15:04:20 local time CHINA
* China to reform income distribution:
China on Tuesday unveiled guidelines to reform its income distribution mechanisms amid growing public concern over a widening wealth gap.
The reform will focus on increasing residents’ income, narrowing the income distribution disparity and regulating the distribution order, said a statement from the State Council, or China’s cabinet, which declared approval and transfer of the guidelines.
The government will work to double the average real income of urban and rural residents by 2020 from the 2010 level and let the poor enjoy faster income growth, according to the guidelines.
The middle-income group will be expanded and the number of those living under the poverty line will be sharply reduced, while excessively high and hidden income will be adjusted and regulated, they said. read more.
14:04:20 local time LAOS
* Wildcrafted Fibres From Laos:
After 3 days of travel – bus to Chiang Khong, boat to Pak Beng, bus to Oudomxai – we knew we needed at least 2 nights in Oudomxai (also spelled Oudomxay, Udomxai, Udomxay, Muang Xay, Xay Town). However, we’re having such a good time in the heart of Northern Laos, that we’ve already extended our stay here to 4 days.
On Day 2, we rented a Chinese motorbike (a Zongshen Cub, 100 cc semi-automatic 4-speed) and traveled up to Muang La, said to be one the fave places of Joe Cummings (of Lonely Planet fame). It was great riding through an undulating, narrow river valley with lots of agricultural diversity and as many ethnic groups.
“Bark” is a bit of a misnomer. There were actually products made from 2 types of wildcrafted fibres that involve lots of processing and we bought some of both, of course.
The first is what Europeans once knew as bast. Long ago there, it was made from the inner bark of the linden tree. It’s likely what ropes on Viking ships were made from. As you might guess, it’s not used much anymore. Except here in Northern Laos there’s apparently lots. Here it’s called yaboi or lavang. (One’s allegedly female, the other male, but we didn’t get into that.)
Anyway, the Khmu people in Laos have long made fibre by processing the inner bark found between the outer bark and the woody core (technically, the nutrient-rich phloem from the dead epidermis and inner xylem) of their chosen tree – a labour-intensive process involving a really sharp knife and much patience. read more.
15:04:20 local time MALAYSIA
* Businessmen protest against minimum wage for foreigners:
Some 100 people, claiming to represent business associations, held a brief protest against the implementation of minimum wage for foreign workers in front of the Human Resources Ministry.
The group, called the Minimum Wages Implementation Steering Committee, demanded that the Government stick to the current wage level set by the embassies of the various countries whose citizens work here, and not hike it up to RM900 as is being done for local workers.
Committee member Goh Chin Siew said they want the ministry to re-examine the minimum wage requirements so that they reflect the standard of living in different areas across the country, and for the Finance and International Trade and Industry ministries to weigh in on the impact of minimum wage on Malaysians. read more.
* ACCCIM Never Neglected Role In Protecting SMEs’ Interest In Minimum Wage Issue:
The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) today clarified that it has never neglected its role in protecting the interest of various industries, particularly the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the minimum wage issue.
“ACCCIM leaders including Tan Sri William Cheng and Datuk Lim Kok Cheong, as well as Secretary-General Datuk Low Kian Chuan have been monitoring closely on the progress of minimum wage since 2007,” it said in a statement.
ACCCIM issued this clarification in response to a recent allegation by some guilds and associations that it had not done enough to protect the SMEs which are facing tremendous hardship as the result of the implementation of minimum wage scheme.
15:04:20 local time INDONESIA
* Labor protest may halt traffic:
A major protest by labor unions may cause serious traffic congestion in Jakarta on Wednesday.
The Manpower and Transmigration Ministry warned in a statement that thousands of workers from industrial areas in Bekasi, Bogor, Depok, Jakarta and Karawang which belonged to the Indonesian Metal Workers Federation (FSPMI) would take to the city’s main thoroughfares today to stage protests.
The protests scheduled to begin at 9.00 a.m. would take place in several locations including Bunderan HI traffic circle, areas in front of the presidential palace and the DPR/MPR building, as well as the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry office, it said. read more.
