23:21:31 local time CHINA
* Textile exports at 2nd-lowest rate in 20-yr:
A worker at Jiahao Light Textile Co in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province. Sluggish demand and rising production costs have made this year’s outlook for Chinese textile exports gloomy. [Zhang Haiyan / For China Daily]
China’s textile exports dipped to their second-lowest level in the past two decades in 2012 amid calls for the sector to focus more on the domestic market, industry leaders said.
Gao Yong, deputy director of China National Textile and Apparel Council, said textile exports grew around 3 percent last year to an estimated $260 billion.
The result represented the second-lowest growth rate since 2009, when the global textile industry was reeling from the outbreak of the global financial crisis.
Gao said the outlook for Chinese textile exports was likely to remain gloomy in 2013.
Sluggish overseas demand, rising production costs and cotton prices had made 2012 a difficult year for the labor-intensive textile sector.
Gao said that the textile industry achieved revenue of 5,224 billion yuan ($840 billion), from January to November 2012, up 11.9 percent year-on-year. The increase is still far lower than the annual average of 20 percent over the past two decades, he said. read more.
* Guangdong to raise minimum wages by 19%:
Minimum wages in Guangdong province will be raised 19.1 percent on average from May 1.
Minimum wages in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong, will rise 19.2 percent to 1,550 yuan ($249) a month and 15 yuan per hour, the provincial department of human resources and social security said on Feb 5.
Minimum wages in second-tier cities such as Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan and Zhongshan will rise to 1,310 yuan a month and 12.5 yuan per hour.
A three months’ buffer period will be set to allow businesses to adjust their budgets.
23:21:31 local time PHILIPPINES
* Workers hold Metro-wide noise barrage for wage hike, vs. price hikes:
One day before the House Committee on Labor and Employment holds a meeting to discuss a bill that aims to legislate a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide, workers and urban poor led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno held a Metro-wide noise barrage this afternoon for a significant wage hike and against price hikes.
KMU was protesting the 36-centavo per kilowatt-hour increase in power rates, other schemes that will increase power rates, the impending increase in oil prices, and plans to increase fares in the MRT and LRT, even as Congress is about to take a recess without approving House Bill 375 or the P125 Wage Hike Bill. read more.
22:21:31 local time VIET NAM
* Vietnam pockets over 1 bln USD from garment exports in January:
Vietnam raked in 1.05 billion U.S. dollars from textile and garment exports in the first month of 2013, an increase of 28.4 percent year on year, reported Vietnam’s state-run news agency on Wednesday.
Citing sources with the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT), the report said most Vietnamese garment and textile enterprises have received orders for the whole first quarter and some large firms even received orders for the second and third quarters.
This is a postive sign for the textile and garment industry, said the ministry, which suggested that firms should invest more to boost the image of Vietnamese products overseas as well as make their own materials to minimize dependence on imports.
* Clothing exports surge by 28%:
Export revenue of textiles and garments surged 28.4 per cent to US$1.05 billion in the first month of the year, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The ministry also reported that production of woven fabrics made from synthetic and artificial fibers reached 81.8 million square metres, a 12.9 per cent increase, while clothing for adults also surged 21.6 per cent to 184.8 million units.
Most Vietnamese garment and textile enterprises reported having received orders to the end of the first quarter. A number of large businesses even received orders for the second and third quarters.
The ministry said that this was an optimistic sign for the textile and garment industry and suggested firms invest more in boosting the image of Vietnamese products overseas. read more. & read more.
22:21:31 local time THAILAND
* Thai textile and garment exports decline in 2012:
22:21:31 local time CAMBODIA
* Clash with cops hurt 7, say strikers:
Seven strikers, including a pregnant woman, claimed yesterday that they were injured in a clash with police outside a garment factory in Kandal province, an allegation authorities denied.
About 200 workers at E Garment in Sa’ang district protested to demand the factory reinstate 41 Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union members sacked in 2007.
“The company sacked them when we formed a union branch inside the factory,” worker representative Chan Pov said, adding that he had received slight facial burns when the administrative manager, So Sam Ang, tried to extinguish flames from burning tyres held by the strikers. read more.
