16:56:11 local time PHILIPPINES
* Bleeding the supposed ‘bosses,’ the working masses, dry:
In 2012, the incomes of the Filipino working population shrunk further compared to rising cost of living, their recorded productivity and, based on news reports, growing company’s revenues.
Considering that 2012 precedes an election year, the Aquino government only responded to decade-long calls of organized labor for a significant, nationwide wage hike with erroneous computations, and policies and pronouncements which labor groups decried as misleading and downright anti-worker.
These policies are top billed this year by the labor department’s supposed improvement or adjustment to regionalized wage-setting– the two-tier wage system — and its supposed guard against illegal labor-only contracting. These two form part of what the progressive labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) criticizes as “cheap labor policy.” Taken together, these combine to either freeze wages at current levels or worse, diminish the wages further.
Instead of doing the opposite of Macapagal-Arroyo’s government as it had promised voters in 2010, the Aquino government responded to people’s calls for reforms alá-Arroyo, adding its own brand of craftiness in the process. Arroyo kept a tough image; Aquino projected a smiling, seemingly affable leader. His policies are anything but that, though, according to organized labor as they tried to expose Aquino’s ruses, such as in the following:
Wage cuts within a supposed wage hike package:
read more. & read more.
* Workers’ plight worsened in 2012 – KMU:
As the country welcomes the new year, labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said today that the plight of the country’s workers worsened in 2012, slamming the Aquino government for attacking workers’ rights in favor of big capitalists’ profits.
KMU said the government of Pres. Noynoy Aquino intensified attacks on workers’ wages, job security and trade-union rights last year: read more.
* Workers slam PhilHealth premium hike:
Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the premium hike implemented by government-owned health insurance corporation PhilHealth, saying the latter’s announcement that the hike was deferred is a lie aimed at deceiving the public.
Despite PhilHealth’s announcement that the scheme to hike members’ premiums has been deferred to 2014, premium contributions of individually paying members and those in the employed sector have been increased, as shown by PhilHealth Circular No. 057 Series of 2012 signed last Nov. 22, 2012 by Dr. Eduardo P. Banzon, PhilHealth CEO and president. read more.
15:56:11 local time VIET NAM
* HCM City’s apparel industry in need of huge manpower:
The HCMC Department of Industry and Trade has completed the development planning for the textile-garment industry until 2020 and a vision towards 2030, with around 20,000 laborers needed from now till 2020.
Although the textile-garment industry in HCMC has tended to move facilities to neighboring provinces such as Long An, Tay Ninh, Binh Duong and Dong Nai to reduce the labor pressure, the number of textile-garment laborers in HCMC is still high.
According to the department, the apparel production in HCMC has nearly 15,000 facilities with around 353,000 laborers. Besides, the city also has nearly 3,300 textile and dyeing facilities with over 70,000 laborers.
According to the draft planning, HCMC will need a large amount of investment for the textile-garment industry from now until 2025, with an average estimated at some VND2.5 trillion per year. Among such huge amount, capital of local enterprises will account for 50% while foreign-invested enterprises and commercial loans will account for 30% and 20% respectively.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 31/12 (last item).
* Vietnamese textile & apparel sector aims high:
Vietnam has set out an objective to become one of the top five textile and clothing manufacturing and exporting nations by 2020 while simultaneously fostering social improvements and environmental wellbeing, according to a report in Issue No 159 of Textile Outlook International from the global business information company Textiles Intelligence.
In value terms, the industry has set an export target in the range US$20 billion-US$22 billion for 2020. It aims to achieve this leap forward by concentration on a strategy of specialisation and modernisation and an increase in added value.
The process of value addition has already started. Between 2005 and 2011, the added value rate of Vietnam’s textile and clothing exports increased markedly, from 30.2% to 47.8%. Over this time period, exports more than trebled from US$4.8 billion to US$15.8 billion. read more.
15:56:11 local time THAILAND
* Minimum-wage dispute sullies FTI’s reputation:
One of the year’s more controversial issues was the decision to raise the daily minimum wage to 300 baht nationwide from the beginning of 2013.
The hike has led to internal disagreements at the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), the country’s largest private-sector organisation.
Federation chairman Payungsak Chartsutthipol has been criticised by key executives of the FTI for his failure to tackle the wage issue, especially its impact on small and medium-sized enterprises.
Led by vice-chairman Tanit Sorat and secretary-general Sommat Khunset, the rival camp has a launched bid to oust Mr Payungsak as the chairman. read more.
* Global woes, higher wages at home may hold back Thai exports this year:
The euro-zone financial crisis and the impact of the higher minimum wage as well as continuation of farm-subsidy schemes could be a drag on Thailand’s exports this year, despite the emerging era of Asian economic growth.
The Commerce Ministry has set the growth target for export value at 8-9 per cent to US$250.41 billion this year, up from the projection of 4.5-5 per cent to $231.86 billion (Bt7 trillion) in 2012.
Hit by many negative factors, the ministry likely missed its ambitious 15-per-cent export-growth target by a wide margin in 2012. In the first 11 months, shipments were valued at Bt211.41 billion, up by just 2.32 per cent year on year. This has prompted enterprises in various sectors to have gloomy prospects for export in 2013 amid high concerns over rising costs of production and labour.
NO GROWTH FOR SOME
Shipments of electronics, jewellery and ornaments, garments, plastic and plastic products, furniture and parts will face flat growth. read more.
* 10% rise in SME loans forseen after daily wage hike:
Banks do not expect this year’s new lending to small and medium-sized enterprises to exceed last year’s growth level as SMEs face many challenges, including the Bt300 daily minimum wage and the skilled-labour shortage, which affect their competitiveness.
The banking industry expects SME lending to expand by 10 per cent, similar to the growth witnessed in 2012, as positive factors driving additional lending are yet to be seen. read more.
* Firms hit by wage hike, labour shortage:
The daily minimum wage hike to 300 baht nationwide will seriously hit small and medium enterprises, while labour shortage has become a bigger concern for large-scale operators.
The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) has said industrial manufacturers will wait for six to 12 months to reassess the impact of the wage increase and decide whether it will have to close down branch offices in the provinces.
The Labour Ministry has proposed 27 relief measures, but the FTI has claimed the measures provide little help for affected companies. The measures include lending money to help improve production, seeking new marketing channels, lowering corporate income tax and expanding the time frame for loan repayment. read more.
* Wage Increase: Ministry monitoring employment situation:
The Labour Ministry is watching carefully for any increase in the number of employee layoffs in the wake of Tuesday’s nationwide implementation of the Bt300 daily minimum wage.
Pakorn Amornchewin, director-general of the Department of Welfare and Labour Protection, said signs had been detected of a rise in layoffs in two major provinces – Khon Kaen and Phayao – particularly at garment and ceramics factories.
The department has ordered officials to keep a close watch on the employment situation in 29 provinces that have seen relatively large salary adjustments, including Tak, Surin, Nan, Si Sa Ket and Phayao. About 4,000 enterprises will be visited each month. Staff will report to the department on any significant impacts caused by the wage increase.