* Jakarta Police Enlist More Personnel, Redirect Traffic Ahead of Workers’ Rally:
Jakarta Police will redirect traffic today around the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to the House of Representatives, ahead of a protest, staged by thousands of workers, against delays to Jakarta’s minimum wage increase.
Sr. Comr. Rikwanto, a Jakarta Police spokesman, said there would be a joint team of more than 17,000 personnel from the military, public order agency and the police to secure the rally, adding that around 13,000 workers were expected to participate.
Members from the Indonesian Metal Workers Federation (FSPMI) are expected to stage a rally at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, State Palace, House of Representatives building and at the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration office.
13:04:20 local time BANGLA DESH
* Eating up children:
Josna, isn’t Josna feeling cold?
I didn’t know what to say as I sat beside Josna’s mother on the curb, outside the Emergency department of the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH). It was slightly chilly, the last cold wave of January was making its appearance felt.
The breeze seemed to blow away her words, but only as far as outside appearances went. They clung to the inner recesses of my mind.
I shivered, but not because of the cold. Josna, 16 years old, a garment factory worker at Smart Exports in Mohammadpur Beribadh area, was lying cold, on a metal trolley inside the morgue.
Saydia Gulrukh (PhD student), Kanon Barua (Polytechnic student) and I had rushed to the Emergency building. We walked rapidly into a maze of ill-lit corridors, rubbing shoulders with patients, family members, doctors, nurses and floor-cleaners, stopping at each turn to ask, where’s the morgue? All fingers pointed ahead, finally, a left turn which proved to be a dead end, and we came across “Morgue” written in Bangla on the wall facing us at the end of the corridor. We rushed and joined a small group of men and women miserably huddled outside a collapsible gate. Our eyes followed their gaze.
Josna lay on a metal trolley inside the morgue. All alone. Dead.
The locked iron gate stood between us and Josna, it prevented her family members from entering the room, from holding her closely, from clasping her lifeless body, hoping against hope that their cries, the tears streaming down their faces, would somehow bring her back to life.
Eating up children in development-oriented present day Bangladesh is very one-sided. It is garment factory-owners who “eat up” the children of working class families.
Poor people don’t “eat up” the children of the ruling business elite. They leave them alone – to be educated in universities abroad, to return and set up private universities here, to berate about the “culture of impunity” prevalent in Bangladesh which stokes “grievances” among garment factory workers who “riot”, “smash vehicles,” and “attack police” even though the “minimum wage [has been raised] by 80%” (K. Anis Ahmed, “Bolshie Bangladesh,” The Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2010).
How can I
How can I get back my child
O you garments
How could you eat up my child
O my garments
How it does eat up!
O my father
O my mother
O my mother
How could Josna go away
She had eaten rice
O, o, you brothers have you come to do camera…?
How can my Josna be returned to me
O my Josna
Who will return her to me
She has emptied my heart and left…
* Fire destroys garment warehouse in Ashulia:
A garment warehouse was gutted in a fire early yesterday at Kabirpur in Ashulia on the outskirts of Dhaka.
However, no death or injury of workers was reported as there was no worker at the factory of Manami Fashions during the fire.
Locals said the fire broke out at the warehouse at the fourth floor of the five-storey garment factory building at around 2:30am.
Owners were yet to estimate the cost of the damage.
Fire fighters rushed to the spot at around 3am and brought the fire under control after three hours, said Abdullah Al Mamun, a deputy assistant director of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence.
“But, still we don’t know where the fire was originated from. There was no electric short-circuit,” he said, adding that all the fabrics of the warehouse were burnt into ashes. read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* This is not right time to allow TUs in RMG units: Makers, exporters:
Country’s garment manufacturers and exporters said this is not right time to allow trade unions in the apparel sector amid pressure from both local and international quarters.
The sector is facing a mounting pressure from the labour organisations, foreign buyers including the US and EU following the continuous unrests in the country’s apparel sector especially in Ashulia in recent times.
They put pressure to allow trade unions to avert such unrests in the RMG sector.
