in the news on-line, 21 November 2012

21:01:28 local time map of china CHINA

* Hazardous chemicals found in clothing:

A model poses on a catwalk during a fashion show organized by Greenpeace in Beijing on Tuesday, which exposed toxic residues found in clothing from fashion brands. Photo: courtesy of Greenpeace

Hormone-disruptive chemicals and dyes that release cancer-causing substances have been found in clothing from world-leading fashion brands including Zara and Calvin Klein as well as local brands VANCL and Metersbonwe, according to a report released by Greenpeace in Beijing on Tuesday.

The environmental NGO in April purchased 141 garments sold in 29 countries and regions by 20 global clothing brands and tested for several hazardous chemicals. About a quarter of the products were made in China.

The tests show that all the brands made at least several items that contained hazardous chemicals. About 63 percent of the samples contained NPEs, which could degrade into hormone-disruptive nonylphenol. Four samples had high levels of phthalates that are toxic to the reproductive system, and traces of cancer-causing amines from the use of azo dyes were detected in two products from Zara.
read more.

 * Greenpeace finds hazardous chemicals in branded apparels:

High street fashion brands are selling clothing contaminated with hazardous chemicals that break down to form hormone-disrupting or even cancer-causing chemicals when released into the environment, according to a report released by Greenpeace International.

Greenpeace investigations found hazardous chemicals in clothing from 20 leading fashion brands, while fashion retailer Zara is alone in the study for having clothes that can give rise to both chemicals that are hormone-disrupting or cancer causing.

Greenpeace International’s investigatory report, “Toxic Threads – The Big Fashion Stitch-Up”, covers tests on 141 clothing items and exposes the links between textile manufacturing facilities using hazardous chemicals and the presence of chemicals in final products.

“Major fashion brands are turning us all into fashion victims by selling us clothes that contain hazardous chemicals that contribute to toxic water pollution around the world, both when they are made and washed,” said Yifang Li, Senior Toxics Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.

One of the key findings is that all tested brands had at least several items containing NPEs, which break down into hormone disrupting chemicals, with the highest concentrations – above 1,000 ppm – in clothing items from Zara, Metersbonwe, Levi’s, C&A, Mango, Calvin Klein, Jack & Jones and Marks & Spencer (M&S). Other chemicals identified included high levels of toxic phthalates in four of the products, and traces of a cancer-causing amine from the use of cert ain azo dyes in two products from Zara. The presence many other types of potentially hazardous industrial chemicals were found across many of the items tested. read more.

* Exporters adjusting to rising wages:

For years, the abiding view of China has been of a workshop powered by waves of young migrants able to out-compete workers elsewhere in the world because of their low wages. This image is becoming increasingly wide of the mark.

The wage of an average migrant worker in China has quadrupled in US dollar terms since China joined the World Trade Organization at the end of 2001. The average Chinese factory worker now earns more than twice as much as his or her counterpart in Indonesia or Vietnam.

Average wages are increasing at a double-digit pace even today, though the Chinese economy is on course to record the lowest annual GDP growth rate this century. If rapid wage growth continues – and former Communist Party of China general secretary Hu Jintao’s recent pledge that people’s income will double this decade suggests the Chinese government thinks it will – wages in China will soon surpass those in Mexico and start getting close to wages in Brazil.

Many people are worried about the strains the wage increases are putting on exporters, who are already struggling owing to sluggish global demand. There are signs that China’s dominance in certain sectors is starting to slip. For example, its share of the world’s textile market started declining recently. read more.

21:01:28 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

*Employers reminded to give 13th-month pay:

 Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz has reminded employers about the timely release of the 13th-month pay of their workers.

Baldoz issued the reminder in Department Advisory 2, series of 2012, which spells out the guidelines on the payment of the 13th-month pay.
“All wage and salary workers are entitled to the 13th-month pay as mandated by law,” she said. “This early, workers are already expecting the payment of yearend benefits, including the statutory 13th-month pay.”

“The 13th month pay is a core labor standard and the Department of Labor and Employment will not compromise on its payment by the employers to their workers,” Baldoz emphasized. read more.

20:01:28 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Vietnam to raise minimum wage by 10 pct in July:

Instead of keeping wages unchanged, Vietnam’s legislators on Saturday approved a plan by the finance ministry to raise minimum wage by nearly 10 percent, or VND100,000 (US$4.8) a month, starting in July of next year.

The minimum wage for state employees, will be increased from the current VND1.05 million a month, as was suggested by the Finance Ministry on October 31.
Earlier the ministry had proposed keeping the current wage unchanged throughout next year, citing the low budget that did not achieve its targets in terms of alleviating poverty or reducing unemployment.