* Court sets date for new hearing in Bandith case:
The Appeal Court has set a hearing date in a case against former Bavet town Governor Chhouk Bandith, who stands accused of shooting three protesting garment workers last year.
In December, the Svay Rieng Provincial Court dropped charges against the official, only to see the case taken up by the Appeal Court prosecutor general, who called for a reinvestigation. The February 27 hearing will determine whether Bandith should, in fact, be charged for the February 2012 shooting.
“We will hold a public hearing so that all related parties can participate. None will miss it,” said Prosecutor General Ouk Savuth.
Three women were injured when a gunman opened fire during the protest of more than 6,000 workers employed at four factories at the Manhattan Special Economic Zone. read more.
* Cambodia’s energy costs deter investors:
Cambodia’s infrastructure is deterring highly anticipated investment into the production of raw materials to support its rapidly growing garment sector, experts say.
While garment exports rose 10.2 per cent to $5.48 billion last year, the increase of raw materials imported to support this growth increased about 20 per cent from $2.6 billion in 2011 to $3.1 billion in 2012, according to figures from the Ministry of Commerce.
In 2011 imports were approximately 53 per cent of export value, while in 2012 imports made up about 56 per cent of export value.
Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said electricity costs are the simple answer to a lack of raw material production and that this is not a new phenomenon with investors anxiously waiting for power costs come down to an accessible level. read more.
* Garment firm to list on CSX:
The Taiwanese-owned garment company Grand Twins International (Cambodia) Plc says it intends to list on the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX) next month, in a boost for the Kingdom’s nascent stock market.
Phnom Penh Securities (PPS), an underwriter for Grand Twins International (GTI), said yesterday the company would offer 12 million shares at $0.25 a share.
“The issuer will use the proceeds of this initial public offering to invest in new equipment and manufacturing facilities in order to benefit from the rapid growth in demand,” PPS said. read more.
23:21:31 local time INDONESIA
* Thousands of workers hold rally in Jakarta:
Thousands of workers from the Indonesian Metal Workers Federation (FSPMI) of the greater Jakarta area (Jabodetabek) held a rally here on Wednesday, demanding social security benefits and refusing low wages.
“The rally also marks the organization`s 14th anniversary celebration,” said the organization`s President Said Iqbal.
Similar rallies were also organized simultaneously in other parts of Indonesia such as in Bandung (West Java), Surabaya (East Java), Batam (Riau Islands), Medan (North Sumatra), and Aceh.
Said estimated that the rallies were participated in by approximately 35.000 workers from greater Jakarta area. read more.
* Workers urge no further delay in Batam minimum wage:
Hundreds of workers from the Indonesian Metal Workers Federation (FSPMI) Batam branch staged a protest at the Batam administration region office on Wednesday. They urged the local government to quickly implement the 2013 monthly minimum wage (UMK), rejected by the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo).
There was a heavy police and military presence at the demonstration.
Riau Governor Muhammad Sani recently decided to raise the UMK to Rp 2.04 million (US$210,27) from Rp 1.4 million as proposed by the Batam Wage Council (DPK). The new minimum wage took effect on Jan.1, 2013.
However, the Apindo and several other employer associations rejected that decision. The Apindo even filed a lawsuit against the governor’s decree on the new minimum wage at the State Administrative Court (PTUN) in Batam. Currently, the lawsuit is still in progress. read more.
* Public policy and a dark future for women:
The Jakarta Post recently reported that between 2002 and 2009 the Home Ministry annulled 1,878 bylaws (“After ‘straddling’ proposal, ministry to review bylaws”, Jan. 18).
The article stated that almost 1,800 of those annulled bylaws dealt with regional taxation and levies; 29 dealt with third-party political donations; and 22 pertained to alcoholic beverages. The report also indicated that 758 bylaws were currently under evaluation by the ministry, comprising 589 on regional taxation and levies; 19 on alcoholic beverages; 71 on third-party political donations; and 79 on other matters.