The government raised the minimum daily wage in seven provinces last April. The measure has affected various industries including garments, finished apparel, and furniture made from rubberwood (wood from the Para rubber tree), and caused more than 1,700 workers to lose their jobs so far. read more.
* Workers rally against abrupt factory closure:
Company accused of avoiding wage hike
Over 200 workers of an underwear-making company in Saraburi came out to protest yesterday against the company’s abrupt closure of its factory.
The workers say the company is trying to avoid paying the new daily minimum wage rate of 300 baht.
The workers, all women, submitted a letter to Saraburi governor Thaworn Phrommeechai with the help of Boonsom Thawijit, who is chairman of a labour group in the province.
The workers complained that Vena Garments Co, located in Wihan Daeng district, shut down abruptly on Dec 30 without notifying its employees in advance.
* Inflation target stays at 2.8-3.4%:
Inflation is targeted to stay in a range of 2.8-3.4 per cent this year despite concerns over food, particularly meat and fresh vegetables and fruits, whose prices are |sensitive to seasons and natural disasters.
“However, goods won’t be in shortage,” Watcharee Wimuktayon, permanent secretary for the Com-merce Ministry, said yesterday.
The current market is in oversupply, she said.
The forecast for headline inflation is based on the Dubai crude oil price at US$100-$120 per barrel, the baht at 28.5-32.5 per US dollar and the government’s continued relief measures for people.
This year’s global economic expansion is expected to be close to last year’s, so external factors might not have a large influence on Thailand’s inflation.
Prices of consumer goods, including personal items, are expected to see only a slight increase due to the high competition.
The rise in the minimum wage to Bt300 per day across the nation on January 1 is forecast to bump up 2013 inflation by only 0.1 percentage point, as prices of products have already been raised to cope with the new wage in seven key provinces since last April. read more.
15:56:11 local time CAMBODIA
* Protest against former Bavet governor set for January 27:
Free Trade Union of Workers President Chea Mony has announced plans to protest the dropping of charges against former Bavet governor Chhouk Bandith.
The former governor was accused of seriously injuring three women when he opened fire on striking workers in Bavet in February.
In a letter to Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema, Chea Mony said the union would lead about 1,000 workers at Democracy Park on January 27 to protest against last week’s verdict of the Svay Rieng Provincial Court.
Prosecutor Hing Bun Chea said he decided to drop the charge against Chhouk Bandith due to lack of evidence.
The three victims of the shooting were Nuth Sakhorn, 21, Bout Chinda, 23 and Keo Nea, 16. to read.
* Trade unions lead protest to demand pay rise for garment workers:
Representatives of Cambodian garment workers led a peaceful protest on Sunday at the capital’s Freedom Park for increasing salaries for the workers from the New Year.
“The protest is to demand the government to urge the garment manufacturers to raise the salary for a worker to $150 per month from the Year 2013,” Yang Sophoan, president of Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, said at the event.
Currently, the monthly minimum wage for a worker is $73 plus $10 attendance bonus.
Rong Chhun, president of Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said the current basic salary was very low and was not enough for a worker to pay for meals and house rent.
“We’d like to ask the Government and the National Assembly to urge employers to raise the salary for workers in order to relieve their difficulties,” he said.
* Appeal Court Takes Over Bavet Shooting Case:
The prosecutor general of the Appeal Court has appealed against the Svay Rieng Provincial Court’s decision to drop all charges against the former Bavet City governor, the chief suspect in a shooting that left three female garment workers seriously injured.
Ouk Savuth, the prosecutor general, said yesterday that his appeal was filed on December 21, three days after the Svay Rieng Provincial Court decided to drop charges against Chhouk Bundith, the former governor. Mr. Bundith had previously been charged with “causing unintentional injuries” for his role in the February shooting during a protest outside a shoe factory supplying the German sports brand Puma.
“We appealed against the Svay Rieng Provincial Court’s decision after it dropped the charge on the workers’ shooting on December 21, but no reporters asked me about it,” Mr. Savuth said. read more.
* Chea Vichea’s brother drops complaint:
Nine years after filing a criminal complaint for the murder of unionist Chea Vichea, his brother yesterday announced he would withdraw it, citing a corrupt judicial system.
The announcement followed Thursday’s re-arrest and imprisonment of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, widely believed to have been framed for the killing and who spent almost four years out of prison pending a Supreme Court-ordered re-investigation before their conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal.
Chea Mony, who took over as Free Trade Union president after his brother’s January, 2004 murder, said he had little hope the withdrawal would have an impact on the situation of Samnang and Sam Oeun, but wished to make a statement concerning the judiciary.
“This is a message I send to the world, saying that I, as a plaintiff, decided to withdraw the complaint, because I have lost confidence in the court system. They are not the real murderers who killed my brother,” Mony said. read more.
* Cambodian Confederation of Unions threatens mass strike:
Workers take part in a protest at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh, Sunday, December 30, 2012. The workers are demanding a salary increase. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post
Some 300 members of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU) protested yesterday, threatening Prime Minister Hun Sen with a mass strike involving thousands of workers if the Kingdom’s garment sector wages are not increased.
Workers at the protest in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park held banners stating “$61 makes us faint” – referring to the current garment worker minimum monthly wage – and warned the government could expect huge industrial action in the next few months if they did not take action.
CCU president Rong Chhun called on Hun Sen for a raise to $150 per month, which he said was “not too extreme” considering that in neighbouring countries garment workers earn between $170 and $260 per month. read more.
* Cambodian garment workers threaten mass strike:
* Garment worker protest builds over severance:
More than 1,000 workers protested in front of the soon-to-be-closed Svay Rieng Cambodia Garment factory yesterday to demand better severance benefits, and nearly half of them then marched to the provincial hall to seek help from government officials, workers said yesterday.
Worker representative Pang Tra said that the workers began protesting last Tuesday, after the factory informed them it would close on January 1 because the company had been transferred to a new owner.
“The company is paying us our last wages and bonuses from December and a small amount when it informed us of the closure, but the workers also need severance wages and compensation,” he said.
“We have demanded $100 for each worker, but the company has agreed to only $40.” read more.
* ‘I didn’t fire’: Bavet chief:
Two weeks after the Svay Rieng Provincial Court revealed it had dropped charges against former Bavet town Governor Chhouk Bandith in a controversial triple shooting case, the man who effectively replaced him as the prime suspect yesterday appeared at the Ministry of Interior.
Bavet town police chief Sar Chanta, the man the Svay Rieng court left as the sole suspect, yesterday reiterated his innocence.
“I didn’t commit [the crime] as accused. I didn’t fire, because I had no gun. It is such an injustice to me,” Chanta protested yesterday, speaking to the Post after having left the ministry.
Chanta claimed he was standing at the Sheico (Cambodia) Co, Ltd Factory located about 500 or 600 metres away from the scene of the crime outside the Kaoway Sports Ltd Factory, where three female protestors were shot on February 18.
