05:40:30 local time CHINA
* Minimum wage increases in 2012 fail to provide workers with a living wage:
Just about every time a regional government in China increased its statutory minimum wage this year it seemed to make headline news. However, even after hikes of up to 30 percent in some provinces, the minimum wage across China remains barely enough for a subsistence existence.
All workers earning the minimum wage still have to do overtime, sometimes excessive overtime, in order to make a decent living. A hospital porter in Guangzhou for example, told CLB that he earned around 4,000 yuan in November but almost two thirds of that came from overtime pay. His basic salary was only 1,339 yuan, close to the local minimum wage of 1,300 yuan, and in order to get 4,000 yuan per month he’d had to do an estimated 172 hours of overtime.
The highest minimum wage in China (1,500 yuan per month) is in the booming southern metropolis of Shenzhen. But even here, employers are struggling to attract workers because, as one netizen points out, to pay for three meals a day, transportation, rent, mobile phone usage and daily utilities in Shenzhen, you would need about 1,600 yuan each month. read more.
05:40:30 local time PHILIPPINES
* ‘Wage hike one of the best Yuletide Gifts lawmakers can give before 2013 elections’ :
Workers led by the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) trooped to the gates of the House of Representatives this Tuesday to ask the lawmakers for “one of the best Yuletide gifts” it can probably give workers this Christmas – passing the now decade-long P125 ($2.98) across-the-board wage hike bill.
“This has got to be one of the worst Christmases for the country’s workers,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general. For years now, he said, workers have to contend with more and more depressed real wages. Add to that, “a wage cut is underway.”
The Aquino government’s experiment with two-tier wage system was started early this year. In more than 10 regions where wage orders calling for two-tier wage rates were already issued, the government seeks to replace the already derided as low minimum wages prevailing in the country with an even lower amount called floor wages. read more.
04:40:30 local time VIET NAM
* HCM City: Highest Tet bonus in industrial parks at $10,000:
Despite the difficult economic situation in Vietnam, the highest year-end bonus in export processing zones (EPZ) and industrial parks (IP) in HCM City is at VND217 million (over $10,000).
The enterprises in EPZs and IPs in HCM City have completed the plans on Tet bonus for their workers.
Accordingly, the highest bonus for this New Year belongs to an employee of a foreign-invested company, with VND217.3 million (over $10,000).
The average and the lowest bonus of foreign firms are VND3.673 million ($170) and VND2.3 million ($100).
For domestic firms, the highest bonus is VND55.3 million ($2,500). The average is VND2.984 million ($150) and the lowest is VND2.14 million ($100).
The highest average Tet bonus belongs to the electrical and electronics industry, with VND5 million ($250), followed by the mechanical engineering field with VND3.55 million ($160).
The lowest bonus is for the food processing sector, with VND2.5 million ($120).
It is VND3.4 million ($170) for the garment and footwear industry.
04:40:30 local time THAILAND
* Migrant deadline delay sought:
Businesses fear severe labour shortages
Business leaders are calling on the government to extend the identification verification deadline for migrant workers to avoid an acute labour shortage in some industries.
Dec 14 is the deadline for issuing temporary passports to migrant workers from neighbouring Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar as part of the nationality verification process.
From tomorrow, all illegal workers face being deported to their home countries, ending a two-decade regularisation process that has generally failed to ensure national, human and economic security.
Phumin Harinsut, vice-chairman of Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the business sector has urged Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to extend the deadline.
* Govt urged to extend deadline for alien workers:
Chamber of commerce warns exports will be hit due to labour shortage
If the deadline for verification of alien workers’ nationality is not extended from today, several labour-intensive industries in Thailand such as fisheries or construction are likely to be hurt.
In the face of severe labour shortages at home, these industries have long relied heavily on alien workers.
The Thai Chamber of Commerce yesterday called on the authorities to extend the deadline for nationality verification.
“Otherwise, the country’s export and economic growth will be adversely affected,” chamber vice president Phumin Harinsut said. Fisheries and related industries generate Bt150 billion income from exports each year. read more.
04:10:30 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Thailand Unlikely to Extend Migrant Workers Deadline:
Thousands of Burmese migrants work long hours for low wages at factories such as this one in Thailand. (Photo: Jacob Baynham)
Friday’s deadline for the legal registration of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand will probably not be extended and more than 1 million workers now face an uncertain future in which they could be deported or fall victim to corruption and abuse, a labor rights advocate warned.
Andy Hall, a migration expert at Bangkok’s Mahidol University, said Thailand is determined to implement its Dec.14 deadline, after which migrant workers can no longer complete a procedure to verify their nationality and obtain a Thai work permit.
