in the news on-line, 22 November 2012

09:22:57 local time map of china CHINA

* Employment discrimination in China:

The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China stresses that all citizens are equal and that ethnic minorities, people with religious beliefs, and women are not to be discriminated against in any aspect of civil life, including employment.

China has, in addition, numerous laws and government policies designed to promote employment equality.
Yet, employment discrimination is pervasive and still widely tolerated, practiced by both private employers and government institutions.

Laws and regulations aimed at eliminating employment discrimination are hampered by technical shortcomings, ineffective enforcement and conflicting legislations and government policies that appear to promote, rather than discourage, the continuation of discriminatory practices.

This introduction will provide an overview of the main forms of employment discrimination in China (those based on gender, age, social origin, health status and disability, religion and ethnicity), an analysis of the current legal protections available to workers and an assessment of the legal and policy reforms that are still needed to adequately protect workers from employment discrimination. read more.

* Toxic chemicals found on leading brands of clothing:

Some of the world’s leading fashion retailers have come under fire after toxins were detected on their clothing in tests organized by environmental campaigner Greenpeace.

The group said yesterday it had investigated 20 fashion brands, including industry leaders Armani, Esprit and Gap and Chinese brands such as Metersbonwe and Vancl and found all were selling clothing contaminated with hazardous chemicals.

Of 141 samples, 89 were found to contain hormone-disrupting nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs). Products from C&A, Mango, Levi’s, Calvin Klein, Zara, Metersbonwe, Jack & Jones, and Marks & Spencer had the highest concentration.

Four items from Giorgio Armani, Victoria’s Secret and Tommy Hilfiger tested positive for phthalates, which can harm the reproductive system, and two Zara garments were contaminated with azo dyes releasing cancer-causing amines.

“These are the big potatoes in the fashion industry. Zara alone churns out 850 million clothing items a year. You can imagine the size of the toxic footprint it has left on this planet, particularly in developing countries like China where many of its products are made,” said Li Yifang, an official with Greenpeace East Asia. read more.

* Chinese shoemaker not subject to 16.5% tariff by EU:

China’s leading shoe manufacturer, Aokang, has been cleared of anti-dumping charges by the European Commission. The ruling could have implications for other trade disputes.

Sunday’s ruling marks the end of a six-year anti-dumping investigation surrounding Aokang’s leather shoe exports.
The European Court of Justice ruled in the company’s favor, awarding damages of five million Chinese Yuan. That’s almost one million U.S. dollars including tariff refunds and legal costs. read more.

* Investors make $100 bn bet on China’s drive up value chain:

China’s soaring wages and strengthening currency might blunt the competitive edge of exporters that have seen average pay double since 2007, but it won’t stop firms worldwide making a collective $100 billion bet on setting up shop here this year.

Although foreign direct investment inflows in 2012 have seen the longest monthly run of year-on-year declines since 2009, hurt by a weak outlook for corporate investment and sagging global trade, FDI should still top $100 billion for the third year running.

That would bring China’s total since 2007 to about $625 billion, based on data from United Nations agency, UNCTAD, during which time a rally in the yuan currency has sliced 25 percent from exporters’ margins. Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Thailand combined managed to snag only $141.6 billion in FDI between them from 2007 to 2011, despite being repeatedly touted as the places to which manufacturers fleeing China flock. read more.

08:22:57 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

 * Garment, textiles still a hot sector:

A series of recent new foreign investments show that Vietnam’s garment and textile industry remains one of the nation’s hot business sectors thanks to an abundant labour force and anticipated trade agreements.

According to Binh Thuan Provincial Industrial Parks Management Authority, Korea’s Hansoll Textile has worked with the local authorities to find a location for its textile manufacturing plant valued at around $200 million including weaving and dyeing processes. read more.

08:22:57 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Few will be laid off due to wage increase- govt:

The authorities believe that the imminent hike in the minimum daily wage will likely cost some people their jobs but the number will be relatively low.

“Many industries are facing a shortage of labour,” Labour Minister Phadermchai Sasomsap said yesterday, adding that there were more than 300,000 vacancies across the country.
The minister was speaking after Chalee Loysoong, president of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee, voiced concern that some employers might lay off their workers before January 1 in a bid to avoid paying higher severance pay. The Bt300 minimum daily wage goes into effect in 70 provinces from January 1.

However, Labour Welfare and Protection Department director-general Pakorn Amorncheewin said that as of Tuesday, only 1,072 workers at five factories had been laid off due to the initial wage increase in seven provinces in April.
“This number is relatively low,” Pakorn said, adding that the upcoming wage hike would go into effect in a much wider area, but explained that the employers had about a year to adapt. read more.

