09:41:16 local time CHINA
* Salaries stifled amid sluggish exports:
About 65 percent of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) did not increase salaries for their employees in the fourth quarter of 2012, as they chose to survive tough times through controlling labor costs, a quarterly survey on 1,000 SMEs in China showed Tuesday.
Only about 35 percent of the surveyed firms said they raised employees’ salaries in the past quarter, compared to 70 percent in the first quarter of 2012, the Standard Chartered Bank said in a report sent to the Global Times Tuesday.
The survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2012, covering 1,000 SMEs in 20 cities, mainly in the manufacturing and logistics sectors. read more.
08:41:16 local time LAOS
* Increased minimum labour wage benefits workers:
The adjustment of minimum labour wage from 348,000 kip to 626,000 kip have significantly improved better living conditions of workers. The amendment of minimum labour pay made by Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW) calculated for 80%.
In recent years, MLSW in cooperation with three parties and authorities concerned have committed to control and protect laborers’ right and benefit via various approaches of monitoring and inspecting labour forces in over 2,000 business units and other project.
The labour law has been disseminated to 255 business units and 74 conflicts have also been cleared. The MLSW has closely monitored 279 Lao labourers who worked in Thailand and suffered from flood come back to Laos. read more.
08:41:16 local time THAILAND
* Factors to watch for investors in Thai bond market 2013:
Although the global economic slowdown due to the recession in the United States and debt crisis in Europe was becoming more widespread in 2012, Thailand’s economic performance showed good signs of growth, supported mainly by domestic demand.
The main drivers were the increases in household consumption and private investment for reconstruction after the floods in 2011. With strong economic growth and impressive returns in the capital market, investors, including foreign investors, became more confident about buying in the capital market.
Capital inflows throughout the year were one of the main boosters of the bond market, causing it to be more active than the previous year, not only in terms of higher turnover but also investment return.
Here are some major factors that we should consider and keep an eye on:
l. The recovery and continued growth of the Thai economy. Last year, the government’s economic stimulus measures to increase household income and private consumption, such as the Bt300 daily minimum wage, first-car scheme and first-home scheme, helped push gross domestic product up by an expected 5.7 per cent. read more.
* Surin factories feel 300 baht heat:
The Surin Chamber of Commerce has reported that two factories have already closed in the northeastern province with more likely to follow suit due to the new 300-baht daily minimum wage.
Chamber chairman Kriangsak Palikupt said that many businesses were still confused about reports that the government plans to cover 60% of the labour cost hike. The daily minimum pay rate has been raised from 226 to 300 baht in the province, an increase of 74 baht or 32.7%
He said the new wage is causing problems for small and medium businesses, which are mostly located provincial areas. He said that at least two garment factories had already shut their doors in Surin with two more at risk of going out of business because they can no longer shoulder the rise in labour costs. read more.
* Provinces feel heat as wage hike kicks in:
As several provinces begin to feel the heat of increased labour costs caused by the government’s 300-baht minimum wage policy, others say they can manage to live with the new rate that took effect nationwide on Jan 1.
The Surin Chamber of Commerce has reported that two factories have already closed in the northeastern province due to the wage increase and more are likely to follow suit.
Chamber chairman Kriangsak Palikupt said at least two garment factories had already shut their doors in Surin with two more at risk of going out of business because they can no longer shoulder the surge in labour costs.
He also said a large number of Cambodian labourers were moving to Thailand to find jobs at local restaurants, rice mills and other businesses as they were willing to accept wages less than the new minimum rate. read more.
08:41:16 local time CAMBODIA
* Court calls ‘beaten’ worker:
A union member who says he was beaten unconscious during a garment factory strike last month was yesterday summonsed to Kandal military police headquarters to respond to allegations he himself was violent and damaged company property during the dispute.
Ra Sambath, a workers’ representative of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union at the Master & Frank factory in Ang Snuol district, said he and two fellow union members would be questioned tomorrow after their bosses complained to military police.
