17:33:15 local time THAILAND
* The good, bad and the ugly of the wage hike:
The wage increase that came into effect on Jan 1 means Thai workers will receive a daily minimum wage of 300 baht, an amount that is about 30-35% higher than in the past and three to five times higher than the minimum wage in neighbouring countries.
Many have criticised the government’s minimum wage policy as potentially “destructive”, saying it will lead to higher unemployment and price rises that will burden consumers. Others say it is about time workers got a fair wage to match the rising costs of living.
While it is too early to perfectly assess the real benefits and costs of this particular policy, the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) has conducted simulations to predict possible consequences for the economy if the 300-baht wage policy is fully implemented across the country. In this piece, we look briefly at the “Good”, the “Bad” and the “Ugly” effects of the wage hike. read more.
* Free Somyot- Reporters without boarders statement:
Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday’s refusal by a Bangkok court to free Somyos Prueksakasemsuk on bail although he has been held for six months on a lèse-majesté charge in connection with his former position as editor of Voice of Thaksin, a magazine closed in 2010.
“The new government continues to violate the principles it proclaimed,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We are sceptical about its intention to carry out the prime minister’s pledge not to abuse the lèse-majesté laws. We call on the judicial system to free Somyos and drop the charges against him.”
A member of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (which is better known as the “Red Shirts”), Somyos arrested on 30 April for refusing to identify the person who wrote two articles for Voice of Thaksin under the pen-name of Jit Polachan that allegedly defamed the king. read more.
17:33:15 local time CAMBODIA
* 20,000 workers on strike in Bavet:
An estimated 20,000 workers went on strike in Bavet for a third day Wednesday demanding better working conditions and higher salaries.
The companies affected in the Tai Seng special economic zone on the Vietnamese border were Top Sport, Best Way, Towa, Kingmaker Footwear Co, Sheico (Cambodia) Co, DK Inc, Smart Tech Co and A & J Co, sources said.
The workers, who want basic salaries of $120 to $150 as well as bonuses of $15 for transport and $30 for skilled workers, were planning to converge on Svay Rieng City Hall. to read.
* 7,000 workers from Singapore-owned company block road:
Thousands of striking workers from Singapore-owned garment maker Yung Wah Industrial (Cambodia) Co Ltd blocked National Road 21 Monday, a union official said.
Ath Thon, president of the Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said the estimated 7,000 workers were demanding unpaid salaries for January.
He said the workers had also sent a complaint to Kandal Provincial Court to prevent Yung Wah from transporting equipment from its factory in Takmao. to read.
* Thousand of Cambodian workers take to picket lines:
With the anniversary of the shooting of three garment workers at Kaoway Sports factory in Bavet town just a week away, about 5,000 workers went on strike yesterday at the Manhattan Special Economic Zone (MSEZ), where then-city governor Chhouk Bandith allegedly opened fire last year.
In a simultaneous protest yesterday, the entire workforce of Kandal province’s Yung Wah Industrial garment factory complex – about 7,000 workers – blocked the road outside the shuttered Gap supplier all day to demand their salaries, which are two months overdue.
Workers from four factories – Long Bright, Chart, and bicycle factories Smart Tech and Best Way – protested in Svay Rieng province’s MSEZ against low wages and other conditions.
“The factories don’t respect working conditions,” said Ros Savy, an employee of Long Bright. “They always fire workers.”
A worker involved in a strike last month had been forced to work overtime and in isolation, he added. Long Bright could not be reached for comment.
18:33:15 local time INDONESIA
* Unions Lash Out at Minimum Wage Reprieve for Employers:
The Alliance of Indonesian Labor Unions has threatened to sue several regional heads for granting companies exemption from having to pay the minimum wage, after officials in Jakarta, West Java, East Java, Central Java and Banten agreed to let hundreds of employers off the hook.
Some 492 companies in Jakarta have requested exemption. To date, 43 have obtained approval while 20 were denied.
“We’ll reject these decisions, we’ll fight against them and sue the governors and drag them to the PTUN [State Administrative Court],” Said Iqbal, the chairman of the alliance known as the MPBI, said in Jakarta on Tuesday. read more.
* Indorama to Build a US$185 Million Synthetic Fibers Plant:
PT Indorama Synthetics Tbk will build synthetic fibers plant worth US$185 million to substitute raw materials import to meet the need of textile industry in Indonesia.
Director General of Base Manufacturer Industry (BIM) Ministry of Industry , Panggah Susanto said the new plant to produce polyester fiber for textile industry.
“The Company will substitute polyester import for domestic needs and export the product,” said Susanto on Monday (2/11). read more.
16:33:15 local time BANGLA DESH
* 15 hurt as police, apparel workers clash:
At least 15 workers of an apparel factory at Ashulia, on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, were injured in a clash with the police on Tuesday.
The workers were holding protests against the closure of the factory for an indefinite period in the face of demonstrations of workers pressing for six-point demands, including a wage increase.
DECO Group factory workers at Jirabo clashed with the police as the police charged at them with truncheons as the workers held protests for the second consecutive day on Tuesday.
The workers began their demonstrations on Sunday demanding an increase in their wages and annual increment, factory officials said.
Witnesses said the workers had gathered at the factory in the morning and saw a notice on the gate announcing the closure of the factory for an indefinite period.
* National Garment Workers Federation Congress:
The 12th biannual Congress of the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) was held in Dhaka on 1st february.2013) with a vow to establish ‘SAFE WORKPLACE ’ , “ TRADE UNION RIGHTS “ and “ LIVING WAGE “ in Garment sector of Bangladesh.