08:22:57 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Overcrowded truck crashes, injuring 57:

At least 57 garment workers, mostly women, were sent to the hospital yesterday morning after the overloaded truck carrying them to their jobs careened off the road in Svay Rieng province’s Chantrea district.

Police said that the injured workers were among a total of 80 that the standing-room-only vehicle had been carrying to various garment, footwear and other factories in the Bavet town’s highly industrial special economic zone.
Chantrea district police chief Sou Si Thorn said the truck collapsed due to a poorly connected steering wheel, which caused the vehicle to overturn as the driver tried to manoeuvre the heavy load of passengers.
Fifteen workers sustained serious injuries, while 42 were slightly injured, he said, adding that the driver fled the scene. read more.

09:22:57 local time map of singapore SINGAPORE

* Progressive Wage Model: NTUC to target employment hubs:

The labour movement will target employment hubs, places with large concentrations of workers from various levels and sectors, in implementing its Progressive Wage Modelfrom next year.

Some five months after introducing the model, which seeks to increase wages with skills upgrading and higher productivity, more employers have come on board the plan, said the labour movement.
One of those employers targeted is Changi Airport, which is considered an employment hub as there are over 10,000 workers, ranging from low-wage earners to middle management.

The labour movement wants to move in with the Progressive Wage Model so as to improve the lot of those who make the air hub among the best globally.
This is in addition to ongoing work within eight unionised clusters, covering sectors like retail and hospitality, to push forward the progressive wage agenda.
read more.

09:22:57 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Indonesian Workers Rally Against Social Security Law in Jakarta:

Hundreds of Indonesian laborers rallied in Jakarta today to protest against having to pay for social security services, adding to demonstrations for higher wages.

Workers from Jakarta and surrounding cities gathered at the capital’s main traffic circle before heading to the Presidential Palace to protest a 2011 law that will set up social security bodies, Bambang Wirayoso, chairman of the National Workers Union, said during the demonstration. Under that law and the 2004 social security law, salaried workers must contribute a percentage of their pay that employers transfer to the social security bodies. Non-workers also must pay a fee to have access to the system.

“We’re not against social security,” Wirayoso said after a speech at the rally. “But don’t let social security, which is the government’s responsibility, become the people’s responsibility to pay for.” read more.

* Workers on strike, reject national healthcare program:

Thousands of workers went on strike in cities across the country in opposition to national social security programs that they say are against the Amended 1945 Constitution.

In Jakarta, demonstrators called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to issue a regulation in lieu of law (perpu) to replace Law No. 40/2004 on national social security system in line with the recent decision of the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court stated that the social security programs were part of workers’ rights and therefore, the expense of their employers. read more.

* Layoffs could be massive following wage hike: Employers:

The 2013 minimum wage set for workers in Jakarta is considered too high by employers, who fear that it may backfire as businesses consider a recruitment freeze.

An entrepreneur in the food and beverage sector, Adhi Lukman, said on Wednesday that the Rp 2.2 million (US$228) minimum wage for a single worker had persuaded him and his fellow businessmen to find a more affordable way to compensate for the high labor costs.

“The alternative we have in mind is to invest more in machinery to replace human workers. That way, employment opportunities will be limited, thus creating a new social problem,” said Adhi, chairman of the Indonesian Food and Beverage Association (Gappmi).

He said that in his industry, the significant wage hike would lead to a 4 to 5 percent increase in products’ basic prices. “That increase means higher selling prices. And every increase will have a significant impact on business in this sector.”
read more.

07:52:57 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* US govt lifts ban on garment imports from Myanmar:

Secretary of State Clinton announced September 26 that the United States would begin the process of easing restrictions on imports of Burmese (Myanmarese) goods in response to the substantial and significant reforms that have taken place in that country over the past year.

The United States has taken another step in the normalization of our bilateral economic relationship by broadly authorizing Burmese-origin goods to enter the United States for the first time in almost a decade. The government of Burma and Burmese leadership, including Aung San Suu Kyi, have expressed a desire that the import ban be eased in order to further integrate their country into the global economy. read more.

07:22:57 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* B’desh ahead of India, Pakistan in RMG export, minister tells parliament:

Bangladesh has made a significant progress in readymade garments (RMG) export to global market, especially the USA and European market, ensuring its position ahead of India and Pakistan.

