in the news on-line, 16-17 December 2012

14:31:59 local time map of china CHINA

* First-ever int’l textile, garment industry exhibition kicks off in Yangon:

The first-ever int’l textile, garment industry exhibition on Friday kicked off at Tatmadaw Hall in Yangon, attracting over 100 exhibitors from 17 countries to participate in.iming to help clinch deals between domestic and foreign enterprises.

The four-day fair, aiming to help clinch deals between domestic and overseas enterprises, was jointly organized by Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) and Yorkers Trade and Marketing Services Co.,Ltd, Hong Kong.

Over 100 exhibitors from 17 different countries and regions including China, China’s Hong Kong, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Switzerland will display a wide variety of state-of-art textiles and garments technologies, machinery and parts.
There are over 100 garment factories running in the country of which more than 30 are foreign-invested ones, according to an official of MGMA. read more.

13:31:59 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Garment producers gear up to prepare for TPP:

Vietnam exports 7.6 billion dollars worth of garments to the US. And with the current growth rate, the export turnover would be 13 billion dollars by 2020. However, with the Trans – Pacific Partnership agreement TPP, the figure would be as high as 22 billion dollars.

Le Quoc An, Senior Advisor to the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas), was the person who gave the figure, affirming that this is not an “illusion,” if Vietnam can grab the opportunities to be brought by TPP.

The international textile and garment trade fair VTG 2012 which took place in HCM City some days ago, has been described as a miniature picture about the textile industry. The booths of the enterprises from China, Taiwan and South Korea dominated the trade fair. Meanwhile, the number of Vietnamese products was very modest.

According to the General Department of Customs, by November 15, 2012, Vietnam had exported 15,687 billion dollars worth of garments and fibers. However, in order to make such exports, it had to import 10.77 billion dollars worth of materials, including six billion dollars worth of cloth imports.

Also according to the customs agency, China has been the biggest supplier of fabric and materials to Vietnam (3.5 billion dollars in the first 10 months of 2012), followed by South Korea and Taiwan. read more.

* Many employers lack funds for Tet bonuses:

It is that time of the year when bosses begin fretting about bonuses for employees.

As the Tet (Lunar New Year) festival approaches, firms stuck in difficulties caused by the prolonged economic downturn are devising different approaches to paying bonuses for their employees.

The bigger firms plan to pay higher bonuses in order to build worker loyalty and retain talent, but there are others left searching for face-saving options.
In HCM City’s Binh Tan District, the 100 per cent foreign-invested Pou Yuen Viet Nam Company has prepared for Tet bonuses months ahead of the Tet. Cu Phat Nghiep, Chairman of the Trade Union of Pou Yuen Viet Nam, said despite the challenges facing the company, Pou Yuen earmarked VND600 billion (US$28.7 million) for giving Tet bonuses to its 75,000 workers to welcome the Year of the Snake. read more.

13:31:59 local time map of thailand THAILAND

 * BOT chief worries about impact higher wages will have on small businesses:

Prasarn sees 5.8% growth this year but says many small firms may close

The Bank of Thailand governor expects the Thai economy to expand 5.8 per cent this year and estimates 4.7 per cent growth next year on domestic demand and export recovery, while expressing his concern about the increase in minimum daily wage which might force many small and medium-sized enterprises to shut down.

Speaking at a Dinner Talk 2012 on “Challenges: Thai Economy, Global Economy” recently, BOT chief Prasarn Trairatvorakul said the Thai economy could grow slightly higher than expected at 5.8 per cent this year, and 4.7 per cent in 2013. The BOT had earlier estimated 2012 growth at 5.7 per cent and 2013 growth at 4.6 per cent.

Domestic demand, including private consumption and investment, has been cited as the main driver of growth while exports are expected to stage a recovery in early 2013. read more.

* Migrant workers urge better social security cover:

Labour rights activists will take advantage of International Migrants Day tomorrow to lobby the government to improve social welfare benefits for migrant workers

The social security system has been in place for more than 20 years and is “not primarily designed for migrant workers”, Lae Dilokwitthayarat, an economics lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, said.
He said authorities need to amend legal procedures to allow migrants to gain access to welfare benefits, including healthcare, more easily.
“These workers help build the Thai economy.
“If they are not well protected, the economy will be damaged,” he said. read more.

* ILO chief lauds minimum wage policy:

The head of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) says he supports the government’s minimum-wage policy, but warns that it could backfire if its repercussions are not addressed fairly.

In an exclusive interview with The Nation, Guy Ryder, who took the helm of the United Nations agency on October 1, said the policy to impose a blanket Bt300 minimum wage nationwide next year was a significant step to benefit working people. However, he acknowledged that it was a matter of controversy.

Some employers have complained that the higher minimum will increase their labour costs to the extent that some small and medium-sized enterprises could be forced out of business. This in turn would lead to layoffs. read more.

* Free Somyot- Invitation to Somyot’s next court hearing:

Next week, the Criminal Court will resume its schedule on Somyot’s case on 19 December 2012 after it has been delayed for three months without informed explanation.

