19:01:53 local time VIET NAM
* Vietnam to emerge a global trade leader:
Workers at a garment factory owned by Singaporeans outside Hanoi
Vietnam will be among the best positioned traders in the world over the next two decades, with exports set to see double-digit annual increases, leading the whole of Asia in terms of growth, a new HSBC report says.
In contrast to most of its neighbors in emerging Asia, Vietnam maintained high export growth this year, weathering the global downturn “extremely well,” according to the bank’s Global Connections Report, released on Monday.
“Demand for clothing and footwear is less sensitive to global market turmoil than other goods and this, combined with the rapid pace at which Vietnam is building market share in telecoms, has helped protect Vietnam from the recent weakening in global demand,” the UK-based lender said. read more.
19:01:53 local time THAILAND
* Besieged SMEs told to take offensive moves:
SMEs should shift to an offensive strategy to counter unfavourable factors, such as the minimum wage hike, manpower shortage and deepening of free trade under the Asean Economic Community, according to Siam Commercial Bank.
Sutapa Amornvivat, chief economist at the bank’s Economic Intelligence Centre, said yesterday that the research house in collaboration with the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) surveyed a focus group drawn from 308 SMEs in the first seven provinces where the daily minimum wage was hiked to Bt300 in April and all the other provinces that will implement the wage hike next year.
The study found that 72 per cent thought they could cope with the situation while 28 per cent were afraid that they could not adjust for the impact of rising labour costs on their business. read more.
* FTI pushes wage fund:
The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is pushing ahead on the setting up of a “wage differential compensation fund” as its top priority to help small and medium-sized enterprises handle the rise in the nationwide minimum daily wage to Bt300 early next year.
The idea is that the government partially compensate businesses for the differential between what they pay their workers now and what they will have to pay after the new minimum kicks in. The FTI wants this programme to be implemented over three years, and that it be funded by delaying the planned reduction in corporate income tax.
Under the FTI plan, next year the government would compensate 75 per cent of the differential between the old and new wage rates, 50 per cent in 2014 and 25 per cent in 2015. For instance, if now an SME pays its labourers Bt100 a day, the differential would be Bt200, so the government should compensate about Bt150 initially. The fund is projected to have initial capital of Bt50 billion, Sommat Khunset, secretary-general of the FTI, said yesterday.However, the garment sector insists that the assistance measure should focus on aiding SMEs in the 70 provinces that will be directly affected by the wage increase in January. read more.
* Weaving a future for tradition:
On a small street in Phum Reang community in Surat Thani stands a silk shop among other concrete shophouses. At first glance, Wanma Mai Thai shop looks like a typical textile store where you can find selections of silk garments for women and men as well as various fine designs of silk cloth.
When you walk inside to the back of the shop, however, you realise that this is not only a shophouse, but a silk-weaving centre where visitors are welcome to learn how locals dye silk yarn and weave silk cloth.
“Our cloth has unique designs, especially those patterns of small flowers threaded from colourful silk mixed with golden or sometimes silver yarn,” said Wanma Nuimim, 65, who has weaved silk for more than five decades. She is the fourth generation of a weaving family which tries to preserve the traditional techniques by using a handloom.
“The handloom allows us to create the finest patterns such as the design of dok phikun [bullet wood flower] or kradum thong [little yellow star flower],” she said, adding that one of her proudest moments was when her work won the top award at the National Silk Weaving contest in 1994. read more.
19:01:53 local time CAMBODIA
* 10 workers faint at Hong Kong-owned factory:
About ten workers including a female security guard fainted Thursday at Hong Kong-owned Universal Glory (Cambodia) Ltd after inhaling smoke in the factory, a source said.
The source said the factory manager refused to allow rescue workers or journalists into the premises until 20 minutes after the incident, which was blamed on machinery smoke.
Universal Glory employs more than 1,000 workers to make jeans at its factory in Choum Chao commune in Por Senchey district. to read.