* Ministry to discuss wage increase for garment workers:
The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has urged clothing and footwear workers to keep working pending salary negotiations.
A statement issued by Minister Ith Sam Heng Monday said a working group had appealed to organizations, unions, workers and employers to maintain stability.
The announcement came a day after union leaders Rong Chhun and Yang Sophorn led workers in a protest demanding salary increases of $61 to $150 a month.
Basic salaries of clothing and footwear workers are currently $61 a month. Cambodia’s 400 garment factories employ about 400,000 workers. to read.
* Free Trade Union president accused of attempted murder:
The Voice Khmer Union Federation (VKUF) yesterday accused Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union (FTU), of attempting to murder two of its leaders, an allegation he denied.
VKUF president Long Sophat said his officials would file documents to Phnom Penh Municipal court over an incident outside the Conpress Holdings garment factory in the capital’s Meanchey district on Saturday.
“I will sue [Mony] for attempting to murder two of my officers – union leaders at Conpress,” Sophat said.
He alleged Mony had tried run down his rival union members with his car during a protest that involved about 100 workers and 20 FTU officials.
“They were lucky not to get hit,” he said. “We have evidence and witnesses. I think [Mony] did this because my union did not protest with his union – but I will let the court investigate this case.” read more.
* Factory worker wages to be re-examined:
Amid threats of another mass strike in the thriving garment sector, the Ministry of Social Affairs has called a meeting with the industry’s leading players to discuss union demands for a $150-per-month minimum wage, a letter obtained yesterday reveals.
At the behest of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the letter, dated Monday and signed by Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng, invites the Labour Advisory Committee, factory owners and unions to attend the meeting, but does not specify when it will be held.
“Please, all unions, workers and employers, keep working as normal and wait to see the result of these discussions,” the letter says.
News of the meeting came two days after Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun led a 300-strong protest in the capital, in which he threatened widespread industrial action if the minimum wage of $61 was not increased to $150 per month. read more.
* Unions threaten strike if minimum wage not raised to $150:
Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions has threatened a general strike if minimum wages are not raised from $61 to $150 a month.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the alliance welcomed a promise by Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng to discuss wage increases for clothing and footwear workers.
“But the statement didn’t set a date for discussions,” alliance president Yang Sophorn said. “If there is no discussion for wage increases in early 2013 or the wages don’t reach $150, the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions with the Cambodian Confederation of Unions led by Rong Chhun and other unions will conduct a general strike on International Labour Day on May 1.” read more.
* Union says more than 2,000 workers fainted last year:
The Free Trade Union of Workers of Cambodia said 2,107 workers from 29 garment factories fainted last year including 510 in November alone.
The union blamed poor work environments including smoke, chemicals, glues and insecticides as well as overtime.
It said the factories were in Phnom Penh, Kampong Speu, Svay Rieng, Kampong Chhnang and Sihanoukville. to read.
* Chhouk Bandith files head to Appeal Court:
Svay Rieng Provincial Court is scheduled to transfer the case against Chhouk Bandith, former Bavet town governor, to the Court of Appeal today, paving the way for a re-investigation and possible criminal charges only weeks after the lower court dropped the charge of involuntary injury for a man eyewitnesses fingered for the shooting of three garment workers during a February protest.
Ouk Savuth, prosecutor general at the Court of Appeal said once the files have been transferred “the judges will set the date for [investigation] hearing between 15 to 20 days after”.
All involved parties, including the victims, suspects and police will attend, said Savuth. read more.
* Ministry of Interior Requested to Further Investigate SEZ Shooting:
The Ministry of Justice has instructed the Ministry of Interior to investigate a Bavet City police officer’s alleged involvement in a shooting that left three women seriously injured during a violent protest outside a factory last year.
Pen Vibol, deputy chief of the National Police’s personnel department, said the Ministry of Interior will write a report on Bavet City penal section chief Sar Chantha’s alleged involvement in a February 20 shooting, and it will be sent to the Ministry of Justice.
Mr. Vibol questioned Mr. Chantha on Monday over his alleged role.
“The Ministry of Justice sent a letter to the Ministry of Interior to investigate on Sar Chantha,” Mr. Vibol said. “We just called Sar Chantha to make a report on the involvement since the [Svay Rieng provincial] court had charged him with causing unintentional injuries and we will send this back to the Ministry of Justice.”
* Garment strikers ask ministry for resolution:
Some 200 garment workers who have been striking for two weeks traveled from their Kandal factory to the Ministry of Social Affairs yesterday to demand a resolution.
Representatives met with officials to broker a sitdown for workers from the Master and Frank factory in Ang Snuol.
“We negotiated with the social affairs and labour ministry officials, and they told us that they will ask the company officials to meet them to end the dispute,” said representative Saom Sokhim.
Workers have been striking since December 19 demanding the reinstatement of 10 fired representatives. read more.
16:56:11 local time MALAYSIA
* Employers May Restructure Worker Salary In Implementing Minimum Wage:
Employers can restructure workers’ salary by absorbing certain allowances as part of the basic salary in the implementation of the minimum wage, said National Wages Consultative Council secretary T. Shanmugam.
He said employers could carry out wage restructuring after negotiating with their employees.
The restructuring of the wages can only be done only once before its implementation is enforced, he said in a statement Friday. read more. & read more.
* Chinese Textile Manufacturers To Invest RM500 Million On Textile Warehouse:
Thirty-seven textile manufacturers from the China Textile Industry Association have agreed to invest RM500 million to build a textile warehouse complex in Bandar Baru Kijal, Kemaman, in a move to expand their operations to Malaysia.
The matter has been agreed to in principle by the state government after association members, on Friday, visited Bandar Baru Kijal with the intention of turning it into the largest textile hub in South East Asia, said Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said.
The state government is undertaking the construction of a RM140.7 million textile complex in Bandar Baru Kijal which is expected to be operational April next year.
* Minimum wages order will increase production cost, says MPMA:
The implementation of the Minimum Wages Order — RM900 for Peninsular Malaysia and RM800 for Sabah and Sarawak – is expected to have an impact on the production cost for plastics manufacturers.
“Labour cost is a major cost component for our industry. With the minimum wages in place, our direct labour cost will increase by 30 per cent to 40 per cent. This will push up our manufacturing cost,” said Datuk Raymond Sng, Vice-President of the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA).
In addition, the price of resins, which forms a major portion of the manufacturing cost of plastics products, has increased quite substantially over the last few months, he said. read more. & read more.
16:56:11 local time INDONESIA
* Indonesian Labor Unions to Set Up Complaint Posts to Monitor New Wage Law:
The Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions will set up complaint posts in order to monitor the implementation of Jakarta’s new minimum wage law, which is set to take effect this year.
Muhammad Rusdi, the secretary-general of the confederation, also known as the KSPI, noted that the body will give leeway to small and medium enterprises who must postpone implementing the new wage.