Prior to this, the Constitutional Court also ruled that Article 112 is not against the constitutionality. Both information made the lawyer as well as the family grave concerns about the negative development of the case. According to the lawyer, if the Criminal Court decided on penalty, Somyot may face a sentence of maximum 10-year imprisonment.

While there are neither confirmation nor details about the next court schedule informed by writing, fear of prolonged detention as well as sudden verdict announcement has been worsen among family members. read more.

* Letter from Somyot to his family:

You can read it here.

13:31:59 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* In Garment Sector, a Labor Movement Divided:

President of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union Ath Thun, center, rallies garment factory workers striking for a minimum wage increase in September 2010. (Pring Samrang)

There was so much noise blasting from the loudspeakers that the occasional rallying cry from striking workers at the demonstration in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district last week could hardly be heard.

One 2-meter high stack of amplifiers had been set up outside the Nex-T factory and was blaring directives of union leaders from the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU), encouraging the 300 workers to keep striking.
Coming from another two large loudspeakers attached to the factory wall was an even louder broadcast from a representative of the Cambodian Labor Union Federation (CLUF), a CPP-aligned union, urging the workers to go back to work.

“We [management and workers] are like husband and wife,” said the CLUF representative over the loudspeakers. “We should work together. You should consider this—if you don’t work, you won’t get paid and you will lose your attendance bonus.”
The strikers were supporting two CCAWDU representatives who say they were ousted from the factory for trying to organize a CCAWDU-affiliated union.

“The CLUF does not understand what a union is,” came the response from the CCAWDU loudspeakers. “Why do they fight against us? When there is oppression, we have to fight against it.” read more.

14:31:59 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Pay Rise On The Cards For Malaysian Employees In 2013, Says Randstad Workmonitor:

Almost every Malaysian employee expects to get a pay rise next year, according to Randstad’s latest Workmonitor Report for fourth quarter released today.

This figure is among the highest from a global survey of 14,780 employees from 32 countries, with respondents across the region less confident about their prospects of a pay rise in China (82 per cent), Singapore (76 per cent), Australia (75 per cent), New Zealand (69 per cent) and Japan (42 per cent). read more.

14:31:59 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Wage Hike May Keep Workers in Indonesia:

The number of Indonesians working abroad could decline in the coming years as minimum wages in various regions of the country rise, some labor activists and workers say.

The Jakarta administration last month decided to set the capital’s minimum wage at 2.2 million rupiah ($228) a month, starting next month.
This is an increase of about 45 percent from around 1.5 million rupiah currently.
read more.

* Sectorial workers to get higher wages:

The Jakarta Remuneration Board set the 2013 minimum provincial wage for different sectors (UMSP) between 5 to 17 percent higher than the standard wage, despite there being no agreement between employers and workers.

Board chairman Deded Sukandar said on Sunday that although there was no deal between the two, the UMSP had to be set.
“There have been four bipartite meetings between employers and workers but no solution was reached. The board finally made a decision on Friday because we needed to settle this immediately,” Deded, who also works at the Jakarta Manpower and Transmigration Agency, said. read more.

13:01:59 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Lower Costs Lure Thai Firms to Invest in Burma:

Thai business and government leaders will converge on Burma over the next few days to investigate new trade and investment opportunities and consider the next moves on the stalled Dawei industrial-port project.

A trade mission of major Thai companies led by Thailand’s state Board of Trade and Thai Chamber of Commerce begin a three-day visit on Sunday Dec. 16, and a government team led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrives in the country one day later.

The trade mission includes representatives from machinery, food and drink, health, tourism, telecommunications, transport and jewelry businesses. The leading companies involved are Kasikornbank, Thai Beverage (brewing), Mitr Phol (sugar production) and the Saha Group (retailing).

Thai businesses are attracted to Burma to establish factories because of lower labor costs, said Thai chamber chairman Pongsak Assakul. A new minimum daily wage of 300 baht (US $10) comes into force in Thailand in January for many larger firms.
read more.

12:31:59 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

 * 10 RMG workers hurt in clash with cops in Gazipur:

At least 10 garment workers were injured during a clash with police on the Dhaka-Tangail highway in Kaliakair upazila of Gazipur Friday morning.

The clash ensued when the agitated workers of Gomati Textile limited, situated at Shafipur, blocked the highway for more than an hour demanding arrears, Kabir Hossain, inspector of Gazipur industrial police (zone 2), said confirming the incident, reports a Gazipur correspondent.

The RMG workers observed a work abstention on Thursday as the factory authority had not paid their last month’s salaries until Thursday.
Earlier, the factory authority had promised them to pay their salaries on the day.
On Friday morning, the workers joined the work with the hope of getting salaries.
Later, as soon as they came to know that they would not be paid even today, the agitated workers came out of the factory and took to the street around 9:45am.

