12:30:14 local time CHINA
* Chinese manufacturing will not lose edge soon despite rising labor cost: scholar:
China will not lose its competitiveness in the manufacturing sector any time soon despite the rising labor cost, said Zheng Yongnian, director of East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore Tuesday.
Speaking in Singapore on Tuesday on the investment opportunities in China’s inland west, Zheng said that, while some companies relying on cheap labor are indeed moving out of China, most manufacturing firms leaving the coastal east are actually moving within China to the central provinces and the inland west.
There are even some companies moving “from the Pearl River Delta to other poorer areas” within the province of Guangdong, Zheng said.
The companies chose to stay in China because the labor cost advantage is still there in the provinces in the central and western parts of China. They are “not prepared” to move to other places where the infrastructure was not comparable to those in China, he said. read more. & read more.
* Experts warn against social conflicts in China:
Chinese experts have warned that China is still in a stage where many social conflicts are likely to arise, saying such conflicts are becoming “more varied and complicated.”
Land expropriation and housing demolitions, environmental pollution and labor disputes have been the top three causes of mass incidents in recent years, according to a blue book unveiled Tuesday by the China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
Conflicts over land expropriation and housing demolitions have given rise to half of the mass incidents, while 30 percent were caused by environmental pollution and labor disputes, according to the blue book.
Salary disputes have caused more than 120 strikes with no less than 100 participants each in the country in the first eight months of this year, figures from the All-China Federation of Trade Unions show. read more.
* Li Ning sees huge loss for full year:
Chinese sportswear group Li Ning Co projected a “substantial” full-year loss as the firm seeks to spend 1.4 billion yuan (US$224 million) to 1.8 billion yuan to lift sales.
Shares of the company fell 3.89 percent to HK$4.70 (61 US cents) in Hong Kong trading yesterday. They declined as much as 5.5 percent in morning trading.
Li Ning said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday that it plans to cut excess inventory levels and improve its sales network under its latest move to revive the firm after it announced in July the departure of chief executive Zhang Zhiyong so that a new management team could be introduced. read more.
* Chinese garment makers shift focus to domestic market:
Apparel makers in China are shifting their focus on domestic market owing to sluggish overseas demand, according to statistics released by China National Textile & Apparel Council (CNTAC).
11:30:14 local time THAILAND
* FTI seeks bigger cushion:
Business leaders have repeated their call for the government to increase the compensation fund offered to help offset the impact of the minimum wage hike.
Payungsak Chartsutthipol, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said the compensation amount for businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, should increase because labour costs surged in the first nine months of this year.
The private sector has proposed that in the new year, the government compensate businesses for 75% of wages, with the figure lowering to 50% in 2014 and 25% in 2015. read more.
* What has been done to help SMEs? :
The 300-baht daily minimum wage has been the talk of the town and its impact has already affected the operations of many businesses since it took effect in April in Bangkok and six other developed provinces. On Jan 1 the wage will rise to 300 baht in the remaining 70 provinces of the country, with further challenges expected for many employers.
Padermchai Sasomsap, the minister of Labour and Social Welfare, has said that after Jan 1, the main industries to be affected would be auto parts, construction and production, wholesale and retail sales.
Although many of these industries require skilled employees, they also need a number of unskilled workers, who will enjoy much higher pay than before.
Although it will take some time to gauge the full impact from the 300-baht wage countrywide, there is anecdotal evidence already of some factory closings that have been blamed on higher labour costs. read more.
* Free Somyot- Somyot returns to court today 19th December:
Somyot is back in court again today. We do not know if the court will decide on the verdict or simply confirm the verdict date.
Somyot’s supporters and international observers are organizing to attend the court hearing and we will update the site with news. You can also look at our facebook page here.
11:30:14 local time CAMBODIA
* Bandith charges dropped:
Charges have been dropped against former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith – fingered by multiple eyewitnesses for the February shooting of three protesting garment workers – a lawyer in the case and Bandith himself said yesterday.