“I don’t know why the company is trying to sue us,” he said. “I just received the summons letter yesterday from provincial military police officials. I was surprised to see the complaint against us related to intentionally damaging private property and using violence against factory officials.” read more.
* Union calls for $10 bonuses for public holiday work:
The Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union has asked for $10 bonuses for employees working on public holidays.
In a letter to Labor Minister Vong Soth Tuesday, union president Ath Thon also requested a day off for those working on public holidays falling on a Sunday.
The request follows calls by the Cambodian Confederation of Unions and the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions to increase minimum wages from $61 to $150 a month. to read.
* Cambodia to re-examine protest shooting ruling:
Cambodia on Tuesday said authorities will reinvestigate the role of a former governor in the shooting of three female garment workers last year after charges against him were controversially dropped.
The justice ministry said the government intervened following a court decision to scrap the case against Chhuk Bundith, the prime suspect after the women — employees of Puma supplier Kaoway Sports — were wounded during a protest in February.
“The justice minister has sent a letter to the prosecutor general at the Appeal Court asking him to reinvestigate the case in order to find justice for everyone,” spokesman Sam Pracheameanith told AFP. read more.
* Scrap short-term contracts: CCU:
Fixed-duration contracts (FDCs) are in the sights of Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun, who yesterday urged Prime Minister Hun Sen to outlaw their use in the garment and footwear industries.
Chhun said the cancellation of such contracts would provide better conditions and job security across the two industries.
“I want the prime minister to distribute a circular letter,” he said.
In a speech on December 12, the prime minister said many workers wanted permanent employment rather than FDCs and urged employers to improve conditions relating to contracts. read more.
09:41:16 local time MALAYSIA
* No pay raise for many in SMIs:
Some 30% of small and medium industries (SMIs) in the country will not increase the salary of employees earning a basic pay of RM900 and above this year to minimise the impact of the minimum wage policy, which came into force on Jan 1, Sin Chew Daily reported yesterday.
It said 70% of these SMIs are in the manufacturing sector.
According to a survey conducted by SMI Association of Malaysia, for the rest of SMIs planning to increase the pay of their workers across the board, about 60% will only provide a small quantum of increase, i.e. 3-5%.
SMI Association of Malaysia president Teh Kee Sin told the daily the Minimum Wages Order 2012 has a tremendous impact on the labour-intensive manufacturing sector. read more.
* Top Glove to raise glove prices by up to 5%:
Top Glove Corp Bhd, which sees a 50% increase in its factory workers salary with the implementation of the minimum wage policy this year, will pass on this additional cost by increasing the price of its rubber gloves by 3% to 5%, said its chairman Tan Sri Lim Wee Chai (pix).
This means the average price of 1,000 pieces of gloves will be increased by US$1.50 (RM4.50) from US$30.
“With the 50% increase in labour cost, a factory worker who earns RM1,200 a month, including overtime, would now take home RM1,800,” he told a media and analyst briefing on its first-quarter financial results, prior to the group’s AGM here yesterday. read more. & read more.
09:41:16 local time INDONESIA
* Textile producers expect recovery this year:
Indonesian textile producers expect exports to increase again this year, albeit at a modest rate, on the back of an expected increase in orders from several buyers including the United States and Japan, after the industry suffered a 5 percent decline in 2012, an industry group said.
In contrast to the recovery in exports, the country’s textile producers project lower sales in the domestic market due to an influx of imported products, Indonesian Textile Association (API) chairman Ade Sudrajat said in Jakarta on Monday.
The association estimated exports of textiles and related products would increase by 6 percent to US$13.4 billion this year in part due to the expected increase in exports from the US, Indonesia’s biggest textile market. read more.
* Black Cloud in Business Climate, as Power tariffs Increased and Wage Gone Up:
The electricity tariffs hike effectively launched by January 1, 2013 continues to reap the pros and cons of some of the entrepreneurs.
Plan of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) over gradual rising to 15% of household customers over 900VA, and some industry sectors considered to have triggered a high-cost economy.