But many legislators objected, arguing that wage increase would boost consumption and save the economy.
Previously, Vietnam had planned to raise minimum wage to VND1.3 million in May 2013. read more.

20:01:28 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* It’s real: B300 wage from Jan 1:

The cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal to impose the minimum wage of 300 baht per day all over the country from Jan 1, Budget Bureau director Voravidh Champeerat said.

He said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong was appointed chairman of a committee to plan measures to help business entrepreneurs affected by the wage increase.
From April 1 this year, the 300-baht wage was implemented in seven provinces – Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani and Phuket.

Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) chairman Payungsak Chartsutipol will propose the government measures to reduce the impact on the private sector after the government approved the pay rise.

The FTI will seek the establishment of a fund to compensate for some labour costs to the private sector. It also wants a reduction in the cash burden, particularly on cutting the contribution to the Social Security Fund to 2.5%, down from the normal rate of 5%, for three years. However, the Social Security Office announced earlier that for 2012, the average contribution from both employees and employers to the fund is 3.5%. read more.

* Govt: Help on the way for SMEs over wage hike:

Though the blanket rise in daily minimum wage to Bt300 looks irreversible, small and medium-sized enterprises have been promised remedial measures to cope with the sharp spike in costs.

In some provinces the daily wage will increase by nearly 100 per cent, like Phayao, where the minimum wage is Bt159 per day. The new wages go into effect from January 1 nationwide.

The Cabinet yesterday approved the blanket hike and agreed to set up a committee led by Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, which will help come up with remedial measures for affected business operators as proposed by the Labour Ministry and Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

“The government is on the right track. The business sector has attacked politicians for this policy. We have to admit that there will be a problem if productivity is not enhanced. We have been waiting for a pay hike for a long time, but without higher productivity wages could not be raised. Now, we have decided to raise the wages first, which should encourage the private sector to enhance its productivity,” Kittiratt said at a seminar hosted by Thammasat University.  read more.

* FTI warns wage rise will hit SMEs:

B300 minimum ‘may cause factory closures’

The cabinet approved a plan yesterday to impose a daily minimum wage of 300 baht nationwide on Jan 1 even as companies warned the government it must take full responsibility for damage to small and medium-sized enterprises.

“SMEs will definitely suffer from more unpaid loans, which eventually will hurt the whole labour force if they stop hiring and the government does nothing to help them cope with the wage hike next year,” said Vallop Vitanakorn, vice-chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

He said the industrial sector will wait 6-12 months to reassess the situation and decide whether it will have to close down their offices in provinces.
“We might have to lease the closed factories to the government for rice storage,” quipped Mr Vallop. read more.

* Kittiratt insistent hike is necessary:

The government shrugged off “whines” from companies about its minimum wage hikes, saying they are a part of its plan to get labourers out of the cheap labour trap that has dragged down the country’s economic development in the past, says Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong.

Speaking at a seminar on strategies for Thai businesses to survive the global slowdown yesterday, he said this government intends to alter the concept of economic policy.

“Those people who have said productivity is not improved with the wage hike need to consider when the wage was lower, productivity was also low as they had no incentive to improve. I think this is sort of the chicken or the egg,” said Mr Kittiratt.

Also, increasing low-wage workers’ income helps stimulate domestic purchasing power, he added, which is the right way to cope with the global economic crisis.
read more.

20:01:28 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Pregnancy terminated in bid to regain old job:

A woman fired from the Conpress Holding garment factory last week said she terminated her pregnancy of three months on Sunday in a desperate bid to gain reinstatement for herself and three other workers fired last week for unionising.

Huk Pov, Free Trade Union president for the Phnom Penh Meanchey district factory, said factory officials would typically fire workers if they found out they were pregnant so she had an abortion before leading yesterday’s strike to demand reinstatement.

“I decided to abort my baby without letting my husband know, because the company discriminates against workers having babies,” she said.
“I will be very disappointed if the company still refuses to accept me back to work, even though I aborted my baby because of work.”

Pov said she would not, however, give up her role as a union leader, even if it meant the factory would not allow her to return to her job. read more.

* Stories of Cambodia: Mekong Blue Silk Weavers:

She spins silk thread onto a skein on the floor of an open-air vestibule with 4-5 colleagues, several of whom are orbited by toddlers. An infant sways in a lime-green hammock, as the spinners chat and laugh, breastfeed, or soothe crying babies.

One worker sits at an awkward angle; someone explains to me that as a child she was stricken, and crippled, by polio. Incredibly, she didn’t die, or end up joining the swelling ranks of disabled beggars in Phnom Penh streets. She works full time at SWDC, makes a salary, has a house, and supports a husband and child.