The deposed governor was in April charged with causing unintentional injuries for allegedly shooting three women during a protest at a Svay Rieng province special economic zone. Though numerous witnesses confirmed they had seen Bandith shooting into the crowd of demonstrators, he was never arrested but, instead, slapped with a charge widely decried as insufficient for the accusations he faced.
For months, the case bounced back and forth between the prosecutor and investigating judge, with both parties insisting certain details had to be clarified with the other. Yesterday, it appeared that game was over.
Bandith, who now works in the Svay Rieng provincial government, confirmed that the charges against him had been dropped but offered few hints as to why.
* Job losses ‘discrimination’ :
A strike at Kwei Yang garment factory in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district in January. The protesters were demanding the reinstatement of seven union leaders they claim were unfairly sacked. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post
More than 60 union leaders lost their jobs at garment factories in the past nine months for trying to unionise co- workers, their representatives claimed yesterday.
Fourteen members of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions endured threats, discrimination and ultimately a message they were no longer welcome at work after revealing their union activity, CATU president Yang Sophorn said.
“The companies at times tried to convince union leaders they would renew their contracts if they stopped their activity, but they refused and were essentially sacked,” she said.
Oun Lina, an official from the Free Trade Union, which along with CATU has been reported as having links with opposition parties, told a similar story.
“More than 30 union leaders lost their jobs when they formed a union,” she said.
* Secretary of state hits out at silk scheme:
A government official has harshly criticised a prominent silk promotion project, implemented last year by the International Trade Center (ITC), saying it has not been fruitful.
Mao Thora, secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce, made his comments during a seminar on export diversification at the Export-Import and One Province, One Product exhibition yesterday.
According to Mao Thora, industry development has been weak despite funds being provided by international donors such as New Zealand, which gave over $1 million to the ITC to develop silkworks in Cambodia. “The ITC’s meeting, coffee drinking and cake eating spent $1 million per year. There is no travelling to meet people at all,” he said.
Mao Thora said that next year, another NGO will be handed the funds to oversee silk industry development projects for the next two years, as there is now a lack of confidence in the ITC. read more.
* Protesters Deliver ‘Gangnam Style’ Message:
It was a scene South Korean pop star Psy would have been proud of.
As his ubiquitous hit song poured out of a tuk-tuk packed with loudspeakers, dozens of Cambodians performed his now iconic horse dance outside the National Assembly yesterday to draw the government’s attention to their call for a stop to land grabs and forced evictions, higher garment factory salaries and more protection for migrant workers. read more.
10:30:14 local time BANGLA DESH
* ASHULIA- TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* Sabotage, really? Rights activists, worker leaders reject govt probe findings:
Rights activists and worker leaders yesterday rejected the sabotage theory of a government probe committee on the Tazreen fire and term its report incomplete and contradictory.
They demanded a fair probe by an independent body so that culprits do not go scot-free like what happened in the past.
The four-member probe team, headed by Additional Secretary Main Uddin Khandaker, submitted a 214-page report to the home ministry Monday evening.
The report, which made five final recommendations, came out about three weeks after the deadly blaze killed 112 people, mostly workers, at Tazreen Fashions Ltd in Ashulia on November 24.
The committee said the incident was an act of sabotage and further probe was needed to find the motives and masterminds.
Sultana Kamal, executive director of rights body Ain o Shalish Kendra (ASK), questioned the report as it completely failed to dig out who did the sabotage, how and why. read more.
* Bangladesh Finds Gross Negligence in Factory Fire:
Criminal charges for “unpardonable negligence” should be brought against the owner of the Bangladesh garment factory where a fire killed 112 people last month, according to a preliminary report from a government inquiry submitted Monday.
“The owner of the factory cannot be indemnified from the death of large numbers of workers from this fire,” Main Uddin Khandaker, the official who led the inquiry, said in an interview. “Unpardonable negligence of the owner is responsible for the death of workers.”
The Nov. 24 fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory, where workers were making clothes for global retailers like Walmart and Sears, has focused attention on the unsafe work conditions and low wages at many garment factories in Bangladesh, the No. 2 exporter of apparel after China. The fire also has exposed flaws in the system that monitors the industry’s global supply chain: Walmart and Sears say they had no idea their apparel was being made there.
