be making a sizable bet on the revival of US consumer demand during uncertain times. Through 2014, the company will spend about US$1 billion to revitalize its US appliance production, creating 1,300 new jobs in the states of Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia and Indiana.

More significant for global supply chain specialists, GE’s new lines of appliances – including high-tech refrigerators and washing machines – will replace the less advanced models that GE had been producing in China and Mexico.

At a time when the word “outsourcing” has become synonymous with “unpatriotic” for some American voters, how many manufacturers are likely to follow in GE’s footsteps? Why are firms placing a huge bet on what some analysts are now calling “re-shoring”?
(…)
Although many low-end apparel and footwear products are sourced from Asia, New Balance, American Apparel and Timbuktu also make some of their products in the US, although they source some products offshore.

Unlike standard brands of athletic shoes, these are higher-margin, lower-volume products that benefit from a strong corporate brand and a made-in-the-USA label, in a consumer segment where that label really counts.  read more.

* Garment makers’ inventories surge:

The inventory of 22 listed Chinese garment makers totaled 38.18 billion yuan ($6.13 billion) in the third quarter. Around 90 percent of it is increasing, said Hexin Flush Network Services Ltd.

According to the Zhejiang-based financial data supplier, Youngor Group’s inventory ranked highest at 23.95 billion yuan. Hongdou Group Co Ltd came second place with 3.98 billion yuan.
Garment makers’ operating incomes have consequently declined. Five companies out of the 22 showed negative revenue growth in the third quarter, including Jiangsu Sanyou Group Co Ltd, which suffered a year-on-year decline of 17.31 percent. Zhejiang Semir Garment Co Ltd slipped year-on-year 11.86 percent.

China National Textile and Apparel Council gave two reasons for the high inventories. First, Chinese clothing brands have developed too fast in recent years but the purchasing power of potential customers has not increased, leading to an oversupplied market. Second, some clothing companies elected to go into massive production to reduce costs, leading to the homogeneity of products, something that would-be buyers do not like.

“Many clothes producers have been expanding rapidly to take advantage of China’s consumption upgrade, which is one of the causes of market oversupply,” said Steven Li, an industry analyst and an associate with Lunar Capital Management.
to read.

00:30:33 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* IndustriALL Indonesia Leadership Forum:

 New council to deliver results for IndustriALL- Indonesia.

IndustriALL’s affiliates at a National Leadership Forum in Indonesia agreed to create a new council to implement an ambitious action plan.  The plan will see new levels of cooperation amongst affiliates of IndustriALL-GLU on issues such as organizing and campaigning on national issues.

The decision to create an IndustriALL council in Indonesia could not have come at a more important time for the local unions. In the days preceding the meeting the Jakarta Post ran with the headline “Labour ‘violence may trigger corporate exits.  The article itself argued that labor disputes and unions were tarring the perceptions of foreign investors in the country. Quoting the Indonesian employers association as saying that the estimated investment loss may reach 100 million USD. With this in mind the local unions recognize the need for a strong united voice if they are to set the record straight and win the public argument. That’s why they have decided to take action and build a new force for change under the banner of IndustriALL Global Union.

The real issues behind the labor disputes is not union militancy but the fact that an estimated 35 per cent of Indonesia’s 118 million work force are precarious workers. As employers continually exploit weak legislation to employ as many precarious workers as possible denying many workers the right to the benefits they would receive as permanent employees. The wages and conditions for workers are also low with no national minimum wage and the average salary at just $120 per month. Workers and their unions are left with little alternative but to protest and fight to change the situation. read more.

22:30:33 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* RMG workers block highway for pay hike:

At least 30 people were injured, two with rubber bullet, as workers of a garments factory clashed with policemen on Dhaka-Sylhet highway in Rupganj upazila of Narayanganj Tuesday morning demanding their arrears and pay hike.

Five policemen also sustained injuries during the clash as over two thousand workers of Antim Knitting Dyeing and Finishing Garments Limited blocked the highway for one hour from 11:00am, reports our Narayanganj correspondent quoting Mahbub Alam, director of Industrial Police-4.

Police, in a bid to disperse the workers, charged baton on them and fired rubber bullets and lobbed teargas shells.
Traffic movement on both sides of the highway came to a halt, triggering commuters’ sufferings, Mahbub said.
Locals said the agitating workers of the factory have been demonstrating at the factory premises since morning to press home their demands and later took to the highway at Baropa area. read more. & read more.
 

* Is Tesco raising standards and pay in Bangladesh clothing factories? :

As the plane makes its final decent into Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, the usual indicators of prosperity are missing. A dirt track replaces the motorway and the airport car park is populated almost entirely by bicycle rickshaws.