Market expansion in South Korea, Japan, South Africa and China apart from key RMG export market — the USA and European Union – has played a role in marking the progress.
“We’re ahead of India and Pakistan in terms of RMG export,” Commerce Minister GM Quader told Parliament on Wednesday while responding a starred question of Begum Sanjida Khanam (Dhaka-8).
 He said Bangladesh’s market in the 27 EU countries, apart from the USA, Japan, Canada and Turkey, has expanded more than that of India and Pakistan.
read more.

* EU inserts rights, environment, governance issues in new GSP:

The European Union (EU) Wednesday released its revised version of Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) by inserting human rights, labour rights, environment and governance issues in it for the first time.

The inclusion of labour and governance issues in the scheme may have a long-term impact on Bangladesh’s trade relations with the EU member countries, local businesses and analysts observed. read more.

* Prices of RMG products continue to fall due to fragile global economy:

Prices of RMG products are declining continuously in the international markets due to fragile global economy, especially in the EU nations and America.

Exporters said that they have to sell their products at lower prices incurring huge losses only to survive in the industry.
“Global economic recession and high rate of unemployment are mainly responsible for low price of RMG goods,” Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin told the FE. read more.

* Hall-Mark MD, GM denied bail:

A Dhaka court on Wednesday turned down bail pleas of Hall-Mark Group Managing Director Tanvir Mahmud and General Manager Tusher Ahmed in a case filed over the massive loan scandal.

Acting Judge Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman of the Dhaka’s Senior Special Judge’s Court gave the order.
The bail prayers, which were opposed by the Anti-Corruption (ACC) lawyer M A Salam, claimed both the MD and GM of the group were ill.
Tanvir, also the husband of the Group Chairman Jesmin Islam, made a confessional statement before the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court on Oct 18.
read more.

* Hall-Mark offers properties:

The Hall-Mark Group has offered mortgage of its all properties, including land, factory building, machinery and cars to the Sonali Bank in a bid to pay its liabilities to the bank, sourcessaid on Wednesday.

Net liabilities of the Groupstand at Tk 2,668.38 crore that it misappropriated from the Bank’s RuposhiBangla Hotel branch providing fake documents against inland bill purchase(IBP).
Also, a section of dishonest bank officials, including KM Azizur Rahman, deputy general manager (DGM) of Ruposh Bangla Hotel branch, helped the business house to loot the depositors’money.

“All the properties to beoffered as collateral against our outstanding amount to the bank,” ShamimAkhtar, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Hall-Mark Group, told The New Nation yesterday.
He added the total value of our properties would be Tk  5825.82 crore.
“We have earlier mortgaged 183.37 bighas of land with the Sonali Bank’s Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch estimated value of which is Tk 1515.47 crore,” Shamim said.
read more.

 06:52:57 local time map of india INDIA

* ‘They don’t even allow us to go to the toilet’ :

Shameful tales were revealed when women working in the city’s garment factories started speaking out about the conditions they work in.

A round-table meeting was held on Monday on preventing violence in the city’s export-oriented garment factories. Women who work in these units narrated how they are meted out inhuman treatment.

One of them, Geetha, said they are often not allowed to go to toilet on the grounds that production will wall. “We don’t drink water (when we are at work) so that we don’t have to use the toilet,” she said. Yamuna, a factory worker with BRFL Unit 5, pointed out that they are harassed when they speak up for their rights. She described how she is being victimised by her company for taking up an issue a few years ago. She said that even now she faces humiliation for that and is made to sit idle in the factory.

Many other women workers had the same complaint as Geetha, of being victimised for speaking up. They said if they raise their voice against harassment, their department is changed, they are not given any work, and are humiliated too. Some women complained that their company’s managements harass them if they learns that the workers are members of trade unions.
One woman highlighted that though they are provided pick-up and drop facility, it is in a goods vehicle that they are transported. Further, it was pointed out at the meeting that although garment industry is a women-dominated one—the ratio of women and men being 70:30—most of the heads are men. Some women said they did not know whom to complain about their problems. read more.

*  National Peoples’ Tribunal  for  Living Wages and Decent Working Conditions for Garment workers:

* Three-day Tribunal on garment workers:

An alliance of 16 garment workers’ trade unions and NGOs from across the country will gather for National People’s Tribunal which will kick-start from Thursday in the city.

The three-day tribunal on living wages for garment workers will have their testimonies on living and working conditions.
Announcing the tribunal agenda, Anannya Bhattacharjee, International Coordinator, Asia, Floor Wage Alliance said the Indian textile industry was pegged at $55 billion and accounts for 14 per cent of the industrial production and four per cent of the GDP.

