16:30:00 local time CHINA
* Nylon project in Shanghai moves forward:
Invista, one of the world’s largest integrated producers of polymers and fibers, announced on Thursday it will initiate a $1 billion nylon project at Shanghai Chemical Industry Park.
It has received approval from the Chinese authorities regarding both the environmental impact assessment and the project application report, a step toward its plan to construct a nylon 6-6 intermediates manufacturing facility, according to Warren Primeaux, president of Invista Intermediates.
Nylon 6-6 is preferred in many countries due to its higher value in use of lighter and cheaper automobile engines, fatigue resistant tires, high quality airbags and highly durable hosiery, but it is historically under-represented in China, which has to rely heavily on imports to meet its demand, he said. read more.
* Getting workers their wages on time:
A new but sad story is unfolding across China. With Spring Festival approaching, migrant workers have taken to the performing arts – not for recreation but for getting their dues.
In Wuhan, Hubei province, several migrant workers performed Gangnam Style dance to demand their salaries. In Xi’an, Shaanxi province, they dressed up as ancient officials to seek their collective dues of about 4 million yuan ($642,764).
Migrant workers are resorting to such methods also because society, in general, has become insensitive to the rising number of cases of their fellow workers’ threatening to jump from tall buildings in a desperate bid to get their hard-earned money.
16:30:00 local time PHILIPPINES
* Workers picket DOLE, slam anti-wage hike propaganda:
Workers led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno held a picket in front of the Labor Department’s main office in Intramuros, Manila this morning to condemn the agency’s statements against a bill that seeks to legislate a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide, saying “DOLE” really stands for “Department of Labor Exploitation.”
After the House Subcommittee on Labor Standards approved House Bill 375, otherwise known as the P125 Wage Hike Bill, in its Luzon-wide consultation last Jan. 18, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz gave interviews to the media claiming the bill, if approved, would cause massive retrenchments. read more.
* Workers welcome House committee meeting on P125 Wage Hike Bill:
National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno welcomed today the scheduling of a House Committee on Labor and Employment meeting for a bill that would legislate a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide, saying the bill deserves the committee’s immediate approval.
After the Subcommittee on Labor Standards approved House Bill 375, otherwise known as the P125 Wage Hike Bill, in its Luzon-wide consultation last Jan. 18, the COLE, under the leadership of Northern Samar Rep. Emil Ong, has scheduled a meeting on Feb. 6 to discuss the draft subcommittee report on the bill.
The meeting could lead to the committee’s approval and adoption of the subcommittee report, paving the way for the bill’s transfer to the House Rules Committee which can calender the bill for deliberation and voting at the House plenary. read more.
15:30:00 local time VIET NAM
* Workers expected to take extended break:
The city is forecast to be in short of up to 15 per cent of labour force after the nine-day Tet holiday.
The estimated figure is about 10 per cent lower than the same period previous years.
Tran Anh Tuan, deputy director of the Centre of Forecasting Manpower Needs and Labour Market Information (FALMI), said the labour shortage would mainly be predicted at textile and garment, processing and services companies.
The shortage is attributed to reluctance to return to work after long holidays among many workers, who hail from the countryside. This goes despite the fact that many workers have been left jobless due to the economic downturn. read more.
15:30:00 local time THAILAND
* Different generations, different views:
I think the lese majeste law will gradually be phased out, but it will take a long time – three or four generations, maybe. Consider that we used to have a law prohibiting commoners from even glancing at the King and his consorts.
Time changes everything. Europeans don’t burn people at the stake anymore.
Nor do they use slave or child labour.
Nor do they persecute Catholics and those who believe the sun revolves around the earth.
About 60 years ago in the US, blacks and whites went to separate schools, used separate toilets and ate at separate restaurants. The Ku Klux Klan ran amok, terrorising black communities. Time changes all that.
Thais are entitled to decide by themselves if, when and how to repeal or loosen up the lese majeste law. It will take time.
15:30:00 local time CAMBODIA
* Cambodian Garment Workers seek support from Walmart, H&M shoppers:
Garment workers making underwear for Walmart and H&M have been left homeless and unpaid after Kingsland Factory bosses shut the factory in September 2012 and fled Cambodia.
About 400 workers say Kingsland Garment Factory, supplier to Walmart and H&M, owes them thousands of dollars in severance and back wages.
While sitting on the sidewalk outside Kingsland factory gates In Phnom Penh, garment workers collaborated on this video with the Workers Information Centre in Cambodia and NGO journalist Paula Stromberg. Many workers are in debt and being evicted from their rental rooms. They have no money for food.
