17:51:19 local time VIET NAM
* Textile industry to earn 20 billion USD early:
If the export growth of Vietnam’s textile and garment industry remains between 12 and 15%, the sector will reach its target of 20 billion USD in 2014 ahead of the 2015 deadline, according to the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS).
VITAS Vice Chairman Le Tien Truong said that despite a 5-10% decrease in export prices in 2012, total exports still rose by 15%.
The industry’s trade surplus was 8.4 billion USD last year as imported materials accounted for only 8.8 billion USD of the total export value of 17.2 billion USD, he added.
The textile and garment industry has already achieved its 2015 goal to source 50% of raw materials domestically.
It expects to earn 18.8-19.3 billion USD this year. to read.
17:51:19 local time LAOS
* Factory worker claims overtime pay is denied:
A woman working at a garment factory in X aythany district, Vientiane, has alleged that her employer forces staff to work more than the official eight hours a day without any overtime payment.
She said their employer sets production targets that workers are required to meet each day. Those who fail to do so have to work beyond official working hours without being paid at the overtime rate. The woman claimed that the targets set were unreasonable and were beyond the reach of many workers within the eight hour work day.
In this situation, the emplo yer benefits through increased output while minimising costs, making the business more lucrative. read more.
17:51:19 local time CAMBODIA
* Report says Ngo factory initiative a failure:
Hamstrung by its own confidential reporting system and an unwillingness to take a stand on rampant labour issues, the International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) initiative is no longer a “best practice” model for improving conditions in garment factories, a report by a leading US university says.
Monitoring in the Dark: An Evaluation of the International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Monitoring and Reporting Program, released yesterday, says workers have lost confidence in BFC, founded in 2001, partly because its factory reporting process catered more to the needs of brands and bosses than theirs.
“BFC’s current operating practices… contribute to the program’s under-effectiveness, due primarily to a glaring lack of transparency and an institutional over-emphasis on protecting the interests of factory owners and international buyers, rather than responding to appeals from garment workers to protect them from abuse,” the report says. read more.
* Workers continue strike as wage talks delayed to next week:
Workers in the border town of Bavet continued a week-long strike Monday after a meeting to discuss wage increases was delayed for a second time to next week.
Sources said all workers left the Tai Seng and Manhattan special economic zones after working for an hour.
The next meeting of workers, union leaders and employers will be held Tuesday next week with officials from the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, the sources said.
The workers want their basic salaries of $61 to be raised to between $120 and $150 a month. They are also demanding bonuses of $15 for transport and $30 for skilled workers. read more.
* Some Bavet workers expected to resume work on Tuesday:
Some of the thousands of striking workers in the border town of Bavet are expected to resume work on Tuesday, the director of the Department of Labor and Vocational Training says.
In an interview Monday with Cambodia Express News, an affiliate of The Cambodia Herald, Has Bunthy said the strikes since last week had involved eight companies.
“Long Bright Company had a discussion yesterday and both sides agreed that work would resume but the workers are allowed to have a break until Wednesday,” he said.
“This morning, we solved a problem with a Japanese company called DK Inc and the workers have agreed to resume work tomorrow,” the director added.
He said the Svay Rieng governor was also planning to issue an appeal Monday for workers to resume work.
“We will solve the problem company by company,” the official said.
“However, the request for increasing salaries remains unsolved,” he said. “The companies … have to wait for a decision by the Cambodian government on this. The request for the increase in salaries will be discussed at the national level with the Ministry of Labor.” read more.
18:51:19 local time INDONESIA
* Indonesia launches blueprint to boost apparel industry:
The Government of Indonesia has launched a blueprint to boost the country’s apparel and fashion industry.
17:21:19 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Myanmar garment factories gear up for foreign investment:
The Myanmar Garment Entrepreneurs Association has said that some local garment enterprises are changing their business tactics to appeal to foreign investors.
Dr. Aung Win, vice chairman of the association said, “Over the past month, 10 or 15 locally-run garment enterprises have been developing their business tactics to appeal to foreign investment. We should welcome this kind of thing.”
