12:44:53 local time CHINA
* Survey: Families of migrant workers are least happy in 2012:
The results of “2012 Chinese family happiness hot issues survey” are released in Beijing.
The survey shows that the factors influencing the sense of happiness of Chinese families in descending order according to their influential powers are: family members’ health, marital harmony, having their own house, children well educated, and good mentality.
The survey shows that the groups of people with higher sense of happiness are characterized as follows: the elderly, women, first marriage, higher level of education, good economic conditions of the family, and harmonious relations between the family and neighbors. read more.
* Search for skilled workers moves inland:
Shift from coastal regions creates vacancies in central, western China
China’s fast-developing economy is thirsty for talent, with skilled workers required by almost every industry.
The nation’s human resources market experienced uneven development in 2012, akin to the pattern of its economic growth.
Central, western and northeastern regions of the country were expected to notch up faster GDP growth in 2012 than their eastern counterparts, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning agency.
11:44:53 local time VIET NAM
* Vinatex plans to export $19-bil in garments this year:
The Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) strives to make export turnovers of US$18.8-19.3 billion, and create 150,000-200,000 jobs in 2013.
Though garments and textiles from other producers exported to major markets such as the US and the Republic of Korea in 2012 dropped 0.5% and 7% respectively, Vietnamese exports to these two markets rose 9.2% and 9%.According to a report recently released by Vinatex, in 2012, the garment and textile industry in general and the group in particular managed to maintain high growth rate and high export turnover.
The industry gained export turnovers of some US$17.2 billion in 2012, up 8.5% against 2011. read more.
* Exports to EU face uphill battle on weak demand:
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has urged exporters to better exploit the European market as exports to the outlet this year were forecast to increase by only 10 per cent against last year’s 16 per cent.
The ministry said the country’s staple market exports had shown signs of difficulties this year.
EU textile and garment importers are tending to import products from Cambodia, Laos and Bangladesh in stead of Viet Nam as the three countries’ exports enjoy a zero per cent import tax while Vietnamese products currently face a 10 per cent levy. read more.
11:44:53 local time THAILAND
* Free Somyot- AAWL urgent appeal:
Don’t let Somyot go to jail!
Somyot Pruksakasemsuk has been in jail since April 2011, charged under Thailand’s repressive ‘Lese Majeste’ laws. On the 23rd of January, Somyot faces sentencing by the Criminal Court.
Somyot has been a long time labour and human rights campaigner. Somyot is supported by AAWL’s free our comrades campaign, because he was targeted for his political views.
We urge all labour and human rights organisations to send a letter of protest to the Prime Minister of Thailand, click here for form letter.
Free all political prisoners in Thailand!
Abolish Article 112 (the Lese Majeste Law)!
* Thai Firms In Ranong Plan To Move To Myanmar:
Many industrial firms in Ranong Province are planning to move their factories to Myanmar because of the 300 baht (RM29.88) minimum wage, which has been officially introduced in Thailand since Jan 1, 2013, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported.
That was confirmed in a press statement by the Ranong Industries Federation on Sunday, which also indicated that the current high labour costs and shortage of raw material in Thailand were key factors hurting its overall business competitiveness.
Meanwhile, the Ranong Chamber of Commerce came out to add that several of its local business associations were now looking at establishing a free market zone at the border between Ranong and Myanmar’s Koh Song, where cross border tourism and trade had reached up to 15 billion baht (RM1.5 billion) annually. to read.
11:44:53 local time CAMBODIA
* Thousands protest outside Gladpeer Garment Factory:
A sea of workers look on during a strike at Gladpeer Garment Factory in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post
More than 2,000 workers demonstrated in front of Phnom Penh’s Gladpeer Garment Factory yesterday, demanding a higher minimum wage and several other concessions.
The workers decided to strike after the Por Sen Chey district factory did not respond to repeated requests to raise their monthly minimum wage from $61 to $93 per month, use long-term contacts, reinstate two fired union members and offer other benefits, Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union representative Ngeat Sokum said.
“We sent a letter two weeks in advance to inform them we would strike if the company did not do anything to meet the workers’ demands,” he said. “Now we’re striking as we planned.” More than 20 police officials showed up at the protest, but no violence occurred, Sokum said.