Mr. Khandaker submitted a 214-page report to Bangladesh’s Home Ministry on Monday, blaming the factory owner, Delowar Hossain, for negligence and saying that nine of his midlevel managers and supervisors prevented employees from leaving their sewing machines even after a fire alarm sounded.
* Bangladesh garment industry demands action on deadly fire report:
Officials in Bangladesh’s ready made garment industry demanded on Tuesday quick implementation of recommendations in a report which concluded that last month’s deadly fire at a textile factory was the result of both sabotage and negligence.
The investigators, who presented their report to the Home Ministry on Monday, did not single out any individual in connection with sabotage in the November 24 blaze at the Tazreen Fashion Factory in which 112 workers were killed.
But they called for legal action to be taken against the factory owner, identified as Delwar Hossein, and nine mid-level managers. Managers, the investigators said, had neglected fundamental safety precautions and failed to obtain a fire certificate.
“We demand the recommendations be implemented, meaning the owner and other culprits must be arrested and brought to book,” said Amirul Huque Amin, president of the National Garment Workers Federation. read more.
* Taskforce formed to ensure fire compliance in apparel factories:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association (BGMEA) Monday formed a 15-member taskforce to inspect and ensure the occupational health and fire safety issues in all the apparel units across the country.
Headed by BGMEA president Shahiul Islam, the task force is comprised of technical experts like architects, electrical and structural engineers, fire fighters and representatives from relevant agencies, namely, Fire Service and Civil Defense, Institute of Engineers, Bangladesh, Ministry of Labour and Manpower and BGMEA.
The team will start working on Sunday from Ashulia and visit every factory to raise fire awareness among the factory owners and workers.
They will inspect the present condition of the factories, building structures and their layouts, working environment, fire safety measures, storehouses, staircases, exit system and related matters.
After completion of the assessment, the taskforce will recommend short, medium and long term preventive measures to ensure safety compliances in the apparel industry. read more.
* Garments workers` rally in capital Dec 28 :
The Bangladesh Garments Sramik Trade Union Kendra (BGSTUK) will stage a rally in front of National Press Club in the capital and take out a procession from there on Dec 28 to press for its 10-point-demand including arrest of Tazreen Fashions owner and ensuring safety of life of workers at garments factories and their security.
The announcement came at press conference, held in Pragati Conference Hall at Mukti Bhaban at the city`s Purana Paltan on Tuesday afternoon.
Addressing the journalists the leaders of BGSTUK also said that on Dec 27, they will bring out a procession carrying black flags commemorating those killed in Tazreen Fashions fire on Nov 24 at Ashulia and other ready-made garments factory fire victims. A human chain will also be organised in the city on that day.
Besides, posters and leaflets, containing their demands, will be distributed among the city dwellers before observance of the two programmes on Dec 27 and 28, the BGSTUK leaders announced. read more.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* 100 garment factories take a hit from hartal:
Production in at least 100 garment factories in the Tongi-Gazipur industrial belt came to a halt yesterday due to the countrywide shutdown enforced by left-wing political parties.
Factory owners and labour leaders said workers of the factories, mainly on the Tongi-Gazipur road, took to the streets, joining hands with the pickets.
However, production at factories at another major hub, Ashulia, was on.
Demonstrators also broke the glasses of two factories, Viyellatex Group and TRZ Garments, said Rafiqul Islam, joint secretary (labour) of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
The daylong strike was enforced demanding a ban on communal politics, a speedy trial of war crime suspects, and arrest and punishment to those responsible for the fire at Tazreen Fashions last month. read more. & read more.
* Apparel exporters need to seek right solution:
The just concluded Batexpo, organized by the Bangladesh Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) in the capital, drew a lesser number of foreign buyers or their representatives and could fetch spot orders of lesser value than those of the previous year.
The value of spot orders received at this year’s Batexpo fair was $6.4 million less than that of the previous year. Last year, the value of spot orders was $ 66.4 million as against that of $60 million this year.
The BGMEA leaders speaking at a post-fair press conference largely blamed the street-based political protest programmes for the less than expected response from the foreign buyers. However, the BGMEA leaders were found to be happy over the visit of buyers from non-traditional destinations such as China and Japan.