Manufacturers said there is no barrier in allowing trade union in the country’s largest foreign currency earning sector and the law also allows trade union in the sector.
Both the law and the Constitution in Bangladesh recognise the right of workers to freedom of association. And we have respect to the Constitution and law of the land, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Faruque Hassan told the FE recently.
“But we don’t encourage trade unions in the factories right now as our past experience is not good,” he explained. read more.
* Sweatshop Garments Drag All of Us Down:
The turning point in the United States was the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, when 146 garment workers – mostly women seamstresses – were burned to death when an exit gate was purposely locked.
One hundred thousand New Yorkers marched in the funeral procession as 400,000 people lined the streets.
With legislation to protect worker rights, the labor movement emerged, and by the Forties sweatshops were wiped out in the United States. The middle class was built and living standards rose.
A hundred years later, we are racing backward.
On Jan. 26, 102 years after the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, a fire broke out at the Smart Fashion Export garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Seven young women were killed – some just 15, 16 and 17 years of age – and 15 were injured in a factory that violated every single law.
Well over 50 workers at the Smart Fashion factory were just 10- to 15-year-old girls.
The workers were producing illegal subcontracts for some of the largest European labels, such as Inditex from Spain. The child workers and helpers were paid just 13 cents an hour to work seven days a week. Senior sewing operators earned just 18 to 28 cents an hour and had no legal rights, leaving them trapped in misery.
WHAT MUST BE DONE
Two things are certain: First, Bangladesh’s women garment workers are among the hardest workers in the world, but also among the poorest and most exploited. Second, no one wants to damage Bangladesh’s booming export garment industry, which employs some four million women and accounts for $19.1 billion worth of exports to the U.S. and Europe.
- The United States government is right to deny duty-free access to Bangladesh’s garment exports to the U.S. – until the government of Bangladesh takes concrete steps to implement the country’s labor laws as well as the International Labour Organization’s internationally recognized worker rights standards, of which Bangladesh is a cosigner.
- The European Union, Bangladesh’s largest export market, is a major player and should review its current policies on blanket duty- and quota-free access to the EU, which has done nothing to improve labor rights conditions for Bangladesh’s workers. Duty-free access should be reserved to reward factories that are serious about respecting local and international labor rights.
- Putting an end to the tragic deaths – 700 have been killed in garment factories across Bangladesh since 2005 – is the top priority. But it is important to note that the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority, which is largely controlled by the military, is openly operating a “blacklist” to purge any workers daring to exercise their legal right to organize a union. This too must stop. read more.
* DoE fines five factories for polluting river:
The Department of Environment (DoE) on Monday fined five factories a total of Tk 76.65 lakh in Savar upazila for polluting river.
* Textile firms line up to raise funds from public:
Banks cautious in disbursing credit due to loan scams
Textile companies opt to raise funds from the capital market instead of the banking sources as banks have taken a cautious stance in disbursing industrial credits.
The recent loan scams, mounting classified loans in banks and the possible volatility centring the upcoming national election have made the banks more careful, bankers said.
Recently, around 50 companies from different sectors submitted prospectuses for initial public offerings to the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC). read more.
* Garments a success story- Single-product dependence unwise:
Everybody in Bangladesh is very much excited about the achievement that Bangladesh has become the second largest garment exporter.
No doubt, it is a significant achievement. But if one tries to understand the reason of it, it will be clear that the cheap labour available here is behind the success. The country’s net gain from garment export is the price of labour as the things like fabrics, accessories and most of the raw materials are imported under back-to-back LCs (letters of credit). So the country gets the price of labour only.
According to McKinsey’s report on the garment sector, Bangladesh is going to be the next hot spot for foreign buyers. Gradually the wage level in China and other Asian countries are increasing and forcing the buyers to look for cheaper sources.
Naturally Bangladesh is one of them who still offer much lower wages.
* Instant strike call ‘a crime’:
The FBCCI on Tuesday termed the ‘impromptu’ call for countrywide daylong shutdown for Wednesday by Jamaat-e-Islami ‘tantamount to crime’.