Va Chinda, Gladpeer Garment’s administrative manager, said yesterday the company – a supplier to such brands as H&M, Puma and Hollister – could not accept the demands.
“I am working to resolve the problem,” she said. “A resolution has not been found yet.” read more.
* Long-awaited meet on minimum wage:
In response to labour activists’ demands, the government would hold a meeting to discuss a minimum-wage increase for garment and footwear workers next Monday and hoped to offer workers good news by March, a Ministry of Social Affairs official said yesterday.
The meeting, to be led by Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng, would be the first discussion between government, union and employer representatives about the proposed increase, Som Aun, president of the government’s Cambodian Council of Nat-ional Unions (CCNU), said.
“After the meeting, Cambodia’s more than 80 unions will hold another meeting to make suggestions, then we will send recommendations to the Lab-our Advisory Committee to set up another meeting on the final decision,” he said.
“I expect the process will be finished in March.
* Re-charge Bandith: unionists:
Unionists yesterday said they would urge international organisations and buyers to pressure the government to re-charge and arrest the former Bavet town governor accused of shooting three garment workers and to release two men imprisoned for the murder of unionist Chea Vichea.
Speaking at the launch of a Cambodia branch of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), presidents for two of the country’s most prominent unions said they would be launching campaigns to bring publicity to the cases.
“We are going to start a campaign on the [Chhouk] Bandith case to seek justice for victims and demand the release of Sok Sam Oeun and Born Samnang, to find the real murderer,” said Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions.
In December, charges of unintentional injury were dropped against Bandith, who had been fingered by numerous witnesses for firing shots at a garment factory protest, injuring three women. read more.
12:44:53 local time INDONESIA
* Nike Workers ‘Denied Pay Rise’:
Indonesia’s Nike factories have sought to deny their staff the new minimum wage by pressuring them to sign an agreement forfeiting their right to the pay increase, according to workers union leaders and a labor rights organization.
A trio of groups — Educating for Justice, a US-based group focused on Nike workers’ rights; the Alliance for Labor Unions in Indonesia (MPBI); and the Trade Union Rights Center — revealed on Monday the findings of a recent investigation into several Nike factories. read more.
10:44:53 local time BANGLA DESH
* Retailers under pressure to compensate Tazreen victims:
Motions In European Parliament
Members of European Parliament will ask retailers to compensate the victims of the fire at Ashulia-based Tazreen Fashions, which was making clothes for global brands.
Three groups of parliamentarians are going to adopt resolutions on the Bangladesh fire at a four-day plenary session that started yesterday.
The European Parliament calls on all European retailers whose orders were being processed at the time of the fire to support the local authorities and involve social partners in setting up an adequate and transparent compensation scheme.
“Such a system should cover the loss of income and damages for the injured and the families of the dead, as well as free medical rehabilitation for the injured and care and education for deceased workers’ dependant family members,” one of the resolutions said. read more.
* Netherlands ready to help in improving labour standard in RMG sector: Envoy:
The Netherlands is ready to cooperate with Bangladesh in improving labour standard in the RMG sector as the country has huge potential to become a middle income country by 2021, said Dutch envoy in the capital Monday.
The country is growing fast and needs more skilled manpower, the envoy added.
“We (the Dutch) are ready to cooperate in improving labour standard of RMG sector in Bangladesh,” Charge d’ Affaires of Embassy of the Netherlands Carel Richter told the FE after an information sharing meeting on Business to Business (B2B) support programmes for private sector on the premises of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) on the day. read more.
* Businesses not in favour of FDI in basic RMG sector:
Chinese FDI encouraged in high-end products
The country’s readymade garment manufacturers are not in favour of foreign direct investment by China in basic RMG sector; rather they want investment in high-end products.
The industry people say they find no reason to encourage foreign direct investment in basic garment items as the local players are strong enough in the sector.
A good number of China entrepreneurs have recently expressed their interest to invest in readymade garment sector in Bangladesh. But the local entrepreneurs said they expected China investment in high-end products, and spinning and woven textile where the country has lack of enough expertise and technology.