According to the article, none of the annulled bylaws or those under evaluation included the 282 laws that justify discrimination against women and other minority groups, according to the National Comission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan). Critics say that the ministry does not dare touch these controversial issues that are contained in the laws. read more.
* Workers Urge SBY to Resolve Labor Issues:
Thousands of workers from the Greater Jakarta (Jabodetabek) areas have on Wednesday (Feb 6), staged a peaceful rally at the State Palace.
They criticize President SBY for being pathetically slow in resolving the long and complicated labor problems such as the exploitative outsourcing practices, cheap labor policy, plan of labor union busting, and healthcare-social security program.
Some orators of the labors, in their speeches, repeatedly criticizing the pathetically slow implementation of Law No 24/2011 regarding the Social Security Providers (BPJS) and Law No 40/2004 regarding National Social Security System (SJSN).
21:06:31 local time NEPAL
* Trade unions cover 3.4pc labour force:
There are more than a dozen trade unions active in the country but they cover only a fraction of the total labour force of 11.7 million. They cover about only 400,000 workers in the organised sector.
There is almost no presence of trade unions in the informal sector, said director general of the Department of Labour Kebal Prasad Bhandari. “Trade union coverage is limited due to their focus on the well organised formal sector,” he said, adding that at present trade unions cover only 3.4 per cent of the total labour force of the country.
Trade unions do not have access to migrant workers, who constitute 29.68 per cent stake in the total labour force. About 3.5 million Nepalis, including 800,000 undocumented workers, are believed to be working in foreign countries, according to the Department of Foreign Employment. read more.
21:21:31 local time BANGLA DESH
* 5 warehouses gutted in Gazipur:
A devastating fire brunt down five warehouses of garment rags in Chadona Palli Bidyut area in Kaliakoir upazila of the district early Wednesday.
The cause behind the fire could not be known immediately.
Fire service sources said locals at first spotted the fire at the warehouses at about 3:30am and they tried to douse it.
On information, fire fighting units from Kaliakor, Joydebpur and EPZ rushed to the spot and doused the fire after three hours’ frantic efforts at about 6:30 am.
All the garment rags in the warehouses were gutted in the fire, the fire service sources added. to read.
* Most Khulna jute mills not equipped with fire fighting devices:
Most of the jute mills in Khulna region are in constant risk of fire. There is no sufficient fire-extinguishers in most of the jute mills and no underground reserves in Daulatpur and Shiromoni industrial area either.
The workers and employees are not trained enough to fight fire. This was revealed in a survey report of Fire Service and Civil Defence.Fire Service and Civil Defence regional office source said that a decision has been taken to ascertain the fire risk in garments factory of the country after the fire incident at Tazrin Fashion in Dhaka. As there is no garments factory in Khulna, the survey was conducted in other mills and industries which started since December-3 and concluded recently. read more.
* MoC meeting to review overall RMG situation today:
The ministry of commerce (MoC) will hold a meeting today (Thursday) to review the overall situation in the RMG sector, a high trade official said Wednesday.
The meeting of Social Compliance Forum (SCF) for the ready made garment (RMG) sector has been convened by the ministry following growing calls from the Untied States (US) and the European Union (EU) countries- that mainly import a significant portion of apparel products to improve the workers’ working conditions, ensure human rights and allow them to form trade unions (TUs).
Apart from the US and EU– Japan, one of the potential sources for the country to export ready made clothes- has also expressed grave concern over the latest situation in RMG sector including the recent fire incidents at Smart Garments and Tazreen Fashions Ltd which claimed scores of workers’ lives.
A Japanese trade union leader held a meeting with the State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian last week and discussed the situation in the RMG sector. read more.
* Commerce Minister emphasises on Ticfa agreement:
Commerce Minister GM Quader today said the government should sign the TICFA agreement to prevent being excluded from the GSP scheme of the USA over labour standards.
“We are not under any pressure from the USA to sign Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement as it is questioned by some quarters in the country, but we should do it for our own interest of protecting and promoting business,” he said.
