09:38:50 local time THAILAND
* Over 3,400 have lost jobs in 6 months :
The Bt300 wage policy has cost at least 3,434 workers their jobs during the past six months, according to official statistics.
The minimum daily wage was first hiked in April in seven industrialised provinces including Bangkok. The country’s 70 other provinces also saw the minimum wage rise by about 40 per cent under the government policy.
On January 1, the Bt300 wage was made official throughout the country, raising concerns that the resulting boost to production costs would lead to mass layoffs and increased job insecurity.
Labour Minister Phadermchai Sasomsap said yesterday that only 275 have lost their jobs during the first four days of this year.
Many more workers had been given pink slips for reasons other than the wage hike, he said. During the past six months, 3,159 people became jobless because of the financial crisis in Europe while 5,378 people were let go for various other reasons.
* Hundreds dismissed due to wage hike:
Since the government’s blanket enforcement of the 300-baht daily minimum wage took effect nationwide on Jan 1, 275 workers had been sacked in the first four days of the year, Labour Minister Padermchai Sasomsap said on Tuesday.
According to the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, four factories had been hard hit by the government’s wage policy and had dismissed a total of 275 workers between Jan 1 and 4.
“Two more factories will likely sack another 480 workers soon and there are five other factories that appear to have liquidity problems and the contracts of 999 workers there will expire,” Mr Padermchai said. read more.
09:38:50 local time CAMBODIA
* Vietnam raises minimum pay:
A new decree that increases the minimum wage of workers in Vietnam will not necessarily lead to companies relocating to Cambodia, according to officials.
“The Vietnam government has issued [a] decree, which takes effect from January 1, to adjust the minimum wages paid to workers by enterprises… farms, households, and individuals,” Tran Tu, trade attache for the Vietnam Trade Office in Cambodia, said.
According to the decree, the respective new monthly wages in Vietnam’s four regions that are separated by their economic situation, increased to 2.4 million dong ($113), 2.1 million, 1.8 million and 1.7 million dong.
Tran Tu said the previous levels of minimum wage workers in the four areas used to get monthly were two million ($96), 1.8 million, 1.6 million and one million dong respectively.
According to Cheat Khemara, senior officer at the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, this increase will not immediately force Vietnamese companies like garment firms to enter Cambodia. read more.
10:38:50 local time MALAYSIA
* Call to abolish contract labour:
A coalition of 20 trade unions and NGOs has called for the abolition of contract labour, highlighting that the status allows for widespread abuse without much needed protection for workers.
Malaysian Workers Network (MWN) coordinator A. Sivananthan said workers hired by contractors suffered low wages, few medical and social benefits, as well as lack of job security.
“Contract for labour has brought us back to the slavery stage.
“It is exploitation as these workers have minimal benefits compared to permanent staff but in their desperation for a job, they normally will sign the contract even if it is not in their favour,” he said at a press conference after the launch of the Workers’ Manifesto today.
According to MWN, there are around 42,000 contract workers in the public sector alone. read more.
08:38:50 local time BANGLA DESH
* ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* JS body trashes BGMEA probe:
Says report aimed to protect factory owner
The parliamentary watchdog on labour yesterday rejected a probe by the garment industry lobby group on the deadly fire at Tazreen Fashions, saying it was biased and intended to protect the factory owner.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) in the probe report says the fire on November 24 last year– the deadliest the country has ever witnessed — was pre-planned.
“The report is a manifestation of their nonsensical and irresponsible nature,” said Israfil Alam, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on labour and employment ministry, at a programme at CIRDAP auditorium in the capital.
* `BGMEA trying to save Tazreen owner`:
The parliamentary standing committee on the Ministry of Labour and Employment rejected on Monday the probe report by the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) into the Tazreen Fashions Limited fire.
Chairman Israfil Alam alleged the probe report was prepared “arbitrarily”.
The worst case of factory fire occurred at the Tazreen factory on Nov 24 in the Ashulia industrial belt on the outskirts of Dhaka, killing 111 of the workers. Since the fire, the workers’ platforms had been holding the factory owner responsible and dubbing the deaths as ‘murders’.
Fires at readymade garments factories have become common in Bangladesh which is often blamed on lax security measures, overcrowded working place and poor electrical wiring.
In its probe report, published on Dec 31, the apparel owners’ lobby said the fire was ‘planned’ and added officials from the factory might have been involved with it.
The parliamentary panel chief said the BGMEA’s promise to compensate the families of the injured and deceased workers was not being fulfilled.
read more. & read more.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Big cos fail to ensure safe factories in BD:
It would take “big brand companies less than US cent 10 per garment to ensure safe factories in Bangladesh”. But this cannot be done so as long as companies continue to relentlessly haggle for lower prices from the suppliers, often to the detriment of their workers.
This was stated by Scott Nova of the Worker’s Rights Consortium, according to a website report.
Of course, consumers in the West want their goods to be as cheap as possible, so corporations have an incentive to continue pressing for cheaper production, the report added.