When the toddlers get a little older, they’ll move across a small clearing to an open-air kindergarten, where dozens of children shout and chase each other as the afternoon’s searing heat loses steam. This would not happen were the spinners pictured here employed in one of Cambodia’s many garment factories, where workers put in long workweeks for salaries that start at $61/month (minimum wage). The women would likely have to leave their children with family in the villages they come from, and they’d have scant vacation time to travel home for a visit.
read more.

21:01:28 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* 2.2 Million Rupiah Jakarta Minimum Wage For 2013:

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has set 2.2 million Rupiah (about RM700) as the Provincial Minimum Wage for the city for 2013.

“I met with the trade unions, entrepreneurs and the wages council. The negotiations were completed and the agreement was signed today, the amount 2.2 million Rupiah,” Jokowi was quoting as saying on Tuesday by Antara News Agency.

The governor explained that the Jakarta provincial minimum wage was derived following input from the trade unions, the Entrepreneurs Association of Indonesia (Apindo) and the Jakarta Government Wages Council. read more.

* Jokowi sets Jakarta’s 2013 minimum wage at Rp 2.2m:

Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced on Tuesday that the 2013 provincial minimum wage had been set at Rp 2.2 million (US$228), a 44 percent increase from this year’s Rp 1.5 million.

The increase was slightly lower than the recommendation of Rp 2,.216,243 issued by the City Remuneration Board last week.
“We rounded the number. I hope all parties can accept this decision. We cannot please all sides,” Jokowi told reporters at City Hall.

The governor’s decision made at the eleventh hour, as Tuesday was his deadline, has drawn criticism from wary businesspeople.
A ministerial decree on minimum wages requires provincial governments to decide on the new level two months before the new policy takes effect — on Jan. 1 each year. read more.

* With Jakarta’s Minimum Wage to Rise 44%, Bosses Warn of Job Cuts:

A 44 percent rise in the Jakarta minimum wage has prompted a major employer organization to warn of mass layoffs as companies grapple with the increased production costs, and led analysts to suggest that a major increase in productivity was needed to justify the hike.

Employer groups have also expressed fears that the new Jakarta minimum wage of Rp 2.2 million ($228) a month, approved by Governor Joko Widodo on Tuesday, would prompt similar pushes for wage increases across the country.

Business said that Joko’s decision was driven by populism, and was an effort to show that he could meet the high public expectations before he took office last month. read more.

* Editorial: Striking a Balance on Wages and Profits:

To no one’s surprise, employers are against the Jakarta government’s move to increase the minimum wage by 44 percent to Rp 2.2 million. This is a big increase by any measure and employers have reason to be concerned about keeping costs down and being competitive.

The Indonesian Employers Association has warned that smaller businesses will suffer and may be forced to lay off workers as a result of the wage hike. Jakarta is a barometer of the nation’s economy, so other regions are likely to follow suit, which will drive up inflation.

Workers will have greater spending power, as a result, which is not a bad thing for the economy. In fact, if Indonesia wants to climb the ranks of industrialized nations, it must allow wages to rise as this will lead to more specialized skills and services.
read more.

* High-street fashion brands targeted by Greenpeace:

A study conducted by the environmental campaign organization Greenpeace International has found that the products of many high-street fashion brands produced in Indonesia are tainted with hazardous chemicals that could cause severe health problems.

Greenpeace said that apparel produced by Armani, Esprit, Gap, Mango and UK clothing retailer Marks & Spencer in some Indonesian factories were contaminated with nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), a chemical that could easily be released into the environment and cause harm to the human reproduction system.

“When the clothes are washed, they will release the hazardous chemical into the water,” a toxic-free water campaigner of Greenpeace Indonesia, Ahmad Ashov Birry, said in a press conference on Tuesday.

Greenpeace International started its research on hazardous material in April by taking samples of 141 pieces of apparel from the brands purchased in 27 countries, including Indonesia. read more.

19:31:28 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Myanmar garment, wood factories’ workers strike:

Myanmar workers from Dagon Seikkan Township’s garment and wood factories went on strike recently, demanding for a better salary and compensation.

On November 5, Golden Day garment factory workers started to strike as the factory management failed to pay their October wages because of a plan to shut down the factory. The workers continued their actions until November 16, demanding another three months compensation if the factory is shut down.

A garment factory worker said: “The ministry of Labour came to solve the problem. But the owner has yet to respond.”
Just recently, as many as 34 Hlapa Thaw wood factory workers also went on strike over poor salary and mistreatment.