* Weak diplomacy deepening crisis:
Govt should move to tackle GSP issue speedily
Apprehension has been voiced by some leading chamber leaders on whether the government is properly handling the GSP (Generalized System of Preference) issue with the US administration and blamed weak diplomacy and disturbing statements by some senior cabinet ministers to further destabilize the matter.
President of American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Am-Cham) in Dhaka Aftabul Islam yesterday laid emphasis on timely and highly skilled diplomatic negotiations to end the impasse.
He said any negative action in the form of cancellation, suspension or limitation of GSP facility to existing exports, though limited in volume, from Bangladesh would not only seal the fate of new exports to come under such facility, it would also bring more damage to the country’s image by influencing others to follow suit. We must stop it here, he said.
Speaking to The New Nation last night over telephone, he criticized the role of Bangladesh embassy in Washington for doing nothing to promote market expansion or avert crisis. He said unless a crisis develops, the political leadership does not act and when it acts it lacks negotiations skills and the strategy to handle it.
read more. & read more.
10:14:53 local time INDIA
* Low wages could lead to hypertension:
Workers earning the lowest wages have a higher risk of hypertension than those who receive handsome salaries, a new study suggests.
The correlation between wages and hypertension was especially strong among women and persons between the ages of 25 to 44.
“We were surprised that low wages were such a strong risk factor for two populations not typically associated with hypertension, which is more often linked with being older and male,” J. Paul Leigh, senior author of the study and professor of public health sciences at UC Davis said.
“Our outcome shows that women and younger employees working at the lowest pay scales should be screened regularly for hypertension as well,” Leigh said.
* Assam’s silk village: Weaving does not pay:
In Assam’s Sualkuchi village, the rhythmic click-clock of the loom reverberates everywhere. Every house has a loom and in it the xipini, or weaver, weaves exotic mekhla chadors, the traditional Assamese attire, with an adept hand.
Of late, there has however been a decline in the number of weavers, as weaving is no more seen as a paying proposition, changing the warp and weft of ‘the silk village’
Weaving is an art and in Sualkuchi this is ingrained in a child’s curriculum and given as much importance, if not more, as going to school. Situated on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra, Sualkuchi is about 35 km from Guwahati. Forty-year-old Gautam Chandra Das, who owns 10 looms and supplies mekhla chadors to shops in Guwahati, said that the total number of weavers in the village has come down from 25,000 to below 10,000. read more.
* AEPC pleads for incentive, customs duty cut to boost textiles export:
To boost textiles exports, apex garments industry body AEPC on Monday sought measures like customs duty reduction on synthetic fabric and adequate availability of credit at affordable rates in the next budget.
In its pre—budget proposals, the Apparel Exports Promotion Council (AEPC) Chairman A Sakthivel also asked for removal of service tax on services like exhibitions.
“Services provided to local or government authority by the Export Promotion Council should be exempted from the service tax,” he said. read more. & read more.
* Apparel exporters demand customs duty reduction:
Also demand removal of excise on branded garments
Apparel exporters have demanded reduction of customs duty to 5% on synthetic fabric for the fiscal 2013-14. In its budget proposal to finance minister P. Chidambaram, the Apparel Exports Promotion Council (AEPC) has also requested waiving of the service tax and removal of excise duty on branded garments.
“Our thrust of the pre- budget proposal underlines: proposal for enhancing 100% garment exports in 3 years and 10% within the current financial year 2012-13 by reducing customs duty to flat 5% on synthetic and blended fabric in 2013-14 onwards. Another important proposal relates to the waiving of service tax on taxable service and expansion of services,” said A. Sakthivel, chairman, Apparel Exports Promotion Council (AEPC). read more.
* The Inside Story: Walmart and the shadow of corruption:
Walmart is investigating its Indian joint venture for possible violations of the US anti-corruption law it is governed by. ET narrates the inside story of how things came to pass in India for the world’s largest retailer
When Walmart dispatched Greta Jacobs to India in April 2011, the staff at the Bharti Walmart office in Gurgaon assumed her to be one of the usual legion of visitors from the retailer’s global operations. However, the assignment Jacobs undertook over the weeks had far-reaching consequences on Walmart’s India operations, including a substantial overhaul of the way it operated. read more.
09:44:53 local time PAKISTAN
THE KARACHI FIRE:
* Baldia factory fire case: Police drop ‘intentional murder’ charge against suspects:
In the second such turnaround in the Baldia factory fire case, investigators have dropped premeditated murder charges against all nominated suspects due to “lack of evidence”.
More than 250 people lost their lives on September 11 last year when a fire broke out at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Baldia Town. The case was registered against the factory owners, its general manager, security guards and some government officials over negligence but sections related to intentional murder were also added later.
Now the police have prepared a supplementary charge-sheet withdrawing the accusation because no substantial evidence was found directly implicating the suspects in the killings. read more. & read more.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Looking at the bigger picture:
Activism in Pakistan is generally inconsistent and sporadic. People stand up and raise their voices after tragedies and calamities have become front page news but very few individuals and groups persevere and continue with their efforts for their chosen cause.
The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) is one such organisation, which has been working for workers’ rights in the country for over 30 years. Many of us were traumatised by the fire that took the lives of 262 workers at Ali Enterprises in Baldia Town last September, and demanded immediate action, like the arrest of the owners of the factory and revamping of the way the labour department works but soon moved on to other issues.
PILER, which has been advocating greater investment in terms of interest and stakes in workers’ safety and well-being, sought another solution. While an indifferent state and an employer unconcerned with the safety of its workers bear major responsibility for the tragedy, it also tried to involve international buyers, who were a part of the supply chain and tend to benefit from the cheap labour provided by Pakistani workers.
The German buyer, KiK, was engaged in a dialogue to not only seek compensation for the victims of Ali Enterprises, but was also involved in a plan that worked towards building a long-term workplace safety regime for Pakistani workers.
Clean Clothes Campaign, an international workers rights group based in Amsterdam, collaborated with PILER to commit a judicious compensation amount. KiK recently signed an agreement with PILER to make an initial payment to the victims and their families of one million dollars in order to provide immediate relief and to negotiate a long-term compensation package with all other involved stakeholders. read more.
* Energy crisis puts cotton export orders in jeopardy:
The textile exports of Pakistan are feared to be well short of target for FY13 mainly due to energy crisis, while Indian exports have started showing significant increase, said a ginning industry representative on Monday.
Continued outages of electricity and non-supply of gas to export-oriented textile units have resulted in failure of Pakistani textile mills in fulfilling and timely delivery of yarn export orders.
Consequently, China, Bangladesh and other countries have started importing yarn from India, said Ihsanul Haq, ex-executive member of the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association. He added that during last two months the Indian textile mills have received record cotton yarn export orders. read more.
* Textile industry gets uninterrupted 16-hour power supply:
Textile industry in Punjab is being supplied with 16 hours a day uninterrupted power supply, as directed by the President Asif Zardari last week.
The industry sources said that the fluctuation of two to three hours had come to an end. This was frequent earlier when the Prime Minister had directed the Ministry of Water and Power to supply the textile industry in Punjab with 16 hours a day power until improvement in energy supplies.
The Ministry of Water and Power had cut supply to the textile industry in Punjab on December 22, 2012 altogether, which continued until 1st of January 2013 when the Prime Minister intervened, and called a meeting of Ministry officials and the APTMA leadership in Islamabad.
However, the Ministry did not care for the clear-cut instructions of the PM and kept interrupting the power supply during the committed time period. Resultantly, the APTMA delegation called on the President Asif Zardari on January 9 and again the stakeholders came together to again pledge to honour the commitment.
* Pakistan’s share in high-value fashion wear export zero:
The country has almost zero share of branded and high-value fashion and sportswear textile in global markets, despite huge public demand for such products in Europe and the US, which is being fulfilled by our South Asian competitors, including India, China and Bangladesh, industry experts said on Monday.
“It is unfortunate that around 7 to 8 per cent of international sports products are sent from Pakistan throughout the globe but it has very negligible contribution in sportswear.”
Chief Coordinator of Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association Ijaz Khokhar said that country’s both public and private sectors lack knowledge and expertise about textile high-value fashion manufacturing, coupled with acute shortage of raw material, as its export is not more than $50 million out of total $4 billion garment export. read more.