They also put blockade on the highway and vandalised at least 10 vehicles on the highway.
On information, police rushed to the spot and fired several teargas canisters to bring the situation under control.
Police also charged batons to disperse the demonstrating workers leaving the 10 workers injured.
The situation became normal around 11:00am when the workers left the highway.
to read. & read more.
 

 * 15 injured as garments workers clash with police in Gazipur:

At least 15 apparel workers, including some female, were injured on Friday in a clash with police at Safipur area under Kaliakoir Upazila of the district.  

The workers also observed strike, brought out procession, blocked the Dhaka-Tangail highway for about one hour and ransacked a factory and a number of vehicles demanding payment of arrear wages.
Hundreds of vehicles were stranded on both sides of the highway during the clash, local sources said.
Sub-inspector Nayabul Islam of Safipur Mauchak police outpost, under Kaliakoir Police station, told New Age that about 2,000 workers of Gamati Textile Mills Limited came down to the Dhaka-Tangile highway and started their agitation programme on Friday morning.
The angry workers ransacked some vehicles on the highway and also vandalised the factory. read more.

* RMG factory closed over workers’ unrest:

A readymade garments factory at Ashulia under the upazila was declared closed amid workers unrest on Saturday.The authorities of a garment named ‘Hason Curia’ announced holiday in the noon as the workers of the garment started work abstention in the morning demanding piece-rate declaration.
Sources said some 22,000 workers took part in the work abstention programme to press home their demand. “The authorities tried to made workers understand but they failed,” said a spot account of the incident.
At one stage of their protest, the workers vandalized the main gate of the garment factory and the authorities declared the closure. to read.

* 850 factories face ouster:

The trade body of garment makers has planned to cancel membership of 850 non-compliant industrial units — 600 in this month and the rest in February, said a leader of the platform.

These units had failed to conform to labour and safety standards despite repeated reminders from Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), its Vice-president Faruque Hassan told The Daily Star by phone.

The association, however, has no plan to exclude any factory of the Tuba Group, the owning company of Tazreen Fashions that were gutted last month in a deadly fire. Faruque said the group’s other six units were compliant and operational.
BGMEA would ask the owners of the 850 non-compliant factories to produce relevant documents. If the BGMEA board is not satisfied with the documents, it will cancel their membership. read more.

* BGMEA seeks ‘apparel ministry’:

Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) sought a separate ‘apparel ministry’ for coordination and effective representation of the multi-billion dollar Readymade Garments (RMG) industry.

“We need a separate apparel ministry for effective representation of the gigantic industry. We’ll give a proposal to the government to that end shortly,” M Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of BGMEA, told BSS on Friday.
Mohiuddin said sometimes the garments makers pursue ministry of commerce and sometimes labour whenever face problems as they don’t know which particular ministry is responsible for looking after the sector’s issues.

“Sometimes minister even the Prime Minister take responsibility from their kindness whenever we face any problem in RMG industry.we need one stop service for the country’s biggest RMG industry,” he said.
The BGMEA chief added: “If you just compare the contribution of apparel industry with ministry of textile and jute you will see what bigger contribution the apparel industry puts.” read more. & read more.
 

* Eco-friendly RMG sector can save $150m a year: study:

Bangladesh’s garment industry can save at least $150 million a year by introducing an environment friendly production method, according to a study of the International Finance Corporation. Cleaner production will also make the industry more competitive in the global market, said the study.

The study was released at a seminar on ‘environment friendly and resource efficient production: the context of textile and clothing industry’ organised by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) at the Westin Dhaka.
SouthAsia Enterprise Development Facility (SEDF) conducted the study on behalf of the IFC. read more. & read more.
 

* Wal-Mart email reveals strategy to upgrade Bangladesh factories:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc has begun discussions with other retailers that would force suppliers to pay for safety upgrades of overseas factories after a Bangladesh fire killed more than 100 people last month.

Four days after the blaze, Rajan Kamalanathan, Wal-Mart’s vice-president for ethical standards, sent a proposal to members of the Global Social Compliance Programme. The industry group represents more than 30 companies, including Wal-Mart, Carrefour SA and PVH Corp, and says its mission is to improve environmental and working conditions in global supply chains. A person familiar with the document confirmed its authenticity.

Since the blaze at the Tazreen factory on Nov 24, Western companies have faced increased calls from labour- rights organisations to pay suppliers higher prices so factory owners can afford safety upgrades.
The three-page proposal said “fire and electrical safety aspects are not currently adequately covered in sourcing audits,” and outlined steps “to significantly improve fire safety precautions on all fronts.” read more.

* Delhi assures Dhaka of regular cotton supply:

Despite the estimated decline in raw cotton in Indian markets by about 12 per cent, New Delhi has assured that it would not stop the exports of cotton to Dhaka,
says Jahangir Alamin, president of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), according to Fibre2fashion, a web news portal. Speaking to fibre2fashion, Jahangir Alamin said, “We have been assured that India is not going to ban the export of cotton.”
“We are in a relief that India will continue to export cotton and about seven million tonnes of cotton is likely to be exported from India this year,” he added. read more.