An investigation into the cause of the fire at a garment factory — Tazreen Fashions at Ashulia, Savar, near Dhaka — that killed at least 111 people and sparked global outrage amid calls for enforcement of higher international labour standards, later identified multiple safety violations such as locked exits and the absence of fire escapes at the site, the report pointed out. read more.
* 50 RMG workers hurt in stampede over fire scare:
At least 50 garment workers, mostly women, were injured in a stampede triggered by fire panic at a garment factory at BSCIC industrial estate in Fatulla on Monday night.
The injured were admitted to Khanpur 200-bed hospital in the city.
Police said a fire alarm was set off at bout 9pm when the workers of unit-2 of Abonti Colour Text, a sister concern of Crony Group, were working at night shift.
Then the panicked workers from different floors started to get out of the six-storied factory hurriedly, leaving them injured.
Factory sources said there was a sparkling in an electric wire inside the export-oriented factory. Mistaking it as fire, someone set off the fire alarm. to read.
* Shamahar Sweaters workers’ demo continued:
More than 700 workers of the just closed Shamahar Sweaters Ltd continued their demonstrations for the second day on Monday in Tejgaon industrial area protesting against their terminations and demanding payment of their dues.
Neither the owner nor the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association paid heed to the demands of the workers, who have been demonstrating since Saturday.
The workers on Monday gathered in front of the factory at around 10:00am as the day was fixed for payment of wages but the factory management did not turn up.
At one stage the workers chanted slogans pressing for their demands and tried to block the road near Nabisco intersection at Tejgaon, but police dispersed them.
* Higher RMG exports to buoy cotton consumption in 2013:
Cotton consumption will increase by 10-15 percent in 2013 on the back of higher ready-made garment exports, industry insiders said yesterday.
“RMG exports are displaying a distinct upward trend, which will increase demand for cotton,” said Jahangir Alamin, president of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA).
In July-November, knitwear exports increased year-on-year by 1.74 percent, woven by 10.16 percent and home textile by 0.59 percent, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau. read more.
*Jute goods makers cut export prices to lure in buyers:
Jute product manufacturers have slashed down the export price to counter the sluggish demand in the global market.
The average price of jute products fell by 7.92 percent year-on-year to $1.03 per kilogram in the July-October period of 2012.
Bangladesh, which exports jute and jute products to 118 countries, has been witnessing positive growth in exports, said Najmul Huq, chairman of Bangladesh Jute Mills Association (BJMA), as “many manufacturers are now selling at lower prices”. read more.
* GSP cancellation threat worries exporters:
The leading exporters in Dhaka have expressed their concern over the move of Washington to start a process of cancelling the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) facilities for exports from Bangladesh to the US. A high official of the US government recently wrote a letter to the commerce secretary of Bangladesh and informed him about the beginning of the process.
“The cancellation of the GSP by Washington would have a negative impact on overall exports from Bangladesh to the US” said Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, first vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the platform of the largest export sector of the country.
The garments sector, however, does not enjoy GSP in America but it gets a low duty privilege while exporting apparels to the US markets. “If the GSP is cancelled, this low duty facility might also be hampered,” Nasir fears. read more.
* BD for duty-free access first before TICFA signing:
Dhaka will sign the much-awaited TICFA with Washington only after getting assurances that Bangladeshi apparels would be granted duty-free access to the US market.
It will also address fully the long-debated labour issues in industries across the country, a cabinet committee decided last week.
Even if the US, the largest single export destination for Bangladeshi products, declines to offer the duty-free entry to its $200 billion plus apparel market, Bangladesh will be ready to introduce labour rights, including that of freedom of association ‘gradually’. The word, gradually, within the quote will be inserted in the draft deal for implementing the labour standards. read more.
08:08:50 local time INDIA
* India’s apparel exports can grow three-fold by 2016:
* Ludhiana’s knitwear industry seeks excise waiver:
The industry is looking to address the labour shortage problem by upgrading technology
Ludhiana’s knitwear industry is expecting that the excise duty imposed on branded garments in Union Budget 2011 shall be waived off in this year’s Budget.
“For industrialists, the imposition of excise duty on branded garments in the Union Budget 2011 was a big shocker and has led to harassment and unnecessary burdens on manufacturers,” said Darshan Dawar, President , Ludhiana Knitwear Club in his memorandum submitted on Monday to Sumit Bose, Secretary Revenue, Ministry of Finance, for pre-budget suggestions. read more.
* Textile sector to witness Rs 20K cr worth MoUs:
Biggies from within and outside the state are likely to foray for the first time or announce fresh investments for capacity expansions within Gujarat
Despite a shift in focus from inviting investment commitments to knowledge sharing by the Government of Gujarat (GoG), the Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2013 is still set to attract investments in the textile sector to the tune of over Rs 20,000 crore.
According to senior state government officials, biggies in the sector from within and outside the state are either likely to foray for the first time or announce fresh investments for capacity expansions within Gujarat. read more.
