19:49:51 local time CHINA
* Fire breaks out in tannery in Wenzhou:
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire at a tannery in Wenzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province, Jan. 3, 2013.
A fire broke out in the Hongdeli Tannery at about 7:50 a.m. Thursday on the Wenchang Road in Wenzhou City. By now, firefighters are still trying to put out the fire. No casualty has been reported. (Xinhua)
19:49:51 local time PHILIPPINES
* US Congress may tackle trade bill on PHL garments this week:
The US Congress might discuss the provisions of the Save Our Industries Act (SAVE Act) this week, a Department of Trade and Industry official said Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, SAVE Act was not tackled in December because the US Congress was very much concerned with their fiscal cliff situation. So there was no trade bill discussed…[W]e are hoping that this week, proposals in the garments bill will be tackled along with other multi-lateral trade bill proposals,” Trade Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio said in an interview.
The SAVE Act will allow certain Philippine garments made from US textiles to enter the US duty-free, or at reduced tariff, a type of arrangement known as an 809 program. Championed by the late Democratic senator from Hawaii Daniel Inouye, the bill is seen as mutually beneficial to both countries, as the US has been seeking to increase its textile imports to the Philippines and other countries in the region.
18:49:51 local time THAILAND
* Free Somyot- International Federation of Human Rights highlights Somyot’s case:
The International Federation of Human Rights highlights Somyot’s case. You can see their update on his situation on their front page here.
& You can find more here and Here: Letter on the 80th week of prison.
* Wage increase begins to bite:
Workers laid off in some factories as hike rolls nationwide
Hundreds of workers have already lost their full-time jobs and many more are facing the axe in the wake of the government’s much-touted policy to raise the daily minimum wage to Bt300.
Although the new wage rate only took effect nationwide on Tuesday, lays-off are already being reported. A number of businesses have also begun relocating their manufacturing bases to neighbouring countries such as Cambodia, where wage levels are much lower.
In Buri Ram, two garment factories have laid off more than 120 workers. In Si Sa Ket, more than 50 workers visited the local premises of the Social Security Office (SSO) yesterday to claim unemployment benefits under the social security scheme. Officials, meanwhile, are busy answering phone calls from employers who are planning to put a halt to hiring in the face of the sharp wage hike. read more.
* Companies get lean and mean:
Many labour-intensive sectors have tried to adjust their operations to deal with the nationwide imposition of a Bt300 minimum daily wage. These efforts range from trying to trim logistics costs, to improving production efficiency, to hiring only skilled workers.
Tawee Piyapattana, president of Pacific Fish Processing Co, which specialises in the production of frozen seafood, said the company, which employs 3,000 staff, would not lay off people to cut costs but would focus more on trimming logistics expenses. It will also boost efficiencies in production and human-resource management.
It will not raise prices in the short term, which would risk loss of market share during a time of intense competition in the export market. Total export of processed seafood last year dropped 15 per cent amid tough competition from exporters in neighbouring countries.
The chairman of the Textile Industry Club of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), Somsak Srisupornwanit, said the shutdown of one textile company in Saraburi province was the result of declining purchase orders from foreign markets as Europe’s economy slows. But he added that the minimum-wage increase had aggravated the company’s situation: While its revenue fell, its labour costs rose.
* Wage hike ‘won’t cripple businesses’:
The government’s blanket enforcement of the 300-baht daily minimum wage will bolster businesses rather than cripple them, Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong says.
He said, however, measures to ease impacts from the policy will be tabled before the cabinet next week.
Mr Kittiratt, who is also deputy prime minister, made the remarks after meeting representatives from nine economic ministries and agencies to assess the world and local economic situation at Government House yesterday.
He conceded the government was concerned by the possible impacts of the minimum wage policy, which has been in force across the nation since Tuesday and would closely monitor its consequences. read more.
* Wage hike pushes up veggie prices:
Prices of fresh vegetables in Si Sa Ket province have increased sharply since the government’s 300 baht daily minimum wage policy took effect nationwide on Jan 1, the Post Today website reported on Friday.
The price of fresh chilli was up from 40 baht per kilogramme to 90 baht, Chinese kale was up from 30 baht a kilogramme to 60 baht, cucumbers from 15 baht to 30 baht, Chinese cabbage from 40 baht to 60 baht, and ordinary cabbage and from 30 baht to 60 baht a kilogramme. read more.
18:49:51 local time CAMBODIA
* Cambodia’s unions cry foul on fainting figures:
Union reps and government officials are offering significantly different – if both substantial – numbers in their year-end tallies of garment workers who fainted on the job in 2012.
The Free Trade Union yesterday announced that the number of workers to faint in factories rose to more than 2,100, while the government maintained the number had decreased in the past year, finishing at 1,686 workers.