* Different factors take a heavy toll on the show:

Multifarious factors like political turmoil, impact of Tazreen factory fire and change of event schedule took a heavy toll on the three-day Batexpo that concluded Friday.

Majority of the participants expressed their dissatisfaction over the less-than-expected number of buyers and visitors’ presence at the international apparel expo.
read more.

* 2000 hosiery factories set up in Gaibandha:

A revolution on hosiery industry has begun at Cochasahar and its surrounding areas under Gobindaganj Upazila in the district in recent years.

By this time, Cochasahar of the upazila has gained its familiarity as an industrial area to all as different types of warm clothes worth about TK 200 crore produced in more than 2000 factories here are enabling to meet demand in the country.
More than 50 thousand of people including 20,000 technicians and workers have been involved in the industry work ahead of winter season and they are earning their livelihoods from it directly or indirectly. If the owners of the factories got adequate financial facilities from the government
particularly the banks, the hosiery industries like the garments industry could contribute to the economic development of the country.
According to sources setting up factories on hosiery industry at Cochashahar area of the upazila started in 1973 at the initiative of a few number of local entrepreneurs.
read more.

* Major retailers seem unwilling to foot the bill for fire safety:

About a year and a half before a fire at a clothing factory in Bangladesh killed 112 people in November, executives from Wal-Mart, Gap and other big retailers met nearby to discuss ways to prevent the unsafe working conditions that have made such tragedies common.

Representatives from a dozen of the world’s largest retailers and fashion labels gathered with labor groups and local officials in April 2011 at the three-day meeting held in the 15-story, glass-walled headquarters of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association in Dhaka, the capital, reports greenbaypressgazette.com.
They were considering a first-of-its-kind contract that would govern fire safety inspections at thousands of Bangladeshi factories making T-shirts, blazers and other clothes Americans covet.
Under the terms of the agreement, each company would be required to publicly report fire hazards at factories, pay factory owners more to make repairs and provide at least $500,000 over two years for the effort. They also would sign a legally binding agreement that would make them liable when there’s a factory fire.
read more.

*       ASHULIA- TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:

* Liar, liar, factories on fire:

Is our leading media playing its moral role of comforting the afflicted? Or is it structurally compelled to be in a business of comforting the already comfortable?
The ownerships of our media (both print and satellite) at this point is deeply linked with a fabulously huge business conglomerate of a whole spectrum of merchandise: cell phones, washing machines, mosquito coil, diet Pepsi, fire insurance, spinning mills, Aerosols, rubber plantation, pain killers, beef pepperoni, red & hot BBQ chicken, tube lights, literature fest, and what not. One wouldn’t want to gloom the consumer price index while owning pretty much one quarter of the entire economy. No ‘Badnaam’ is good, as darling DSE index may tumble, writes
Maha Mirza

Nowadays the global media seems to be euphoric about us. Every now and then, The Economist heaps lavish praise for our apparently astonishing economic happenings. Lately, JP Morgan added Bangladesh in its catalogue of ‘Frontier Five’. The McKinsey Report spotted Bangladesh as the next hotspot for global apparel bazaar.
After finished havocking the Greek economy, Goldman Sachs kindly positioned us in its next-eleven brochure. And the World Bank confirmed our eligibility for a sharp 8 per cent growth. Meanwhile, our own leading newspapers have gone ‘gaga’ over the prospect of us being on the directory of the club of new-rich. We obviously continue to hog the headlines for wrong reasons. read more.

* Tazreen fire and some questions:

“My mother has gone to the factory, she has not returned home yet. Where’s my mother? She has not come”, seven-year-old Rumi said as she showed a passport-size photograph of her mother. – The Financial Times, December 03.

How can we compensate this kid’s loss? Is it possible by money? Could we return her mother at any cost? Is it compensable? How long hundreds of kids like Rumi will lose their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers? How long the innocent people will die, burnt in fire whether in garment factories or in their own houses (like Nimtoli), on the streets or in the water?

“Bangladesh’s worst-ever factory blaze kills over 100” – Reuters, November 25. “112 people killed in fire at Bangladesh garment factory” – The Washington Times, November 25.

How long will we be headlines in domestic as well as international media?
It is very unfortunate that, when such tragedies happen, all attention is focused on them, from the media to tea stalls. But after that everything continues as before until another accident takes place.

The recent (November 24) fire at Tazreen Fashions Ltd factory, which killed 112 workers, is really unfortunate and unacceptable.
But was it accident or killing?
This question arises since the factory had no emergency exits. Why did the three managers locked in the workers during the blaze? Is not the state also responsible since there is no sign of implementing laws on safety standards? Is not the major global brands, including Walmart and Disney, responsible since their apparels were being produced at the factory which did not adopt adequate safety measures?
read more.

* American tariffs, Bangladeshi deaths:

The fire that killed 112 workers at a garment factory in the suburbs of Bangladesh’s capital last month was a stark reminder of the human costs of producing and consuming cheap clothes.