In a statement, the apex trade body also expressed concern over the general strike call and urged the party to withdraw the programme.
Two apparel exporters’ organisations – Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) – also called for revoking the shutdown call in separate statements. read more.
12:34:20 local time INDIA
* Strike by trade unions on February 20, 21:
As many as 11 Central trade unions in the country, including those of the bank and insurance employees, will strike work on February 20 and 21 in protest against “people-unfriendly policies” of the Union government, Gurudas Dasgupta, general secretary, All India Trade Union Congress and Member of Parliament, said here on Monday.
The unions have placed 10 demands, including fixing statutory minimum wages at Rs. 10,000, stopping contract labour, bringing the unorganised sector workers under EPF Act and ESI Act, raising minimum pension to Rs. 3,000 per month and implementing labour laws pertaining to work hours, wages and work conditions, before the government. read more.
* Draft on revision of wages opposed:
Goa Convention of Workers (GCW), a coalition of major trade unions, on Tuesday opposed the “draft” notification of the Goa government proposing revision of minimum wages in “Schedules of employment”.
Convenor of Goa Convention of Workers Suhas Naik said that at a meeting convened by the government on Monday, GCW rejected the “draft” notification even though the employers gave their consent to revise minimum wages to unskilled category of workers at Rs. 205 a day from Rs.150 a day.
He said Goa Convention of Workers was of a firm view that the notification had been issued by the government after inordinate delay without taking into consideration the guidelines laid down by the apex court and suggestions by the labour advisory committees set up for fixation and revision of minimum wages. The proposed revision of minimum wages had not been linked to dearness allowance (DA).
* Maharashtra govt proposes new amendments in Textile Policy:
* State push for integrated textile parks in cotton belt:
After a periodical review of the textile policy of Maharashtra, the state on Friday proposed to introduce new amendments in the policy through which integrated textile parks will be built in the highest cotton producing belts of Maharashtra.
State textiles minister Naseem Khan said although Maharashtra is the highest producer of cotton in the country, most of the cotton it grows is not processed within the state.
“To generate employment from the textile industry in Maharashtra, we have decided to set up textile parks or spinning parks wherein all activities will be carried out – right from growing cotton to processing it and then making ready-made garments,” said Khan. read more.
* Garment unit faking reputed brands raided:
The Fraud and Misappropriation wing of the Central crime Branch raided a garments factory which was allegedly manufacturing and selling fake branded garments to shops across the city.
Acting on a tip-off, a team of officials raided Panchajanya Garment Factory and its godown in J.P. Nagar and Tavarekere and confiscated apparels worth Rs.1.4 crore.
The police found the factory palming off local apparels as upmarket brands like Van Heusen, Arrow, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Polo and Louis Philippe. The police arrested factory owner Akshay Kumar (34). to read.
* How Reebok is ‘Ree-orienting’ business and ‘Ree-energising’ the faith of Adidas:
‘Live with Fire’ a brand mantra of sorts for Reebok has picked up some rather ominous connotations what with declining sales and a multicrore scam in India. However its global chief marketing officer Matthew O’ Toole is kitted up with a back-to-basics ‘fitness’ core that he claims has the power to Ree-orient his business and Ree-energise the faith of group holding company Adidas.
Summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in June with the weather playing hooky is something Matt O’Toole is used to. On June 25, as he turned 50, he scaled the Serengeti volcano along with his son. The half-centurion is playing up the fitness tune in active professional life too. As Reebok’s chief marketing officer, O’Toole has seen a really torrid year for the footwear-to-apparels company in 2012 with its Tone line slumping, an Rs 876 crore fraud in its India operations and loss of a major National Football League contract in America. read more.
* H&M, Topshop in final India retail push:
Swedish fast-fashion giant Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) has asked leading mall developers to block space for its initial stores in India, as the world’s second largest fashion retailer hopes to open a local office in the next three months.
British billionaire Philip Green owned Topshop is another foreign retailer finalizing plans to enter the country through a local joint venture, as global biggies revive interest in India on the back of recovering consumer sentiments and the recent reform push. read more.