He argued that any step by the US regarding suspension or withdrawal of the existing or part of GSP facilities the Bangladeshi apparel exporters are enjoying now is not a major concern in terms of business orders but a big threat to our image of Branding Bangladesh on the global arena which the exporters have earned through ages by their utmost strides.
He said fire incidents are occurring in factories in the developed countries. But such incidents are not projected in such negative ways as it is done in our countries because such reports often play damaging role to destroy the image our entrepreneurs have developed.
“Our garment industry has two beauties which are unique in the eyes of global apparel buyers. The buyers say that the fingers of our female workers are stitching fingers. This is an asset for our industry. Another beauty is the experience of our entrepreneurs on how to govern international trade which they have gathered over last 20-25 years,” he added. read more. & read more. & read more.
* Home garments may lose duty-free access to Canada:
Bangladesh may lose duty-free access for its garments to Canadian market, as the developed nation has excluded India and China – from which Bangladesh mainly imports yarn and fabric for its garments – from its General Preferential Tariff (GPT) facility list, according to, Fibre2fashion, a web news portal.
Under the GPT rules, 175 developing nations, including Bangladesh were allowed to export their goods to Canada duty-free or at preferential rates. However, the country has dropped 72 nations, including India and China, from the GPT list after a review of the facility.
The GPT benefit will not be applicable from July 1, 2014 to Canadian imports from 72 countries classified as “high-income” or “upper-middle income” countries by the World Bank for two consecutive years, or have had a share of equal to or greater than one per cent of world exports for two consecutive years.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Business compliance and skilled manpower:
The piece of news relating to the sector which contributes the most to our foreign currency earnings which appeared in the Financial Express (FE) the other day, is quite heartening.
News relating to our readymade garments (RMG) export business is being highlighted in recent times in the USA and Europe. This is important for us and also an alarming signal for our economy. Because our foreign currency is mainly coming from RMG export.
Foreign currency is very much essential for our economy because the latter is mainly based on imports. We have to import even green chilies some times.
Our RMG sector is facing problems from various corners for last few years when world’s leading buyers are much dependent upon our suppliers–we are second only to China.
The USA and European countries are the main buyers of our readymade garments. Buyers are choosing our suppliers for economic costing. A businessman makes a deal with another businessman only when both the parties receive benefit from the deal. A consumer also buys a product or service at the point of full satisfaction.
The news published on January 18, 2013 in the FE is “Yet 40 per cent of the population lives under the poverty line of $1.25 a day. The workers, 85 per cent are women, have a minimum wage of $37 a month and are often forcibly prevented from forming trade unions.” Points highlighted are about the daily income, production atmosphere and the right to form trade union of the garments workers. read more.
* GSP facility withdrawal may affect export: Minister:
Commerce Minister GM Quader on Wednesday said if the USA withdraws Bangladesh’s duty-free benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility other developed countries might stop doing business with Bangladesh.
* Bangladesh factory fires – the hidden dangers of subcontracting:
The pressures on global apparel supply chains lead to unregulated subcontracting to dangerous factories
The recent tragic fires in Bangladesh garment factories have left 300 dead over the past six years. Most recently the 112 fatalities at Tazreen Fashions have put the spotlight on the problem of unauthorised and unmonitored subcontracting in the global supply chain.
Wal-Mart, Sears, Disney and Li & Fung claim they had no knowledge that their goods were being manufactured at Tazreen Fashions. In the wake of this most recent fire there have been calls for a more intense focus on subcontractors: stricter government regulation and enforcement and their monitoring by retailers and preferably independent monitoring bodies.
But these calls, while well intentioned, demonstrate a lack of proper understanding of the forces that create unauthorised subcontracting and pose challenges to their effective monitoring. read more.
20:51:31 local time INDIA
* Plea to discuss workers’ issues at assembly session:
Demanding that the State government immediately convene a special session of the Assembly to discuss the problems of workers, cadre of Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and AICCTU took out a two-wheeler rally that passed through the city on Tuesday.
Led by S. Kumarasamy, national president, AICCTU, they demanded that workers involved in unorganised sectors like construction, agriculture, handloom, and silver anklet units be given free houses and Rs. 500 as daily wages or Rs. 15,000 as monthly wages. read more.