The KSPI, however, will not tolerate medium-to-large businesses who fail to follow the law.
“We will take legal action if they [medium-to-large entrepreneurs] refuse to carry out the new minimum wage because it’s a breach of the law,” Rusdi said in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Last year, the Jakarta administration raised the minimum wage by 44 percent to Rp 2.2 million ($227) per month for 2013. read more.
* The 4th edition of the Better Work Indonesia quarterly newsletter:
1. Guideline for Companies to Employ Persons with Disabilities
2. Celebrating the World AIDS Day at PT Citra Abadi Sejati
3. BWI and AIMI Collaboration: Ensuring Workplaces are Breastfeeding Friendly
4. Profile: Mia Sutanto
5. Improving the Capacity ofHR and Compliance Practitioners in the Indonesian Garment Industry
6. A Glimpse into the LKS BipartiteTraining
7. Emergency Precaution: Fire Safety
8. Participating Suppliers as of December 2013
* Improving the Capacity ofHR and Compliance Practitioners in the Indonesian Garment Industry:
Over 300 compliance and human resources officers are employed by companies located in Indonesia, producing for American and European Markets.
These officers, together with third party auditors and staff recruited by major brands
in Indonesia to monitor compliance, show that the number of professionals in this field is significantly increasing.
However, unlike mainstream human resource management, opportunities for compliance officers in the garment industry to advance their professional skills and competencies are limited. Moreover, they are often merged within existing
human resource networks, without considering the particular attributes of compliance officers.
Compliance officers must not only be familiar with prevailing human resources trends and Indonesian labour laws, but also with environmental compliance, occupational safety and health compliance, industrial relations and the emerging needs and expectations of international brands and markets. Additionally,
they must also be able to strengthen and facilitate dialogue between managers and workers and to support good working conditions in the garment industry.
read more in the newsletter.
* Indonesia’s Inflation May Accelerate in 2013:
Inflation accelerated last year, and the trend is likely to continue in 2013 on the back of higher wages and energy-related prices, according to three economists contacted by the Jakarta Globe.
Still, the gain in the consumer price index would not be enough to force Bank Indonesia, the central bank, to raise its benchmark interest rate, they said.
The consumer price index — a basket of goods and services prices used for measuring inflation — increased 4.3 percent last year, up from a 3.8 percent gain in 2011, the Central Statistics Agency said on Wednesday. read more.
15:26:11 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* GSP for Myanmar garment industry:
The garment industry in Myanmar will benefit from the generalised system of preferences (GSP) of the European Union starting from 2013, according to the Myanmar Garment Association.
The tax advantages gained from GSP are attracting more investments from South Korea, Japan and Thailand.
“Investors from South Korea are coming to see us daily to scout investment opportunities. There are also Japanese and Thai investors visiting us. Those potential investors are interested in tax advantages from GSP,” Khine Khine Nwe, secretary of the garment association, said. to read.
* Commerce Ministry issues GSP Certificate of Origin to exporters:
A garment factory at Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone (Photo – EMG)
The Ministry of Commerce is now issuing recommendation for Certificates of Origin for GSP (Generalized System of Preference) to local exporters, which is the European Union’s tariff preferences granted to the developing countries, the minstry said.
People can register as import and export entrepreneurs at the ministry, obtain the export licences and apply for GSP if the country, to which the products are exported allows GSP benefits.
Myanmar traders can apply for GSP in line with the rules and regulations adopted by the original countries. Apart from EU comprising 27 countries, Japan, Switzerland, the US, Australia, Canada, New Zeland and Turkey have already granted GSP benefits to Myanmar.
The GSP Certificate of Origin issued by the ministry at present includes tariff preferences granted by developed countries (GSP, Form A), by Korea (Preferential Treatment for LDCs From Korea) and by India ( Duty Free Tariff Preference From India-DFTP Scheme). read more.
14:56:11 local time BANGLA DESH
* Garment factory gutted in Gazipur:
A fire broke out at a garment factory at Borobari in Sadar upazila Friday. Witnesses said the fire erupted in a room on the second floor of ‘Rupa knitwear Limited’ in the area at about 7:15 am and soon spread through the room burning down readymade garments and furniture.
On information, two firefighting units from Tongi and Gazipur stations rushed in and doused the blaze after frantic efforts for an hour with the help of local people. The reason behind the fire and the loss caused by it could not be ascertained yet.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Big US, EU buyers need to do more for B’desh factory safety:
Big US and European Union (EU) retailers and apparel companies must be persuaded to press Bangladesh to do more, according to Cathy Feingold, director of the AFL-CIO’s international department and Scott Nova, executive director of the Workers Rights Consortium.
A website report of the BloombergBusinessweek said: Feingold of AFL-CIO considers, “The brands need to take responsibility for their supply chains.”
Nova says he figures it would cost the big brand companies less than 10 US cents per garment to ensure safe factories in Bangladesh. Instead, “as long as the companies press for low prices from their suppliers, the government of Bangladesh cannot be active in improving safety,” he says. read more.
* Owners mull relocation:
A good number of apparel unit owners at Ashulia off the capital city are now considering relocating their factories to other suitable places to avert production losses caused by frequent labour unrests there.
Some of them postponed construction of their buildings as they are in a dilemma over whether they will run their business at Ashulia or not where workers’ unrest is a common phenomenon.
“I want to shift my manufacturing plant from Ashulia due to the workers’ unrest as it seriously hampers the production,” Chairman of Sterling Group Md Siddiqur Rahman told the FE. read more.
* Doubt over Walmart’s safety vows:
When Walmart’s chief executive, Michael Duke, appeared at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting in New York this month, a raucous crowd of protesters awaited him. Walmart was confronting reports of bribery in Mexico, a wave of labour demonstrations in the United States and, perhaps most critically, questions about a grisly fire that had killed 112 workers at a Bangladeshi garment factory used by several Walmart suppliers.
“We will not buy from an unsafe factory,” Duke told the audience. “If a factory is not going to operate with high standards, then we would not purchase from that factory.”
But Duke’s reassurances that Walmart enforces high standards in the global clothing industry appear to be contradicted by inspection reports it requested and some of Walmart’s own internal communications:
Just two weeks before Duke’s vow, a top Walmart executive acknowledged in an e-mail to a group of retailers that the industry’s safety monitoring system was seriously flawed. “Fire and electrical safety aspects are not currently adequately covered in ethical sourcing audits,” Rajan Kamalanathan, the executive, wrote to other board members of the Global Social Compliance Programme, a business-led group focused on improving the supply chain. read more.
* Tazreen fire preplanned: BGMEA probe:
The deadliest industrial fire in the country that killed 111 workers in Tazreen garments factory on November 24 was preplanned, said a probe report by the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
“Some factory officials had ‘ill-motive’ and they are responsible for the fire,” said Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of BGMEA.
The association accused several factory officials of being involved in the ‘scheme’ and recommended the culprits are tried.