Local garment entrepreneurs have told Mizzima that hundreds of foreign garment enterprises have been attracted by Myanmar’s tax breaks. read more.
16:51:19 local time BANGLA DESH
* AFL-CIO further asks USTR to withdraw BD’s GSP facility:
The AFL-CIO has further called on the USTR to withdraw Bangladesh’s GSP facility in view of the country’s insignificant progress towards ensuring safety measures and labour rights in apparel and shrimp industries.
American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO) made the request recently against the backdrop of Bangladesh’s submission to the USTR for continuation of GSP facility in the US market. read more.
* Protecting GSP: Bangladesh stand:
As the threat of scrapping the US generalised system of preferences (GSP) looms large on the economy, the county’s export sector as a whole is worried about the outcome of the hearing late next month.
The USTR (United States Trade Representative) hearing on the subject will be held on March 28 when Bangladesh will be required to not only defend its position on alleged charges – mainly on labour rights — but also present its position in a way that should be able to further consolidate its trade and economic linkages with the second largest trading partner, the USA next to the EU countries combined.
As it has been well covered by the media, the issue has been doing the rounds for sometime, sparked by the Tazreen Fashions blaze which posed serious questions regarding workers’ safety in the country’s garment factories.
Coupled with it are the unresolved killing of labour activist Aminul Islam and an overall perception about the sordid labour rights scenario in the country’s garment sector.
The move from the USTR came in response to a petition from the largest federation of unions in the United States AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations) asking for tough actions for labour rights violation in Bangladesh through scrapping of the GSP benefits. read more.
* Another plot to destabilise RMG sector? :
A growing incidence of food poisoning is making BGMEA leaders restive to find out what are the causes behind the sudden outbreak of the attack through foods served from RMG factory canteens.
Leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) have expressed concerns over the growing incidents; which are mainly taking place at Ashulia industrial belt in the outskirt of the city.
They are not sure what are the causes but apprehending there might be a plot to destabilise the country’s largest export sector; which is just returning to normalcy after the Tazreen fire incidence.
BGMEA sources said more than 1000 workers fell sick in separate incidents of food poisoning over the last ten days at different garments units in the Ashulia industrial belt which is home to 350 highly modern and safety compliant factories. read more.
* BGMEA concerned over rumour on ‘maternity leave’ :
The Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the apex body of the apparel makers, has expressed concern over the propaganda on maternity leave issue of the workers saying that a ‘vested quarter’ is trying to incite trouble in the industry afresh.
Garment industry is regarded as the backbone of Bangladesh economy, which earned $17.91 billion from export during the last fiscal, accounting for nearly 80 per cent of the country’s export basket.
“We’re watching the situation with deep concern that a ‘vested quarter’ is hatching conspiracy again by spreading rumours cashing the maternity leave issue with an ill motive to create anarchy in the largest export sector,” Md Shafiul Islam (Mohiuddin), President of BGMEA told The New Nation on Friday. read more.
16:21:19 local time INDIA
* Needled by poor working conditions, they protest:
Over 100 women workers demand minimum wages, social security and dignity at the workplace
Over 100 women working in the garment industry, and as domestic labourers and agricultural workers, gathered on Monday, demanding minimum wages, social security and dignity at the workplace.
The women, under the banner of the Penn Thozhilalargal Sangam, sought steps such as institution of a minimum wage for women engaged for domestic help and in garment factories, extension of ESI facilities to workers in the informal sector and enforcement of the Supreme Court’s Vishakha guidelines on dealing with sexual harassment at the workplace.
Speaking at the protest, workers highlighted their difficult working conditions and the failure of authorities to implement steps to address their problems. read more.
* Jute industries likely to face indefinite strike:
The limping jute industry of West Bengal seems to be hurtling towards an indefinite strike. Twenty jute trade unions have submitted a 49 point charter demanding an effective 118 per cent hike in the worker’s minimum wages from Rs 206 per day to Rs 450 per day.
According to industry estimates, it will entail an annual industry outgo of around Rs 1260 crore. The estimated cost of producing one ton of jute bag will go up by Rs 34.44p and production cost by Rs 9840/ ton. Industry insiders said, as per union demands they would have to pay Rs 17810 / month instead of the present Rs 11,414/ month. It include all nine statutory benefits and allowances in addition to basic and dearness allowance.
