21:17:00 local time CHINA
* China’s garment sector needs to develop circular economy:
20:17:00 local time VIET NAM
* Vietnam’s garments & software competent enough in Japanese eyes:
Vietnam now absolutely can replace Japan in making garments and software. However, it’s still unclear if Vietnam can grab the opportunities.
With 98.1 percent of information technology products and 90.8 percent of garment products in Japan sourced from Vietnam, Hirokazu Yamaoka, Chief Representative of Jetro (Japan External Trade Organization) commented that Vietnam now can absolutely replace Japan in making the products.
The figures show the higher proportions of Vietnamese products in the Japanese market in comparison with Chinese products, which have the proportions of 96.9 percent and 82 percent, respectively.
The conclusion has been made by the organization after conducting a survey on 3,819 Japanese businesses now operational in Asia and Oceania in October and November 2012. The report about the survey was publicly released in Vietnam for the first time some days ago after 26 years of implementation. read more.
20:17:00 local time THAILAND
* Lese majeste ‘hurts Thai image’ :
Thailand is attracting negative publicity over the issue of freedom of expression – due to the lese majeste law and the Computer Crimes Act which prevent people from making critical remarks about Thai monarchy, according to a visiting British academic.
Oxford University Prof Timothy Garton Ash, an authority on free speech and European history, referred in Bangkok yesterday to the “very shocking cases of lese majeste offences”.
“Thailand gets mentioned [negatively] quite a lot,” said Ash, who was keynote speaker at a seminar on reconciliation and freedom of speech organised by the European Union.
He said cases such the latest 10-year lese majeste sentence on Voice of Taksin editor Somyos Prueksakasemsuk had grabbed world attention because the sentence was “so wildly disproportionate that one has to express one’s sense of … outrage”. read more.
20:17:00 local time CAMBODIA
* Corporate Social Deniability – Walmart and H&M Refuse to Take Responsibility for Kingsland Workers:
The Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) and the Workers Information Center (WIC) are appalled at the response from international retail giants, Walmart and H&M, who refuse to accept any responsibility for the almost US$200,000 in lost wages and indemnity owed to former employees Kingsland Garment (Cambodia) Ltd.
Since September 2012, Kingsland workers have suffered through illegal factory suspensions and deductions of 50% of their salary. The situation escalated in January, 2013 when their Hong Kong employer fled and shuttered the doors of the factory leaving already impoverished, pregnant and elderly workers without legal payment of almost US$200,000.
Despite commitments under their respective corporate social responsibility policies, the brand responses are as follows:
“Thank you for your inquiry. We have discussed this situation with our supplier and they advised us that the factory owners at Kingsland Garments ended their business relationship with our supplier in October 2011. We have paid in full for all merchandise.”1 – Megan Murphy International Corporate Affairs Manager, Walmart, 25 January, 2013. read more.
* Walmart, H&M accused of abandoning workers:
Labour rights groups have accused Walmart and H&M of abandoning workers at the shuttered Kingsland garment factory in the capital.
Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) and Workers Information Center (WIC) said they were appalled by a claim from Walmart it had not dealt with Kingsland since 2011 and H&M’s statement that it had not ordered from the factory since last July.
The factory closed this month, owing workers about $200,000. “Workers testify that Walmart production continued until the first week of September 2012,” CLEC and WIC said.
“Workers testify that H&M alterations and quality checks continued until. . . September, 2012.” to read.
* Kingsland Workers gather in front of US Embassy 31 January 2013:
* Workers at Sabrina factory fainted yesterday 30 January 2013:
According to our field monitor, there are 85 QMI factory workers fainted this morning at Ang Snoul district, Kandal province.
21:17:00 local time MALAYSIA
* Minimum wage policy: Traders want foreigner excluded:
About 200 traders and small business owners today marched to the Prime Minister’s Office here to submit a memorandum calling for the exclusion of foreign workers in the minimum wage policy.
The group, which claimed they represented 57 business associations, however, stated their support for the minimum wage policy for local workers.
Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia council member Tan Poh Seng said the inclusion of foreign workers in the policy is “a slap and a burden” to business owners, adding that it will cause unhappiness among local workers. read more.
21:17:00 local time INDONESIA
* Textile makers to invest Rp 1.5t in machinery:
Local textile makers will spend Rp 1.5 trillion (US$154.84 million) to buy machinery in 2013, the Indonesian Textile Association (API) says.
“The investment will only be for machinery, excluding land and buildings,” API general chairman Ade Sudrajat said in Jakarta on Wednesday.
He said that most of the investment would come from domestic firms, as investment by foreign firms stands at 20 percent. read more.
* Rising Income Burning a Hole in Indonesia’s Pocket:
Rising consumer income in Indonesia has prompted citizens to shop till they drop and spend more on discretionary goods and services, according to a survey by Credit Suisse Group, a global investment bank.