While American officials have condemned poor safety conditions at the factory and have urged the Bangladeshi government to raise wages and improve working conditions, the United States can do much more: It should bring down high tariffs on imports from Bangladesh and other Asian countries, which put pressure on contractors there to scrimp on labor standards in order to stay competitive.

The United States imported more than $4.0 billion worth of apparel and textiles from Bangladesh last year. So it has an interest in giving the country’s garment industry some financial room with which to improve conditions for the three million employees, most of them female, who work in the industry. read more.

* Flame of fire and death of nimble fingers:

Traditionally women in Bangladesh are considered docile, naive, and less capable to work hard, only responsible for reproductive work and best caregiver to all. The traditional image of women in the country coupled with the factor that there were not many employment opportunities for women in the country forced women to continue their traditional role. In the early 1980s things started to brighten up for the women when the garments industry started to operate.

Since the 1980s the Bangladesh garment industry has grown dramatically. Garments have been the main export product in Bangladesh and currently Bangladesh is one of the largest garments exporters in the world.
Readymade garments make up 80 per cent of the country’s $24 billion in annual exports. Currently there are about 4,500 garments factories in Bangladesh employing more than three million people.
What is the most important aspect of this industry is that 85% of the workers in this industry are women and a majority of them are young women between the ages of 18 and 32.

Before the emergence of the garments industry the most common place for economic activity for uneducated and low educated women was to work in the agriculture sector or as domestic worker.
The garments industry opened up a new opportunity to earn a living for the uneducated and the low educated women in the country.
Many women who worked in the agricultural sector and as domestic workers and many women who were not involved in any income generating activities joined the garments industry.

Many migrated to the urban areas from rural areas to join this industry. Not just from the lower class but also many women from the middle class family joined this industry. This industry increased the percentage of women involved in the labour force dramatically.
Many of the women who joined the garments industry are the main income source of their respective families. Many of the women are the main earning source of their respective families.
Although, due to being a male dominating society, they do not get any recognition for their contribution to the family, many of them are actually the breadwinners of their families. Some joined to support their parents, some joined to support their siblings while some joined to support their own children.
They leave their families behind back in the villages and travel all the way to the urban areas for a dream of better life for themselves and their family members.
read more.

* Wake-up call for big clothing brands:

Until western consumers make safety standards an issue for big apparel retailers, factory fires will continue to take lives


The burnt-out factory of Tazreen Fashions is pictured, where a fatal fire took the lives of 112 workers on November 24. Photo: Sk Enamul Huq

The fire that killed 112 workers in a factory producing for Walmart, Sears, Disney and other apparel corporations was the deadliest in the history of Bangladesh, but it was one in a long series of such fires and it will not be the last. The economic logic of the apparel industry, driven by the insatiable hunger of western apparel companies for cheap clothes, guarantees that many more workers will die.

In the last two years, fires in Bangladesh and Pakistan have taken the lives of nearly 500 apparel workers, at plants producing for Gap, H&M, JC Penney, Target, Abercrombie & Fitch, the German retailer KiK and many others.

These deaths are preventable. In the wake of the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist fire, which killed 146 workers in Manhattan in 1911, a labour reform movement transformed the sweatshop-dominated US apparel industry into one defined by safe workplaces, middle-class wages and strong unions. The industry has known for more than 100 years how to operate an apparel factory safely, yet today these lessons are routinely ignored.

The key to understanding why apparel workers’ lives are treated so cavalierly today is to ask why corporations are flocking to countries like Bangladesh in the first place. Bangladesh is now the world’s second-largest apparel producer. It did not attain that status by achieving high levels of productivity, or a strong transportation infrastructure; it got there by being the rock-bottom cheapest place to make clothing.
read more.

12:01:59 local time map of india INDIA

* 22 children rescued from spinning mill near Perundurai:

11 boys from Bihar and 11 girls from Tamil Nadu were freed from bondage

The police have registered a case against the management of a private spinning mill located near Perundurai under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection Of Children) Act for employing 22 children aged between 14 and 17.

A team of officials led by Revenue Divisional Officer R. Sukumar and Deputy Superintendent of Police K. Gunasekaran inspected the spinning mill following a complaint from a non-governmental organisation that the mill was employing children.

Officials found 11 boys, all natives of Bihar, and 11 girls from various parts of Tamil Nadu working in the spinning mill. In the preliminary investigation, it was found that they were being exploited by the management of the mill for cheap labour. “So we have registered a case under section 26 of the Juvenile Justice Act,” Mr. Gunasekaran said. read more.

* CITU calls for nationwide strike on February 20, 21:

State president of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions V.J.K. Nair has called upon labourers to participate in the nationwide strike on February 20 and 21.

The strike has been called to urge for fixation of minimum wages for labourers in the unorganised sector at Rs. 10,000, abolition of contract labour system, rollback of FDI in retail brand, and against limiting supply of subsidised LPG cylinders to six per year.
He was speaking after inaugurating the 4th district-level CITU conference at Kunigal in Tumkur district on Saturday. to read.