BGMEA unveiled the report at a press conference in the city.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Garment: parties there, failures too:
2012 in Review
Four major incidents put a damper on the party of the garment entrepreneurs who moved close to a $20-billion milestone in exports in the outgoing year.
A deadly fire at Tazreen Fashions, a prolonged labour unrest, death of a labour leader and the Hall-Mark scam — forced the entrepreneurs in the highest-export earning sector to think anew, to stay afloat.
At least 112 workers died in the deadliest ever factory fire in the Ashulia-based Tazreen Fashions on November 24. Also several hundred workers received major injuries while escaping the fire at the ninth floor of the factory building.
However, after the incident, the garment makers and the government’s fire department launched a training project on fire safety at the factories.
The garment makers’ trade body — Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) — also formed a high-powered taskforce on December 8 to conduct drives at the factories and detect the safety loopholes.
The year also witnessed a severe labour unrest that continued from May to August and forced around 300 Ashulia-based units to close down their operations for 10 days in June. The trouble began with the rumour of death of a worker who was found alive later. read more.
* Immense potential for diversified jute products:
Jute and jute products, the second largest export item of Bangladesh have immense potential for growth at home and international markets, said Tamanna Sharmin, a group manager of Katalyst, an NGO that promotes private sector business in the country.
“The domestic market size could be expanded by another 300 per cent,” said Tamanna in her paper — Jute Diversified Products of Bangladesh: Emerging Market Opportunities – recently presented at a seminar.
With the increase of the use of natural fibre worldwide in the backdrop of environmental hazards, the paper showed that more and more leading business organisations are now adopting a “Going Green Policy” and showing interests in jute products.
“Jute diversification products can be an echo-friendly alternative for a sustainable future and echo-friendly sustainable consumption and production is possible through jute diversification products”, she said in her paper.
read more. & read more.
* Tazreen fire pre-planned:
The November 24 fire at Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia — the deadliest the country has ever witnessed — was preplanned, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said in a probe report yesterday.
A 11-member team headed by Vice-president SM Mannan Kochi had found that several factory officials were involved in the blaze that killed 112 workers, said BGMEA President Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin at his office in the capital.
“We want to know why they did it.”
The facts of the inferno hinted at such “ill motive”. The team appointed on November 26 spoke to a number of witnesses and injured workers and visited the multi-storey factory building many times before coming to the conclusion, Shafiul said.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Fire panic leaves 15 workers injured in Ashulia garments:
At least 15 workers were injured, some of them critically, as panic-stricken employees of a ready-made garments (RMG) unit in Ashulia tried to escape to safety on a rumour of fire on Monday.
* Garment leaders protest Walmart’s anti-workers’ policy:
Leaders of the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) on Monday protested against, what they called, anti-industry and anti-workers’ policy of Walmart, a US retailer, for cancelling its order to fire-torn Tazreen Fashions Ltd.
They also urged Walmart to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to take part in the compensation of the injured workers of Tazreen Fashions Ltd and ensure health and safety measures for the garment workers.
The demand came at the protest rally organised by the NGWF in front of the Jatiya Press Club in the city with federation President Amirul Haque Amin in the chair.
Among others, Federation Central leader Safia Parvin, Farukh Khan, Sultana Akhter, Kabir Hossain, Nasima Akhter, Mohammad Rafique and Naznin Akhter were present on the occasion.
Amirul Haque Amin said, “Walmart is the biggest buyer in the apparel accessories and makes a big profit from Bangladesh.
However, it has no interest in improving the safety condition of the workplace.”
* Call to invest more in workers’ welfare:
Welfare of workers is not a matter of benevolence rather an investment, said Hossain Zillur Rahman, a former adviser to the careta-ker government, yesterday.
He also said skilled and satisfied workers are an asset for a sector like readymade garments and textiles.
Rahman, also the coordinator of Chittagong Research Initiative, said investment in workers’ welfare is a must to establish Bangladesh as an economically developed country.
He was speaking at an amusement programme organised by Base Textiles Ltd, a garment maker, to mark the first day of the New Year on the factory premises.
Welfare of workers is also vital for creating goodwill of the garment sector, Rahman added. read more.
* RMG owners-workers ties stressed:
Former Adviser of the caretaker government Professor Hossain Zillur Rahman emphasised the greater cordial relationship between the workers and owners of the garments sector.
He said this while addressing the BASE Utsab, a festival and cultural programme, organised by Base Textiles Ltd. for its workers and family members on the factory premises here today.
The former adviser said that the economy of the country has advanced a lot but there are challenges ahead of the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner readymade garments (RMG) sector which we can face through concerted efforts of the owners and workers of the factories. read more.
* RMG workers block road demanding wage increase:
Several hundred workers of a sweater factory on Wednesday blocked the Dhaka-Narayanganj road at Masdair area demanding increase of their overtime wages.
Agitated workers blocked the road from 10am to 12 noon and vandalised three battery-run auto rickshaws and a bus.
On information, forces from Fatulla model thana and industrial police unit-4 rushed to the spot.
Inspector of industrial police Aminul Islam said the workers withdrew their blockade after being assured of meeting their legal demand. to read. & read more.
* BGMEA protests labour charge hike by private ICD:
Leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Chittagong today protested increase of 88 percent labour charge on exporting garments by private Inland Container Deport (ICD).
BGMEA’s hurriedly called press conference at its regional office followed ‘unilateral rise’ in ICD labour charge to TK 3 per garment cloth carton instead of TK 1.6 from January 1 without discussion with the stakeholders.
First Vice President of BGMEA Nasir Uddin Chowdhury read out a written statement in the press conference, while Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industries President Murshed Murad Ibrahim, BKMEA representative Showkat Osman, C& F Agent Association President A K M Akhter Hossain, General Secretary Altaf Hossain Bachchu, Vice President of Chittagong Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industries Mahbub Chowdhury and former BGMEA vice president S M Abu Toyob, among others, spoke at the press conference.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Export orders for high value RMG products increasing:
Shah Alam Nur High value apparel industry is booming in the country thanks to increasing orders from the global buyers turning from countries like China and Turkey to Bangladesh.
Competitive price range with better quality products helped increase the orders, industry insiders said. A recent study by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA)’s Research Cell showed that around 100 ready-made garment (RMG) industries have turned into high value apparel production units in last three years.
Export orders for high value RMG products like blazers, trousers, suit, jackets, and women’s underwear and nightwear etc are rising in the country, the Research Cell confirmed. Now many of the buyers for high value products (HVPs) have been turning to Bangladesh from China and Turkey thanks to better quality and competitive price, it said. read more.
* Exports to US under threat:
The country’s exports to the USA enjoying GSP facilities may be facing serious troubles in near future as the US administration is coming under tremendous pressure to review the preferential tariff levies on Bangladesh exports, calling for its partial suspension or outright cancellation.
14:26:11 local time INDIA
* Textile exporters seek sops to sustain competitive edge:
The textile industry is far from satisfied by the recent sops announced by the Government to boost exports.