Indonesian Businessmen Association (Apindo) still refused to rise and threatened to terminate the a large size of employment. According to Apindo, the business players have increasingly heavy burden with the electricity tariff hike due at the same time should be exposed to the impact of rising Provincial Minimum Wage (UMP).
07:41:16 local time BANGLA DESH
* ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* Victims’ families want compensation:
Family members of the unidentified deceased victims of Tazreen garment fire incident have threatened to lay siege to all garment factories in Ashulia if they are not compensated before January 10.
On behalf of these families, Kabir Hossain, husband of one of the deceased victims, made the announcement at a press conference in Dhaka Reporters’ Unity yesterday.
Of the deceased workers, identities of 47 have not been confirmed yet though more than a month passed into the fire incident. Kabir’s wife Lucky Begum is one such victim.
DNA tests of the unidentified bodies were conducted at Dhaka Medical College Hospital to find their identities. However, the test results are not being published, said Kabir.
As a result, family members of these victims are not getting compensation from the factory owner, he added. read more.
* Wal-Mart pressured to name suppliers:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc is under increasing pressure from investors and labour-rights groups to name its garment suppliers after a fire in Bangladesh killed more than 100 people at a factory that made its clothes.
Proponents say public disclosure of supply chains — a move made by Nike Inc and other retailers in recent years — encourages accountability that leads to factory improvements in countries where unsafe conditions are widespread.
After the blaze at the Tazreen factory on Nov 24, labour rights organisations have called on Wal-Mart and other companies to take more direct responsibility for the suppliers and factories that make their garments.
Wal-Mart maintains low costs in part by “turning a blind eye” to the conditions and safety of workers around the globe, according to John C Liu, the New York City Comptroller. read more.
* Walmart Faces Increased Scrutiny Over Bangladesh Sweatshop Fire:
It’s been a rough few months in public relations for Walmart. The retail giant faces charges of bribery and corruption in Mexico, lawsuits from contract warehouse workers in the U.S. alleging wage theft and a coordinated walkout in the U.S. on the busiest shopping day of the year.
Perhaps most damaging of all is the increasing scrutiny over Walmart’s ties to a garment factory in Bangladesh where 112 workers were trapped and killed in a fire in late November 2012. The company, which buys $1 billion in garments from Bangladesh each year, initially tried to deny any connection.
The fire, which was the worst industrial accident to date in the South Asian country, has also drawn international attention to lack of oversight over unsafe working conditions in a country that is rapidly climbing up the ladder of the global supply chain of contractors and sub-contractors that produce goods for multinational retailers. Indeed, since 2006 over 300 people have died in similar factory fires in Bangladesh.
* Arrest of Tazreen owner demanded:
The National Garment Workers Federation on Wednesday demanded immediate arrest of Tazreen Fashion Limited owner Delwar Hossain on charge of killing more than 112 workers, died in fire at the factory on November 24, 2012.
The garment workers’ rights body made the demand at a human chain formed in front of the National Press Club.
Addressing the human chain, federation president Amirul Haque Amin said that Delwar could not avoid the responsibilities of the killing of his factory workers caused by his failure to ensure the safety of the workers.
The garment workers will go for tougher agitations, if Delwar is not arrested immediately, he said. read more. & read more.
* Tazreen owner to face legal action if found guilty: Alamgir:
Home Minister Dr. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir today said legal action would be taken against the owner of Tazreen Fashion Garments if his involvement is found in the sabotage of setting fire to his own factory that killed 111 people.
“CID (Criminal Investigation Department) of police is now investigating the matter. On completion of the investigation, it will be known whether the owner of the factory is involved in the sabotage,” he said after a review meeting with the probe team at
the conference room of the Home Ministry.
Among others senior secretary of Home Ministry CQK Mustaq Ahmed, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Hassan Mahmud Khandker,
BGMEA President Shafiul Alam Mohiuddin and members of the CID probe team were present at the meeting. read more.