20:21:31 local time PAKISTAN
* Adverse impact of gas suspension on industries reviewed:
Two months continuous gas closure has opened flood gates of unemployment, affecting textile exports and inflicting financial loss to the national kitty coupled with unprecedented inflation and price hike in the country.
Syed Zia Alamdar Hussain, Vice Chairman, Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PHMA) North Zone, chaired a special meeting of the hosiery owners to review the ill impacts of last two month gas closure on the industries with special reference to the value added sector and carve out strategy to cope with the situation during the third month of gas closure.
The members expressed concern over gas closure and said that nation was already experiencing worst kind of inflation and price hike but all political forces were adamant to the economic problems and also failed to play their role in resolving the critical issue. read more.
* Textile industry criticises SNGPL over gas cuts:
The eight week long gas suspension had crippled industrial activities and put the $14-billion industry on the brink of disaster.
The Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) criticised the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines for suspending gas supply to the textile industry, terming it an anti-industrial move and detrimental to country’s exports.
In a statement on Wednesday, PTEA Chairman Asghar Ali said the industry was totally confused on how to combat the crisis. The textile mills were left with no choice but to lay off workers due to cut in 50% of the production capacity.
Pakistan’s textile industry was losing its credibility internationally as it was forced to dishonour its export commitments. According to the PTEA, the industry received gas for only 178 days in 2012. read more.
* Two days each week: gas supply to Punjab textile mills being restored: APTMA:
APTMA spokes-man has said that the government has agreed to restore gas supply from February 7 to the textile industry in Punjab for two days a week basis.
It is the second consecutive success of the APTMA leadership, as a day earlier electricity supply to the textile industry in Punjab was also restored by the government on effective representation of the issue before the highest office who directed the Ministry for Water & Power for immediate restoration of electricity supply to textile mills on independent feeders in Punjab for 24 hours a day.
A delegation of APTMA management called on the Advisor to Prime Minister on Petroleum & Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain on Wednesday and apprised him of the problems faced by the textile industry consequent to suspension of gas supply to mills in Punjab since last 50 days. read more. & read more.
THE KARACHI-BALDIA FIRE:
* Compensation: Families of Baldia victims hold protest:
The families of the victims of Baldia factory fire held a protest near the building of the Sindh Assembly on Wednesday demanding that they be paid compensation announced by the government.
“In addition to compensations, pensions should also be given to the next-of-kin of the victims,” said one elderly protester. The protesters moved on to the Karachi Press Club as the police didn’t allow them to approach the assembly gate. Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon, on the other hand, told the media that compensations had already been paid. to read.
* Jawad Ahmad launches video for Baldia affectees:
Famous singer Jawad Ahmed on Wednesday launched a video of his song “Sun Lo Keh Hm Mazdoor hen” here at a local hotel.
Jawad dedicated this song to the laborers killed in Baldia Town factory fire incident. On the occasion, while expressing solidarity with laborers of the world, he told that he was a laborer himself and most of the people did not know this fact. to read.
* Auditing for Fire Safety in the SA8000 & BSCI Systems:
Mandatory webinar for SA8000 & BSCI auditors and trainees to enhance competence in health & safety
On February 6, 2013, SAI released the webinar – “Auditing for Fire Safety in the SA8000 and BSCI Systems.” This webinar is a compulsory requirement for all existing SA8000 and BSCI auditors, as well as trainees in the SA8000 auditor training courses, in order for your credentials to be considered valid, and/or to receive a certificate of course completion. All SA8000 and BSCI auditors will be given until May 1, 2013 to complete this webinar, after which their credentials as a SA8000 auditor will be deemed invalid until this webinar has been completed in full.
To ensure that all SA8000 and BSCI auditors take the course promptly and to eliminate any financial obstacles, access to this webinar will be free of cost up until April 30, 2013. As of May 1, 2013, you will be required to pay a modest fee to access this webinar, to help cover the costs of long-term webinar hosting. We strongly encourage all auditors to take the course as soon as possible in order to avoid having your credentials lapse and paying a fee. read more.