* Govt takes step to restart silk factory:
State Minister for Industries Omor Faruk Chowdhury, MP, has said the government has taken initiative to restart the now-defunct Rajshahi Sericulture Factory in principle.
He stated this while sharing views with some journalists at Naohata under Paba Upazila of the district on Monday evening.
Faruk Chowdhury says the government has already taken step to unify the Bangladesh Silk Foundation and Bangladesh Sericulture Board.
Besides taking measures to launch the North Rajshahi Irrigation Project, he said the government has given emphasis on using more surface water for irrigation purpose in the context of declining underground water. to read.
* US-BD economic ties deepening gradually:
Economic ties between the United States and Bangladesh are deepening gradually as the entrepreneurs and traders of the former continue to show their active interest in the latter as an attractive place for investment and a competitive source, mostly for apparels, traders and officials said on Tuesday.
Following the tragic fire incident at a factory of the Tazreen Fashions Ltd at Ashulia that killed 111 workers late last month, the rate of order for apparels from the US has turned normal after a few days’ slow pace, officials at the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said.
The US investors are also among the interested parties that have registered their investment proposals in different sectors mainly in energy over the last couple of months, according to the Board of Investment (BoI). read more.
* Ctg fire guts cotton worth Tk 50 lakh:
A fire which broke out at a multi-storey building in the city`s Kotwali on Tuesday afternoon, burned down cotton worth about Tk 50 lakh.
However, no casualty was reported.
Fire service sources and locals said, the fire originated at 12:20pm on the first floor, which houses a cotton godown, at the six-storey building, situated at Ashraf Ali Road at Chaktai, a business hub.
Soon the fire engulfed the cotton godown, gutting several thousand bell cotton. At one stage, the flame was spreading to upper floors where several dwelling apartments are situated, frightening the inmates.
Panicked inmates of the apartments took shelter at the rooftop of the building as black smoke billowed from the first and the second floors, causing suffocation in the upper floors, and the blaze spreading up to the third floor. read more.
10:00:14 local time INDIA
* Indian textiles sector jobs to grow 15% by 2017:
* Wilting cotton price leaves farmers in the lurch:
Cotton farmers seem to be heading for big trouble.
The violent protest by farmers at the Yenumamula Market Yard in Warangal district, one of the biggest cotton mandis in the country, is an indication of anger simmering among farmers.
Hundreds of farmers ransacked the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) office at the market, demanding that the agency buy all the cotton that arrived there.
Hoping to cash in on the huge demand for the natural fibre last year, farmers had increased the acreage by almost 50 per cent — from 15 lakh hectares to 22 lakh hectares — last kharif.
A series of dry spells and cyclone Nilam left the crop badly affected, as in the case of other crops in the State.
“The production came down by 50 per cent. “We used to get 12-13 quintals an acre. But we are not going to get more than 5-6 quintals,” Ruthu, who grew cotton on five acres, said.
The interest was so huge that the cotton acreage surpassed that of paddy for the first time in Andhra Pradesh. read more.
* Cotton supplies to local markets fall 10% :
Cotton supplies in local spot markets from the new crop in India, the world’s second-largest producer of the fibre, have fallen 10 per cent in the current season that began in October, the Cotton Corp of India said.
Supplies until December 16 fell to 6.2 million bales of 170 kg each, down from 6.9 million bales a year earlier, the state-run procurement agency said in a statement on Tuesday.
Supplies in spot markets are rising gradually but they are still below expectations as many farmers, who are waiting for better returns, are holding back their produce, traders said. to read.
* Trade unions deride Centre’s ‘anti-labour’ policies:
All India Trade Union Congress members staged demonstrations outside the district head post office, condemning the ‘anti-labour’ policies of the Central government. The demonstrators, led by the Communists-led trade unions, slammed what they called the Centre’s move to disinvest profit-making public sector undertakings.
Further, placing a 10-fold charter of demands, the trade unions demanded setting up of a Social Security Fund, a scheme of social security for the work force of unorganised sector, a threshold level of pay of Rs.10,000 to meet rising inflation, a pension scheme for unorganised labour, among others.