“It seems that it’s going ahead,” he said on Thursday evening, adding that Thailand’s National Security Council had prevailed on the Thai government not to extend the deadline. In recent years, the government had extended the closing date several times.
After the deadline passes workers need to go to Burma to obtain a passport and then re-enter Thailand to apply for a work permit. read more.
* Japan invests glove factory in Bago:
A Japanese glove factory is currently under construction just outside the Bago city, which is located 60km north from Yangon, sources reported.
Being next to a large Korean garment factory ‘Myanstar’, the factory is on the Nyaung Inn Junction of busy Yangon-Mandalay road and Nyaung Inn-Tike Kyi road.
It is a full percent foreign investment, and its construction started in the summer (around April), a local said.
He also added that a group of Chinese businessmen recently visited the land beside the factory, in order to invest a food stuff manufacturing company. to read.
04:40:30 local time CAMBODIA
* Clean Clothes Campaign: Killing the Goose? :
Flash mobs are fanning out across Europe this Christmas to raise awareness of the conditions that garment workers are forced to operate under in developing nations like Cambodia.
At least ten countries in Europe, among them Switzerland, Denmark, The Netherlands, Poland and Norway, have been targeted by the International Clean Clothes Campaign (CCCN). The aim is to force retailers to publicly support the goal of a $US131 per month minimum wage goal as a ‘first step towards a proper living wage’ here in Cambodia, against the current minimum wage for a garment worker in Cambodia is $US61 per month (before overtime), based on the claim that the current minimum wage amounts to less than 25% of a “living wage” in Cambodia.
CCCN is collaborating with the Cambodian trade union Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) on a European-wide campaign called ‘No More Excuses’, demanding that the H&M and the other retailers/brands take an aggressive role in ensuring that their demands are meet.
However, the campaign is going after the right people. It is the brand owners after all who make most of the profits, with the cost of the garments themselves constituting a very small part of the final price the consumer pays. This is because the brand owners have most if not all of the leverage. To date, however, they seem more interested in protecting their brand identities through green-washing than risk diluting their profits. read more.
* PM urges factories to up wages :
As the lure of Thailand grows increasingly attractive for cash-strapped and under-employed Cambodians, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday made a public appeal for workers to stay in the country, simultaneously urging the Cambodian market to up its competitive edge.
In a speech at the inauguration of a new administrative building for the Ministry of Labour, Hun Sen admonished employers, and garment manufacturers in particular, to make the domestic market more attractive to workers, citing Cambodia’s ongoing labour shortage.
“I think that if [the garment industry] gave them higher wages, the workers would like going to work,” the prime minister said.
“And right now, the problem for the industry is competition to recruit workers.”
* Hun Sen: probe the fainting issue:
Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday ordered the Ministry of Labour to investigate why more than 1,600 reported faintings have occurred in the Kingdom’s garment factories this year and to do whatever it takes to fix the problem.
“We see the workers fainting at this factory or that factory, so it’s important that labour officials be active in addressing this problem with the owners of the factories,” Hun Sen said at the opening of a new Ministry of Labour building.
According to the latest ministry figures, 1,654 workers have fainted in factories here during 2012.
Labour groups say many more go unreported.
The prime minister said an expectation to put in overtime or work without breaks was contributing to exhaustion and causing them to miss meals.
“Our people are not machines that can work without stopping,” Hun Sen said, adding that bosses also need to fix ventilation problems and provide better accommodation for workers. read more.
* Hun Sen calls for higher wages to counter labor shortage:
Prime Minister Hun Sen urged the private sector Wednesday to provided better working conditions to counter the country’s growing labor shortage.
“Labor in Cambodia is now insufficient,” he told a ceremony marking the opening of a new building at the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training.
“Industrial crops such as rubber and cashews really need laborers,” the prime minister said. “So do the hotel, construction and garment sectors.”
Hun Sen said employers in such industries should pay better salaries. “If they offer high salaries, workers will work there,” he said, adding that housing and welfare benefits were also important. read more.
* Hun Sen calls for end to short-term labor contracts:
Prime Minister Hun Sen urged the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training and factory owners Wednesday to consider abandoning short-term labor contracts.
Speaking at the opening of a new administrative building at the ministry, the prime minister also called for the labor law to be strengthened.
“The improvement of the labor law for employees and employers is important to ensure the development of labor and vocational training,” he said.
Hun Sen stressed the need for “good working conditions, a healthy workforce, hygiene, freedom to form unions and more focus on long-term contacts agreed by both sides.”
Workers “want long-term contracts,” he said. “So owners should consider this. If they want workers, they should provide good working conditions.”
