* Nowhere left to run for factory owners in Asia:
When the cost of labour started to rise in China a few years ago, many manufacturers thought it would be a smart move to decamp to smaller Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia where wages were a lot lower and the pro-business government made it easy for them to set up shop.
Many Cambodian workers and trade unionists had other ideas however and they are now threatening widespread industrial action unless the country’s minimum wage is increased from the current, less than subsistence, level of US$61 per month to between US$120 and US$150 per month.
Trade unionists pointed out that wage levels in neighbouring countries were increasing rapidly and that Cambodian workers deserved a better deal too. The national minimum wage in Thailand has just been increased by more than one third to 300 Baht (about US$10) a day, or about US$250 per month. In Vietnam too, the minimum wage for private sector workers has been increased by one third this year to about US$110 per month in major urban areas such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
One of the reasons given by the Vietnamese Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs for increasing the minimum wage was that the previous rate only covered about 60 percent of the cost of living for factory workers.
And this is precisely the reason why Cambodian workers and trade unionists are demanding a substantial wage hike too. Many Cambodian workers cannot even afford to buy decent food and get the nutrition they need for a day’s work on the production line, as evidenced by the numerous incidences last year of employees fainting at their work station. read more.
11:21:29 local time CHINA
* ASEAN nations are driving China’s textile exports:
The country’s textile and apparel exports to ASEAN countries saw an annual increase of 23.4 percent from 2005 to 2011, the council’s data showed.
Textile and apparel exports to ASEAN countries hit $23.55 billion in the first 11 months of 2012, a year-on-year increase of 33.5 percent.
The United States, Japan, the European Union, Asean and Hong Kong are the top five destinations for China’s textile and apparel industry. However, exports to the EU are declining due to the eurozone debt crisis. to read.
* Apparel retailers turn to lower-tier cities:
Luxury brands including Gucci and Louis Vuitton, which used to expand in tier 1 cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, are now looking to lower-tier cities like Wuhan, Wuxi, Changsha, Fuzhou and Xiame, according Li & Fung’s 2012 China’s apparel market report.
In addition, both sportswear retailers Nike and Adidas revealed plans to expand into lower-tier cities because people in these areas and getting wealthier. As a result, these cities are becoming the “major battlefields” for apparel companies.
10:21:29 local time VIET NAM
* Shoe exports expected rise by 10% in 2013:
The footwear industry will aim for export turnover of US$8 billion this year, an increase of 10.4 per cent over last year, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The ministry said that sport shoes and sneakers would remain the industry’s key export staples this year besides leather handbags and briefcases.
To achieve this goal, the ministry has urged the footwear industry to increase the production of raw materials so that 60-65 per cent of the industry’s demand can be satisfied by domestic materials. Currently, the footwear industry still relies heavily on imported parts, causing it to face difficulties as the world market remains volatile.
10:21:29 local time LAOS
* Thai wage increase could attract illegal workers from Laos:
An increase of the daily minimum wage for Thai workers could encourage an influx of illegal Lao workers as demand for unregistered black market workers increases, a senior Lao economist has said.
On January 1, neighbouring Thailand began imposing a nationwide daily minimum wage of more than 78,000 kip (300 baht) for workers at Thai companies, more than three times the equivalent Lao minimum wage.
Director General of National Economic Research Institute, Dr Liber Libuapao stated that the increase demonstrates two trends. read more.
10:21:29 local time CAMBODIA
* Workers threaten roadblock as talks stall:
More than 2,000 workers yesterday continued their strike in front of Phnom Penh’s Gladpeer Garment Factory and threatened to block National Road 4 today or tomorrow if their demands remain unmet.
Following an unsuccessful meeting with factory officials Monday afternoon, protesters gathered at 6am yesterday and danced to music on loudspeakers while the factory recorded their protest on video, said Ngeat Sokum, a representative of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union.
“We plan to march to block National Road 4 tomorrow or Thursday if we do not get any result for our demands,” Sokum said yesterday.
The protesters’ demands include that the factory – an H&M supplier – increase the monthly minimum wage from $61 to $93 per month, reinstate two fired union members and begin using long-term contracts.
Va Chinda, Gladpeer’s administrative manager, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
H&M press officer Hacan Andersson said yesterday via email that “H&M as a buyer at Gladpeer Garments does not go in and act in this situation”, adding that the company just began a project with Swedish trade union IF Metall to improve conditions in Cambodia. read more.
* Gladpeer Garment Factory protest:
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.
* Cambodian Workers Expose Abuse at Walmart Factory:
Hear from Sor Sokty. The 25-year-old Cambodian garment worker has been keeping vigil in front of a Walmart and H&M supplier after her employer shuttered the factory owing workers thousands of dollars. Workers are left with no jobs after years of service, debt and with few options.
see more on YouTube.
* Activists refuse further questioning by military police:
Three union activists involved in last month’s strike at Master & Frank garment factory in Kandal province have said they will refuse to appear for a second round of questioning today at the provincial military police station.
The unionists, from the independent Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, have been accused of violence against officials and damaging company property.
One of the men, Ra Sambath, who claims police and security guards beat him unconscious while he protested at the factory in Ang Snuol district on December 26, said yesterday that the group would not go back to the military police station today as summonsed after questioning last Friday became heated. read more.
11:21:29 local time MALAYSIA
* No complaints as minimum wage takes effect:
There have been no complaints from companies and employees in the state so far after the implementation of the minimum wage policy starting January this year.
State Unity, Human Resource, Science, Technology and Innovation Committee chairman M. Asojan said most companies here did not have a problem adhering to the policy as it was fair to both the companies and employees.
“Of course this is just the first week so we may hear of some grouses after the first month salaries are paid out,” he said during a press conference in line with the Johor Career and Postgraduate Expo 2013 which was held over the weekend at the KSL Expo Hall. read more.
11:21:29 local time INDONESIA
* Nike Workers Win Battle for Wages:
An Indonesian factory that produces apparel for Nike has revoked its application to be exempt from the minimum wage on Tuesday, after accusations arose that factory managers were pressuring workers to sign an agreement forfeiting their right to the pay increase, a workers rights group has reported.
Jim Keady, the director of Educating for Justice, a US-based group focused on workers’ rights at Nike’s suppliers, confirmed on
Tuesday that the factory in Sukabumi, 80 kilometers south of Jakarta, had agreed to pay the full minimum wage.
“I’m very happy for the workers in the factory. They are getting the justice they deserve,” he said.
“Now we have to move forward case by case, factory by factory and make sure that in all 40 [Indonesian] Nike factories, the 171,000 workers get what they deserve.”
* Nike workers claim military paid to intimidate them:
Workers at a Nike shoe factory in Indonesia say the factory paid military personnel to intimidate them into working for less than the minimum wage.
After millions of workers went on strike last year in Indonesia over low pay and cost of living increases, the government lifted wage rates.
But workers at the Nike factory in the west Java city of Sukabumi say they were made to sign a petition supporting the factory’s claim to be exempt from paying the new wage. read more.
* Nike investigates Indonesian suppliers over wage abuse:
US sporting goods giant Nike said Tuesday it was investigating claims by labour activists that its manufacturers in Indonesia were trying to evade paying its workers the minimum wage.
“Nike takes these claims seriously and company representatives are investigating the claims,” global corporate communications director Greg Rossiter told AFP.
Nike’s code of conduct is “very clear”, he said, adding the company expected workers producing for Nike to be “paid at least the minimum wage required by country law and provided legally mandated benefits”, such as holidays, leave and severance pay. read more. & read more.
* Giant retailer MAPI brings in first Asian fashion-wear brand:
PT Mitra Adi Perkasa (MAPI), the Indonesian fashion and lifestyle retailer with the country’s most extensive brand portfolio, has introduced its first Asian fashion-wear brand to the local market to further tap into the burgeoning young, middle-class market.
Agus Gozali, the president director of PT Prima Mode Indonesia (PMI), said the retailer had brought the Philippine-based brand, Penshoppe, for the Indonesian consumer.
PT PMI, a subsidiary of MAPI, will oversee Penshoppe.
“Asian brands are not inferior to European brands,” he said. read more.
09:06:29 local time NEPAL
* Major exportable products records drop in export:
Export of Hand knotted Carpet, Readymade Garments and Woolen/ Pashmina Shawls, the major exportable products of the country have plunged down during the first four months of the current fiscal year.
According to the recent statistics of the Trade and Export Promotion Centre (TEPC), the export figures of carpet, garment and Pashmina has declined by 19.5 per cent, 30.9 per cent and 11.7 per cent respectively. read more.
09:21:29 local time BANGLA DESH
* ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* Tazreen fire victims get assistance:
The Dhaka district administration on Monday provided financial assistance to the families of those injured and killed in a fire at Tazreen Fashions at Ashulia.
Forty-nine of each deceased family got Tk 15, 000 while 58 of each injured received Tk 5,000 from the Savar upazila project implementation officer’s office.
UNO Kabir Hossain Sarder said each deceased family was given Tk 5,000 after their identification by the administration earlier.
Other local officials were also present.
About 111 workers were killed and many others injured in the devastating fire at Tazreen Fashions recently.
Of the deceased, the bodies of only 49 workers have been identified so far.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Foreign firms target thriving garment:
Merchants from Europe and Asia try to jump on the bandwagon of the garment industry in Bangladesh, which already secured its position as the second largest apparel exporter.
At Gapexpo-2013, the four-day exhibition on garments accessories, packaging and related machinery in Dhaka, they try to introduce automatic gears to Bangladeshi factories.
The Turkish businessmen, Hüseyin Akar and Burak Uysal, were handing out their business cards to the crowd of the Bangladeshi garment experts passing by.
“As the Bangladeshi market is picking up quickly, we want to contribute and try to sell our automatic sewing machines,” said Hüseyin Akar to The Daily Star on Monday. read more.
* Tripartite meeting vows to ensure fire safety in Bangladesh:
The government, employers and labour leaders have vowed to ensure fire safety measures in work place in Bangladesh.
To materialise their commitment, all the three parties promised to work together to develop a national tripartite action plan on fire safety by the end of February, said a press release of the ILO published on its website on January 15.
The stakeholder took the decision during a tripartite meeting jointly organised by ILO and The Ministry of Labour and Employment in Dhaka on Tuesday.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment; Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), two apex body of garment exporters; and other government ministries and departments took part in the meeting. read more.
* Europe debates Bangladesh’s labour standards today:
The European Parliament will ask Bangladesh to establish an efficient and impartial labour safety inspection system when it begins its discussion on the country’s garment sector today.
It will also urge the authorities to allow trade unions at the factory level, in accordance with the International Labour Organisation conventions.
The talking points — already posted on European Parliament’s website — for the plenary session also include the pay structure, labour rights and corporate social responsibility in Bangladesh.
The move comes in the wake of a deadly fire at Tazreen Fashions that killed at least 112 workers in November last year. read more.
* US identifies 14 BD export items child labour link:
The US Department of Labour (DOL) has identified 14 Bangladesh export items the production process of which allegedly involves the use child labour.
This has posed a serious threat to retention of the country’s largest export market.
These items including footwear, leather and shrimp could face import ban in the US market if the situation is not improved, feared a diplomatic communication made by the Bangladesh mission in Washington to a number of ministries.
The combined export value of the 14 products in question to the US stood at nearly $310 million in 2011-2012 fiscal year, said a senior Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) official. read more.
08:51:29 local time INDIA
* Maharashtra pins hopes on textile policy; gets Rs 10K-cr proposals:
The Maharashtra Government’s textile policy, which offers among other things 10 per cent subsidy to units in cotton belt of Vidharbha, Marathwada and Khandesh, has attracted investment proposals to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore, Textile Minister Mohd Arif (Naseem) Khan has said.
“We are very much hopeful on the new textile policy.
The response from the industry is already overwhelming. The department has received investment proposals to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore with investors mostly from outside the state evincing interest because of the bounty of incentives that the Government was offering,” the state’s Textiles Minister told PTI.
read more. & read more.
* Money from millworkers’ compensation scam invested in real estate:
Money meant for final payments to workers of closed textile mills was siphoned off by a gang of fraudsters and invested in city-based real estate schemes and gold.
City police registered two complaints concerning textile mill workers’ money. The scope of the scam has now touched Rs 265 crore.
On January 10, the administrator of Bapunagar Mahila Cooperative Bank, Kanti Rathod, filed three complaints with Odhav police accusing some bank directors and employees and city-based builders. read more.
08:21:29 local time PAKISTAN
THE KARACHI FIRE:
* Accountability: Baldia fire commission report sought:
The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed the provincial law officer on Tuesday to submit the report of the judicial commission on the Baldia factory fire by January 24.
Justice Maqbool Baqir, who headed the bench, noted that the report had not been submitted by the provincial law officer despite court orders.
He adjourned the case till January 24 and directed the advocate general to submit the report in court.
Meanwhile, the terms of reference to form a commission to disburse the $1 million compensation pledged by a German firm were also submitted. read more.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Energy crisis affecting cotton, yarn exports:
Wednesday, January 16, 2013 – Karachi—Energy crisis is directly affecting the cotton and cotton yarn exports as exporters are unable to ensure timely delivery of goods.
Industry sources said that default by Pakistani textile mills in fulfilling and timely delivery of yarn export orders was gradually increasing mainly due to continued electricity load shedding and gas shortage.
They said the delay in export of goods by Pakistani exporters had provided some opportunities to India and now leading importing countries like China, Bangladesh were moved toward India for timely import of yarn. read more.
* Worker remittances to grow by $16b by end of FY13:
The economic observers expect the inflow of ever-increasing worker remittances to the country rise to the historic $ 16bn by the end of this financial year.
“Home remittances continue to remain upbeat reaching the level of USD7.1bn during 6MFY13,” said the analysts at InvestCap research. Terming it as one of the major supporting tools for current deficit, the remittances from expatriates, they said, continued on its upward trajectory.
During 1HFY13, remittances posted a colossal growth of 12.5%YoY to USD7.12bn, in absolute terms increasing by USD791mn. However, on a monthly basis the head registered a growth of 11% reaching USD1.13bn in Dec-12. read more.
* 60 percent export orders dropped during last year:
The year 2013 is not off to a promising start for Pakistan’s textile exports as volume of textile export orders have dropped by 60 percent as compared to last year in world’s renowned Heimtextil exhibition in Germany last week.
Pakistani Textile exporters attracted lukewarm response wherein foreign buyers were seen reluctant to place export orders because of delays on time materialisation of previous commitments, said Asghar Ali, Chairman and Muhammad Asif Vice Chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association in a joint statement.
read more. & read more. & read more.