“Ministry of Labour officials came to negotiate the cases. But we have not yet found solution. The wood factory workers went on strike because the company failed to pay the salaries on time,” said Nay Linn who advocated the Hlapa Thaw factory workers.
The representatives of both of the factories cannot be reached for comment.
to read.

* Myanmar seeks better protection of workers:

The Myanmar Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security is working on a new law that will protect the safety and health of workers.

The government also plans to amend other labour laws in the country in accordance with the constitution, treaties and international standards. One of such laws is the 1951 Mills and Factories Act.
The ministry’s objectives are to maintain industrial peace; provide free employment services and skills training; conduct research on labour matters; ensure workers enjoy rights under labour laws; promote occupational safety, health, and social security; and participate in international labour affairs. read more.

19:01:28 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Workers demand upgrade of labour law to ILO standards:

A workers’ forum yesterday demanded the government amends the Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 in line with International Labour Organisation’s conventions.

The forum, known as Shramik Karmachari Oikyo Parishad (SKOP), demanded at least Tk 7,000 as minimum wage and 20 percent dearness allowance — to help them cope with the recent price hike of essentials.
The platform also urged the government to remunerate the employees of Hall-Mark Group with Tk 15,000 each.

The forum organised a human chain in front of the National Press Club, where Hall-Mark’s workers were also present, to press home their demands.
“In the free market economy, prices of essentials may increase anytime so the real wage of workers must also be adjusted to the price hike,” said Wajed-ul Islam Khan, convener of SKOP. read more.

* Invent HYV jute tolerant to diseases & adverse climate, PM asks scientists:

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged the country’s scientists and researchers to invent high yielding variety of jute tolerant to diseases and adverse climate, and also such varieties that can be cultivated round the year for producing paper pulp and other products.

“I hope that our scientists, like the jute genome sequencing, will be able to invent drought-, saline- and cold-tolerant variety of jute,” she said, assuring all-out support to researchers and scientists to this end.

The PM was addressing the inaugural session of a two-day international seminar on `Jute-2012’, organised by the Department of Jute under the Textiles and Jute Ministry at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the city.

Textiles and Jute Minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui and Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury spoke special guests at the session, chaired by Senior Secretary of Textiles and Jute Ministry Ashraful Moqbul. read more.

* Delay in review of US GSP will affect B’desh RMG exports:

The delay in reviewing the US tariff reduction facility – Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) – will create a negative impact on the trade relation between Bangladesh and the US, especially exports of Bangladeshi readymade garments (RMG) to the US.
Dan W Mozena, the US Ambassador to Bangladesh said that a petition against Bangladesh’s GSP has been pending for five years, which is the longest in the US history.
He added that the delay in reviewing GSP will create a negative impact on the trade relation between the two countries. He was speaking at a monthly luncheon meeting of Foreign Investors’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in Dhaka.
According to the US Ambassador, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO) have filed a petition against access to tariff reduction facilities by Bangladesh on the basis of the country’s failure to ensure labor rights. read more.

* Cotton farming gains popularity in Rajshahi region:

Cotton cultivation is gaining popularity among farmers as they are getting more money from the  cotton cultivation than any other crop in the region.

According to the farmers and others concerned, acreage of the cash crop is gradually increasing in the region comprising Rajshahi, Naogaon, Natore and partly Pabna for the last couple of years.

Farmers have started replacing the paddy and sugarcane cultivation lands with cotton farming because it requires less investment and less labour. read more.

18:31:28 local time map of india INDIA

* Indian Garment industry to receive human rights trial:

Local trade unionists condemn GAP for refusing to attend Garment workers’ unions and human rights groups will hold a tribunal in Bangalore this week to hear evidence of systematic human rights abuses in the Indian garment industry. Supplier factory owners, government and industry representatives, multinational brands including H&M, and over 100 factory workers will give evidence in front of a panel of judges from 3 continents on the topic poverty pay and poor working conditions.

Wages below poverty levels are a ongoing problem in the Indian garment industry, which exports €7284 million of clothing for European consumers each year.

The monthly minimum wage for garment workers in Bangalore is Rs 4472, (around €64), which is said to be only 43% of a living wage enough to support a family. Multinational fashion retailer GAP, who are one of the biggest buyers in the Indian export market, have refused to attend the tribunal or present evidence on their role, despite the fact that a number of human rights abuse cases are due to be brought to the tribunal by workers from its factories.