He also urged employers to address problems by paying compensation, treating traffic accidents, providing health care and preventing workplace accidents.
05:40:30 local time INDONESIA
* Businesses expected to stay in W. Java, despite wage increase:
The West Java administration is hoping that garment industry executives will not relocate their businesses to other provinces after the local minimum wage goes up in 2013.
The administration’s comments apparently contradicted Indonesian Textile Association chairman Ade Sudrajat, who said that at least 50 garment companies in West Java would likely relocate to Central Java due to a minimum wage for 2013 that was described as “too high” and not competitive.
However, Hening said that he heard that at least 100 firms, most in the textile and garment industries in Karawang, Bekasi and Bogor, would soon submit such proposals.
The proposals must meet five requirements, Hening said, including the submission of corporate financial reports for the past two years and an letter of approval from the appropriate labor union. read more.
03:40:30 local time BANGLA DESH
* Foreign garment factory closed in Savar:
A foreign garment factory at Jirabo was declared closed for an indefinite period on Thursday following a labour unrest.
Police said workers of the factory–Ezang Sweater run by a businessman of Mauritius–turned violent as they found the closure notice at the main gate when they came to join work at about 8am today.
The agitated workers then tried to block traffic movement on a nearby road in protest against the notice, but police dispersed them.
The factory authorities said they have been forced to close the factory and hung the notice following agitation by the workers over different demands.
Masum Chowdhury, inspector of industrial police-1, said the workers have been observing work stoppage programme since Dec 9 demanding increased wage and protesting retrenchment of the workers. to read. & read more.
* Participants fear poor business over political unrest:
Participants in the 23rd Bangladesh Apparel and Textile Exposition-2012 have expressed their fears that this year the annual exhibition would fail to achieve its target due to low turnout of visitors and buyers amid political unrest.
Leaders of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association, organiser of the three-day event, however, said though the political unrest was a problem, the exposition would achieve its target.
The Batexpo witnessed low turnout of visitors on Thursday, second day of the exposition, due to the general strike enforced by the BNP-led alliance.
The participants said that they had seen a decreased number of visitors and foreign buyers this year.
Political unrest and the Tazreen Fashions fire are the causes of the low turnout of buyers, they said. read more.
* fire safety responsibility of government and brands:
IndustriALL calls again on the Bangladeshi government to secure the future of the country’s garment industry by doing more on guaranteeing fire safety and for brands to support this.
IndustriALL calls upon all brands involved in the Tazreen fire and all brands sourcing from Bangladesh to sign the Bangladeshi Fire and Building Safety agreement as soon as possible. Furthermore IndustriALL supports the Bangladeshi Trade Union Demands on Fire Safety. read more.
* US lawmakers urge Obama’s action in Tazreen fire:
In a letter to Obama, lawmakers say US contractors must ensure worker rights
A group of US lawmakers wrote to President Barack Obama on Wednesday urging action in response to the November 24 fire incident of Tazreen Fashions Ltd that claimed the lives of 112 workers.
The group led by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) also sought Obama’s interference in ensuring that clothing coming into the US – particularly products for their military – is made in factories that protect their workforce.
The letter was signed by US senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Congressman George Miller (D-CA).
The letter reads,” Last month, a fire in the Tazreen Fashions Ltd in Bangladesh killed 112 people. Following the tragedy, it came to light that the workers were ordered to stay at their sewing machines after fire alarms went off, were trapped inside because exit doors were locked, and were unable to fight the fire because fire extinguishers inside the plant did not work.” read more. & read more.
* Latest Garment Factory Fire Shows Apparel Industry Puts Profits Before Workers:
The holiday season is supposed to be a joyous time for the apparel industry, filled with pictures of happy consumers buying new clothes for themselves and their loved ones.
Yet, somehow, this season seems to be going to opposite direction, filled with pictures from Greenpeace Detox campaignas well as from Pakistan and Bangladesh, where about 400 people died in the last couple of months due to fires in garment factories.
So instead of talking about the $386 that people are expected to spend on gifts this year, from which 51 percent, or $197, goes to clothing, the discussion has shifted to the $30-$50 garment workers make a month, in return for hard work, long hours and exposure to unsafe working conditions.
The latest tragedies in the garment factories were devastating in particular – not because they spoiled the holidays for retailers and fashion industries, but because they show that with all the progress that we’ve made so far, we’re still up to our neck in exploitative capitalism.
In a way, it reminded me what Aron Cramer, BSR President and CEO, said at the last BSR conference: “As we reflect on the past 20 years, it seems that everything has changed, and nothing has changed.” With all the progress made in the last 20 years after Nike and others were criticized for selling goods produced in sweatshops, it looks like we’re back to square one. read more.