Only the taxi-way, strewn with cargo, gives some testament to Bangladesh trading its way out of poverty.
The labour-intensive clothing and textiles industry forms the most important sector, having accounted for £9.4bn in export value in 2010.

For supermarket giant Tesco, Bangladesh is a key producer,  delivering around 20 per cent of its  clothing and homewear ranges.
It so important that the grocer opened a training academy on Saturday to educate middle-managers in how to operate textile factories more efficiently.

Such an investment, costing around £300,000, is a drop in the ocean for the world’s most populous country. With 150m people crammed into a space around the size of England the former colony has struggled through famine, military coups and a split from Pakistan in 1971. read more. & read more.  & read more.
    

* Bangladesh could be ‘next China’:

Bangladesh must act soon to take advantage of its low-cost edge to become the “next China” before Dhaka’s competitors take the markets the world’s second largest economy is leaving, according to the World Bank.

In a report, the lender said Bangladesh can become the alternative to China with its labour-intensive exports growing at double digits if it can address infrastructure bottleneck and take advantage of its large pool of underemployed labour-force.

“If Bangladesh could improve the business environment half way to the level of India’s, it could increase its trade by about 38 percent,” said the report styled “Bangladesh: Towards Accelerated, Inclusive and Sustainable Growth-Opportunities and Challenges”.
If Bangladesh fails to act soon, others will take the markets China is vacating, it said.
read more.

* Labour leaders: reopen Hall-Mark factories:

Leaders of 40 trade unions in the garment sector yesterday demanded reopening of the factories of Hall-Mark Group and payment of arrears to its workers.

The leaders also demanded trial of the accused persons of the group soon, in a memorandum submitted to State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian.
They also demanded appointment of an administrator in the group and withdrawal of the cases filed against the workers. Earlier, the leaders held a rally in front of National Pres Club in the capital yesterday.

“During the meeting, we also demanded interference of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to reopen the factories, for which over 3,000 workers of the group are suffering now,” Delwar Hossain Khan, one of the leaders of the trade unions, told The Daily Star.
All garment factories of Hall-Mark Group were announced closed for an indefinite period last month after the arrest of its top officials for their involvement in a loan scam with state-owned Sonali Bank. read more.

* More Sonali Bank officials to be sued in Hall-Mark scam: ACC:

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) will sue more officials of the state-run Sonali Bank for their alleged involvement in the Hall-Mark loan scam.

“We have so far found that the incident of loan scam was occurred due to negligence of duty by Sonali Bank officials. More officials of the bank will be sued for their negligence in performing duties,” said ACC Secretary and its spokesman Faizur Rahman Chowdhury at the monthly press briefing.

The persons, who were found involved in the Hall-Mark scam will also be implicated in the case, he said.
Replying to a query he said they have started inquiry into the allegation of acquiring illegal wealth by Sonali Bank Managing Director Pradeep Kumar Datta.
Rahman reiterated that ACC could not file any case to recover the money swindled out from Sonali Bank, saying, “It would be the bank authority to file cases to recover the money.” read more.

* Bangladesh roundtable on preventing workplace violence:

Earlier this fall, FWF co-organised a roundtable meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh on the prevention of workplace violence against women, as part of FWF’s United Nations-supported Workplace Education Programme.

The meeting, held on 25 September, was designed to solicit input from stakeholders, and included trade unions, business associations, NGOs, legal aid organisations, the Dutch embassy and the International Labour Organisation.  The event drew over 150 participants from a broad range of stakeholder groups. FWF’s local partners said the unexpectedly large turnout indicates a high level of interest in preventing workplace violence across a wide range of groups, as does coverage of the meeting in Bangladeshi media outlets.

The core elements of the project are trainings for factory staff and managers on preventing and remedying harassment, and on the development of worker-run anti-harassment committees. These committees will provide a mechanism for workers to resolve complaints with factory managers.  Participants in the roundtable discussed a number of topics related to the implementation of the programme.

Key outcomes included a strong emphasis on the need for independent anti-harassment committees; the importance of including trade unions in the process; and several recommendations from legal groups on how to improve the functioning of the project.

The meeting was arranged with FWF’s partners in the programme Alternative Movement for Resources and Freedom Society (AMRF) and AWAJ Foundation.  Read more about the programme here.
to read.

* Apparel sector: Rising up to buyers’ expectations:

The Bangladesh apparel sector (RMG) has been a success story, in terms of its contribution to the economy and empowerment of women.

The bulk of the country’s export earning comes from this labour-intensive industry which has all the potential to achieve even far greater success.
That was the message a visiting delegation, representing about 30 global brands and retailers and headed by the president of the AmCham Hong Kong, conveyed during its meeting with the country’s apparel sector leaders in Dhaka last Sunday.