Several thousand garment workers, mostly women, from all Garment industrial areas participated in the Congress inaugural ceremony, which was held at ‘Russell Mancha (stage)’ at Topkhana area. Presided over by NGWF President Amirul Haque Amin, the Congress was inaugurated by veteran labour leader and President of National Workers Federation Safuiqur Rahman Majumder.
The inaugural session was addressed by Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon MP, representative of Belgian trade union movement Dr Tariquzzaman and Bangladesh Garment Workers Unity Council Coordinator M Delowar Hossain. NGWF General Secretary Ms Safia Parvin gave welcome address. NGWF Joint Secretary Ms Sultana Akter conducted the Congress, which was attended by leaders of different trade union organizations. read more.
* TESCO, DFID to train owners, staffs of 100 RMG factories:
The UK-based leading retailer chain shop –TESCO– and DFID of the British government have jointly planned to provide training to the owners and mid-level staffs of more than 100 garment factories of the country at an estimated cost of US$4,80,000.
To this effect, the DFID (Department for International Development) and TESCO have already set up an apparel skill foundation (ASF) in Dhaka.
Achieving a long-term competitiveness and sustainability of the industry in Bangladesh are the main objectives of the ASF, sources said. read more.
* GSP may go on: AmCham:
Bangladesh might be able to retain the generalised system of preference for its exports to the US market, the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) said yesterday.
“Hopefully, the GSP will be re-ensured although the benefit covers a very little of Bangladesh’s exports to the US,” President of the chamber Aftab ul Islam said.
If the GSP is scrapped, Bangladesh’s image abroad will be tarnished, which will have a negative impact on the country’s exports.
read more. & read more.
16:03:15 local time INDIA
* Europe recovery signs cheer apparel exporters:
An indication by European Union buyers that they would place orders for apparels from April has come as a respite to exporters who have been hit hard by a recession in the region.
The US market is showing signs of improvement and apparel exporters clocked some good business during Christmas. In fact, textile products excluding apparel have had a good run in the overseas markets. A recovery in Europe would make apparel exporters hope for a better FY14. read more.
* GM crops: Promises outweigh perils?:
President of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh in Gujarat, Maganbhai Patel, ardently opposes cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops in India.
But on his farm in Modasa (Sabarkantha), Maganbhai harvests castor, groundnut, potatoes and well, BT Cotton, too. In a long comment on why GM crops need to be avoided at all costs, he said that after a decade of BT Cotton in Gujarat, multiple reports reveal per hectare yield is falling and fertilizer costs increasing.
However, when asked why he cultivates Bt Cotton, he says: “My dear, I don’t have an option. In Gujarat, it is difficult to get any good quality non-Bt cotton seeds.”
* Time to protect threatened Jayadhar cotton:
A few weeks ago, some members of Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) went to Savanur taluk of Haveri district and Kundagola taluk of Dharwad district, having heard that farmers in several villages continue to grow ‘Jayadhar’ cotton.
Jayadhar is a herbaceum variety that was quite popular with many rainfed cotton farmers of Karnataka and it was a variety released by University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad. While in several other parts of the country cotton used to be grown along with pigeonpea as an intercrop (especially before the advent of Bt Cotton), here, it is with chilli! Interestingly, this cultivation of Jayadhar cotton is in the vicinity of the seed industry’s strongholds in Davanagere and close to the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad. read more.
* India to produce 35mn cotton bales this year:
The cotton crop for 2012-13 season (October-September) from India is placed at 35.375 million bales (170 kgs each).
In a recent estimate, Mumbai based – The Cotton Association of India (CAI) has estimated India’s cotton crop for this season (October 2012-September 2013) to be at 35.375 million bales.
The total supply during this season will be 41.896 million bales. The domestic consumption is estimated to be 27.1 million bales.
According to Dhiren Sheth, President of CAI, “Cotton crop looks promising despite reduction in cotton acreage.”
The opening stock for this season (2012-13) will be 5.32 million bales. With imports of 1.2 million bales, the total supply will be 41.896 million bales.
Compared to last year, the total production will come down by 1.95 million bales.
* Indian textile machinery makers eye 15% growth by 2014:
Indian textile machinery manufacturers are eyeing 15 percent growth by the end of 2014 due to the rise in demand for textile machineries in domestic as well as in international markets.
Secretary of the Mumbai-based Textile Machinery Manufacturers Association (TMMA), Mr. S. Chakraborthy told fibre2fashion, “We are hoping for a likely growth of 15 percent by the end of 2014 due to increase in demand for textile machineries in domestic and international markets.” read more.
16:03:15 local time SRI LANKA
* Sri Lanka Marxist unions commence campaign against rising cost of living:
Trade unions affiliated to Sri Lanka’s Marxist party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) have commenced a campaign against the government’s failure to address the rising cost of living.
The NTUC’s campaign has commenced with an island wide poster campaign while the public and private sector trade unions have also commenced campaigns demanding the government to increase the minimum salary of the workers.
The National Trade Union Center (NTUC) says working masses from all sectors are badly hit by the sky rocketing cost of living. read more.
15:33:15 local time PAKISTAN
THE KARACHI-BALDIA FIRE:
* Incomplete preparations: Baldia fire victims’ burial delayed:
The mass burial of the remaining unidentified bodies of the Baldia factory fire has been delayed, a spokesperson for the Edhi Foundation Anwar Kazmi told The Express Tribune.
Last week, the provincial health minister, Dr Sagheer Ahmed, had announced that the remaining 17 unidentified bodies of the Baldia fire would be buried on Sunday. However, the officials failed to make any arrangements for the funeral which led to the delay.
“The authorities didn’t get back to me and the burial has been delayed,” he said. “I’m waiting for the clearance.” More than 250 people had died in the Baldia inferno out of which 17 unidentified bodies had been lying at the Edhi morgue since last September. to read.