* CID take over Tazreen fire case:
The case over the deadly fire at Tazreen Fashions has been transferred to Criminal Investigation Department of the police.
The CID were given the responsibility on Wednesday to investigate the deadly fire incident, which claimed at least 111 lives at the readymade garment factory in Ashulia area on Nov 24, at a review meeting of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
After the meeting, Home Minister MK Alamgir told reporters that nobody found responsible, in the CID investigation, for the fire incident would be spared.
Asked if Tazreen Fashions owner would be arrested in the case, he evaded a direct answer.
Trade unions termed the incident ‘mass murder’ alleging the management’s negligence in fire prevention.
Decisions at meeting
The Home Minster said the review meeting made several decisions. They include orders for a quick completion of the investigation and formation of a five-member committee, which will be submit reports to the ministry within three months about security measures taken at factories. read more.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* RMG exports face another difficult situation in EU markets:
The European Parliament (EP) is planning to adopt a harsh resolution soon on the labour and safety standards in the garment sector in Bangladesh.
This will put the country’s $20 billion plus export-oriented apparel industry in another challenging situation in its largest export destination.
The development in the European region have caused further worries to both policy-makers of the government and the leaders of the apparel sector as it comes in tandem with the move of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to debar the country from getting any facility under the generalized system of preferences (GSP) for what it considered, its failure to implement labour standard, ensure workers’ union right and improve safety standards, industry sources said.
* Looking at the US GSP issue rationally:
That the United States is contemplating to scrap fully or partly its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme for Bangladesh is threatening enough to call for alarm bells.
The issue has been doing the rounds for the past weeks, prompted by the recent Tazreen blaze which posed serious questions regarding workers’ safety in the garment factories, the unresolved killing of labour activist Aminul Islam and an overall perception about the sordid labour rights scenario in the country’s garment sector.
It was obvious that things were heading towards the unpalatable when weeks back the US Trade Representative (USTR) in a letter addressed to the commerce minister stated that the US was considering options that would affect Bangladesh’s eligibility for benefits under GSP scheme. read more.
* GSP scrapping may send wrong message:
Affect FDI, trade with US, even RMG exports, says draft position paper for USTR hearing
An end to GSP facility for Bangladesh may have an adverse impact on trade with the US, although the privilege covers an insignificant quantity of the total exports, says an initial position paper prepared by the government.
“Withdrawal of GSP is likely to deliver a very harmful message about the country to the US buyers, as they might think that, out of consumer concerns and adverse media publicity, Bangladesh is not the right place to source from. That could affect our exports, even the RMG products,” said the position paper.
In 2011, Bangladesh exported products worth only $ 26 million under Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) which covered 0.54 percent of the total export of more than $ 5 billion.
“The US authority may even think of going beyond the GSP withdrawal, such as putting embargo on exports from Bangladesh, citing so-called violation of human and worker rights.” read more.
07:11:16 local time INDIA
* Workers at Sintex on strike, demands minimum wage:
An indefinite strike called by some 700 workers of textile and plastic maker Sintex IndustriesBSE -1.50 % has entered its 10th day with nine workers going on hunger strike seeking higher wages.
But Kailash Sharma, Sintex’s GM (HR), says most of the workers on strike are not directly employed by the management. “They are not our employees, but work for contractors. We are being not affected by the strike. In my knowledge, there are hardly some 20-25 people on the so-called hunger strike,” he said.
Workers at the Kalol-based company say, labour laws are not being implemented and they end up working more for the same pay. read more.
* ‘Textile export policies must benefit entire value chain’:
The recent notifications by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade on knit fabrics permit all knitted fabrics to get export promotion benefits, instead of just a few specific items.
The same should happen across the entire value chain, according to Manikam Ramaswami, Chairman, Texprocil (Textile Export Promotion Council) and Chairman & Managing Director of Loyal Textiles.