* Dhaka’s leather industry thrives on poor wage, clean-up:
The leather industry in the heart of Bangladesh’s capital is booming, because high-quality “Bengali black” leather, much in demand from the European leather goods makers, is cheap.
A new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report claims that it is chiefly because of the factories’ refusal to clean up or pay decent wages, and the Bangladesh government’s failure to step in despite repeated promises.
The industry, worth half a billion pounds in exports last year, is crucial to this desperately poor country.
This is what has recently been reported in the Guardian of the UK. In a dispatch deadlined Dhaka, Alex Renton of The Guardian reported that 150 factories in Hazaribagh in the capital city of Bangladesh were at their busiest when he visited in November, processing the hides from animals sacrificed during the Eid-al-Adha festival. read more.
* Khaleda calls for quick power, gas supplies to RMG sector:
Leader of the Opposition in parliament and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia Thursday underscored the need for a national movement to uphold democracy in the country.
The former prime minister made the call at the closing ceremony of Batexpo against the demand raised by garments makers to shun hartal permanently as part of political activities.
The garment makers demanded of the opposition leader to avoid calling strikes as a political weapon in the greater interest of the sector which has potentials to make the country economically sovereign. read more.
* Khaleda urges workers’ safety:
Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia yesterday urged garment entrepreneurs to ensure safety and better working conditions for workers, saying they are the lifeline to the country’s highest foreign currency earning sector.
“Not the machines, the workers behind the machines are the lifeline to the sector. Justice cannot be ensured without giving importance to their life, safety and better working conditions,” she said.
“Anything founded on injustice cannot be sustainable,” said the chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
The former prime minister spoke at the closing ceremony of the Bangladesh Apparel and Textile Exposition (Batexpo-2012) at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the city. read more. & read more. & read more.
* ASHULIA- TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* Walmart tied to Tazreen fire via supply chain: CEO:
The chief executive officer (CEO) of the global retailer, Walmart, Mike Duke said in New York late Tuesday that the company was tied to the disaster at the Tazreen Fashion factory at Ashulia, Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka on November 24 via a complex supply chain.
It said it had cut off a supplier that had sourced clothes for it from the garment factory in Bangladesh where 110 workers were killed by a fire.
Mr. Duke said at the Council for Foreign Relations: “This is complicated, there are multiple steps in a supply chain, there could be a supplier that may be based here in the United States and may be buying from factories, and sometimes there are subcontract factories.” read more. & read more.
03:10:30 local time INDIA
* Spinning unit lockout triggers protest:
An agitation by the workers of Madura Coats near Ambasmaudram in the district continued on Thursday after the spinning unit administration decided to lock out the company following the sit-in protest by the employees.
Demanding hike in wages and pressing a few more demands, workers of Madurai Coats spinning unit started sit-in dharna from December 1 onwards.
Though the spinning mill administration held a few round of talks with the protesting workers and informed the protestors the administration’s inability to pay increased wages at this juncture, the deadlock continued.
Even as the workers decided to continue their agitation, the Madura Coats administration locked out the spinning unit on Wednesday evening. read more.
* Reebok India stands by its Rs 870-cr fraud allegations:
Even as a Gurgaon police investigation into the alleged fraud in Reebok Indiapoint to a loss to the company of Rs 11.3 crore, the sportswear maker reiterated its earlier claim that wrongdoing by two former top executives caused the firm a loss of Rs 870 crore.
The probe, by a special investigation team (SIT) of the police, says that former managing director Subhinder Singh Prem and former Chief Operating Officer (COO) Vishnu Bhagat had only caused a loss to the company worth Rs 11.3 crore, while the money made by the duo for themselves was much less. read more.
* Slowdown in EU, US impact India’s textile exports:
* AEPC proposes measures to hike garment exports by 100%:
Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), a leading body of Indian apparel exporters, today proposed measures to hike garment exports by 100 percent in 3 years, and 10 percent in the current fiscal year. Dr. A Sakthivel, Chairman AEPC, on behalf of the garments and textiles exporters submitted the proposal to Shri S R Rao, Commerce Secretary in the Department of Commerce, Government of India.
Speaking on the proposal Chairman AEPC said that, “We have learnt that Ministry of Commerce / Ministry of Textiles is likely to announce certain sops to the garment industry in order to face challenges on global slowdown. I am providing herewith further details of my proposal”. read more.
* Anti-dumping duty on yarn can be a liability to weavers:
With the increase in anti-dumping duty on all synthetic yarns exported from countries such as Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan, the weavers are paying more duty, says Mr. Arun Jariwala, president of Federation of Indian Art Silk Weaving Industry (FIASWI).