* Purchase cotton at MSP: Ponguleti:
AICC Secretary and MLC P. Sudhakar Reddy on Monday visited the cotton market yard in the town. He inquired about the grievances of the farmers in disposing of their cotton produce here.
The farmers apprised him of the ordeal faced by them in selling their cotton stocks and securing minimum support price.
They alleged that the errant traders were depriving them of minimum support price by citing the moisture content in cotton. read more.
* Mill workers demand land for housing:
Objecting to the land deal between the National Textile Corporation and a private trust, hundreds of mill workers protested at the Kohinoor mill no. 1 and 2 in Dadar on Monday.
Of the 22 acres occupied by the Kohinoor mill no. 1 and 2, six acres have been given to the private trust, the workers alleged.
They claimed that the trust had not given them the 2 acres for their housing project to be taken up by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada).
* Industry minister promises to revive city’s textile industry:
Industry minister Anil Joshi has assured textile manufacturers that he would take up their problems with the state government and make efforts to solve all issues concerning the textile industry.
Joshi was addressing owners of textile units here on Monday. The get-together with the minister was organised by the Amritsar Textile Association.
The minister assured the owners of textile units that there was no proposal to levy any fresh taxes. read more.
* An adult at 14 or 18? Govt unsure:
The law of the land defines children differently in matters pertaining to protection and welfare, causing discrepancies in the government’s approach towards them.
While criminal laws such as Juvenile Justice and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences describe children as those below 18 years of age, welfare legislations such as Right to Education and Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) place individuals below 14 in the category.
Restricting welfare legislations to 14 years results in the government leaving the children in the lurch after showing initial concern, say childcare experts. “The very fact that those between 16-18 years account for most juvenile crimes shows that unprivileged children could slip into crime if they are not cared for until they attain adulthood,” says Raaj Mangal Prasad, director of Pratidhi, a childcare NGO working with Delhi Police. read more.
07:38:50 local time PAKISTAN
* Prime Minister’s orders ignored: textile industry yet to get 16-hour power supply:
Textile industry in Punjab is yet not getting 16 hours a day uninterrupted power supply despite clear-cut instructions from Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. According to industry sources, there was heavy fluctuation in power supply to the textile mills in Punjab, causing losses to the production units.
It may be noted that the Prime Minister had intervened last Monday, directing the Ministry of Water and Power to avoid a complete shutdown to the textile industry in Punjab and ensure 16 hours a day uninterrupted power supply. The direction was acted upon in letter and in spirit for a short while the ministry started interrupting power supply to the mills. to read.
* Input tax, SED refund and audit notices: Apparel Forum takes up crucial issues with FTO:
Pakistan Apparel Forum, Karachi has raised crucial issues with the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO), ie, illegal import blockage by customs, input tax adjustment between Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and provinces, pending refunds of special excise duty (SED) claims, audit notices, transfer/change of ownership under SRO 589/2012 and post-refund audit notices prior to 3-5 years.
Industry sources said on Monday that the issues were raised by the Karachi-based exporters with Federal Tax Ombudsman Dr Muhammad Shoaib Suddle to apprise him about irritants and problems faced by exporters involving or leading towards mal-administration. The FTO promptly took action on the issues raised by association to resolve them during last meeting at Karachi. read more.
* Cotton target missed by 1.3m bales:
Pakistan has missed its cotton production target by 1.3 million bales due to the sowing of the crop on a smaller area because of water shortage in the country.
“The government had fixed 14.6 million bales as the cotton production target. The crop has currently been estimated at 13.3 million bales, signifying a shortfall of 1.3 million bales,” Cotton Commissioner Dr Khalid Abdullah told The Express Tribune. He said the main reason behind the shortfall was that the crop had been sown on a smaller area due to the shortage of water.
“At the beginning of the season, the country faced shortage in water supply by 28% of the total requirements. Therefore, cotton was planted on an 8% smaller area,” Abdullah said; adding that the heavy rains and floods in the months of August and September had caused considerable losses to cotton production. read more.
THE KARACHI FIRE:
* Delay in DNA test results: No end to woes of Baldia missing workers’ families:
Long wait of the ill-fated families of Baldia Town garment factory victims who went ‘missing’ after an inferno burnt down the factory on Sept 11, 2012 has not yet ended and their patience is wearing thin by each passing day.
After waiting for more than a month they were told the forensic laboratory in Islamabad to which police had sent fresh samples of 33 unidentified bodies for DNA matching had not yet sent the results. The charred bodies have been kept at the Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth.
The investigator of the case claimed to have sent the samples on Dec 1 under the Sindh High Court orders and expected to receive results within two weeks, but so far the lab has sent matches of only seven victims.
“We have received results of only seven DNA matches,” said Sub-Inspector Jehanzaib of the SITE-B police station, investigation officer of the Ali Enterprises inferno that killed more than 250 people. read more.