“For instance, a policy to encourage woven fabrics exports must encourage all fabrics that can be produced by the constraint ‘loom’ rather than just a few items like shirting made from a particular trouser material made out of a certain raw material,” said Ramaswami in an interview to Business Line. read more.
* Textile industry pushes for fibre-neutral excise duty regime:
The textile industry has sought a reduction in the excise duty on man-made fibres to 8% from the current 12% as it aims to cash in on dwindling cost advantage in China and boost exports.
In a pre-Budget memorandum to finance minister P Chidambaram, the Confederation of Indian Textiles Industry (CITI) called for a “fibre-neutral” excise duty regime to promote man-made fibre-based products and to bridge the mismatch in fibre consumption patterns in India and major importing countries.
While the ratio of natural and man-made fibre textile consumption in India stands at 62:38, the demand pattern worldwide is almost the opposite, at 35:65. However, while natural fibre attracts zero excise duty, a 12% duty is imposed on man-made fibres. read more.
* Madhya Pradesh textile mills seek funds under 12th Plan:
* Industry Minister vows to help Amritsar textile sector:
* Warangal tannery workers in dire straits:
Working for years, they have been deprived of minimum wages, other benefits
The tannery and leather industry is in existence for more than a century here but the workers still lag behind when it comes to welfare measures.
For reasons best known to the officials, about 1,000-odd workers working in a dozen such companies are still deprived of minimum wages and coverage under Employees State Insurance (ESI), Provident Fund (PF) and other welfare measures.
Several agreements were made between managements and Tannery & Leather Workers Union with regard to nature of employment, extension of minimum wages, provident fund and ESI, but they remain on paper only. read more.
06:41:16 local time PAKISTAN
* APTMA delegation calls on President Zardari:
President Asif Ali Zardari has said that the Government is alive to the issues being confronted by the textile industry, including the issue of power outages, and is taking corrective measures for their early redressal.
During his meeting with a delegation of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) at Bilawal House here on Tuesday night, the President said that the textile sector is the mainstay of Pakistan’s exports and is a symbol of Pakistan’s manufacturing excellence.
* Gas shortage threatens export orders worth billions of rupees:
In his SOS to the government, he said that with the current duty free ATP agreement with EU for the garment and textile sector it had seemed that the garment industry was poised for a healthy growth in exports and an addition of about 100,000 new jobs.
The current tragedy of complete suspension of gas and electricity to textile industry in Punjab and very erratic supply in other provinces has started to have an effect on the garment industry as a whole. The textile mills are not in a position to honor delivery dates and further have reduced the price validity of fabric quotation to a few hours.
It has become harder to match our last year figures let alone benefit from the ATP’s. It is essential that the supplies are restored immediately. He said the textile industry in Punjab is losing $20-30 million a day due to the suspension of gas and electricity.
read more. & read more.
* APTMA assured of 24-hour power supply from February 1:
President Asif Zardari has assured APTMA leadership of uninterrupted power supply to textile mills in Punjab for 24 hours a day from 1st of February. Meanwhile, he has asked Nargis Sethi Secretary Water and Power and Dr Asim Hussain Advisor to the Prime Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources to ensure 16 hours a day power supply to mills in Punjab with immediate effect.
President made the announcement during a meeting with APTMA delegation, who called on him at the Bilawal House the other day. The delegation was led by Group Leader APTMA Gohar Ejaz and central Chairman Ahsan Bashir along with central Vice Chairman Wisal Monnoo and other office bearers including Mahmood Ihsan, Yasin Siddik and Asif Inam.
read more. & read more.& read more.& read more.
* Ministry trains 400 farmers for clean cotton picking:
Ministry of Textile Industry has so for trained about 400 cotton growers and field workers across the cotton growing areas of Punjab and Sindh provinces for clean cotton picking and maintaining cotton fiber quality parameters.
The MinTex has so far organized seven training workshops on clean cotton picking to aware the farmers and field workers to minimize the adulteration in the product to enhance and improve the quality of the crop and get its maximum prices, said Cotton Development Commissioner Dr Khalid Abdullah.