Industry players point out that labour, power, raw material and transportation are making the end products more expensive compared to other competing markets.
Additionally, the industry is seeking that all textiles be put under one basket rather than have different classification for sops.
A. Sakhtivel, Chairman Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), said, “Buyers are not putting more orders due to the economic turbulence in their economy specifically in Western Europe, the US and Canada. Besides, there is stiff competition from Vietnam and Bangladesh in the US market and from Turkey in the EU market. The Indian market share is bitten by these (Vietnam, Bangladesh and Turkey) suppliers.”
“We need to grab the market share lost from China. Moreover, increasing wage rates, hike in oil prices and inputs are other causes of worry as they dent exporters’ profits,” he said. read more.
* As Walmart makes safety vows, it’s seen as obstacle to change:
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, demands the lowest costs from suppliers and delivers the lowest prices to consumers. But in the bargain, it is said to be preventing safety measures from being put in place
When Walmart’s chief executive, Michael Duke, appeared at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting in New York this month, a raucous crowd of protesters awaited him. Walmart was confronting reports of bribery in Mexico, a wave of labour demonstrations in the United States and, perhaps most critically, questions about a grisly fire that had killed 112 workers at a Bangladeshi garment factory used by several Walmart suppliers. read more.
* 2012 saw government nod for complete ban on child labour below 14:
Clearing of a proposal to put a complete ban on employing a child below 14 years was the major highlight of the Labour and Employment Ministry in 2012 during which it remained largely occupied with labour unrest and general strikes.
The ban on child labour, contravening of which would land one with a three-year jail term, was cleared by the Cabinet in August as it gave its nod to amend the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. The amendment also seeks a blanket ban on employing children below 18 years in hazardous industries like mining. At present children under the age of 14 years are prohibited from employment only in hazardous industry. read more.
* Gujrat cotton seed crushing units cut operation by 40%:
A decrease in cotton production and higher inflow of unprocessed cotton seed oil from other states this season has forced cotton seed crushers in Gujarat to cut down operations by 40 per cent.
As per industry sources, units which were crushing 350-400 tonne cotton seed last year are only able to crush 250-300 tonne this year. This is mainly because of oil millers sourcing unprocessed cotton seed oil from states like Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra as the prices are lower than Gujarat. Since demand for oil is less the crushers are getting less orders. read more.
* Steps to revive handloom sector sought:
Members of the Andhra Pradesh Weavers Welfare Association, Epurupalem, hold the World Trade Agreement (WTA) signed by the Union Government, responsible for most of their existing woes and demand a string of measures to save the handloom industry which is in a doldrums.
In a representation made to the President of the country, they said modern textile industries were being promoted at the cost of handloom industry, a cottage industry which provided employment to nearly three crore rural population.
They pointed out that their counterparts in other countries enjoyed the privilege of buying raw material at a subsidy ranging from 30 per cent to 70 per cent. They said immediate remedial measures were needed to revive the industry and prevent its extinction. read more.
* New Year may bring in up to 10 lakh jobs, 10-15% pay hikes:
The New Year may usher in loads of cheers for job seekers, as companies are likely to hire up to 10 lakh employees and dole out pay hikes in the range of 10-15 per cent to high-performers, say experts.
As per the estimates of human resource consultants, hiring will definitely see an uptrend in 2013, as compared to 2012, as most economies are coming out of slowdown and the demand from domestic as well as international markets would create many job opportunities.
According to industry estimates, India saw nearly 7 lakh jobs being created in 2012, despite economic uncertainties, and the projections for the New Year vary between a minimum of 5-6 lank to more than 10 lakh. read more.
* Textiles and turbulence:
The narrative of the labour movement at Binny Mills is punctuated with accounts of workers’ struggles and strikes, compromises, betrayal and violence
Years after the looms fell silent, the areas adjoining the now defunct ‘Bangalore Woollen, Silk and Cotton Mills’, better known as Binny Mills, are still dotted with the remnants of what used to be one of the city’s oldest industrial zones.
Cotton trading units, small looms, ‘bedding makers’, and thousands of former mill workers, and families, who have moved on to other jobs and livelihoods since the mill closed in 2005; these relics of Bangalore’s textile history are now juxtaposed, surreally, against the looming skyline of a sprawling 18-storied multi-apartment complex, built on old Binny land, in Cottonpet.
The oldest of the mills in this textile manufacturing area (including the Minerva and Raja Mills, all located around the city railway station), Binny Mills was set up in 1884. Back then, among the earliest modern steam mills, it was taken over by the Chennai-headquartered Buckingham and Carnatic Mills (Binny & Co.), which ran the mill for over a century until it was bought over by a liquor baron from Tamil Nadu.
* Woman labourers molested, gherao Ganeshpeth police station:
The new year seems to have begun with the show of women power in city. Hundreds of women labourers working at Cotton Market laid siege to Ganeshpeth police station on Tuesday morning, demanding immediate arrest of notorious goons who passed abusive comments and molested them.
The annoyed women alleged that a gang of around 10 armed youths misbehaved and abused them. When opposed, the youths threatened them at knife point and tried to touch them publicly and molest them. Hence, the women thronged the police station and demanded immediate arrest of the goons. Swinging into action, a police team raided the place and arrested three accused. Search for the other accused is underway. read more.
* A SMART way to train garment workers:
As part of its efforts to train men and women in garment manufacturing and make them employable, the Apparel Training and Design Centre (ATDC) has set up a ‘Skills for manufacturing of apparel through research and training’ (SMART) centre at Adugodi here.
The centre was inaugurated on Tuesday by Ramalinga Reddy, B.T.M. Layout MLA.
It will offer a free one-month training course in apparel manufacturing, Ravi Kishore, senior principal, told presspersons.
“Participants will be trained to work on advanced machines and by the end of the camp, they will be able to stitch an entire garment without guidance,” he added.
The Adugodi centre has the capacity to train 50 people at a time.
Class 5 pass students between the ages of 18 to 35 are eligible for the course, Mr. Kishore said. to read.
* Cotton arrival declines by 11.74% in India:
Cotton arrivals in India as on 31st December has declined by about 11.74 per cent to 8.80 million bales (each weighing 170 kg) as against 9.97 million bales corresponding period last year.
According to industry sources, cotton arrivals decreased this year due to decline in production, mainly in Gujarat, which is largest cotton producer state in country.
* Panipat handloom exporters welcome extension of interest subvention scheme:
Extension of two percent interest subvention on rupee export credit, till March 31,2014, has been welcomed by the handloom industry in Panipat.
The Commerce Minister, Anand Sharma, today announced extension of two per cent interest subvention Scheme on rupee export credit up to March 31, 2014. The scheme available to certain specific sectors including handicrafts, carpets, handloom, readymade garments was scheduled to end on March 31, 2013.Along with this , Small and Medium Enterprises ( SMEs) for all sectors will now be able to avail the benefits of the Scheme. read more.