* Trade unions to launch series of protests:

It will be a prelude to general strike on February 20, 21

As a prelude to the proposed nationwide general strike called by trade unions on February 20 and 21, the district-level Joint Committee of Trade Unions (JCTU) has planned to launch a series of programmes.

Speaking to presspersons here on Sunday, Satyababu, district unit general secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), along with T.G. Vittal of the LIC Pensioners’ Association, said that the strike was to protest against the failure of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to arrest inflation, abolish contract labour system and stop the process of disinvestment in profit-making public sector undertakings.
The general strike was also aimed at registering a protest against the foreign direct investment and the failure of the Centre to implement minimum wages, pension and bonus to all, among other things. read more.

* Weavers, textile traders stage dharna:

Weavers and textile traders staged dharna at Nangavalli protesting against the prolonged power cut in their areas.

The weavers claimed that Nangavalli had been a major weaving centre in Tamil Nadu with the presence of hundreds of powerlooms and handlooms. The people’s main livelihood source was weaving. Due to prolonged and unscheduled power cuts, they could not operate their looms. This had affected their income.

“Festival orders during Deepavali and now Pongal could not be carried out. We are losing our livelihood resources,’’ said a weaver, who took part in the agitation organised by the Weavers and Textiles Manufacturers Association here on Thursday. They claimed that they had approached the TANGEDCO officials for power supply. “But, they could not provide us at least five hour uninterrupted power supply,” said another textile manufacturer.
Shops and business establishments also were closed in the town and traffic was diverted following the agitation. read more.

* Textile sector aims 100% garment export growth:

The textiles industry, including garment exporters, has submitted proposals to the Union commerce and textile ministry, including permitting imports of cotton yarn without licence at flat fixed customs duty rate, permitting imports of fabrics without license at flat fixed customs duty rate and permission to import yarn/fabrics maximum to the extent of 25% of their export performance in the preceding year, to achieve 100% growth in garment exports over the next three years.

Apparel Export Promotion Council chairman A Sakthivel said: “It is learnt that union ministries of commerce/textiles is likely to announce sops to the industry to meet the challenges arising out of global slowdown. Hence, the ministry concerned should consider our proposals to increase our exports and achieve 100% growth over the next three years. read more.

* TN govt plans initiatives for benefit of textile MSMEs:

The government of southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu is planning to soon launch new schemes and facilities for the benefit of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), including textile MSMEs, in the state.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of Coimbatore Economic Summit 2012, Mr. Harmander Singh, Industries Commissioner and Director of Industries and Commerce, said the state government will soon unveil more initiatives for MSMEs in the state. read more.

* Garment unit faked high-end brands for readymade shops, say police:

The Fraud and Misappropriation wing of the Central Crime Branch raided a garment unit in Chandra Layout which was allegedly manufacturing apparels and palming them off as Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Polo, Lacoste and Arrow brands.

A team of officials led by Assistant Commissioner of Police G.T. Ajjappa raided Anuvartha Apparels and arrested three persons besides seizing apparels worth Rs. 67.25 lakh.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the firm faked the logos of high-end brands and sold them to several readymade showrooms across the city at throwaway prices. read more.

* Wal-Mart bribery case: Law will take its own course, govt says:

Government today said that law will take its own course if investigations establish that there has been any violation by global retail giant Wal-Mart in its attempts to gain entry into the Indian market.

It also said that it was not proper to make any judgement one way or the either before probe is completed.

“If at all any investigation does conclusively establish that there has been a violation of the Indian laws….law will take its own course,” Information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari told Karan Thapar’s Devil’s Advocate on CNN-IBN.
read more.

* Are Walmart’s lobbying activities restricted only to the US?:

Earlier this week, it emerged that Walmart, the giant retailer under fire for allegations of lobbying and a bribery scandal in India, was demanding anti-corruption undertakings from the owners of its Indian stores that operate under a joint venture with Bharti Group.As ET had reported, this meant that these landlords would have to follow a long-standing US anti-bribery law that prohibits American companies from offering fees or gifts to foreign officials to advance their interests. With no let up in controversies, enforcing the US law could be a deliberate, if not desperate, attempt by Walmart to weather the fallout of reports that it had pressed US lawmakers to help gain access in India.But according to US media reports earlier this year, Walmart had participated in a long-running lobbying campaign to amend the US anti-bribery law — known as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). This is the same law the company has been trying to enforce in its Indian operations. read more.

12:01:59 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Liya Abhiman boosts handloom industry:

The Economic Development Ministry and the Industrial and Commerce Ministry will soon take steps to uplift the handloom industry in Ihala Madampella village, Divulapitiya, known for its many traditional handloom textile manufacturers, according to Liya Abhiman Organsation’s Chairperson Attorney Pushpa Rajapaksa, a press communiqué issued by the Economic Development Ministry said.

Attorney Pushpa Rajapaksa said this at a ceremony held in connection with the handing over of handlooms and other equipment to 122 textile manufacturers at the Handloom Textile Design Development and Services Centre at Ihala Madampella on yesterday.
The beneficiaries were 65 manufacturers who completed training under the first stage of training the centre conducted and 57 who completed training under the second stage. read more.