Anannya Bhattacharjee, the President of the Allied Workers Union in North India, said: ‘If brands like GAP refuse to take part in worker-led processes that could see real change fostered in the industry, these problems will never be solved. This is a multistakeholder problem that requires everyone to work towards the solutions. GAP’s CSR promises are hollow if they refuse to hear from workers who experience the daily results of their pricing and sourcing practices.’
Ashim Roy, General Secretary of India’s New Trade Union Initiative, said: ‘Change is absolutely critical. India’s development must no longer be enslaved to western brands pricing policies. The evidence brought to the tribunal will demonstrate once and for all that a collective effort is needed now to work towards paying the Asia Floor wage to workers in India.’
(The ‘National People’s Tribunal on the Right to a Living Wage’, is taking place from 22-25th November in Bangalore)

read more.

* High labour charges cause slump in cotton picking:

Even a brief spell of rainfall at this stage can result in the destruction of cotton, crop which lies exposed to the elements of nature, in thousands of acres.

Picking of the produce has gone abegging as farmers in many mandals of Adilabad district find the increasing labour charges quite unaffordable.

“Though the average charge for picking cotton stays at Rs.5 per kg like in previous years, the increased cost of cultivation this year has made it burdensome. No farmer has dared to import labourers from neighbouring Maharashtra despite the risk of damage to their crop,” says farmer Punaji Rathod of Raghunathpur in Boath mandal.

Large expanses of land can be found dotted with the white of the burst cotton bolls mainly in the mandals of Jainoor, Kerameri, Boath, Neredigonda, Mamda, Kadem and Sarangapur.
Most of the cotton farmers in these mandals are small land holders and hence any ‘unjustified’ increase in cost of farming has a debilitating effect on them. read more.

* Indian textile lobbies disfavor ban on cotton exports:

This will sound like music to the ears of cotton importing countries like China, Bangladesh or Vietnam and also to exporters of the white gold from India.

Leaders from opposing Indian lobbies – both the raw cotton and the textile industry associations, opine that India should not ban or put a cap on raw cotton exports, in the current cotton season, despite a fall in output.

The Indian Textile commissioner recently said that Indian cotton output may be down in 2012-13 by around five percent to 33.4 million bales of 170 kg each from 2011-12’s production of 35.3 million bales. This figure is likely to further fall or rise in future estimates.
There are apprehensions that the Indian government may ban exports of cotton or put a cap as in previous years, due to the fall in cotton production. read more.

* Farmers may be hit by low cotton prices this year:

It may be yet another disappointing year for Vidarbha’s farmers. Despite the estimates of cotton production the world over being lower than previous year, prices of cotton are falling due to lukewarm demand from the textile sector. The market rates are barely above the minimum support price (MSP), with reports of farmers even selling at a rate lower than MSP in certain pockets.

The rates would have been much lower but for the weakening rupee, which is at over Rs 52 as against the dollar. Since domestic rates are drawn from the benchmark global prices quoted in dollars, conversion at the current exchange rate makes the situation a little comfortable for cotton growers.

According to data compiled by Cotton Corporation of India (CCI), India is expected to produce 374 lakh bales of cotton during the current year as against 410 last year. However, currently prices are at Rs 4,000 to 4,100 a quintal with the MSP being Rs 3,900. read more.

* Punjab ginning mills unable to procure local cotton:

Ginning mills located in the Malwa belt of Punjab, the traditional cotton-growing belt in north-western India, are in a catch-22 situation. Despite being situated near the source of cotton, they are running from pillar to post to buy raw cotton to run their factories.

High taxes in Punjab dissuade the farmers from selling their crop in the local market, as the tax structure is more conducive in neighbouring Haryana and Rajasthan.

Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan grow the same variety of cotton (J-34), but a Punjab farmer earns Rs150-200 more per quintal by selling his crop in the mandis of Haryana and Rajasthan. About 6 lakh bales of cotton are diverted from Punjab every year by farmers in an effort to earn an extra buck. Punjab’s ginning mills purchase Punjab cotton from other states. read more.

* Huge demand for Pakistani textiles in India:

There is huge demand for Pakistani home textile, cottage and small industrial products, not only in India, but across the world, Federation of Pakistani Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Haji Fazal Kadir Khan Sherani said at the 32nd India International Trade Fair (IITF) 2012 in New Delhi.
Inaugurating the Pakistani pavilion at the fair that would be open till November 27, Pakistan High Commissioner in India Salman Bashir said Pakistani entrepreneurs have set up over 176 stalls at IITF, which is the highest so far.
Calling Pakistan’s participation in the fair as a welcome move, Mr. Bashir said it indicates that Pakistani businesses are ready to explore business and trade opportunities with India. read more.

18:31:28 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Bata sacks 44 employees :

Bata Shoe Company of Airport Road, Ratmalana has sacked 44 of its employees without payment of any compensation, according to reports reaching ‘Mirror.’