* Profiting from Poverty:
Recently, the Swedish TV program “Kalla Fakta,’ aired an investigative documentary about factory conditions for H&M garment workers in Cambodia. The program focused on conditions at M&V International, a factory that employs around 5,000 workers in Cambodia’s Kampong Chhnang Province.
Some said the documentary ‘unearthed’ a scandal – particularly the ‘starvation wages’ workers earn to make the ‘trendy’ attire. While it’s true that the conditions depicted were inexcusable and repulsive, H&M has long been a major buyer from this factory and it’s impossible to believe that much of it came as news to them. Still, their Head of Sustainability, Helena Helmersson, wasn’t embarrassed to say in the program that H&M needs to “learn more about different countries to know how bad the conditions are.”
This seems like something H&M probably should have done before they started doing business in Cambodia. Maybe by talking to more workers. In fact, H&M was invited to a forum full of Cambodian garment workers this year – workers who would be more than happy to give H&M a crash course on the conditions under which the clothes are produced – and H&M refused to come. The only thing more offensive than the treatment of these women, are the excuses and digressions H&M uses to justify it – all the way from a plush couch in Sweden.
When questioned about wages, Helmersson responded that, “wage is integral to H&M’s values and business concept.” On this point, we would have to agree. At 61 USD’s a month, this pathetic amount of income keeps workers exactly where factory and business owners want them – starving and desperate for endless hours of overtime work.
Coincidentally, we were at M&V factory when the Swedish program aired, speaking with workers at the factory. Here’s another look at the H&M supplier and the women they employ. read more.
20:01:53 local time INDONESIA
* Textile Firms Fear the Worst After Wages Are Increased:
Indonesian textile producers have predicted that imported garments will take over the domestic market as local garment makers grapple with falling competitiveness prompted by higher wages.
Ade Sudrajad Usman, the chairman of the Indonesian Textile Association (API), forecast the value of imported garments next year to grow 36 percent to Rp 75 trillion ($7.8 billion).
This year, API expected garment imports to value Rp 55 trillion.
“Every year, the local producers’ contribution should improve, but not next year,” he said. “If we don’t make any changes, the portion of the local products will dwindle further.” read more.
* Thousands of Indonesian workers rally for benefits:
Traffic comes to a standstill along Jl Sudirman as workers protested at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta on Thursday. Demonstrations at the State Palace and the House of Representatives building covered a range of issues, including pensions, healthcare insurance and outsourcing. About 20,000 police officers were on hand for security.(JP/Ricky Yudhistira)
Thousands of Indonesian workers have taken to the streets to protest against low wages and having to pay for social security services.
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto says several thousand laborers rallied Thursday near the presidential palace in Central Jakarta, before marching peacefully to the House of the Representatives building in Senayan, Central Jakarta.
They unfurled flags and banners lambasting a 2011 law, expected to take effect in two years, requiring workers to contribute a percentage of their pay for social security and health benefits. They also called for a minimum wage increase.
* Indonesian Workers Rally in Support of Social Security Laws:
Hundreds of Indonesian workers rallied in Jakarta to support social security laws after other labor groups protested yesterday against them, disagreeing over who should pay for pension-fund and health-care services.
Supporters are confident they won’t be charged additional fees to what they’re already paying for social security services, Muhamad Hakim, vice president of the Indonesian Workers Union Confederation, said by telephone today.
Under 2004 and 2011 laws creating a national social security system, salaried workers must contribute a percentage of their pay that employers transfer to the administrative bodies that will manage the services. They are due to begin operation in January 2014. Non-workers also must pay a fee to have access to the system.
Demonstrators yesterday protested against having to pay for social security services, citing rising prices as economic expansion increases living costs in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy. read more.
* West Java Increases Minimum Wage Levels by 25 Percent:
In the wake of Jakarta’s 44 percent minimum wage hike, West Java has approved an increase in the minimum wage levels of its 26 districts and cities by an average of 25 percent.