11:31:59 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Power looms: Workers threaten to surround DCO office:


Meraj warned that the power loom workers would wait till Monday and surround the office of the district coordination officer on Tuesday.

Power loom workers staged a demonstration against the owners of power loom factories on Sunday to press their demands for higher wages and restoration of sacked loom workers.

More than 100 power loom workers gathered on Allied Road in Ghulam Muhammadabad and burnt tyres, blocking the road for more than four hours. Labor Department officers arrived at the scene and assured the protestors that the issue would be resolved. The protesters dispersed after they were told that the Labour Department officials will soon meet the power loom factory owners.

Labour Qaumi Movement general secretary Aslam Meraj said that the protest had only been called off due to the assurance of the Labour Department officials.
read more.

* Textile industry of Pakistan worst hit by power cuts:

The energy crisis has forced the textile mills to close their units, especially in Punjab the industry is under severe pressure. Chairman APTMA Punjab, Shahzad Ali Khan, said daily electricity load shedding has increased to 12 hours.

Besides, gas supply to the industry has also reduced to 3 days a week, which is likely to be further rose and makes the situation more miserable from next week. Electricity crisis has reached to its highest level, hitting hard to the textile industrial potential that is earning $12 billion per annum besides providing jobs to about 10 million people of people.

He said about 70 percent of textile industry in Punjab has been affected despite Ministry of Water and Power has the capacity of generating 18,000MW, out of which 6,000MW is Hydel and 12,000MW is thermal generation.
The total demand of electricity in the country is 11,000MW, which can easily be met only by thermal generation. Total load of textile industry on LESCO system is 550MW per day out of which only 300MW per day is being supplied. read more.

* Punjab textile mills: gas supply to remain uncertain for next 60 days:

Gas supply to the textile mills in Punjab is quite uncertain for next 60 days, putting hundreds and thousands of textile workers into vulnerable situation across the province. Especially, the textile mills located in Faisalabad, once known as Manchester of Pakistan, is under serious threat of closure because of suspension of gas supply to mills.

It may be noted that the SNGPL had assured for gas supply to mills in the Lahore region for the current week, ending on December 15. Availability of gas to textile mills in Lahore region would also be susceptible and much more depends on the intervention of Advisor to the Prime Minister Dr Asim Hussain. He has already made intervention early this week from UK and directed the SNGPL to supply gas to textile mills in Lahore. read more.

* Textile industries face gas closure curse:

Industrialists and daily wagers are facing huge trouble as the gas supply to textile industries of the city was suspended on eighth consecutive day on Sunday.

According to the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) sources, the decision of gas closure was made due to the gas crisis. It should be mentioned here that the gas supply was to be restored today after four days’ closure.
Owners of the industries said that they were facing huge loss due to the problem. On the other hand, thousands of the daily wagers and industries’ employees were also deprived of their earnings due to the issue.
Advisor to Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr. Asim Hussain will return back from a foreign visit on Monday and would meet the industrialists on Tuesday. read more.

* FSD: Gas suspension enters 10th day:

The industrial sector of Faisalabad region has come to a halt as gas supply has been suspended for indefinite period, Geo News reported Monday.

The industries are without gas for the tenth consecutive day while the Sui Gas department told that the supply has been suspended for indefinite period. The authorities apprised that the decision to halt gas supply was taken after the difference between demand and supply widened.
Crises have hit the industrial zone as ten days have already passed without gas and the production process in textile mills has reduced to nil.

Some factories have resorted to utilize woods as fuel and are running the boilers by burning them as fuel. However, most of the factories are not functional for the past ten days that has adversely affected the daily-wage workers. read more.

* Textile mills happy over growing yarn demand from China:

Though the year 2012, which is about to end, like past few years confounded the problems of the industries with severe energy crisis, textile sector is still optimistic at the prospect of the opportunities knocking boisterously at the door.

One such is the inability of Chinese textile manufacturers to produce efficiently basic textiles, while the GSP Plus status from European Union is another. The propensity to add value was also a positive sign in 2012.

Gohar Ejaz Group Leader All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) said yarn exports from Pakistan to China are growing at an astonishing pace. “Two years back, our average monthly yarn exports were 40,000 tonnes, while average exports during last three months stood at 65,000 tonnes per month. The growth was mainly because of growing appetite for yarn in China,” he added. read more.

    THE KARACHI FIRE:

* Baldia factory tragedy raises questions on fire dept efficiency:

The tragedy of Baldia Town factory fire, followed by a series of fire eruption in several industrial units in the metropolis, raised several questions on security measures and efficiency of relevant departments, particularly fire brigade department of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation.

The incident that claimed more than 350 innocent and precious lives jolted the entire society and opened a furious debate over various causes and impacts of the incident. Apart from the theories behind the cause of the tragedy, one of the main questions was if relevant departments, particularly fire brigade, is competent enough to combat any emergency or fire incident in the city.