All these workers, counting more than 20 years of service, had been barred from entering the factory by the security guards yesterday (Nov. 19).
They had been sacked despite the labour commissioner having mediated in a dispute involving them and summoned the parties for a meeting on December 03.
Two months ago, Bata Company closed its rubber section and suspended 22 of its employees. read more.

* Apparel exporters call for more labour reforms:

  • Demand 45.5 hour working week
  • Request to move away from minimum wage arrangement

Implementation of labour market reforms to boost productivity will be crucial for apparel industry’s survival over the long term, according to newly appointed chairman of the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association, Yohan Lawrence.

“We are all aware of the number of public holidays we have in Sri Lanka, whilst it may not be realistic to look at these being reduced, there are other areas we can address.”

“The 5-day working week is currently on trial and I would ask that we formalize this by giving employers the option, where there is an agreement with the employee, to spread over the 45.5 hours in 5 days without any premium payments.

I believe this gives greater flexibility to the business and allows employees to have more time with their families.” Lawrence suggested. read more.

* Private sector workers to protest demanding pay hike:

JVP–led private sector trade unions would protest on Friday (23) opposite the Fort Railway Station demanding an immediate pay hike.

President of the Inter Company Employees’ Union Wasantha Samarasinghe said that budget 2013 did not give anything to the private sector employees.
He said that the private sector contribution to the national production was 95 per cent but it did not gst any relief in the budget.

“Our protest will force the government to add an amendment to the budget,” Samarasinghe said.
The former JVP MP said that there was no proper mechanism to increase private sector salaries.
Sometimes, Samarasinghe said, the government insists they have no right to intervene in private sector salaries. read more.

* Apparels: ‘Era of subsidies and govt support now over’:

Garment exporters brace for tough times as India mulls free trade agreement with the EU

Immediate past President of the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters’ Association Rohan Abeykoon said that the era of subsidies was now over and that the destiny of the industry lay in its own hands.

“The industry think tank interestingly is now mooting a course that our destiny lies in our own hands and not in the hands of the policy makers or Government. It appears that inexperienced decision makers, unfeasible production techniques, a lack of right mindedness and general drive are some of the inward vagrancies we now appear to believe are the salient causes of where we find ourselves positioned today,” Abeykoon told the Association’s AGM at the JAIC Hilton on Monday night.

He said : “So the era of depending on subsidies and supportive government is over and service delivery is the panacea for all our ills. I can’t say I entirely subscribe to this premise but I am sure the government must be wishing all industry forums see things the way our industry consensus appears to be on the status quo.”
read more.

* Sri Lanka apparel export revenue declines:

Sri Lanka’s earnings from apparel exports has seen an over 4 per cent decline during the first quarter of the current year, according to Ceylon Chamber of Commerce data.

In 2000, the apparel exports accounted for 49 per cent of the island’s total exports and by 2011 the share dropped to 38 per cent, data showed.
Industry analysts, commenting on the figures, said the loss of exports to European Union (EU) under the GSP+ tariff concessions have contributed largely to the cumulative loss of earnings. read more.

18:01:28 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Energy crisis hits cotton production:

Although Pakistan is heading towards a bumper cotton crop of 15 million bales, the textile entrepreneurs will not be able to process it due to acute energy shortages, said sources on Monday.

Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Ahsan Bashir said that there is unlimited demand for Pakistani yarn in the global market, but the industry has failed to fulfill demand due to 25 percent capacity closure on account of energy crisis and high mark up. Besides, he added, the surviving units are operating below capacity due to insufficient power and energy supplies.

“Some vested interests have spread false news of lower cotton production this year, which has increased raw cotton prices above global prices,” he regretted. This, he added, has forced the industry to import cotton from India that costs Rs200 per maund less than the local cotton.

“To date about two million cotton bales have been booked from India,” he said. “This additional cotton means that there will be 17 million bales available in the market for processing.” read more.

* Energy situation to hit textile industry hard: spike in bankruptcies, layoffs feared: APTMA chief:

The situation for the textile industry is likely to worsen in the coming days, after a reduction in gas supply by Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL). As the energy crisis deepened, the industry feared an increase in non-performing loans (NPL), large-scale closures and bankruptcies and massive layoffs, sources maintained.

Two weeks ago, the gas supply was reduced to four days a week. However, according to the new gas curtailment schedule, the gas supply was further reduced to just three days a week. For Faisalabad and Sargodha, Bahawalpur, Multan, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Islamabad and Rawalpindi, the gas supply would be restored from November 20 (6am) to November 23 (6 am). Gas supply for Lahore, Sahiwal and Sheikhpura would be restored from November 23 (6 am) to November 26 (6 am).