This behavioral trend presents an ample opportunity for companies engaging in the sector, such as carmakers, fashion retailers and smartphone producers, Credit Suisse said in a report on Wednesday. read more.
19:02:00 local time NEPAL
* Hetauda Textile to be liquidated :
The government has finally decided to liquidate Hetauda Textile Factory, concluding that the factory cannot be revived.
It has completed the valuation process, said joint secretary at the finance ministry Khum Raj Punjali. “The government has valuated its land at Rs 210 million,” he said, adding that the building has been valuated at Rs 81.4 million and machinery parts at
Rs 81.2 million.
“The government had appointed Daman Bahadur Bista as liquidator who recently submitted the valuation report of the factory’s assets.”
As per the liquidation plan, the factory area will be taken over by Industrial Estate Management Ltd (IEML), Punjali added.
Hetauda Textile Factory was closed a decade ago after it posted a huge loss due to its failure to compete with cheap imported textiles that flooded the market. Prior to its closure, the factory used to consume 1,200 tonnes of cotton and used to employ about 1,200 individuals. read more.
19:17:00 local time BANGLA DESH
ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* Some solace for families:
After two months of agonising wait, the family members of 11 victims of Tazreen fire could finally find a sense of closure as they paid respect to their loved ones at Jurain graveyard in the capital yesterday.
A day after DNA tests confirmed the identities of the 11 victims, their family members spotted the graves of the ill-fated garment workers, whose bodies were burnt beyond recognition in the country’s worst industrial blaze.
Kabir Hossain sat in front of the grave of his wife, Lucky Begum, telling her resting soul how much he and his six-year-old son missed her. Sprinkling water on her grave, he muttered, “He [the boy] cries for you all the time…”
Abdul Malek, whose wife perished in the fire leaving behind three children, said, “My youngest daughter, who is only 5-year-old, keeps asking me where her mother is. I fail to give her any answer.” read more.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Smart Garments Chairman, MD on 2-day remand:
A Dhaka court on Wednesday placed the Chairman and the Managing Director of Smart Export Garments Ltd on a two-day remand in a case filed in connection with the deaths of seven workers in a fire incident in the factory on January 26.
Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Hasibul Haque passed the order when police produced Chairman Sharif Ahmed and Managing Director Zakir Ahmed before the court seeking seven days remand.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more.
* Install fire safety equipment: HC to Smart garment:
The High Court on Wednesday directed the authority concerned of Smart Export Garments Ltd to set up fire safety equipment at the factory immediately.
Following a petition filed by Advocate Eunus Ali Akond on Tuesday, the court today also directed the Smart authority to keep the factory closed until safety measures are in place and to continue paying salaries to its workers in this period.
The HC bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik and Justice Mahmudul Haque also directed the government to take appropriate legal action against the accused of the case which was filed in connection with the fire at the garment factory. read more.
* Close Smart Garments until safety ensured: HC:
The High Court on Wednesday asked the government to close down the Smart Garments at the city’s Mohammadpur until the factory ensures fire extinguishing system.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Child Workers, Protests, Arrests ─ Smart Fashion/Bangladesh Update:
Following the tragic fire on January 26…
1.) Workers and human rights groups are estimating that at least 50 child workers between the ages of 10 and 15 were illegally employed at the Smart Fashion sweatshop factory producing high end European labels.
Child workers at Smart Fashion were paid just 13 cents an hour and were forced to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week with just one day off a month.
2.) Today (January 30) in a statement issued to the press, Ms. Lovely Yesmin, coordinator of the National Alliance for Protection of Garment Workers and Industries, issued the following demand:
“Trade union leaders equally blame the foreign buyers and demand that the buyers take responsibility for the death of the workers. They buy garments cheap, but then sell their labels at high prices in Europe and the U.S. These buyers make huge profits and they are morally responsible to compensate the Smart Fashion victims immediately.”
The Alliance also demanded that the owner of the Tazreen Fashion factory be arrested immediately in connection with the November 24, 2012 fire in which at least 112 workers were burned to death due to locked exit gates and lack of fire extinguishers. read more.
* What’s the cost of cheap clothing? :
From the moment you arrive at the Dhaka airport, it’s clear the apparel industry is vital to Bangladesh’s economy. Airport walls are lined with posters advertising local garment manufacturers, textile mills, and trims suppliers. Apparel accounts for between 70 and 80 percent of exports, so it’s no surprise that almost everyone on my flight from Hong Kong to Dhaka declared their profession as ‘buyer’ or ‘sourcing’ when clearing through immigration.
I visited Dhaka on behalf of a client to get a better understanding of the CSR challenges, trends, and opportunities that large apparel brands face in sourcing from Bangladeshi garment factories.