In a conversation with fibre2fashion, Mr. Jariwala said, “The finance ministry has raised anti-dumping duty from five percent to sixteen percent on all types of yarns including polyester, viscose and nylon. The weavers have to accept this dumping duty.” read more.
* Govt rescues India handloom sector from recession:
The Government of India approved two packages in November/December 2011 for the handloom weavers of the Country. The first package is for loan waiver of overdue loans and interest of handloom cooperative societies and individual weavers as on 31st March 2010.
Under this Financial Package, provisions have been made for handloom cooperative societies and individual handloom weavers to obtain fresh loans after by waiver with interest subsidy of 3% for a period of 3 years and with credit guarantee. read more.
* Textile sector to benefit from increased Chinese demand:
Chinese demand for Pakistani cotton has increased and will benefit the Pakistani textile sector in near future.
Our local cotton arrival target for fiscal year 2012-13 stands at 14.5 million bales. Local prices would remain range-bound where the domestic textile sector is expected to benefit from increased demand from China given its higher support price, says a JS research analyst.
Cotton crop dynamics, both local and global, appear relatively robust for FY13.
As a result, world cotton prices would remain on the downside, averaging $0.83 per pound in FY13 as against $1.11 per pound in the same period last year, research analyst said in his report. read more.
02:40:30 local time PAKISTAN
* Growth, job creation: APTMA seeks reduction in discount rate by 200bps:
The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) top notch Gohar Ejaz seeks reduction in discount rate by 200bps for growth and job creation ahead. Talking to a select group of media at the Lake City Golf Club on Thursday, the Aptma Group Leader said the regional competitors are charging not more than 7 per cent interest rate, which is yet 9.5 per cent in Pakistan.
There is no expansion to industry and many units are already closed down due to double digit interest rate and unprecedented energy crisis. Gohar said the private sector has been crowded out from the bank borrowing and there were no other sources of funding because the capital market is shallow and the only option left for the industry was equity investment. He said Pakistan’s industry was unable to compete with regional textile industry due to huge gap of financial cost of doing business. read more.
* Textile sector to become zero-rated after GSP status: official:
The textile sector of the country would become zero-rated after getting the European Union’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) by 2014, revealed Shahid Rasheed, Secretary of the Ministry, while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Ministry of Textile Industry, which met with Mushahidullah Khan in the chair, here on Thursday.
Pakistan has ratified all the 27 conventions required for getting the EU’s GSP status; however there are several issues which come under provincial jurisdiction, which are yet to be addressed, he added. Pakistan will apply for GSP Plus status in January 2013 and after getting formal approval from the EU’s Council of Ministers by September 30, 2012, the country will be eligible for the concession by January 2014. There would be no cap on any textile product import to the 27 countries of EU and the country will be in a better position than Bangladesh with whole textile chain in hand. read more.
* Pakistan’s cotton output may decline this year: Minister:
* Pakistan farmers benefit from Better Cotton Initiative:
THE KARACHI FIRE:
* Tribunal identifies short circuit as cause:
The tribunal probing the Baldia factory fire has arrived at the conclusion that a short circuit was responsible for the horrific tragedy.
It has also stressed the need for strictly implementing the rules and regulations pertaining to old and newly-established factories
In its report presented to the provincial chief executive at the Chief Minister’s House on Monday, the tribunal described the causes of the horrific blaze, the damages incurred and the loss of life in the tragedy.
The tribunal head, Justice (Retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi, who is also the chairman of the Pakistan Zakat Council, Sindh, also presented suggestions and recommendations with regard to the infrastructure of factories, security measures and the protection of labourers and other staff, according to a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s House. read more.
* SHC orders protection for witnesses, evidence to be ‘preserved’:
The Sindh High Court ordered the home secretary and inspector-general of police on Wednesday to provide complete protection to the witnesses of the Baldia factory fire and also preserve the evidence so far collected “fully and effectively”.
The judges have also called a report of the inquiry into the factory fire which was conducted by a government-appointed judicial commission, headed by a retired judge of the high court.
The proceedings against the factory owners by the different workers and human rights organisations took a new turn on Wednesday, as their lawyer pleaded for urgent hearing of the case, saying that he was being “threatened for representing the case.”
Faisal Siddiqui, the lawyer representing the petitioners, told the judges that he had received a threatening call and that “some people took my pictures on my visit to the courts on December 3.”
The lawyer alleged that the prosecution witnesses were being harassed by the owners of Ali Enterprises – Arshad and Shahid Bhaila – for testifying in court against them. read more.