14:26:11 local time SRI LANKA
* Marxist party trade union of Sri Lanka re-launches campaign for salary hike from January 1st:
Sri Lanka’s Marxist party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) affiliated National Trade Union Center (NTUC) plans to re-commence the struggle from January for a salary hike for the working masses in line with the rising cost of living.
The NTUC will commence its struggle with an awareness campaign and a leaflet distribution campaign to be held tomorrow (January 1st) at 8 a.m. outside Sethsiripaya in Battaramulla.
NTUC Convener Samantha Koralearachchi said the government has so far failed to grant a proper salary increase to the people in the public, private and estate sectors in the country. read more.
* Bankers in hot water over approving loans without security:
Labour Relations and Productivity Minister Gamini Lokuge yesterday said that the government was keeping a close tab on bank officials who approved massive loans to errant foreign businessmen who had since fled the country without settling them.
Defaulters obtained loans for garment factories in the Investment Promotion Zones.
At least ten foreigners who started garment factories in the country have fled without paying back the loans to the tune of billions of rupees and rendering thousands of employees jobless.
read more. & read more.
* Lanka to enhance textile manufacturing and processing sector:
Sri Lanka is ready to enhance textile manufacturing and processing sector to reach a target of 30 million metres (10 million kg) and to bring in new areas of technical textiles to reach an export target of $ 1 billion.
According to Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) five year strategic plan, it is planned to facilitate investments in modern technology for fabric production and textile processing and Human Resource Development by granting initial period of protection for domestic purchases of products of right quality and price.
Plans have been taken to facilitate investments in modern technology for fabric production and textile processing to reach a target production target of 35 % of imports and to establish dedicated zones for effective clustering of processing particularly for water treatment plants and weaving plants. read more.
* Sri Lankan EDB formulates 5yr plan to aid textile sector:
* Sri Lanka’s textiles & apparel exports grow in Nov’12:
13:56:11 local time PAKISTAN
* Appeasement measure: Textile mills win a lollipop for all their troubles:
A complete power shutdown has sparked chaos across the industry and left an estimated four million contract employees jobless for the past one week, according to industry sources. PHOTO: FILE
Frustrated, annoyed and angry textile industrialists of Punjab have once again been given a lollipop by the government to soothe their frayed nerves following threats of a complete industry shutdown in protest against cut in energy supply.
In an hours-long meeting with representatives of the textile industry here on Friday, Federal Water and Power Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar announced that electricity would be equally distributed to all Punjab industries from Monday next week. However, he did not say for how many hours the industry would get the electricity.
“This is for the first time in my political carrier that I am feeling pressure from the industrialists,” Mukhtar said. “I will do what I can to save the industry, but don’t give me deadlines and threats as it is not a nice way to negotiate on such crucial matters.” read more.
* Power supply to textile mills in Punjab: Minister pledges to restore by Monday:
Minister for Water and Power Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said on Friday that electricity supply to the textile industry in Punjab would be restored by Monday (December 31) with no discrimination in supply. He was addressing the media after negotiating with the Textile Industry Associations at the APTMA Punjab office.
Central Chairman APTMA Ahsan Bashir, Chairman APTMA Punjab Shahzad Ali Khan, Group Leader APTMA Gohar Ejaz and top notches of sectoral associations from Faisalabad were present on the occasion. The federal minister was quite confused and avoided to make a direct commitment on energy restoration and kept on mincing words until the textile leadership threatened of taking control of Wapda grids in Punjab. read more.
* Gas, electricity shortages: textile industry braving Rs 200 billion loss annually:
Textile industry of the country is registering a huge loss of Rs 200 billion each year for the last four years, due to power and gas shortage, a letter written by the Ministry of Textile Industry to Ministry of Water and Power and Petroleum and Natural Resources said.
Textile Ministry in the letter called for giving priority to this export-oriented sector in gas and power supply as it not only contributes to the country”s economy but also provides jobs to millions of people. Official sources revealed that though export of raw cotton, cotton yarn and export of low value-added textiles had increased, yet the value-added apparel and home textile exports declined considerably during the last four years. read more. & read more. & read more.
* A noble cause: With a new song, singer Jawad Ahmad shifts focus:
The concert may have been put off for a day but pop singer Jawad Ahmad is focused. “I have decided to sing for the working class of the country because I myself belong to this class,” he said as he briefed the media at Hotel Mehran on Friday about his latest song – composed in tribute to the Baldia factory workers, who died in a tragic fire on September 11.
The renowned vocalist will perform his newest tune “Mein Bhi Insaan Hoon” at the Labour Square Ground in SITE on Monday. The concert was originally scheduled to be held on December 30 but was postponed to December 31 over unexplained reasons.
Ahmad has now decided to focus his skills for the betterment of labourers. The lyrics of the song which express the feelings of the working people are his own creation. “The song is more than [just] a song. It’s a call and we will take it as a source of awareness for 85 per cent people of the country – the working class,” he told reporters. read more.
* Textile industry without power for eighth consecutive day:
Textile industry in Punjab witnessed another day of power blackout, especially the mills with Captive Power Plants (CPPs) remained closed and a large number of workers of these mills were clueless about their fate for at least next two months.
It may be noted that the Federal Minister for Water and Power Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar visited APTMA a day earlier but he refused to surrender the demand of APTMA members for announcement of early restoration of electricity. He said the APTMA leadership should visit him in Islamabad on Monday to strategize as how electricity can be restored to the mills with dual facility of energy. read more.
* Govt awards leather sector ‘priority status’:
‘Leather exports to increase by 200 percent in 3 years’
In order to increase the pace of earning valuable foreign exchange, the government has awarded the leather sector a priority status through which its exports will surge by 200 percent to $3.0 billion from the current $1.0 billion in the next three years.
This was stated by Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA) Chairman Agha Saidain while talking to Daily Times on Saturday.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, on the recommendation of the Ministry of Commerce (MoC), approved the formation of Export Promotion Leather Council under Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2012-2015 (STPF) for this purpose. The formal approval of this leather council, which has been established on the patron of Indian Leather Council, would be given in the upcoming Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet’s meeting. read more. & read more.
* Faisalabad Region: no work at textile units for 15th consecutive day:
More than 550 textile processing and export-oriented units in Faisalabad Region remained closed for 15th consecutive day, while CNG stations remained closed since last week. Hundred rickshaw drivers took out a procession against the federal government as a mark of protest against the non-availability of Gas at CNG stations since last week.
They blocked traffic at various link roads by parking hundred rickshaws in the middle of the road. Civil society members also join the procession demanding gas for their homes.
Addressing the protest meeting on road, the leaders of rickshaw drivers stated that most of the CNG stations remained closed even on the seventh day (Sunday), following consecutive six-day holidays under gas load management programme.
* Punjab textile mills: PM orders restoration of power supply:
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has ordered the Ministry of Water & Power to restore electricity supply to textile mills on independent feeders in Punjab for 16 hours on daily basis from 11:00 pm on Monday night.