The delegation made it clear that due to China’s gradual withdrawal from apparel exports and growth of middleclass buyers across the world, Bangladesh remained its first choice for expanding business. However, the leader of the delegation did not forget to mention the names of the alternatives such as Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar. read more.

22:00:33 local time map of india INDIA

* “Dirty White Gold’s” Leah Borromeo Talks GM Cotton, Farmer Suicides:

As Emmy Rossum and Zooey Deschanel like to remind us, cotton is the fabric of our lives. Yet its snow-white facade masks a less-than-rosy reality.
Leah Borromeo, a journalist and filmmaker based in London, wants to unravel the complex web of “debts, pesticides, and suicides” that surrounds the fibers of our clothing. |
Nearly 300,000 Indian cotton farmers have killed themselves over the years to escape the poverty trap of industrialized agriculture, some by drinking the very pesticides with which they farm, according to Borromeo.
We caught up with the self-proclaimed troublemaker to learn more about her crowd-funded documentary, The Cotton Film: Dirty White Gold, the human cost of cheap fashion, and why we need greater traceability and accountability in the fashion industry. read more.

* Cotton output seen dropping 5% this season:

The Cotton Association of India (CAI) expects cotton output to fall five per cent this year to 354 lakh bales (lb) of 170 kg against 373 lb last year

The total supply including imports of 10 lb and opening stock of 53 lb works out to 417 lb, said a CAI press release issued on Monday.
With the domestic consumption of 266 lb (excluding exports), the country will have a surplus of 151 lb to tap the export market, it said.
Despite weak global demand, the country exported 127 lb last year.
The cotton crop looks promising this year despite three per cent reduction in acreage.
This was largely due to late revival of monsoon in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, said the release. read more.

* Chargesheet filed in Reebok India case, one accused freed:

The special investigation team (SIT) of Gurgaon police filed a 2,500-page chargesheet in the Reebok India case in a city court on Monday, weeks after the scam broke out.

However, the court dropped all charges against Nikhil Upadhay, one of the 12 accused, as no evidence was found to prove any of the allegations. After getting a clean chit, accused Nikhil Upadhay was released from jail, free to celebrate Diwali with his family while 11 other accused remained in judicial custody.

The next hearing in the case will be on November 26. “Nikhil Upadhay, who was working as country head (Sales) had moved an application claiming some time ago that he had no role in the alleged scam. On Monday the court heard the application and freed him,” advocate Pradeep Sharma, counsel of Upadhay, told TOI.
After initially arresting five main accused, the SIT probing the alleged Reebok scam had arrested seven more people, bringing the total arrests to 12.  read more.

21:30:33 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* ‘Textile industry may miss current year’s export target by $4 billion’:

Due to energy shortages, the domestic textile industry is likely to miss its export target by $4 billion, including Christmas orders worth $1.5 billion during the current year, sources revealed. The industry is likely to face 700 MMCFD gas shortage in the current year against 500 MMCFD in the preceding year, officials said.

The industry will face a drastic decline of about $1.5 billion in textile exports for Christmas, as exporters accepted 50 percent less orders in the current year, industry sources said. Textile export target was projected to be $16 billion for the current year.

Industrialists, sources said, were finding it hard the timely completion of export orders because of excessive power outages. As a result, foreign buyers are diverting export orders to neighbouring countries, inflicting huge losses on the county’s foreign exchange earnings, sources maintained. read more.

    THE KARACHI FIRE :

* Factory fire case: Court orders registration of factories across Sindh:

This photo, taken on September 11, shows a man looking into the stitching room on the third floor of the factory. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/FILE

The Sindh government has been ordered to inspect all factories across the province to see if safety of workers is ensured or not and get all unregistered industrial units registered within 20 days.

The Sindh High Court was on Tuesday hearing a petition seeking judicial inquiry into the country’s worst industrial disaster, in which more than 250 workers were burnt alive at a garment factory In Baldia Town on September 11.

The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan among others non-governmental organisations had taken to court the factory owners – Abdul Aziz Bhailla and his two sons Arshad and Shahid – on charges of murder and criminal negligence.

The court was requested to constitute a judicial commission to fix the responsibility of the factory fire and suggest monetary compensations for the victims’ heirs. In another miscellaneous application, the petitioners appealed to the court to ensure compliance of its earlier order regarding safety of factory workers under labour laws. On November 6, the high court had directed the labour, industries and other departments to survey all industrial units in Karachi and submit their report on fire and safety measures in place at the factories. read more.

* SHC seeks reports on DNA tests, compensation money:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has directed authorities to furnish progress reports on DNA tests of unidentifiable Baldia factory fire victims and disbursement of compensation cheques among families of the deceased, Express News reported on Tuesday.