Bad fumes and other poor working environment conditions, overtime work and low wages that kept workers in poor health contributed to a total of 2,107 garment workers fainting in 29 factories in the past year, the FTU reported.
The fainting numbers in 2012 marked an increase from 2011, when fewer than 1,800 workers fainted, said FTU president Chea Mony.
“The number of faintings of workers from year to year has not improved, because of poor standards of living,” he said. read more.
* Cambodia’s Free Trade Union offers minimum wage plan:
In the latest bid for an increase in garment-industry wages, Free Trade Union (FTU) president Chea Mony yesterday called on the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) to come to the table and discuss a $120-per-month minimum wage.
A few days after Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun — Mony’s former ally — called for wages to be lifted to $150 a month, the FTU leader put forward a similar case, using huge profits and higher wages in neighbouring countries as justification.
“In order to improve their living situation, I suggest you [GMAC] organise a meeting to negotiate providing garment and shoe workers a $120-per- month full-time wage and $115 for probation workers,” Mony wrote in the letter, dated yesterday.
* What a ruling has wrought:
Father wrenched away from daughter, son wrenched away from mother, brother from sister, husband from wife.
For the relatives of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, it has been a trying week since the pair’s surprise re-arrest on December 27. Convicted of the 2004 murder of unionist Chea Vichea, Samnang and Sam Oeun were sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The verdict saw the men thrown behind bars – for the second time – for a crime of which it is widely believed they are innocent. Perhaps more cruelly, it came this time following nearly four years of freedom, the result of the Supreme Court-ordered provisional release. read more.
19:49:51 local time MALAYSIA
* ‘Review minimum wage policy’ :
At least 25 small and medium-scale factory operators in Bakri want the Government to review the implementation of the minimum monthly salary for workers.
They claimed that the minimum wage policy only benefited foreign workers.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Nelson Khoo, who is Holzern Furniture Sdn Bhd managing director, said they could not afford such increments. “The operators are worried that a salary increase of RM300 for every worker would force the industries to increase the prices of their products.” read more.
19:49:51 local time INDONESIA
* Indonesian textile industry will face two obstacles:
The director of the Industry Ministry`s Textiles and Miscellaneous Industries, Ramon Bangun, said textiles and their product variants (TPT) will face two obstacles in 2013 that will hamper the development of the industry.
“One of the obstacles is an increase in electricity prices by 15 percent. Another obstacle is the Financial Regulation No. 253/2011, which looks into the repayment of import tariffs,” said Ramon on Wednesday.
According to him, the spinning mill industry consumes a lot of electricity.
He said high electricity prices make the textile industry unattractive, reducing the export value of textiles. read more.
17:49:51 local time BANGLA DESH
* FM stresses better work environment for RMG workers:
Urging the entrepreneurs to remain alert so that the country’s brand image remains untarnished, foreign minister Dipu Moni on Thursday said that better work environment for the garment workers would have to be ensured for the sake of the industry.
She said this at a workers’ welfare programme organised by the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association at its auditorium.
At the programme, Dipu Moni also distributed compensation money among the injured workers of Tazreen Fashions, and education scholarships among meritorious children of the garment workers. read more. & read more.
* Bring RMG export to a new high, says Dipu Moni:
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni on Thursday urged the apparel manufacturers to work unitedly with concerned all to lead the country’s apparel industry, which now enjoys the world’s second largest RMG exporter, to a new height.
“Despite the global recession, Bangladesh still dominates the world apparel market as the main outsourcing country,” said Dipu Moni urging all to work hard to attain the first position as China retreats from the business due to high cost and switching over to high-tech industry.
She was addressing a cheque handover programme at BGMEA Bhaban on Thursday. Presided over by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the meeting was addressed among others by BGMEA second vice-president Siddiqur Rahman and vice-president SM Mannan.
* Affected textile mills to get one more month to apply:
The Bangladesh Bank on Wednesday extended the time limit by 30 days for submitting applications by the affected textile mills to get cash incentives.
The government earlier announced 5 per cent cash incentive to the textile mills like spinning, weaving, dying-finishing mills, under the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), which were affected by the volatile global cotton prices between August 2010 and March 2011.
The BB in a circular on Wednesday said that these affected mills would be able to apply for the financial benefits for another month from the date of issuance of the circular.
All textile mills also enjoy 5 per cent cash incentives for export and local supply of their products. to read. & read more. & read more.
* Land acquisition of RMG Village soon:
The land acquisition work for setting up an exclusive village for Ready Made Garments (RMG) industries is going to begin very soon.
According to sources, the government allocated some 300 acres of land at Bausia under Gazaria Upazila in Munsiganj district to set up a RMG village.
The village will be equipped with all modern facilities, including the Central Effluent Treatment Plants.
About 1000 RMG factories will be relocated at the new site of RMG village.
“We hope that land accusation work will start within next three months”, said Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin while addressing a programme at BGMEA Bhaban on Thursday.