“The industry employs 3.5 crore people and accounts for nearly 12 per cent of the country’s total exports. Despite the economic importance of the industry, garment workers earn less than half of what is needed to support their families. Living wages and decent working conditions are human rights but they are denied to garment workers,” she said.
An independent jury comprising eminent people from different walks of life will examine the testimonies and give a verdict.

“The purpose of the tribunal is to present the jury with different perspectives about the garment industry,” said Vinay Sreenivasa, an activist in the city.
The jury comprises members of Permanent People’s Tribunal from Italy, senior specialists on international labour standards, economists from Jawaharlal Nehru University, senior journalists and advocates. read more.

* Indian garment industry receives human rights trial:

Today marks the start of the third People’s Tribunal, a human rights trial held by garment workers’ unions and human rights groups to hear evidence of systematic human rights abuses in the Indian garment industry. The People’s Tribunal in India is the third of its kind to be held in Asia, the former being held in Sri Lanka and Cambodia.

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.

A series of regional hearings have already taken place to gather evidence from thousands of garment workers from all garment production centers in India. Evidence has been gathered which demonstrates issues such as illegal compulsory overtime, inhuman productivity measures, wage theft, systematic denial of social security payments, sexual harassment and gender discrimination, and active suppression of the right to freedom of association. read more.

LabourBehindTheLabel ‏@labourlabel : Wow, it is packed!


Other News:

* 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. read more.

06:52:57 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

 * Sri Lankan apparel exports to US swell in Jan-Sept:

Registering a year-on-year rise of six percent, Sri Lanka exported apparels worth US$ 537 million to the US during the first quarter of the current year, a report by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce noted.
However, Sri Lanka’s overall garment export earnings for the period dipped 4.3 percent year-on-year, mainly on account of waning demand from the European Union, which accounts for 50 percent of the island nation’s overall clothing exports, the report said. read more.

* Outgoing SLAEA Chief urges govt: Reapply for GSP+ based on LLRC progress:

A frontline apparel industry personality last night urged the government to consider reapplying for GSP Plus, based on the progress in implementing the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) recommendations.

“The industry did understand the difficulties the government was faced with on the original terms tabled by the European Union for the continuation of this facility, but I am sure that with the progress made, there is room to open the conversation,” outgoing president of the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters’ Association Rohan Abeykoon told the Association’s Annual General Meeting at the JAIC Hilton last night.
read more.

06:22:57 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Textile Policy 2012-15: MoF to restrict funds due to weak MoC initiatives:

The Finance Ministry has refused to allocate funds to the Commerce Ministry for “extravagant expenditure on unnecessary activities” under the guise of Textile Policy initiatives, reliable sources told Business Recorder.

The Commerce Ministry had sought Rs 60 billion from the Finance Ministry for its three-year Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2012-15 drafted without taking account ground realities and trade ties with the neighbouring countries, especially India.

Critics, however, argue that since this government is completing its tenure in a couple of months, hence formulation of new Trade Policy should be left to the new government. The Commerce Ministry was scheduled to announce Trade Policy or STPF in July this year but proposed weak policy initiatives were neither attractive to the Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf nor Finance Division and Planning Commission. read more.

* Increasing trade opportunities among D8 countries:

Formation of ‘combined textile market’ suggested

Pakistan’s textile sector has suggested Developing Eight (D8) countries for the formation of combined textile market of D8 countries on Wednesday.

Talking to Daily Times, Federal Adviser to the Prime Minister on Textile Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig said during a presentation before the D8 meeting, he presented a presentation for the development of textile sector of all stakeholders.
The presentation prepared by Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and Board of Investment Pakistan (BoI) also highlighted the importance of textile trade among these nations.

He said D8 countries should implement the long-awaited decisions made by D8 countries for the development of economy and other sectors in the fraternity. He said the FPCCI and BoI’s presentation also suggested D8 countries to remove obstacles in tariff and non-tariff barriers.
Dr Baig on the behalf of business community of Pakistan, urged the D8 delegates to ease the visa requirements especially for the promotion of trade and industry. Implementation of tariff concessions under the preferential trade agreement is need of the hour, which would lead the D8 community towards free trade agreement, he added. read more.

* Textile exports up by 4.78pc to $4.393b:

Pakistan’s textile exports have recorded at $4.393 billion during the first four months (July-October) of the ongoing financial year 2012-13 against $4.192 billion of the corresponding period of the previous year showing an increase of over four per cent.

According to the latest figures of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), country’s textile commodities exports have shown growth of 4.78 per cent during the first four months of the current fiscal year 2012-13 against the same period last year. The data further revealed that textile exports have shown increase of 10.50 per cent in October 2012 against October 2011, as it recorded at $1.121 billion compare to $1.014 billion of the same period last year. read more.