Following November 2012’s tragic Tazreen Fashions factory fire that claimed the lives of more than 100 workers, there is renewed focus on how the industry can promote better factory working conditions. Tazreen was just the latest in a string of Bangladeshi garment factories that burned to the ground, but it also was the country’s most devastating in terms of lives lost. read more.
* Why has compliance issue become so important now for RMG sector? :
The second fire incident at a garment factory in Dhaka city after the one at Tazreen last November has intensified the debate over the compliance issue.
This is putting lives and livelihood of thousands of workers at risk. Maintenance of links in a properly operational supply-chain that can feed stores around the world without putting the country’s garment workers at stake is the challenge for its apparel industries.
The global attention is now focused on the Bangladesh garment industry. How far the fatal fire incidents will leave a negative impact on the whole readymade garment (RMG) sector, is not yet clearly known.
Meanwhile, ensuring workers’ rights at factory level is becoming all the more difficult because trade union activities are not allowed at enterprise-level in the RMG sector in particular.
* BKMEA, JBC ink MoU to double claims:
The Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association and the Jiban Bima Corporation on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding in a bid to double the workers’ insurance claims for death to Tk 2 lakh.
BKMEA president AKM Selim Osman and JBC managing director Parikshit Datta Choudhury signed the MoU on behalf of their respective organisations at the BKMEA office in the city.
State minister for labour and employment Monnujan Sufian attended the programme as the chief guest while secretary-in-charge to the labour and employment ministry Mikail Shipar and BKMEA vice-presidents Mohammad Hatem and Mohiuddin Faruqui were also present.
Monnujan said the BKMEA decision to increase the insurance claims would strengthen the ties between the owners and the workers.
read more. & read more.
* High-powered cabinet committee on RMG soon:
The government is going to form a high powered cabinet committee soon to coordinate, guide and supervise various concerning matters in the country’s multi-billion dollar Readymade Garment (RMG) business.
To be headed by labour minister, the committee will be comprised of 10 ministers and state-ministers from the concerned ministries to ensure better coordination among them regarding issues affecting the industry, ministry sources said.
The Prime Minister has recently approved the proposal, prepared by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, with a view to streamlining the country’s apparel sub-sector that is drawing severe criticism following the recent devastating fires.
The proposal is now waiting at the Cabinet Division for gazette notification.
According to sources, ministers from foreign affairs, commerce, textile, home affairs, industries, disaster management and shipping and state ministers from public works and labour and employment will be in the committee which is likely to be formed within a week. read more. & read more.
* Ministry advises PM to sign TICFA:
The commerce ministry has advised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to sign TICFA with the US to strengthen trade ties and ensure the continuation of GSP for Bangladesh.
The ministry sent a summary of the impact of TICFA to Hasina on January 9. The final draft of the agreement is now on Hasina’s table for her approval.
But the signing of the agreement does not guarantee the continuation of the generalised system of preference (GSP) for Bangladesh, the ministry said in the summary. read more.
* FBCCI urges USTR not to scrap GSP facilities:
The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) in a submission has told the United States Trade Representative (USTR) that the country has no child labour.
Workers too enjoy freedom of association and also have access to tribunals to protect their rights in conformity with international standard, it said.
In this context, the FBCCI called upon the US not to harm Bangladesh by changing the existing GSP facilities being enjoyed by the country for some of its export items on the basis of allegations of violation of workers’ rights. read more.
* Compliance of standard working condition:
Neglected over the years and decades, industrial safety issue does not figure prominently to the investors who have become accustomed to running factories at higher profits but without putting in place the requisite safety measures.
Even when disaster strikes one after another factory, there is little chance that the entrepreneurs or industrialists will opt for the sate-of-the-art safety arrangement unless of course they are compelled to do so.
Compulsion may come from two vital areas–the government and, in case of export-oriented industries, from countries that import goods from Bangladesh. Usually the government is found to be wanting in the seriousness of purpose to exert enough pressure on the ‘enterprises’ to make them comply with the industrial safety standards. However, foreign buyers who have wider choices can easily impress upon the source of origin of the products they order for. read more.
* 47 textile millers may face legal action in US:
Forty-seven Bangladeshi textile millers may face legal action by American cotton traders because of contract defaults.
The legal action threat has come as the Bangladeshi millers and millers of some other countries have allegedly either cancelled their forwarding contracts or defaulted to buy cotton from American traders in recent months because of huge price swing.
The global head of cotton at US trading house Louis Dreyfus, the world’s biggest cotton merchant, issued a threat that they would take ‘people to court’ for violation of contracts, according to a report of Reuters on Tuesday. read more.
* India asks BD to notify it as supplier country for textiles:
India has asked Bangladesh to list it as a textile raw material sourcing country so that Bangladeshi garment exporters buying yarn from India continue to get benefits under the duty exemption scheme of the European Union(EU) according to a report, deadlined Agra, by Business Line last Tuesday.