Garment workers ask Walmart and H&M shoppers to hear their plight. They ask consumers to pressure the two retail giants today.
Shoppers: Call on Walmart and H&M to ensure Kingsland factory owners pay back wages and benefits, and obey Cambodian labour law.
Cheap clothes from Walmart and H&M have a human cost…..
please don’t let these garment workers struggle alone !
* Faintings in Cambodian ‘model’ factories raise concern:
A lobby group says three separate mass fainting incidents this week that took place at two Cambodian garment factories “speaks volumes” about the issue, because both workplaces have relatively good reputations for worker’s rights.
More than 140 workers fainted on Wednesday and Thursday at Kandal’s QMI factory, which manufactures garments for several brands including Adidas.
Pok Vanthat, deputy director of the Ministry of Labour’s health department, said the building had recently been painted, and the fumes were very strong. The department has since ordered the factory manager to clean the ventilation system twice a month to improve air quality.
Meanwhile, 35 women fainted on Wednesday at Kampong Speu’s Sabrina factory, which is the major Cambodian supplier for another sportswear giant – Nike.
The factory’s union representative Chhea Vinut said the cause was a combination of malnutirition, poor ventilation and a condition known as mass hysteria.
“You’d expect it to happen at fairly substandard factories, but if it’s happening at these factories, then it shows the problem is very serious,,” Welsh said.
The factory owners and Nike did not answer requests for comment.
16:30:00 local time MALAYSIA
* Committee set up for minimum wage:
The Malacca Chinese Chamber Of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has announced it will be setting up of a steering committee for the implementation of minimum wage policy.
In a statement, the organisation detailed that the objectives of the committee, among others is to help promote a minimum wage policy that is beneficial to national, enterprises, employees’ and citizens’ interest.
MCCCI said that the new steering commity will be tasked to stop or limit the outflow of capital caused the current policy and to help reduce the inflation rate. read more.
16:30:00 local time INDONESIA
* Tangerang footwear manufacturer lays off 2,500 employees:
Taiwanese footwear manufacturing company PT Shyang Ju Fung issued separation pay on Tuesday to workers it was laying off, due to it halting production activities in Indonesia.
The company, which produced footwear under the Assic brand name, has been laying off its roughly 2,500 employees since last November. Industrial relations between workers and managers in the company have been tense, severely affecting production activities.
“Since we started production activities in 2009, our workers held protest rallies 12 times. Such conditions really disturbed production activities,” Dony Ferdiansyah, PT Shyang Ju Fung’s human resources manager, told The Jakarta Post over the telephone. read more.
* Indonesian textile sector expects $155m investment in 2013:
14:30:00 local time BANGLA DESH
* Checking all the garments factories:
A recent media report on the ‘Smart Garments’, showed how much unregulated and unconcerned some garments factory owners are. For them, it is just a large-scale tailoring shop with no obligation to follow rules or regulations of the ‘Factory Acts’.
This is true for most of the factories which are sub-contractors to garment sellers and exporters. At least 1,000 garments workers have been killed and 3,000 injured in more than 275 incidents in factories in Bangladesh since 1990, according to the Washington-based International Labour Rights Forum. The financial loss or damage caused by these fire incidents has no specific record but it must be millions of dollars. read more.
* Smart Fashions fire – Inditex suspends two suppliers:
Spanish retail giant Inditex has suspended two suppliers after it appears that they were illegally subcontracted to the Bangladesh factory that burnt down on Saturday, killing seven people.
The fire at the Smart Export Garment factory, based in Dhaka, came just two months after 112 people lost their lives in another apparel factory fire in Bangladesh.
Labour groups say Smart Export Garment was making apparel for European retailers including Inditex’s Bershka and Lefties brands, KIK Okay (belonging to the German discounter KIK), as well as New Look, Scott and Fox, and Solo Invest.
However, KIK has denied that it had any relationship with Smart Exports, or has received any evidence that orders were sub-contracted to the factory.
* EU worried- Nationwide factory inspection begins:
The European Union yesterday expressed grave concern over the fire incident at Smart Export Garment Ltd and urged the authorities to move quickly to ensure factories comply with the international labour standards.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the deaths of young workers from a fire this weekend in a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh,” said Catherine Ashton, high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Karel De Gucht, commissioner for Trade, in a joint statement.
“This tragedy is all the more shocking as it follows only two months after another textile factory fire in Bangladesh killed more than a hundred people.”
Their concern was aired after at least seven female garment workers had died of suffocation in a fire incident at Smart Export Garment Ltd in Mohammadpur on January 26.
However, no western buyers have come forward to aid the victims of the fire at Smart Export Garment, although the factory was producing clothes for some renowned brands in western countries.