12:34:20 local time SRI LANKA
* Militant trade unions main cause of factory closures:
Militant trade unions were the main cause of the recent closure of 40 garment factories,
Labour Relations and Productivity Improvement Minister Gamini Lokuge said yesterday. He said that a list of those factories would be released soon.
Fraud and pilferage had also contributed to their closures, which finally resulted in thousands losing their jobs, the Minister added.
The Minister said that the government would soon hold talks with the owners of the closed factories on the possibility of re-opening them. Both foreign and Sri Lankan businessmen had invested in those factories, he added.
The investors had incurred heavy losses due to trade union action, pilferage and fraud, while over 100,000 employees had been rendered jobless following the closure of the factories, he noted. to read.
* Sri Lankan garments losing market share in US, UK:
Despite an increase in earnings from garment exports to the US and EU, Sri Lanka is losing market share to competitor countries Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Pakistan and Cambodia, the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) says.
“Despite considerable increases in absolute export earnings to both and US and EU markets, it is of concern to note that Sri Lanka’s relative market share in garment exports has been losing ground. The increase in export earnings over the years has been due largely to a shift in Sri Lankan garment exports from the US to EU,” the IPS said in its recent flagship publication ‘Sri Lanka: State of the Economy 2012’.
12:04:20 local time PAKISTAN
THE KARACHI-BALDIA FIRE:
* Another body identified:
Another body previously recovered from the Baldia factory fire and which was lying in Edhi’s cold storage, has been identified on Monday through a DNA test.
According to officials, the identified body was later taken by the family members of the deceased while 19 other unidentified bodies were still in the possession of Edhi centre.
The sources said that the victim was identified as Mohammad Afzal s/o Mohammad Ashraf.
The 27-year-old victim was a resident of Orangi Town’s sector 13-D, they further said. On September 11 last year, over 260 workers were burnt to death when fire engulfed Ali Enterprises, the factory situated in Baldia Town area of Karachi. to read.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Workers protest against ‘illegal’ factory lockout:
Hundreds of labourers marched from Regal Chowk to the Karachi Press Club on Monday to protest against being ‘locked out’ of their workplace called Joe’s Fashion, a garments factory in the Korangi Industrial Area that recently rendered around 1,000 workers jobless.
Slogans such as “the lockout of the factory is unacceptable, put an end to economic murder of labourers, restore the jobs of workers and punish the owners for this illegal step” were inscribed on placards carried by the protesters.
The workers representatives said more than 1,000 workers were employed by the factory and the majority of them were women. to read.
* Uninterrupted power supply to textile mills in Punjab from today:
Uninterrupted power supply to the textile mills on independent feeders in Punjab is being restored with effect from today (February 6, 2013).
Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Punjab zone Shahzad Ali Khan said Ministry of Water and Power had assured of restoring electricity supply to textile mills in Punjab in first week of February.
The matter was brought to the notice of President Asif Ali Zardari by the APTMA on telephone who immediately took notice and directed concerned authorities to honour the commitment without any delay. read more. & read more.
* 24 hours power supply to Punjab textile mills from today:
The non-stop electricity supply round the clock to the textile mills in Punjab is being restored from Wednesday (today), stated Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Punjab Shahzad Ali Khan.
He said that the Ministry of Water & Power had assured of restoring electricity supply to textile mills in Punjab in first week of February. read more.
* Another 100 textile mills seek stay against gas supply suspension:
Another 100 textile mills have approached the courts for a stay against gas supply suspension, said industry sources. It may be noted that already over 100 textile units have secured stay orders from the courts early December when the SNGPL had suspended gas supply to mills.
Accordingly, the SNGPL continued partial supply of gas to these mills. Therefore, another 100 mills have moved to the courts for similar relief. The industry has pleaded of its right to supply of gas like the mills situated in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Meanwhile, industry sources said a delegation of APTMA leadership is likely to call on the Advisor to Prime Minister on Petroleum & Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain for restoration gas supply to mills in Punjab. read more.