The country’s worst fire incident had claimed the lives of over 250 people in September. Many workers died of suffocation, others still were burnt alive at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Baldia town, which made ready-to-wear clothing for Western export.

The SHC had earlier given the provincial government a week to complete the DNA matching process to identify the remaining victims so that their bodies can be handed over to their families.
During Tuesday’s hearing, the court was informed that the ill-fated factory was not registered.
The court ordered registration of all the unregistered factories across the province and also sought a detailed report on them.
The hearing was adjourned till December 3. to read.

* Ali Enterprises not registered, SHC told:

Ali Enterprises, the ill-fated garments factory in Baldia Town where a fire killed at least 259 people on September 11, was not registered with the Directorate of Labour as its owners did not submit a notice of occupation under the labour laws, the Sindh High Court (SHC) was informed on Tuesday.

The court was hearing identical petitions seeking a judicial inquiry into the fire incident.
The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and others have filed petitions for the constitution of a judicial commission to fix responsibility on persons responsible for the incident and suggest monetary compensation for the legal heirs of the victims.

They also sought an order restraining the inquiry commission constituted by the provincial government as well as the owners of the factory from the disposal of the factory or creating any third party interest till final adjudication of the petitions.
More than 300 workers were in the industrial unit when the fire broke out and raged for 15 hours, trapping employees in the building and killing most of them.

The labour secretary said in his comments before the court that the factory was not registered under Section 9 of the Factory Act and Section 3 of Factory Rules.
read more.

* IO gets one more day to submit final charge sheet:

A judge on Tuesday granted the investigation officer (IO) one more day to submit the final charge sheet in the Baldia garments factory fire case.

A week back IO Jahanzeb had been told to present the final charge sheet against the accused, including the three owners of Ali Enterprises, the ill-fated factory where a Category III blaze claimed the lives of at least 259 labourers on September 11.
When the IO appeared before Magistrate (West-II) Sohail Ahmed Mashori on Tuesday, he sought a few more hours to finalise the charge sheet. However, the court granted him 24 hours and adjourned the hearing.

Two owners of the factory, Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila, along with manager Mansoor Idress and other accused in the case, were brought from the prison for the framing of the charges. Another owner, Aziz Bhaila, who has been on bail on health grounds, was also present in the courtroom.

The investigation officer had submitted an interim charge sheet at a previous hearing. However, the judge had expressed his dissatisfaction with the case facts mentioned in the interim charge sheet, saying that it lacked information on the role of the factory owners and civic agencies, including civil defence, fire brigade and the Karachi Building Control Authority. read more.

21:30:33 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* Cotton Picking in Uzbekistan: A Child Labor Industry:

Every September, state-run institutions in Uzbekistan lock their doors and display the words, Hamma pahtada Uzbek for “Everybody’s gone cotton-picking.”
As the world’s third largest exporter of raw cotton, Uzbekistan’s cotton exports generate $1 billion in annual revenue. From September to November, the entire country is immersed in what has been described as “cotton hysteria.”
The harvesting process, however, institutionalizes a tradition of forced child labor. The Uzbek government has not only failed to comply with the minimum standards of international law, it has also continued to promote child labor to ensure that rising harvesting quotas are met.
As a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the government of Uzbekistan is legally obliged to bring harvesting practices in line with international standards and could strengthen its compliance with international child labor laws by allowing the ILO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to monitor future harvests. read more.

 

map of Asia

Under “special reports” you can find: an overview of articles about the Garment factory Fire in Karachi (and Lahore).

CHINA
* ‘Re-shoring’ jobs to US not as easy as it seems
* Garment makers’ inventories surge

INDONESIA
* IndustriALL Indonesia Leadership Forum

BANGLA DESH
* RMG workers block highway for pay hike
* Is Tesco raising standards and pay in Bangladesh clothing factories?
* Bangladesh could be ‘next China’
* Labour leaders: reopen Hall-Mark factories
* More Sonali Bank officials to be sued in Hall-Mark scam: ACC
* Bangladesh roundtable on preventing workplace violence
* Apparel sector: Rising up to buyers’ expectations

INDIA
* “Dirty White Gold’s” Leah Borromeo Talks GM Cotton, Farmer Suicides
* Cotton output seen dropping 5% this season
* Chargesheet filed in Reebok India case, one accused freed

PAKISTAN
* ‘Textile industry may miss current year’s export target by $4 billion’
* THE KARACHI FIRE :
* Factory fire case: Court orders registration of factories across Sindh
* SHC seeks reports on DNA tests, compensation money
* Ali Enterprises not registered, SHC told
* IO gets one more day to submit final charge sheet

UZBEKISTAN
* Cotton Picking in Uzbekistan: A Child Labor Industry

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I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
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I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
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