Chairman of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Ahsan Bashir termed the energy shortage disastrous for the industry and said that the gas curtailment would reduce the domestic industry’s production capacity by 30 percent, resulting in a reduction of $3 billion in textile exports during the current fiscal year, he maintained.
read more.

* Government asked to exempt export sector from gas loadshedding:

Textile exporters have expressed concern over suspension of gas supply to industries on the ground of low pressure, terming the move unilateral and arrogant. The government should shelve its new gas outage plan to bring the country’s economy out of stagnation.
This would not only hamper the industrial growth, but would also put jobs of over 15 million workers at stake, besides adversely impacting the current USD14 billion exports.

Criticising the government decision to increase gas load shedding for industrial sector, chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) Asghar Ali and Vice Chairman Muhammad Asif, in a press statement on Tuesday, said that on one side government is contemplating to increase targets for nominal growth and on the other side its harsh decisions of gas outages and increased utility tariffs are posing severe threats for achieving the said target. read more.

* PCGA asks government to frame uniform cotton policy:

Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) has urged upon the government to frame the national cotton policy keeping in view the ground realities otherwise it would lose its utility. Ministry of Finance and State Bank of Pakistan should ask all the commercial banks to cut the mark-up as well as spread rate. Because the highest charges of banks had crushed the ginners.

Addressing a Press conference on Tuesday Vice Chairman of PCGA Waheed Arshad along with Khawaja Riaz Hussain Siddiqui and Shehzad Ali Khan alleged that ginners were facing numerous problems due to the ill-conceived policies of the government. They said that ginning sector was providing excess revenue to the government from all other sectors but this sectors was being neglected or being harmed. They said that all private and public banks were providing loans at the rate of cotton of Rs 1,800 to 2,000 per maund while ginners were purchasing at Rs 2,700 to 3,000 per maund. read more.

* Two million surplus cotton bales by year end:

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association has said the industry would be left with two million surplus cotton stocks by the year end due to another domestically bumper crop of 15 million bales besides import of some two million bales of cotton from abroad.

Chairman Aptma Ahsan Bashir, Vice Chairman Wisal Monnoo and Chairman Aptma Punjab Shahzad Ali Khan said a total of 8.519 million bales have arrived to the market so far. A deep analysis of crop arrivals from 2001-02 until date suggest that an average of 57 per cent of the crops arrives until November 15. If 57 per cent of the cotton crop comes around 8.5 million bales until November 15 than 100 per cent of crop is likely to touch the level of 14.945 million bales by the end of the season when positive indicators including crop condition is quite healthy with no pest attack and arrival of early crop are well in place, they added.

The Aptma leadership has said that the industry has so far made contracts of 1.5 million bales from across the world, as international rate is cheaper than local one.
read more.

* EU riders to prevent large hike in Pak textile exports:

The much awaited trade concession package from the European Union has finally come through for Pakistan, but with safeguards, which does not make the package attractive anymore, says a leader of a Pakistan apparel trade lobby group.

Moreover, the concession has been announced after a period of more than 24 months, after floods affected large parts of Pakistan in 2010 and was meant to be a relief for flood affected Pakistan.
In 2010, the EU had proposed allowing duty-free access to 75 products, of which the textile and garment export sector account for 65 products, for a period of 36 months.
read more.

* 250 tanneries polluting Sialkot residential areas:

As many as 250 tanneries of all sizes are operating in residential areas of Sialkot and are discharging their effluents without treatment, Environmental Protection Agency’s Punjab Director General, Farooq Hameed Sheikh said on Tuesday.

Briefing a review meeting related to the Sialkot tannery industry at the office of senior assistant to chief minister on environment, Manshaullah Butt, Hammed Sheikh said the Punjab government had decided to shift the entire tannery industry outside of the city. He further said that 384 acres of land in Muaza Khambarrawala has been purchased for the purpose.
The Punjab government has also decided to provide interest-free soft loan of Rs 30 million to tanneries for the establishment of new tannery industry at Khambarrawala, he added. to read.

      THE KARACHI FIRE:

* SHC tells owners to submit assets’ details in four days:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday directed the owners of Ali Enterprises, a garments factory in Baldia Town where a fire had killed over 250 people in September, to submit details of their properties and assets within four days.

The court was hearing identical petitions seeking a judicial inquiry into the fire incident of September 11.The petitioners, including the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education, pleaded with the SHC to constitute a judicial commission to fix responsibility on persons responsible for the incident and suggest monetary compensation the families of the victims.

They also sought the issuance of an order restraining the inquiry commission constituted by the provincial government and the owners from disposing of the factory or creating any third party interest till final adjudication of the petitions.