* Textile export rebounds:

Pakistan’s export of textile and clothing rebounded for the second consecutive month after posting a decline for at least one year.

The increase was mainly driven by a surge in demand from recession-hit key markets of Europe and US, suggested data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics released here on Wednesday.
In absolute terms, export of textile and clothing witnessed a growth of 10.50pc in October 2012, from a year ago.
The growth in export proceeds in September 2012 was 12.91pc.

The unprecedented growth was mainly driven by substantial increase in export proceeds of ready-made garments, towels, and other low value products, like cotton yarn and cotton cloth, etc.
Also export of raw cotton witnessed an increase in October this year over last year.

Experts linked growth in export of value-added products with spillover effect from China and Taiwan’s labour issue as about two or three per cent spillover from China alone was more than enough for Pakistan’s exporters to meet it; the announcement of waiver on 75 products from EU from Nov 15 encouraged European buyers to re-develop contacts in Pakistan. Major European buyers are eying to yield benefits in case EU granted Pakistan GSP plus status in 2014. American buyers also re-establishing contacts with Pakistan’s textile and clothing exporters after disruption in supply from Egypt. read more.

* Korea setting up textile institute at Faisalabad varsity:

Korea will set up a Textile Research & Development Institute at the National Textile University, Faisalabad, at a cost of 6 million dollars and it will complete within 1 year, said a Korea International Cooperation Agency delegation at NTU on Wednesday.

The delegation including senior officials and textile experts will hold a series of meetings with the NTU officials to finalise the requirements of the project after thorough discussion. Leading the team, Mr Kwon Hyung-Nam, the managing director of KOICA stressed the need to strengthen bilateral relations in the area of textile research and development between Korea and Pakistan. He expressed that Pakistan has great potential in textile field as fourth largest producer and third largest consumer of cotton. read more.

* Textile ministry joins farmers in denouncing trade with India:

After Pakistani farmers’ recent lobbying to prevent imports of agricultural produce from India, the Ministry of Textile Industry, too, seems to be getting cold feet ahead of the liberalisation of trade between the two estranged neighbours. Its apprehensions over the import of Indian textiles have surfaced hardly a month before the government is expected to phase out its negative list for goods tradable with India.

The Ministry of Textile Industry now says that the future of local industry seems bleak because of the “hasty” decision to open Pakistani markets for Indian textiles. It claims that allowing imports at reduced rates under the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) regime will swallow up the domestic textile sector. read more.


map of Asia


* In the Menu under “Karachi Fire” you can find: an overview of articles about the Garment factory Fire in Karachi (and Lahore) UPDATED.

* & under “National Peoples’ Tribunal” you can find: an overview of articles about the Indian National Peoples’ Tribunal for Living Wages and Decent Working Conditions


* Employment discrimination in China
* Toxic chemicals found on leading brands of clothing
* Chinese shoemaker not subject to 16.5% tariff by EU
* Investors make $100 bn bet on China’s drive up value chain

* Garment, textiles still a hot sector

* Few will be laid off due to wage increase- govt

* Overcrowded truck crashes, injuring 57

* Progressive Wage Model: NTUC to target employment hubs

* Indonesian Workers Rally Against Social Security Law in Jakarta
* Workers on strike, reject national healthcare program
* Layoffs could be massive following wage hike: Employers

* US govt lifts ban on garment imports from Myanmar

* B’desh ahead of India, Pakistan in RMG export, minister tells parliament
* EU inserts rights, environment, governance issues in new GSP
* Prices of RMG products continue to fall due to fragile global economy
* Hall-Mark MD, GM denied bail
* Hall-Mark offers properties

* ‘They don’t even allow us to go to the toilet’
* National Peoples’ Tribunal for Living Wages and Decent Working Conditions for Garment workers:
* Three-day Tribunal on garment workers
* Indian garment industry receives human rights tria
Other News:
* Indian textile lobbies disfavor ban on cotton exports

* Sri Lankan apparel exports to US swell in Jan-Sept
* Outgoing SLAEA Chief urges govt: Reapply for GSP+ based on LLRC progress

* Textile Policy 2012-15: MoF to restrict funds due to weak MoC initiatives
* Increasing trade opportunities among D8 countries
* Textile exports up by 4.78pc to $4.393b
* Textile export rebounds
* Korea setting up textile institute at Faisalabad varsity
* Textile ministry joins farmers in denouncing trade with India

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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
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
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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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