The government yesterday launched countrywide inspection of garment factories as part of its efforts to stop fire incidents in the country’s most important sector.
* 20 injured in workers-staff clash over rape allegation:
At least 20 readymade garment workers were injured in a clash between workers and staff members of a factory at Jamgora in Ashulia on Thursday after an allegation of rape against the factory general manager spread in the factory.
The factory was closed for the day fearing more workers’ agitation.
Witnesses said the workers of Windy Group at Jamgora started demonstration in the morning for the second consecutive day demanding suspension and punishment of the factory general manager Imam Hosen Babul who allegedly raped a female worker of the factory. read more.
* Mozena expresses concern again…- avoided a question…:
The US Ambassador in Dhaka Dan W Mozena on Thursday held a long meeting with the leaders of apparel manufacturers on some pertinent issues which strained the relations between the two governments.
“We have discussed mainly four issues like Generalized System of Preference (GSP), workstation safety at the garment factories, empowerment of the workers and my vision of Bangladesh’s becoming a middle income country very soon,” the ambassador told The Independent when he was asked what he discussed with the BGMEA leaders.
Mozena talked to The Independent just before leaving the BGMEA office. He, however, did not go in details about the meeting and declined to answer further queries. He also avoided a question whether he placed any new issues regarding GSP or factory compliance.
Mozena only said, “We discussed that Bangladesh would be the next Asian tiger and how it can be a reality. Bangladesh would also be the largest exporters of ready made and house hold garments in the world.”
“It is my vision that Bangladesh would become a middle income country very soon and it should become a middle income country…”
Mozena came to the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporter Association (BGMEA) office at Karwan Bazaar at noon and stayed there for more than two hours. He also had lunch with the BGMEA leaders.
BGMEA President Shafiul Islam said the whole issues which have been raised in the petition with US
trade representatives by US labour organisation against Bangladesh came in the discussion. “We discussed the issues like garments workers leader Aminul Islam murder, workers conditions in Export Processing Zones (EPZ) and workers health issues,” he told the Independent immediately after the meeting.
read more. … & read….more from/about mozena… and more… & ….more….
* Textile sector booming:
The textile sector is gradually becoming an important segment in the country where the primary textile millers have so far invested around 3 billion euros, Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry said yesterday.
The use of modern technology in the sector will improve products’ quality, enhance competitiveness and reduce production costs, he said.
Ahmed spoke at the launch of the Dhaka International Textile and Garments Machinery Exhibition at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital.
* FBCCI effort to retain GSP:
The FBCCI, the apex trade body of Bangladesh, has requested the United States to continue the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) on goods exported to US.
Bangladesh enjoys tax free export of all goods except that of readymade garments to the US under GSP. The garments are the country’s major export item.
Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) say they have written a letter to United States Trade Representative (USTR) for continuing the GSP.
USTR has said it is reconsidering the GSP facility because it is upset with the working environment of Bangladesh’s factories.
On Nov 24, over a hundred workers died in the fire at Tazreen Fashions. Since then US labour rights organisations have been demanding withdrawal of GSP facility to Bangladesh.
The FBCCI Secretary General Mir Shahabuddin Mohammad said the letter provided details about efforts to improving working conditions, adverse affects of cancellation of GSP and bilateral trade relations with US. read more.
* RMG makers request USTR to continue GSP coverage:
Bangladeshi apparel manufacturers have requested the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to continue and expand the coverage of GSP (generalised system of preferences) facility in favour of Bangladesh, taking the sector’s ongoing progress into consideration from a holistic point of view.
“BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) believes that the USTR would consider the ongoing progress from a holistic point of view including our macroeconomic and social contexts,” the country’s apex apparel body said in its submission of public opinion on possible withdrawal, suspension, or limitation of GSP benefits with respect to Bangladesh. read more.
* RMG sector growth outpaces Bangladesh’s ability to inspect:
* Safety drives flop on scanty budgets:
Allocation insufficient for monitoring, inspection of factories
The government has overlooked the need for supervision to ensure compliance with labour laws, keeping the labour and employment ministry grossly under-budgeted.
The ministry received less than Tk 100 crore in budget allocation in each of the last two fiscal years: Tk 82 crore in fiscal 2011-12 and Tk 70 crore in the previous year.
The current fiscal year’s allocation, however, was significantly higher — Tk 201 crore.
“Although the allocation has increased, it is insignificant against the grave requirements for effective monitoring of factories,” said Khondaker Golam Moazzem, additional director (research) of Centre for Policy Dialogue.
Given the thousands of factories employing millions of workers, the need for higher allocation for the ministry has become serious.