Filing a miscellaneous application, the petitioners’ counsel, Faisal Siddiqui, submitted that the factory owners had obtained a trial court’s order for unfreezing 20 percent of its assets and funds. read more.

18:01:28 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* H&M: End Cotton Crimes:

Every year the government of Uzbekistan forcibly mobilizes over a million children, teachers, public servants and private sector employees for the manual planting and harvesting of cotton.

The Uzbek government requires farmers to grow cotton and local government offices to forcibly mobilize adults and children to harvest cotton to meet assigned quotas. The Uzbek government enforces these orders with threats and violence; detains and tortures Uzbek activists seeking to monitor the harvest; and continues to refuse to allow international monitors to observe the cotton harvest.

Although H&M has pledged to stop sourcing cotton from Uzbekistan, the fashion giant refuses to put safeguards in place to completely ban companies from its supply chain that profit from Uzbek cotton.

Please take action and tell H&M to ban companies from its supply chain that profit from slavery. here.

ASIA

* ASEAN Economic Zone delayed by a year:

The decision was reportedly made during the plenary session of the 21st ASEAN Summit on Sunday, though ASEAN has made no formal statement as yet.

The Bangkok Post quoted Lao Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Thongloun Sisoulith as saying that ASEAN leaders have agreed that the AEC could be launched on December 31, 2015.

In his opening speech as the summit’s host, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen called for a timely implementation of programs and plans of action to build the AEC and promote connectivity.

“To achieve this objective, we need to encourage ASEAN ministers to formulate necessary policy measures to be implemented before 2015 in key areas,” he said.

These included tariff and non-tariff barriers, investment liberalization, connectivity and transport, small- and medium-sized enterprise development, initiatives for ASEAN integration, mutual recognition arrangements on professional services and labor mobility, institutional building and regulatory reforms and institutional issues for AEC building, he said.
read more.

map of Asia

INFO:

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

Other (labour) news, than about garment and textile industry, via twitter: @asearcher2

HEADLINES TODAY:

CHINA
* Hazardous chemicals found in clothing
* Greenpeace finds hazardous chemicals in branded apparels
* Exporters adjusting to rising wages

PHILIPPINES
*Employers reminded to give 13th-month pay

VIET NAM:
* Vietnam to raise minimum wage by 10 pct in July

THAILAND:
* It’s real: B300 wage from Jan 1
* Govt: Help on the way for SMEs over wage hike
* FTI warns wage rise will hit SMEs
* Kittiratt insistent hike is necessary

CAMBODIA:
* Pregnancy terminated in bid to regain old job
* Stories of Cambodia: Mekong Blue Silk Weavers

INDONESIA:
* 2.2 Million Rupiah Jakarta Minimum Wage For 2013
* Jokowi sets Jakarta’s 2013 minimum wage at Rp 2.2m
* With Jakarta’s Minimum Wage to Rise 44%, Bosses Warn of Job Cuts
* Editorial: Striking a Balance on Wages and Profits
* High-street fashion brands targeted by Greenpeace

BURMA/MYANMAR:
* Myanmar garment, wood factories’ workers strike
* Myanmar seeks better protection of workers

BANGLA DESH:
* Workers demand upgrade of labour law to ILO standards
* Invent HYV jute tolerant to diseases & adverse climate, PM asks scientists
* Delay in review of US GSP will affect B’desh RMG exports
* Cotton farming gains popularity in Rajshahi region

INDIA:
* Indian Garment industry to receive human rights trial
* High labour charges cause slump in cotton picking
* Indian textile lobbies disfavor ban on cotton exports
* Farmers may be hit by low cotton prices this year
* Punjab ginning mills unable to procure local cotton
* Huge demand for Pakistani textiles in India

SRI LANKA:
* Bata sacks 44 employees
* Apparel exporters call for more labour reforms
* Private sector workers to protest demanding pay hike
* Apparels: ‘Era of subsidies and govt support now over’
* Sri Lanka apparel export revenue declines

PAKISTAN:
* Energy crisis hits cotton production
* Energy situation to hit textile industry hard: spike in bankruptcies, layoffs feared
* Government asked to exempt export sector from gas loadshedding
* PCGA asks government to frame uniform cotton policy
* Two million surplus cotton bales by year end
* EU riders to prevent large hike in Pak textile exports
* 250 tanneries polluting Sialkot residential areas
* THE KARACHI FIRE::
* SHC tells owners to submit assets’ details in four days

UZBEKISTAN:
* H&M: End Cotton Crimes

ASIA:
* ASEAN Economic Zone delayed by a year

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

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
    A. Searcher

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2