Responding to the dire need of some solid measures and a comprehensive movement to avert such horrible incidents, labourers organistions joined hands andformed a consortium entitled ‘Workers Rights Movement’ so as to put a pressure on all stakeholders for some concrete steps, instead of lip services.

Talking to Daily Times,WRM leader Nasir Mansoor said in the case of Baldia town tragedy and other incidents, the criminal negligence of factory owners, incapability of the relevant rescue departments, including fire brigade, was a major cause of irreparable losses.
“If there was a snorkel, loss of lives could be significantly reduced.” He said that there were about 10,000 industrial units in the SITE area, out of which 90 percent were not registered, he claimed.  read more.

11:31:59 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

 * H&M comes under pressure to act on child-labour cotton:

Anti-slavery charity lobbies high street stores over links with clothing suppliers who buy from Uzbekistan

Cotton picking in Uzbekistan, where government workers can face loss of wages if they don’t take part and children can suffer beatings. Photograph: Alamy

One of Britain’s most popular fashion chains is under pressure to sever its links with clothing suppliers that buy cotton from Uzbekistan, where large quantities are harvested using child labo
ur.

H&M, the giant fashion chain which uses football star David Beckham and singer Lana Del Rey in its advertising campaigns, has signed a pledge to “not knowingly” source cotton from the central Asian country in response to concern from human rights groups.

Uzbekistan, one of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, forces adults and children as young as nine to pick cotton under what the charity Anti-Slavery International describes as “appalling conditions”. However, it is difficult to trace Uzbek cotton back to its source. Much of it ends up in Bangladesh and China. As a result, many fashion chains cannot guarantee that their clothing is free of Uzbek cotton.

H&M, which has almost 200 UK stores and 2,500 worldwide, is now one of several high street names that will be targeted by Anti-Slavery International’s cotton campaign, which calls on well-known brands to stop buying clothing from suppliers that source cotton from Uzbekistan. “Unless H&M implements the practical steps set out by the cotton campaign, it is near impossible for us to be confident that H&M’s goods are truly free from state-sponsored forced labour,” a spokeswoman for the charity said. “By implementing these steps, we can be confident that H&M is doing everything it can to support an end to the use of forced labour.”
read more. & read more.
  

map of Asia

HEADLINES:

CHINA
* First-ever int’l textile, garment industry exhibition kicks off in Yangon

VIET NAM
* Garment producers gear up to prepare for TPP
* Many employers lack funds for Tet bonuses

THAILAND
* BOT chief worries about impact higher wages will have on small businesses
* Migrant workers urge better social security cover
* ILO chief lauds minimum wage policy
* Free Somyot- Invitation to Somyot’s next court hearing
* Letter from Somyot to his family

CAMBODIA
* In Garment Sector, a Labor Movement Divided

MALAYSIA
* Pay Rise On The Cards For Malaysian Employees In 2013, Says Randstad Workmonitor

INDONESIA
* Wage Hike May Keep Workers in Indonesia
* Sectorial workers to get higher wages

BURMA/MYANMAR
* Lower Costs Lure Thai Firms to Invest in Burma

BANGLA DESH
* 10 RMG workers hurt in clash with cops in Gazipur
* 15 injured as garments workers clash with police in Gazipur
* RMG factory closed over workers’ unrest
* 850 factories face ouster
* BGMEA seeks ‘apparel ministry’
* Eco-friendly RMG sector can save $150m a year
* Wal-Mart email reveals strategy to upgrade Bangladesh factories
* Delhi assures Dhaka of regular cotton supply
* Different factors take a heavy toll on the show
* 2000 hosiery factories set up in Gaibandha
* Major retailers seem unwilling to foot the bill for fire safety
* ASHULIA- TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* Liar, liar, factories on fire
* Tazreen fire and some questions
* American tariffs, Bangladeshi deaths
* Flame of fire and death of nimble fingers
* Wake-up call for big clothing brands

INDIA
* 22 children rescued from spinning mill near Perundurai
* CITU calls for nationwide strike on February 20, 21
* Trade unions to launch series of protests
* Weavers, textile traders stage dharna
* Textile sector aims 100% garment export growth
* TN govt plans initiatives for benefit of textile MSMEs
* Garment unit faked high-end brands for readymade shops, say police
* Wal-Mart bribery case: Law will take its own course, govt says
* Are Walmart’s lobbying activities restricted only to the US?

SRI LANKA
* Liya Abhiman boosts handloom industry

PAKISTAN
* Power looms: Workers threaten to surround DCO office
* Textile industry of Pakistan worst hit by power cuts
* Punjab textile mills: gas supply to remain uncertain for next 60 days
* Textile industries face gas closure curse
* FSD: Gas suspension enters 10th day
* Textile mills happy over growing yarn demand from China
* THE KARACHI FIRE:
* Baldia factory tragedy raises questions on fire dept efficiency

UZBEKISTAN
* H&M comes under pressure to act on child-labour cotton

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