The demonstrators, also demanded that the government reign in on inflation affecting prices of essential commodities. The protests were led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA for Keezhvelur Nagai Maali, and Selvaraj, ex-MLA, CPI.
* State 3rd highest beneficiary of textile workers rehab fund:
Moving up two places since last year, Gujarat has emerged as the third highest beneficiary under the Textile Workers Rehabilitation Fund Scheme (TWRFS) of the central government.
As against 2011-12 when the state received Rs 5.32 lakhs under the scheme, this year Gujarat received Rs 20.87 lakhs, after Andhra Pradesh (Rs 165.59 lakhs) and Punjab (Rs 23.40 lakhs).
According to Anand Sharma, union minister of textiles, the government is implementing Integrated Skill Development Scheme (ISDS) for upgradation of skills of textile workers in the country since July, 2010. read more.
* Chhattisgarh’s tendu leaf workers to adorn Surti saris:
Who says exquisite saris woven in the country’s biggest man-made fabric hub are worn by urban women only? Soon, over a million tribal women in Central India’s forests will drape themselves with these nine-yard wonders, manufactured by the city’s textile makers.
The Chhattisgarh government has approached the Federation of Indian Art Silk Weaving Industry (FIASWI) and the city-based Man-Made Textile Research Association (MANTRA) for supplying over 12 lakh specially designed polyester saris to be distributed to tendu leaf pluckers in the remote tribal districts of the state.
Managing director of Chattisgarh Minor Forest Produce Cooperative Federation, A K Singh, visited the city on Monday to meet textile industry leaders from FIASWI and MANTRA. Singh is learnt to have entrusted FIASWI and MANTRA with the responsibility of coming up with the tender format for procurement of over 12 lakh saris as well as overseeing the manufacturing process in the textile mills.
* Muttemwar demands help for region’s weavers:
City MP Vilas Muttemwar on Tuesday urged the central government to depute a delegation to Nagpur to assess the magnitude of problems being faced by handloom and power loom weavers. Muttemwar raised the issue under Rule 377 in the Lok Sabha and pointed out that Nagpur was once known as the Manchester of India due to its prosperous textile industry.
Besides a large number of small weavers, private sector companies had set up large textile mills such as Empress Mill and Model Mill about 120 years back. A number of small units were also set up in Hinganghat, Amravati, Akola, Achalpur and Pulgaon, Muttemwar said.
“Unfortunately, the current situation is very dismal as all the textile mills have either closed down or been declared sick,” he added.
There are now about 50,000 weavers left in Nagpur and over one lakh in other parts of Vidarbha who are engaged in this profession. The weaving industry is facing stiff challenges and weavers are struggling to even make ends meet. “This is forcing many weavers to search for other avenues of earning their livelihood or face unemployment,” he said. read more.
* Weaves and viability:
Skilled:M. Anjayya on the loom.Photos: Azera Parveen Rahman
Pochampally sari weavers, though much sought after for their skill, are in the doldrums
In her three-room house, the loom is the most precious possession that Sujatha Kamalana has. As her hand moves adeptly, slowly giving birth to a timeless creation, a nine-yard silk sari with Ikat design, she stops to adjust her sari — a polyester one —before getting immersed once again in her life of ironies.
“I cannot afford to wear one of my saris,” she smiles, when asked if she owns any special creation. “These (polyester) saris are cheaper, and suit me,” she adds softly.
For the skilled work that they do, the wages that the weavers of the famed Pochampally sari in Andhra Pradesh get are low, and therefore survival a struggle. With the increasing cost of living, it’s of little wonder then that the lives of these weavers of Bhoodan Pochampally village are as complicated as the warp and weft of the fabric they weave.
“I get Rs. 3,500 a month for weaving saris,” Kamalana’s 19-year-old son Surya Shankar said, while working on a purple and pink silk sari on the loom. “My father is often ill and so does not work, and my brother and sister are still young…but the total of Rs. 7,000 that I and my mother earn in a month is hardly enough for the family,” he added. read more.
09:30:14 local time PAKISTAN
* Illegal factories given a breather:
Instead of clamping down on 187 illegal factories in residential areas, the City District Government Rawalpindi (CDGR) has forced their owners to adopt fire safety measures and inadvertently provided them legal cover for their existence.
Under the Local Government Ordinance 2001, no industrial unit can be established or commercial activity carried out in residential areas.
After Karachi’s devastating factory fire that killed at least 300 people and another fire accident in Lahore in September 2012, the Punjab government had asked the district administrations across the province to remove illegal factories from residential areas.
For this purpose, the provincial government formed district committees to deal with relocation issues. The district coordination officer (DCO) was appointed the chairman of the committee and additional district collector (general), Rescue 1122, Civil Defence, and town municipal administrators were made members of the committee.
Rawalpindi’s committee on the issue met here on Monday and it was informed by the members that 90 per cent owners of the 187 illegal factories had adopted fire safety measures and action against the remaining would be launched from Tuesday or Wednesday.
According to a survey conducted by the CDGR, lack of fire safety system and other security arrangements in 187 illegal factories could result in a major tragedy.
* Textile mills set to resume operations today:
Industrialists attached with the textile sector announced on Monday that they would run their factories forcibly from Tuesday (today) and would not follow any gas closure schedule in future.
Entrepreneurs also staged a demonstration outside the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited offices on Sargodha Road and blocked traffic for more than two hours.
Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association Vice-Chairman Zia Alamdar Shah led the rally. He was accompanied by representatives of the All-Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association, the Council of Powerloom Owners and the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association.
Talking to Dawn, Shah said the industrial units had been closed for the last 10 days although they had been promised gas for three-and-a-half days a week.
* APTMA assured of security in industrial areas:
The CCPO Lahore acknowledged the role of industrialists for doing no less than a Jihad by setting up industry and creating jobs besides revenues for running economy.
He agreed with the fact that improvement in law and order is essential for investment climate in the country and assured of no compromise on law-and-order situation. The meeting also constituted a sub-committee to formulise various initiatives on security and law and order.
A meeting of APTMA Punjab Management and the Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Lahore Aslam Tareen held at the APTMA Punjab office on Tuesday. Chairman APTMA Punjab Shahzad Ali Khan and CCPO Lahore Aslam Tareen agreed upon co-operation between industry and police under the Public Private Partnership for improvement in law-and-order situation by up-gradation of institutions and surveillance system in the city and industrial areas. read more.
* EU announces 150 million euro package to promote trade:
Ambassador of Federal Republic of Germany to Pakistan Dr Cyrill Nunn has said that European Union (EU) has announced a package for Pakistan for the promotion of trade and allow access to Pakistani textile products globally. The volume of this package is about 150 million euros.
Addressing the members of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and Chairmen of Trade Bodies here on Tuesday, he said Germany was making adequate efforts for further strengthening the trade ties and enhance the volume of bilateral trade between Germany and Pakistan. “We understand that trade is better than aid and efforts are being made to enhance trade between the two countries,” he said. read more.
* DEADLY SECRETS:
What companies know about dangerous workplaces and why exposing the truth can save workers’ lives in Bangla Desh and beyond.
Last month, 112 workers died in a garment factory fire in Bangladesh and two months prior 262 workers died in a garment factory fire in Pakistan. Both factories produced clothing for major western retailers.
Deadly Secrets, a new report by International Labor Rights Forum, reveals how major apparel companies are putting workers’ lives at risk by covering up fire safety hazards and other dangerous working conditions using confidential audits and ignoring known solutions.
Chapter 1: Garments of Poverty or Threads to Riches?
Chapter 2: They Know the Perils to Workers
Chapter 3: Cheap Labor and Fighting Workers
Chapter 4:What’s to Be Done: The Views of Government, Companies, and Workers
Conclusion: Let’s Seize the Opportunity for a New Bangladeshi Bargain Epilogue: Is One Month in Jail, Two Years in Court, and the Death of a Colleague the Price for Organizing?
The ILRF report reveals how apparel companies cover up fire hazards.
You can download the report here.