“[Hopefully] there’ll be no lawsuit,” West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan said on Wednesday night after signing the decision.
Seventeen of the 26 districts and cities, including Bogor, Bekasi and Bandung, will next year get a minimum wage higher than the decent living cost (KHL). Other regions, including Ciamis, Tasikmalaya and Banjar, will still have minimum wage levels lower than the KHL. read more.
* Workers continue their rallies as govt urges them to return to work:
Workers continued staging rallies on Thursday with many thousands taking to the streets demanding the government and employers follow the newest ministerial regulation on outsourcing.
They also demanded that the government end the cheap-labor policy and exempt workers from paying contributions to the national healthcare program.
For a second day, workers from industrial areas in Jakarta, Bekasi, Tangerang and Bogor marched from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to the Presidential Palace. Others staged protests outside the House of Representatives compound in Senayan and the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, causing major traffic congestion in the city. read more.
* Employers to boycott minimum wage for Batam:
Employers in Batam, Riau Islands Province, have voiced plans to boycott the implementation of the new minimum wage set by the local authority, arguing that the decision was made under pressures and without the presence of their representatives.
This was supported by the provincial Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) head Johannes Kennedy Aritonang, the provincial Association of Indonesian Employers (Apindo) chairman Cahaya, Apindo Batam chairman OK Simatupang and the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Association chairman Syarifuddin Andi Bola in Batam on Wednesday evening. read more.
18:01:53 local time BANGLA DESH
* RMG workers stage demo for outstanding salary at CEPZ:
Several hundred workers of a readymade garment factory at Chittagong Export Processing Zone staged demonstration Thursday morning demanding payment of their outstanding salaries.
CEPZ sources said authorises of the ready made garment North Pool BD Limited, which remained closed for the past three months, were scheduled to pay outstanding salaries to the workers in the morning.
Ranjir Roy, a sub-inspector at the Bandar police station, said the workers staged demonstration in front of the factory, as the authorities failed to make the payment as per prior schedule.
Later, the workers left the spot, as the authorities pledged to make the payment on November 27 following police intervention, he said. to read.
* Garment workers demonstrate, 1 injured:
Workers of a garment factory on Thursday staged demonstration at Jamgara in Ashulia to press home their 13-point demand.
Police said 2000 workers of Heon Apparels Limited placed the demands to the authorities on Wednesday.
The demands included removal of admin manager Hasan, granting leave for all the workers at 5pm on the day of payment of salaries, scraping the system of fine for not joining duty in a day and increasing the salaries of the helpers.
As the authorities remained silent about the demands, the workers today came out of the factory, staged demonstration and beat up assistant production officer Aziz.
The factory was declared closed for the day following the demonstration.
* Cotton depot fire under control:
The fire that broke out at a cotton depot in the capital’s Jatrabari area Thursday morning has been brought under control.
No casualty was reported in the fire.
On information, five fire fighting units rushed to Rayerbagh, the scene of the fire, and managed to bring the blaze under control after a hectic effort of nearly one hour, duty officer of the fire service control room said.
Reason behind the fire that originated around 11:20am could not be known immediately. to read.
* Jute prospects bleak again:
The country’s jute sector, which saw a mentionable progress in recent past, is now bracing for a severe downfall.
Slump in the price of jute, its production, export income and internal market system makes the prospect of the “golden fiber” appear gloomy again.
The farmers, traders and mill owners see hardly any signs for jute to revive to its past glory.
The golden days of the once big forex earner are now just ending in their frustration.
In the last two years, the farmers fell in a precarious condition because of continuous loss. The traders and mill owners are seeing sluggish business as sale of jute has slowed down at home and abroad.
The mills run buy the government are in a great trouble. read more.