The BGMEA officials have already sat with the prime minister three times recently to find out ways and means for setting up the planned RMG village immediately overcoming all the hurdles. read more.
* TICFA to be signed soon, says … Mozena:
FE Report US Ambassador Dan W Mozena said Thursday that his country would sign long-awaited Trade and Investment Co-operation Framework Agreement (TICFA) with Bangladesh soon.
“We hope, TICFA would be signed soon as the issue has been discussed by the two countries for the last few years,” he told the media after meeting commerce minister Ghulam Muhammed Quader at his secretariat office on the day. He said once TICFA is signed, it will help remove trade barriers between the two countries and both Bangladesh and the United States will be benefited.
He said TICFA will help develop relations between the two countries. He suggested improvement in human rights conditions of garments workers for availing Generalised System of Preference (GSP) from the US. He said the US wants to see the garments workers rights ensured.
The commerce minister, however, did not talk to newsmen on the outcome of the meeting. to read.
* Sewing machines distributed in C’nawabganj:
Chapainawabganj district office of the Women Affairs Department distributed sewing machines among 10 destitute women on Wednesday.
Lawmaker of Chapainawabganj Sadar constituency Abdul Wadud distributed the sewing machines as the chief guest in a simple function arranged at its office with district women affairs officer Momtaj Mohol in the chair. Leaders of Awami League, Jubo League and the officials of the Women Affairs Department were present in the function. to read.
* Bangladesh’s Tazreen Fire Is Followed by Further Garment Factory Blazes:
On Nov. 24, a fire broke out in the Tazreen Fashions plant outside Dhaka, Bangladesh. It was the worst industrial accident in Bangladesh’s history, resulting in 111 deaths and provoking widespread calls for improved safety measures in the country’s garment industry.
In the four weeks since the Tazreen fire, 17 additional conflagrations have broken out in Bangladeshi textile and garment factories, based on reports in the local press that were compiled by the Dhaka office of Solidarity Center, an organization affiliated with the AFL-CIO. In one case, a worker died as panic-stricken employees jammed a stairwell to escape their workplace. A separate case involved no fire, but workers rushed out of a factory after an electric short circuit made a loud noise.
Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of the Exporters Association of Bangladesh and a member of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association, says the fires were triggered by short circuits, faulty wiring, or sudden power surges. “Some workers got injured when they started running out of their factories in a panic. We are trying to boost confidence among the workers so they don’t panic in case of a fire.” read more.
17:19:51 local time INDIA
* Arvind, Welspun to set up textile park, integrated plant in Gujarat:
In a further boost to the textile industry in Gujarat, two industry biggies Arvind Ltd and Welspun India Ltd. are set to invest in integrated textile parks and manufacturing facilities.
For instance, after investing in its own denim, spinning, shirting, real estate and other business, Ahmedabad-based textile conglomerate Arvind Limited is now learnt to be investing around Rs 2,000 crore in an integrated textile park. On the other hand, Welspun India Ltd. is investing close to Rs 3,000 crore for an integrated manufacturing plant. read more.
16:49:51 local time PAKISTAN
* Textile Ministry demands level playing field:
Textile Ministry has reservations over granting the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India, said Makhdoom Shahabuddin Federal Minister for Textile Industry on Thursday.
He said the Ministry would resists till creating level playing field to it unless and until level playing field is not created with India for textile products, reservations over MFN status would remain and the Ministry would remain firm on its stance supporting it.
We want there should be uniform tax regime for Pakistan and India textile products and there should be no differentiation, he added. read more.
* 3.7 percent less cotton reaped this season:
The domestic cotton production data released by the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) here on Thursday shows that the country has reaped less cotton by now this season, as compared to last year.
As per the statistics, ginners received around 11,586,730 bales of seed cotton (phutti) by January 1, which is 3.7 percent or 445,440 bales less than the cotton arrived by same time last season.
Of the new arrival, textile mills have procured around 9,735,806 bales of cotton till January 1, while 1,86,865 bales have been exported, thus leaving an unsold stock of 1,664,059 bales with the ginneries, PCGA spokesman Shehzad Ali Khan says. State-wise, the report said seed cotton arrival in Punjab ginneries by January 1 this year reduced by 13.25 percent to 8,351,797 bales. In other words the ginneries received 445,440 bales less than last year. read more.
* Cotton supply to factories slows down:
Cotton farmers have so far supplied 11.5 million bales to ginning factories in the current season, which is 3.4% less than the same period of last year, indicating a slowdown in arrival of cotton in the market.
According to a fortnightly report on cotton production issued by the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA), ginning factories received raw cotton equivalent to 11.587 million bales up to December 31, 2012, which was 445,440 bales less than the previous year.
In Punjab, ginning factories got 8.35 million bales, down 13% and in Sindh, the ginning units received 3.24 million bales, up 35%. read more.