This was stated by Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Punjab, Shahzad Ali Khan after meeting Prime Minister and the Cabinet members on Monday afternoon. He said the delegation of APTMA comprised of Executive Committee members, central Chairman APTMA Ahsan Bashir and the Group Leader APTMA Gohar Ejaz.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Textile sector in a quandary: power shortages in Punjab become more formidable:
Power shortage in Punjab entered a critical phase, making it extremely hard for the local manufacturers to cater for the global textile demand of over $2 billion for 2013, exporters said on Monday. “For around last two weeks, export-oriented industries are not receiving electricity in Punjab’s top industrials cities including Multan, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Lahore etc,” they said.
Exporters said the continued suspension of industrial production is feared to force the manufacturers to downsize workers. “The downsizing fear has also created discontent among labourers who have started violent protests in different areas of the province,” they added.
The textile industry fears diversion of country’s share of at least $2.5 billion in global orders towards India, Bangladesh and China for 2013. “Other nations are looking for Pakistan share of at least $2.5 billion for 2013 as the country’s 70 percent textile exporting industry is facing power shortage,” they said. read more.
* Cotton market: protest by mills hurts trade activity:
Not a single deal was witnessed on the cotton market on Monday as a result of protests by mills against the poor supply of gas and electricity, but it is expected that business activity likely to begin very soon, dealers said.
Official spot rate was unchanged at Rs 6000, they said. Prices of cottonseed (phutti) in Sindh at Rs 2300-2700 and in Punjab rates were at Rs 2400-2800, they said.
They said that it was assured by an assurance of the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) that gas supply to Lahore Township Industrial Area would be restored soon, so they expect that in other parts of Punjab, gas and power will improve very soon.
After the assurance to the mills and industrialists, activity will start but the ginners may not lower asking prices to compensate, cotton analyst Naseem Usman said. It looks that supply side is not so strong and nearly 11.6 million bales are expected in fortnightly data by the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA), he added.
* Leather business: chief minister’s intervention sought:
Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA) has appealed to the Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif to take immediate note of the DCO orders for closing every kind of leather hide and skin business within the municipal limits of Multan with immediate effect, otherwise strict action is warned off against the non-compliant.
PTA Central Chairman termed the DCO orders as irrational and apprehended that the orders could be for serving some vested interested. The meeting observed that the decision was baseless and took without consulting Multan leather business community.
He said the city government Multan failed to attach any importance with the leather business which was the second largest export earner for the country. Without allocating an alternate business space, such order would only create panic in the business quarters but would also provoke unrest amongst them. read more.
* Song for change: Jawad Ahmed sings to bring a revolution for Pakistan’s labourers:
This concert was unlike any other – instead of posters of rock stars there were pictures of labourers. In the place of ear-piercing shrieks and head-banging, there was only silence and the tears of those so overwhelmed by what they had lost that the pain was no less intense than it was on the fateful day four months ago.
Singer Jawad Ahmed in collaboration with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) had organised a concert on Monday for the families of those who had lost their loved ones in the inferno that engulfed the Ali Enterprises garment factory on September 11. Ahmed had compiled a song titled ‘Pukaar’ for those who had perished in the flames.
“This is not a concert – it’s a wakeup call,” he roared to the hundreds of people who had turned up to the Labour Square ground in SITE, curious to see what he put together for them. As he began to sing, everybody in the ground stood up and silently held the pictures of their loved ones aloft as Ahmed worked the stage for two hours and sang the new song five times. During the final performance, everybody sang along. read more.
* Power supply to textile mills restored:
Electricity supply to textile industry has been restored following the directives of the prime minister after its 11-day suspension.
Meanwhile, the labours are also expecting the restoration of gas supply.
The power supply to textile industry was suspended for unidentified period due to the increase in shortfall due to which production process in factories remained halted.
On the other hand, the labours working on daily wages also suffered due to the power supply suspension.
A nine-member delegation of textile industry met Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to discuss issues relating to power outages affecting the textile industry.
During the meeting, the prime minister assured provision of electricity to textile mills.
* Prime Minister wins hearts of ’10 million textile workers’: APTMA:
The textile workers are grateful to the Prime Minister, his key Cabinet members including Minister for Textile Industry Makhdoom Shahab-ud-Din, Minister for Water and Power Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Minister for Finance Dr Hafeez Sheikh, Minister for Kashmir Affairs Mian Manzoor Wattoo and Advisor to Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain besides the APTMA leadership including Central Chairman APTMA Ahsan Bashir, APTMA Punjab management and the Group Leader APTMA Gohar Ejaz, he added. read more.
* Power supply to 20 textile mills: LHC Multan declares disconnection void, unlawful:
CEO MEPCO assured the Court that electricity would be restored without any further delay. read more.
* About 10.768m cotton bales arrive in market:
Cotton arrival at the local market was recorded at 10.768 million bales by the last week of December 2012 as compared to 11.036 million cotton bales of same period of December 2011.
Out of the total, about 8.756 million cotton bales have arrived from Punjab as compared to 8.756 million bales of same period last year, said Cotton Development Commissioner in the Ministry of Textile Industry, Dr. Khalid Abdullah.
Talking to APP here on Tuesday, he said that cotton arrival from Sindh witnessed growing trend where about 3.123 million bales arrived in the local markets compared to 2.279 million bales of same period of last year. read more.
THE KARACHI FIRE
* Jawad touches workers’ hearts with his performance:
A large crowd of factory workers, along with women and children belonging to families of hundreds of labourers who died in a massive fire in a garments factory in Baldia Town in September last year, was saddened and many cried over a song ‘Pukar’ by singer Jawad Ahmed at a concert on Monday.
The bereaved families and other workers of the factory were later enthralled by the second part of the song, which called for resolve not to let such incidents happen in future.
The song, a tribute to workers and solidarity with the families of over 250 labourers who died in one of the worst industrial tragedies in the country’s history on September 11, was presented by Ahmed in the concert organised for the labourers by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and other labour organisations and trade unions. read more. & read more in Music for change.
* Remembering Baldia victims:
Last week the 13th Akhtar Hameed Khan Development Forum came as a timely reminder of the injustice befalling the workers in a country where it is a crime to be poor. The forum focused on the Baldia fire tragedy, which has almost faded from public memory.
Now an annual Karachi landmark, the forum commemorates the philosophy and work of that iconic development theorist-cum-activist, whose insight into human nature and society was profound. Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan’s message of self-reliance and a participatory approach to development is most relevant today and has been kept alive by the Orangi Pilot Project, Research and Training Institute (OPP-RTI) under the able stewardship of its director Parveen Rahman.
The Baldia factory fire took place three-and-a-half months ago and a lot of information hitherto unknown has now surfaced. Hence the forum’s move to focus on the anti-workers’ dimension of the incident. Faisal Siddiqi, a lawyer with a conscience who is known for the pro bono work he does taking up cases on behalf of the poor, shed light on the catastrophic details of the events of Sept 11, 2012 when 260 plus people perished in a fire in a garment factory. read more.
* Power supply to textile mills in Punjab resumes: