17:27:34 local time CHINA
* As economy picks up China’s workers start to demand higher wages:
After two months dominated by wage arrears cases, worker protests in China are featuring demands for higher pay again as the economy begins to improve and the cost of living increases.
Economic data indicates a gradual improvement in the manufacturing sector with the HSBC China manufacturing PMI standing at 51.5 in December, the highest level in 19 months. China’s official manufacturing PMI in December was 50.6 but the manufacturing employment data has been below 50 for seven consecutive months, indicating the contraction of manufacturing labour demand. At the same time, China’s annual consumer inflation rate accelerated to a seven-month high of 2.5 percent in December, largely caused by rising food prices. read more.
16:27:34 local time VIET NAM
* Garment, textile exports enjoy robust growth:
Although global buying power for garments has dropped from US$704 billion in 2011 to $697 billion in 2012 and demand from most major markets such as the US, EU and Korea fallen to an all time low, Vietnam’s garment industry still managed an export growth of 12 percent with revenues at $15.8 billion.
Last year, garment and textile exports touched $17.2 billion, up 8.5 percent compared to 2011. Of which, the country only imported materials for $8.8 billion and used nearly 50 percent from domestic suppliers. Last year, trade surplus in garment and textile industry hit $8.4 billion.
As for the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group, exports exceeded $2.6 billion, an increase of 16 percent compared to 2011.
The industry has still set export growth target of 12-15 percent for this year and is expected to bring in revenues of $18.8-19.3 billion. to read.
* Garment sector sets ambitious goal:
The garment industry has targeted an export value of US$18-19 billion this year, an increase of 12 per cent over last year, a representative of the leading State-owned clothing manufacturer Vinatex announced.
To reach the target, the industry would focus on increasing the efficiency of its assets, reviewing debt and inventory levels, making more efficient use of investment capital, said Vinatex deputy director Le Tien Truong. read more.
16:27:34 local time THAILAND
* Free Somyot- Calling all Supporters! :
In the run up to Somyot’s verdict on the 23rd January we are calling all individuals, organisations, NGOs and trades unions to send in their letter of support.
This is an essential part of the campaign to raise awareness of Somyot’s right to a fair trail and positive verdict this month. Please take the time to submit this open letter to the emails below. take action and read more.
* Thai Government Prepares Jobs For 120,000 Laid-Off Workers:
The Ministry of Labour will provide more than 120,000 jobs for workers who were laid off after the 300-baht (US$9.87) daily minimum wage hike was implemented across the country since Jan 1, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported.
Pravit Kiengpol, director-general of the ministry’s Department of Employment, said the government will help match the workers with suitable jobs and arrange training for them in preparation for jobs or becoming self-employed. read more.
* Buri Ram factories raided in hunt for illegal workers:
Businesses in Buri Ram province were raided yesterday by labour authorities searching for illegal migrant workers.
Authorities aimed to find whether employers have been recruiting illegal aliens in response to the mandated minimum daily wage increase to 300 baht.
The wage hike took effect nationwide on Jan 1.
Staff from the employment office, the labour protection and welfare office and the skills development office of Buri Ram conducted the search at factories and workplaces in Muang district.
The checks began earlier this month and so far officials have found two illegal workers. Both were from Cambodia. read more.
17:27:34 local time INDONESIA
* Regional minimum wages increase by 18.32 pct in 2013:
The average increase of the Provincial Minimum Wages (UMP) in 2013 is set at about 18.32 percent, up from the average increase of the UMP by 10.27 percent in 2012, a minister said.
“Wage increase is one of the important aspects of improving the welfare of workers/labourers,” Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said here on Tuesday.
He said that the wage increase should however be accompanied with an increase in productivity so that companies would be able to develop and expand their businesses which would in turn create new jobs. read more.
15:27:34 local time BANGLA DESH
* ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* No damages for all identified families yet:
Not all the families of Tazreen fire victims have received compensation and not all of the families who have been given compensation have received the full amount as yet.
Families of seven of the 59 identified victims have so far not been given any compensation and some of them have yet to get the aggregate amount of Tk 6 lakh.
At least 112 workers were killed in the fire at Tazreen Fashions Ltd at Ashulia on November 24, 2012 and 59 victims, of 48 families, could be identified so far.
The Prime Minister’s Office promised to give families of each of the victims Tk 2 lakh in compensation, the labour ministry Tk 1 lakh, the Bangladesh Association of Banks Tk 1 lakh and the Bangladesh Garment
Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association and Li & Fung Tk 2 lakh. The PMO is making the disbursement.
A PMO official said that preliminarily, they had prepared a list of 59 identified victims and the number could be rising. read more.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Garment industry scrambles to save reputation after fires:
Government promises action but labour groups say major retailers must invest in safety and clear up opaque supply chains
The fire is out and the stench of burnt yarn no longer hangs in the air. But Rukiya Begum, 45, is drawn to the scorched shell of the Tazreen Fashions factory every day. The worst industrial fire in the history of Bangladesh killed at least 111 people on 24 November, including Rukiya’s daughter, Hena, aged 19.
Following the blaze at the garment factory in the Ashulia industrial area 24km north of the capital Dhaka, the Bangladesh government scrambled to provide compensation to the families of victims, aware that the fire would come as a major blow to the image of the country as a leading garment exporter.
Each victim’s family was allocated 600,000 taka (around £4,600), but Rukiya says she hasn’t received any money.
Hena, her only daughter, is among 54 bodies that were charred beyond recognition.
“I had no one in the whole world but her,” says Rukiya, who separated from her husband while she was pregnant with Hena. “I have not been able to bury my daughter. Now they say I won’t receive any compensation because I can’t identify her body.” read more.
* Bangladesh RMG industry scrambles to save reputation, Guardian of UK reports:
The human toll of the tragedy on November 24 last at Tazreen Fashions factory in the Ashulia industrial area, 24-km north of the capital city of Dhaka, has heaped pressure on Bangladesh already under fire for poor labour conditions, a recent report published in The Guardian of London, said.
It mentioned that a group of US congressmen wrote in December last to President Barack Obama’s trade representative, Ron Kirk, calling for a review of trade facilities enjoyed by Bangladeshi exporters.
“The US gives developing countries a special preferential treatment on tariff, known as the generalised system of preferences (GSP), exporting goods to the US. But Bangladesh could lose the facility if the Office of the US Trade Representative concludes that workers’ rights are not observed in Bangladeshi factories,” it noted.
* Fuel price hike will restrict Bangladesh RMG export growth:
The recent increase in prices of fuel will act as a constraint in achieving expected growth in earnings from readymade garment (RMG) exports, according to industry analysts.
* Sonali’s no hurts garment traders:
The state-run Sonali Bank’s alleged failure to release Tk. 1,800 crore against inland bill purchases (IBPs) has left garment exporters in the lurch.
Dissatisfied businessmen alleged that officials at the bank’s Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch were reluctant to settle overdue payments, ignoring a central bank instruction. As many as Tk. 1,800 crore remained pending at the branch, although it had earlier provided acceptance to the exporters’ back-to-back letter of credits (LCs) and settled IBPs.
The non-settlement of the bills has severely affected business operations of a large number of exporters, complained a businessman. He added that there were 50 others like him waiting to get their dues. “We’re facing huge difficulties to release our bills against IBPs from the bank’s branch for the last six months,” he said, on condition of anonymity.
The businessman said settlement of overdue payments became very difficult following the much-talked-about Hallmark loan scam at the branch.
read more. & read more.
* Three closed jute mills reopen soon:
The government plans to reopen three jute mills this month, a move expected to create 4,000 direct jobs. Photo: Star/FILE
The government is set to reopen three closed jute mills this month in a bid to revitalise the country’s jute industry.
The three mills — Daulatpur Jute Mills in Khulna, Karnaphuli Jute Mills and Forat-Karnaphuli Carpet Factory in Chittagong — will be operated under the state-run Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC).
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the Daulatpur Mills on 24 January and the Karnaphuli Jute and Forat-Karnaphuli mills on January 26.
14:57:34 local time INDIA
* 8-yr-old child labourer rescued:
He is the youngest child labourer to be rescued by the labour department from a zardosi unit in the city’s Unn area. About 25 child labourers, including eight-year-old Mohammed Khijrat Ali Jalu, were rescued on Wednesday from the unit after a raid by a labour department team led by assistant labour commissioner, MS Patel.
The child labourers were found sitting on the floor behind a wooden equipment working on pieces of clothes held taut by two long pieces of wood and thread to enable them to work easily.
“It was a cramped room with 25 child labourers doing zardosi work on saris and clothes. They were frightened when we entered the room with police personnel. Mohammed Khijrat Ali Jalu alias Babu started crying aloud. He is the youngest child labourer to be rescued by us till now,” Patel said.
Babu said, “I did not want to come. My father insisted that I should learn zardosi work and earn for the family”. Asked if he had been to school, he said, “I have never been to school. I was playing in my courtyard one day when my father came and said I will have to work from now on.” read more.
* Textile manufacturers pitch for duty cuts:
Textiles and clothing manufacturers have asked the Government to bring downGovt can’t ban field trials of GM crops: Sharad Pawar taxes on a range of products including machinery, branded garments and imported fibre to help them stay competitive in the domestic and export markets.
Imports of special machinery for manufacturing synthetic garments and process fibres should be allowed at zero duty to promote manufacture of synthetic garments that have a major market globally, the Apparel Export Promotion Council said in its wish-list for Budget 2013-14. read more.
* Govt can’t ban field trials of GM crops: Sharad Pawar:
Dismissing Parliamentary panel’s suggestion to halt all field trials of GM crops, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has said the government can’t take “luxurious decision of banning” them because such kind of farm research is important for ensuring food security.
In August, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, headed by Basudeb Acharia, had recommended to the government to stop all open-field trials of transgenic crops until it develops a better system of monitoring and oversight.
The panel had also called for a complete overhaul of the regulatory system and thorough probe into how permission was initially granted in 2009 to commercialise Bt brinjal.
The government has allowed commercial cultivation of BT cotton, while moratorium has been put on Bt brinjal. Permission has been given to private companies to conduct field trials of GM crops such as cotton, corn and maize in Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
14:27:34 local time PAKISTAN
* Commercial, industrial units: Power ministry seeks end to consumer subsidy:
The Ministry of Water and Power is seeking to do away with electricity subsidy for commercial and industrial units in an effort to cover growing cost of power generation due to poor energy mix and make regular payments to oil and gas suppliers, who are threatening to cut their supplies.
To support its case, the ministry argues that subsidy for the textile industry should be abolished as it has a parallel system of captive power plants (CPPs) that generate cheaper power through gas, officials say. This means the industry not only enjoys electricity subsidy, but also receives gas for CPPs at a cheaper rate. read more.
THE KARACHI FIRE:
* SHC seeks proposals to form commission for victims’ compensation:
The Sindh High Court called for proposals from the Sindh government, non-government organisations and owners of the Baldia garment factory on Thursday for constitution of a commission to disburse compensation provided by a German firm.
KiK Textilien, a German company, has offered to pay $1 million to those who were injured and families of the 259 workers who were killed in the fire which broke out at Ali Enterprises on September 11, 2012.
Headed by Justice Maqbool Baqir, the division bench was hearing petition filed by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research, and other non-government organisations, who went to court for judicial investigation of the tragedy.
On Thursday, the court was informed that the petitioners and KiK, which was among the various importers Ali Enterprises was making garments for, had come to an agreement to distribute the compensation.
In the first phase, the families of those victims who had not been identified due to severity of burns and decomposition of bodies will be given the same amount as provided to others by the government or non-government sources so far.
* SHC loses patience with four-month delay:
More than 250 labourers died in a massive fire at a garments factory in Baldia Town on September 11 last year. Four months on, 33 victims who were burnt beyond recognition remain unidentified despite DNA tests, making their families endure an agonising wait.
On Thursday, the Sindh High Court (SHC) took great exception to the inordinate delay in the identification of these victims, and directed the police to obtain their DNA reports from the Islamabad laboratory in 10 days so that the bodies could be handed over to the affected families.
The court was hearing identical petitions seeking a judicial inquiry into the Category 3 fire, which caused one of the worst industrial disasters in the country’s history.
The petitioners, including the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, requested the constitution of a judicial commission to fix responsibility and suggest monetary compensation for the legal heirs of the victims.
A division bench, headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar, observed that it was
painful to note that the fire incident had occurred on September 11, but the identity of over 33 victims had not yet been confirmed. read more.
* KIK signs compensation agreement for Victims of Ali Enterprises Fire Tragedy:
German discount giant KIK this week signed an agreement with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) to make an initial payment to the victims and their families of US$ 1 million for immediate relief, and to negotiate a long term compensation package with all other involved stakeholders.
The Ali Enterprises fire on 11 September 2012 killed 262 workers according to the official death toll, and injured at least 20 others.
The agreement was presented a press conference in Karachi on 5 January in which various local trade unions, including the National Trade Union Federation, participated. Said Karamat Ali, Executive Director of PILER: “KIK is the major buyer of Ali Enterprises. Pakistani trade union activists and international labour solidarity
organisations including Clean Clothes Campaign persuaded the company to pay compensation to the affected families.”
The initial payment will be used to compensate the families of those victims who have not received any government compensation as the bodies have not been identified due to the severity of the burns and the decomposition of the bodies.
“KIK also expressed a willingness to compensate workers who faced severe injuries in the fire leading to disability and loss of future employment. The remaining workers will be assisted in the next step after a compensation amount is agreed upon through a consensus between all stakeholders including employers and other international companies,” added Karamat Ali.
Ineke Zeldenrust, International Coordinator at CCC: ‘We welcome this agreement and look forward to having the full compensations and relief package, which we estimate will be at least 20 million Euro, to be negotiated soon. We continue our campaign towards other international stakeholders, notably auditing organisations SAI and Rina , to also take their responsibility and pay their share of the compensation needed.”
In order to facilitate the compensation process, PILER requests the Sindh High Court to constitute an independent commission to oversee the compensation process and determine all necessary details for the purpose. KIK also agreed to work for better labour rights in Pakistan.