The garment sector alone has 5,000-odd factories, employing more than 30 lakh workers.
Despite repeated incidents and deaths of workers at factories, the issue of compliance related to worker safety and labour laws has not received proper attention from the government, said labour leaders and rights activists.
Together with the Tazreen fire in November last year, incidents of fire at factories have claimed at least 1,000 workers’ lives since 1990, said CPD. read more.
ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* BGMEA membership saves Tazreen owner: CPB:
Communist Party of Bangladesh on Thursday said that the owner of Tazreen Fashion, Delwar Hossain, was not arrested since he was a member of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
In a statement, the party president Mujahidul Islam Selim and general secretary Syed Abu Zafar Ahmed demanded immediate arrest of Delwar on charge of ‘killing 124 workers’ in a fire at the factory at Savar on November 24, 2012.
They said that the police on Wednesday arrested Smart Export Garment Ltd. chairman Sharif Ahmed Salam and managing director Zakir Ahmed on charge of killing seven workers, killed in a fire at the factory at Mohammadpur on January 24, while they were yet to arrest the owner of Tazreen.
It is contrary to the rule of law that the police is not arresting the Tazreen owner as he is a member of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association, they said.
The left leaders expressed their vow to continue their movements to press for the arrest of owner of Tazreen Fashion. to read.
14:00:00 local time INDIA
* Gas supplies to industries curtailed, textile units in Surat hit hard:
Close to 400 textile processing units in the city have been hit hard by the curtailment of the natural gas supplied by the Gujarat Gas Company Limited (GGCL) to industries from the past two days and claim that it has resulted in a production losses to the tune of Rs 25 crore.
South Gujarat Textile Processers Association (SGTPA), apex body of the textile processing sector, said that the processing of textile fabrics at over 50 dyeing and printing units in Pandesara GIDC has come to a halt as the supply of natural gas has been stopped since Thursday morning. Earlier, the gas supply was curtailed in the industrial areas of Sachin, Tatithaiya and Kadodara for two days. read more.
* REACH programme to benefit textile export units:
Textile export units in Karur and elsewhere would benefit immensely from the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH) programme organised by the international testing agency TUV Rheinland, according to Bhaskar, Director (Finance and General Administration), TUV Rheinland India.
Speaking at the high-level Summit and Best Practice Exchange Forum seminar held here to mark the successful completion of the REACH programme, which the TUV Rheinland undertook in association with Europe’s largest development finance company DEG Germany, Mr. Bhaskar noted that the public private partnership programme was aimed at enabling the home textile units implement global best practices for “Substances of Very High Concern” and comply with REACH regulations EC No.1907/2006 adopted by the European buyers. read more.
* Knitwear industry looking forward to more rate cuts:
The industry and banks have hailed the 25 basis point cut in the repo rate and Cash Reserve Ratio.
While the lending institutions feel that this will help ease the tight liquidity in the system, the seeker of finance thinks that this will help ease the pressure on the borrowing cost.
Who will say ‘no’ to cheaper finance or lower rates? The industry obviously will expect more and this is exactly what the knitwear exporting community too is looking forward to.
While welcoming the RBI’s decision on the 25 bps cut, Tirupur Exporters’ Association President A. Sakthivel said that the industry was actually expecting a 50 bps cut in interest rate.
Knitwear exporting units are currently under financial pressure due to various issues. “We expect that this announcement would make all banks reduce their base rate without delay to support growth and survival of the ailing industry,” he said.
13:30:00 local time PAKISTAN
* Powerloom workers’ demo against power shutdown, low gas pressure:
Hundreds of powerloom workers including women Thursday took out a rally against loadshedding and low gas pressure.
The protesters holding clubs staged a sit-in at Vanike Chowk and blocked roads for more than an hour. They raised slogans against Gepco and SNGPL and demanded decrease in power loadshedding and increase in gas pressure within 24-hour, otherwise they would surround Gepco and SNGPL offices. The protest was led by Zaman Ansari, president Powerloom Workers Union and Chairperson Housewives Association. to read.
13:30:00 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Call to Action to the US Government:
Civil Society organizations call on the US government to urge the end of state-sponsored forced labor in the cotton sector of Uzbekistan in the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report
The US Department of State should downgrade Uzbekistan to Tier III in the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report, said 24 human rights, labor and business organizations united with the Cotton Campaign in comments submitted today to the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large to Combat Human Trafficking Luis CdeBaca.
Failure to downgrade Uzbekistan to Tier III would reward the government of Uzbekistan for flagrant disregard of its national laws and international commitments and ensure that the annual state-sponsored forced labor of over one million children and adults in the Uzbek cotton sector continues, said the organizations. read more.