According to the report, the Indian Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma, in his bilateral meeting with his Bangladeshi counterpart Ghulam Muhammed Quader, pointed out that India should be notified as a supplier of inputs to ensure that Bangladeshi garment exporters to the EU do not hesitate to source yarn and other raw materials from the country. read more.
18:47:00 local time INDIA
* India urges Bangladesh to notify it as textiles supplier:
read more. & read more.
* When looms fall silent job scheme keeps them going:
MGNREGS has provided mud roads and linked lakes in villages
Workers of the handloom sector in parts of western districts of the State, despite being hit by industrial slackness, have found an economic security net in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
As of December 2012, out of the 15,627 looms in Salem and Dharmapuri districts, 9,853 were found to be idle and only 5,774 were active, according to the Department of Handloom and Textiles. The two districts account for 63 weavers’ cooperative societies.
Another official information points to the fact that 27 per cent of the total number of weavers are working under the MGNREGS. One has to take into account that handlooms constitute a traditional industry in the district of Salem. read more.
* Apparel Training Centre inaugurated in Krishnagiri:
The Apparel Training and Design Centre (ATDC), a wing of the Apparel Export Promotion Corporation of the Ministry of Textiles, New Delhi, has embarked upon an initiative to address the shortage of skilled workforce at the floor level.
The centre has launched the SMART (skills for manufacturing apparels through research and training) initiative in Krishnagiri on Tuesday at the Industrial Estate.
P. Viji, Principal of ATDC, told The Hindu that through this initiative, crash courses such as sewing, cutting, tailoring, checking, finishing, packing and even machine repairs would be offered. read more.
* Trade unions’ opposition preventing labour reforms, says Kharge:
Observing that there were 44 pieces of legislation governing the conditions of employment of workers, he said, “Some of my officers do not even know the legislation they are to enforce
Union Minister for Labour and Employment M. Mallikarjun Kharge said on Wednesday that the failure to evolve a “tripartite consensus” has thwarted the government’s efforts to cut “red tape” in labour laws.
Addressing an international seminar, ‘The labour law framework: an international comparison’, organised by the Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship (XIME), Mr. Kharge said while employers and the government agree that legislation governing workers need to be “flexible”, the trade unions were against the move.
* Three killed in factory fire:
Three workers were asphyxiated in their sleep when a textile-manufacturing workshop-cum-warehouse at Metiabruz caught fire early on Wednesday.
A fourth worker was admitted to SSKM hospital while one escaped unhurt.
The fire — possibly triggered by a short-circuit — broke out around 1am on the second floor of the building on Haji Ratan Molla Lane. There are five rooms on the floor, which house the warehouse, the textile manufacturing units and the folding and packaging units. Local merchant Habibul Rehman owns the factory. Five workers on the night shift stayed back. All of them were asleep when the fire broke out.
One of the locals noticed the blaze around 1am and raised an alarm. Before long, a huge crowd armed with buckets of water started dousing the flames and also informed the fire brigade. By the time the locals and firemen reached the second floor, the flames had engulfed the entire building. read more.
* Textile mill destroyed in fire:
A textile mill was destroyed in a fire in Sangli on Tuesday.
The fire at Waichal Textiles was apparently caused by electric short circuit.
The fire destroyed power loom machines, textiles, beams and air-condition units and the loss was estimated to be Rs. 5 crore. to read.
* Now, garment exporters shift focus back home:
US, EU markets continue to show fluctuating demand even in festive season difficult for long-term strategy
Exporters of readymade garments are now shifting their focus from the developed markets to the domestic market, as well as other rapidly developing markets in Asia.
In the American market, though demand in the festive season rose 15-20 per cent compared to the previous festive season, post-festive orders weakened. The divergent trends discouraged Indian readymade garment manufacturers from adopting a long-term business strategy for that market. From the European Union (EU), too, orders during the festive season were weak. read more.
18:17:00 local time PAKISTAN
THE KARACHI- BALDIA FIRE:
* SHC forms body to distribute compensation:
The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday constituted a commission under the supervision of former Supreme Court Judge, Justice (retd) Rehmat Hussain Jaffery, to distribute compensation to the legal heirs of the Baldia factory fire victims.
The court was hearing identical petitions seeking a judicial inquiry over the tragic fire that erupted at the Ali Enterprises factory and claimed the lives of nearly 300 people in September of last year.
The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) and others filed a petition in Sindh High Court for the constitution of a judicial commission to determine the people responsible for the tragedy and suggest monetary compensation for the legal heirs of the victims.
The court also directed the police to complete the identification process of 24 fire victims so that the bodies could be handed over the families.
The counsel of the factory owners Amir Raza Naqvi said that compensation worth Rs. 61.8 million would be taken from the accounts of the factory owners and deposited to the Nazir. read more.