* Bangladesh PM asks jute stakeholders to expand market:
* Bangladesh RMG exporters suffer as Indian firm defaults:
* ‘I helped Hall-Mark’:
A former Deputy-Director of Sonali Bank on Thursday confessed to a Magistrate in Dhaka that he had helped Hall-Mark Group take Tk 2.08 billion in loan using false documents.
Azizur Rahman admitted his involvement in a confessional statement at the court of Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Keshab Roy Chowdhury.
Rahman was a former Deputy Director of the largest state-owned bank, which came under spotlight after an Anti-Corruption Commission report unearthed a huge scam involving the bank and the rogue group. read more.
17:31:53 local time INDIA
* National Peoples’ Tribunal for Living Wages and Decent Working Conditions for Garment workers:
* Worker’s testimonial: Yamuna:
Garment Labour Union (GLU) – Bangalore
Producing for GAP, H&M, Armani and Abercrombie & Fitch et al
When I joined the industry, I was 14 years old and started earning to support my mother. As a helper my wage at that time was Rs.317/-. I was getting 75 paise for each hour of overtime. I joined another factory as tailor and I was getting Rs.1000/-. Later I changed factories about three times. In 2001 I joined Vidya creation, a unit of Texport Overseas group of Companies.
I was not allowed to take my 6 month old baby to a factory crèche. After a long time, I got permission to take my child to the crèche, though the condition there was very bad. The Production Manager was very rude. He used to make us stand near the table for more than a week if we took leave without notice. He used to scold and scream in vulgar language. We were not able to see the day light at all, since we were working over time without wage till late evening. One day, I passed a garment piece without cutting the extra small threads. He called me and said ‘Have you forgotten to wear your saree [clothes red.] today..? If not.. How can you forget to cut the thread..?’ I was shocked and felt ashamed that day.
The wage was very low; I could not feed my 3 children even with just milk and bread. My daughter asked me one day, ‘why you gave birth to me if you are not able to feed me properly’. I pledged my Mangalasutra [wedding necklace red.] to pay my children school examination fees. read more.
* Tribunal assesses work conditions in Indian garment sector:
* India Human Rights trial hears fashion worker woes:
Garment workers give evidence about poverty pay, harassment and abuse at the hands of western brands
Garment workers alongside international brands and government representatives gave evidence at a tribunal which started in Bangalore today to assess claims of systematic human rights abuses in the Indian garment industry.
250 garment workers from Bangalore, Gurgaon and Tirupur attended the tribunal, foregoing their daily wage and attendance bonus, to share testimonies of rights abuses and exploitation at the hands of western brands, surveyed by a panel of international judges.
37 year old Bangalore worker and mother, Yamuna gave evidence about a factory producing for the middle man Texport Overseas Group, which supplies Gap, H&M, Abercrombi and Fitch, and Armani:
“The wage was very low. I could not even feed my 3 children with at least bread and milk. My daughter asked me one day, ‘Why you gave birth to me if you are not able to feed me properly?’ I pledged my mangalasutra [necklace equivalent to a western wedding ring] to pay my children’s school examination fees.”
Another worker producing for Gap said “We are not allowed ever to take leave. If we do, the day we return to the factory we are made to stand outside, and they abuse us by calling us bitches, donkeys and even tell us to go die.. We have to make up the time lost in our breaks. Supervisors constantly harass us by calling us names and throwing pieces of fabric at our faces.”
Many spoke about sexual harassment, verbal abuse, as well as poverty wages and the endemic problems around overtime and the right to join a union.
Multinational fashion retailer H&M, was also present and a representative spoke about their role in the supply chain. “We agree that wages should be enough to live on. We are working with our suppliers to ensure compliance on this.” said Tobias Fischer, Relations Sustainability manager for H&M. The brand acknowledged that overtime was also a problem in its supply chain with a significant proportion of suppliers involved in non-payment of overtime wages.
15.57h Half of the room has emptied while h&m talk. Workers aren’t interested in
CSR waffle… (tweet by LabourBehindTheLabel @labourlabel)
A statement from the sportswear brand adidas was also presented. GAP, despite being invited on a number of occassions, were conspicuously absent for the Tribunal.
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). This is said to be only 43% of a living wage enough to support a family.
The tribunal continues tomorrow, where experts from law and academic backgrounds will give evidence about economic and industry barriers to change. The judges will present a verdict on Sunday with recommendations for industry stakeholders to address the issues raised.
* Multinational fashion retailer H&M shirks responsibility:
Tobias Fischer, Relations Sustainability manager and Niklas Klingh, Country Manager-India spoke about their role in the supply chain. “We agree that wages should be enough to live on. We are working with our suppliers to ensure compliance on this.”
The brand acknowledged that overtime was also a problem in its supply chain with around 83% of suppliers involved in non-payment of overtime wages. While Fischer acknowledged this to be a problem, he failed to connect the prevalence of overtime hours to extremely low wage levels. Instead, he tried to link the overtime issue to worker’s own wish for more hours and offered to ‘investigate’ the reason behind these wishes.
According to the representatives, the necessity for over time itself at factories is due to ‘poor planning skills’ of the suppliers and H&M is ‘not responsible’ for the efficiency of their suppliers where orders of other brands are concerned, therefor shirking the brand’s responsibility for improvement of working conditions. read more.
* Garment workers speak up on bad working conditions:
“You end up like a machine working on a machine,” said Akshay Kumar, 36-year-old garment worker from Gurgaon, speaking of what it feels like to cope with inhuman production targets in bad working conditions in one of the several apparel units in the industrial city adjoining the national capital.
Mr. Kumar was one of the many garment workers who gave testimonies on low wages, long work hours and bad working conditions, at the ‘National people’s tribunal on living wage for garment workers’ being held here till Sunday. Workers from Bangalore, Gurgaon and Tirupur on Thursday spoke of how their human and labour rights were being abused as a matter of routine at their workplaces.
Sakamma, from Bangalore, said she works two hours as a domestic help to maintain her family of four, as what she earns at the garment unit was not enough to make ends meet. “After 22 years of service, I am not sure if I will keep my job tomorrow,” she said, speaking of the complete absence of job security.
Ms. Sakamma, who suffers from a heart ailment, said tuberculosis and asthma were common among workers. “Doctors ask me to drink milk and eat fruits, but how can I on my salary of Rs. 4,100?” she said. read more.
We, as representatives of Indian garment workers employed in the global garment industry petition the Peoples’ Tribunal on “Minimum Living Wage and Decent Working Conditions as a Fundamental Human Right” to hear the workers’ testimonies, experts’ evidence, and presentations from different parties and to render a recommendation for redressing the deficit in decent labour standards in the garment industry in India.
The Petitioners are:
The members consist of 20 organizations representing garment workers across India, defending the need for a living wage to be implemented in the garment industry as a fundamental human right of workers. read more.
* Delay in signing of Free Trade Deal with EU worries textile industry:
With Free Trade Agreement(FTA) between India and European Union (EU) not coming through, the Indian apparel industry is extremely concerned.
Exports to EU have drastically fallen this year with the region reeling under the worst ever economic recession in recent times. The FTA was expected to be signed in October-November this year but textile industry officials say that it has now been pushed back to the first quarter of next year.
In the EU region, India’s textile exports have suffered the most in Italy, where the exports are down by 33.65 per cent during April – September FY13 as compared to same period the previous year. read more.
* Rajasthan govt to unveil textiles policy by March 2013: Gehlot:
Rajasthan government will introduce a policy for the textiles sector by March 2013 for making the industry more competitive both in the domestic and international markets, the state Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said today.
“By the end of the current fiscal, we are going to introduce a policy for the textiles sector that will help the industry,” Gehlot told reporters after inaugurating the textiles fair ‘Vastra-2012’ here.
The fair is being jointly organised by the Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation (RICCO) and industry chamber FICCI.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Rajasthan to have a new textile policy:
The Rajasthan Government will adopt a new policy for the textiles sector by March next year with emphasis on skill development, manufacture and export promotion, giving a boost to the textile industry in the State and providing it a competitive advantage in the domestic and international market.
Industries Minister Rajendra Pareek made the announcement at a textiles fair, “Vastra-2012”, which was inaugurated by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in Sitapura industrial area here on Thursday. The fair has been organised jointly by the Rajasthan State Industrial Development & Investment Corporation (RICCO) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI). read more.
* A stitch in time:
Today it is so easy to walk into almost any handicraft store in India and buy a piece of kantha embroidery, points out Ritu Sethi, editor of Embroidering Futures: Repurposing the Kantha.
The book is based on the fact that kantha today, a significant part of the arts, crafts and textiles tradition of India, is an important source of livelihood for thousands of women in the country.
“And while we have emphasised the economic aspect of it, wherein it has become an object of commerce, there has been a gradual de-contextualization and a delinking from the cultural aspect,” she explains over telephone.
Ritu feels that kantha, which originates from West Bengal, has become a powerful brand around the world. The kantha is a tradition of embroidery where old saris and worn out pieces of cloth are layered and stitched together using largely running stitches to make blankets, quilts, shawls or other cloth items meant for everyday use.
“Today what was a phenomenal tradition of women recycling, restoring and reusing textiles with their embroidery for their loved ones now takes care of their home and hearth. Many NGOs and designers have played a role in creating these livelihoods. They are now coming out with so many designs that not only fulfil everyday needs but also suit the tastes of a modern home.” read more.
17:01:53 local time PAKISTAN
* Strong workers’ union culture in India:
‘Japanese investors coming to Pakistan from India’
Japanese Ambassador to Pakistan Hiroshi Oe on Thursday said many big Japanese investors were seriously planning to make investment in Pakistan as they were facing problems because of strong workers union culture in India.
Speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he said the business environment in Pakistan was far better and it was a safer place as far as working conditions were concerned.
The economy and infrastructure development are the priority areas and Japan government is focusing on them. read more.
* Textile exports up 5pc in four months, 10.50pc in October:
The textile exports from the country increased by 4.78 percent during the first four months of the current fiscal year as compared to the same period of last year.
During the month of October 2012, the exports of textile products increased by 10.5 percent and 1.21 percent when compared to the exports of October 2011 and September 2012 respectively, according to the data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). read more.
* PCGA urges govt to devise uniform national cotton policy:
The Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) has urged the Government to frame a uniform national cotton policy in view of the present-day realities.
THE KARACHI FIRE:
* Prgmea to start skill training programme:
Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association, ILO and Sindh Labour Department have jointly launched a skill training programme with a view to empower factory fire affected families.
Addressing the launching ceremony, PRGMEA Chairman Sajid Saleem Minhas and Vice Chairman PRGTTI Sohail A Sheikh said that it is first step to help the families gather courage to pull their lives back and look forward to the future challenges.
They said body will arrange the registration of the workers of their members units so that Labour Department could provide them medical and pension facilities besides allotting them flats in labor colonies. read more.
* Judge refuses to hear Baldia factory owners’ bail plea:
A Sindh High Court (SHC) judge refused to hear the bail plea of the owners of the Baldia garment factory on Thursday.
Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, two of the three owners of the Ali Enterprises factory that caught fire in September and killed over 250 workers, had gone to court seeking bail. Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi declined to even hear their application for a post-arrest bail.
The police had booked them under charges of murder, mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage and attempt to murder.
In the bail application, their lawyer, Amir Raza Naqvi, had argued that the investigation was faulty and full of errors. Thus, the police implicated the factory owners to victimise them, he said. “The police have forced the witnesses to record their statements against the factory owners, who are already aggrieved as they lost their precious asset – their factory,” he said. read more.