However, the state labour department has not called any tripartite meeting as yet.The trade unios are waiting to see how the jute mills respond to their demands. The jute miilers feel that the unions might resort to arms twisting tactics by seving the 14 days notice for strike once the tripartitie meeting breaks down. read more.
* Trade unions’ strike: UPA govt ‘threatens’ employees of ‘consequences’ :
Ahead of the proposed two-day strike by central trade unions beginning Wednesday, the UPA government has warned employees of “consequences” including deduction in wages and disciplinary action if they take part in the protest.
In a stern directive, the Department of Personnel and Training has written to secretaries of all central government ministries not to sanction any kind of leave to employees during the period of the proposed strike.
It has also asked the concerned departments to make a report indicating the number of employees who take part in the proposed strike and convey it to the DoPT on the evening of the day. read more.
* Govt-trade unions talks fail, stir as scheduled on Feb.20, 21:
The talks held by the government with the representatives of 11 Central trade unions here on Monday night to urge the unions to withdraw the February 20, 21 nation-wide strike call has failed and the unions have announced that the protest will be held as scheduled.
INTUC president G. Sanjeeva Reddy, who participated in the talks, told The Hindu that the government representatives — Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge — had wanted the unions to postpone the strike and said their demands could be discussed later in detail. read more.
* Trade unions firm on strike call:
Ignoring Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s appeal to call off the proposed two-day strike, central trade unions on Monday remained firm on their call even after union leaders met with three senior Union ministers on Monday night.
While the ministers offered to look into the demands of the striking unions, with no talk of concrete assurances, the 11 unions cutting across party lines decided to go ahead with the 48-hour strike on February 20 and 21.
The PM had made an appeal on Sunday to all the 11 trade unions to withdraw their call for a nation-wide strike from February 20, saying it would cause loss to the economy and inconvenience to the general public. read more.
* Unions geared up for two-day bandh:
Rival unions have joined hands to take part in the nation-wide general strike – shutdown of industries, transport and other sectors on February 20 and 21.
As MLC election is also falling on February 21, the district administration is taking no chance and holding consultation with the department/agency concerned to ensure hassle-free elections for MLC from Teachers’ Constituency.
District Collector V. Seshadri told The Hindu that they were in touch with all departments concerned to ensure smooth conduct of elections. Forcible enforcement of bandh would not be allowed, a police officer said.
Major trade unions have announced their support for the strike against price-rise, inflation, disinvestment, minimum pay of Rs.10,000 for contract workers and social security measures for workers engaged in unorganised labour.
Unions affiliated to Left parties as well as INTUC are supporting the strike.
However, they said emergency services like milk, power, water supply, newspaper distribution and medical services would be exempted from the purview of the bandh. “We don’t expect any problem for milk supply. In the past also never we had any problem for distribution of milk through various booths,” an official of Visakha Dairy said. read more.
* Major fire at mill in Pali:
A major fire broke out at the Maharaja Shree Umaid Mill Limited in Pali on Monday afternoon. The stored material being highly inflammable, the fire spread quickly and engulfed a large area of the premises.
Besides those from Pali, fire tenders from Jodhpur and Sojat city were also roped in. The cause of fire has not yet been ascertained. No loss of life or injury was reported in this accident.
According to a police, fire broke out in the mill godown around 3.30pm. “This godown was stuffed with cotton balls, which are highly inflammable. Thus, causing the fire to spread quickly,” he said.
The fire was raging and uncontrollable and fire tenders from Pali alone could not douse it. “We had to call more fire tenders from Jodhpur and Sojat city,” official said.
Still the fire could not be doused by late evening.
“Though the cause of the fire could not be ascertained but it appears that some labourer was smoking in the godown,” said the officer, adding that we immediately evacuated the premises to ensure that there was no loss to human life. to read.
15:51:19 local time PAKISTAN
* Textile sector needs govt focus to stabilize economy:
For the last few years the textile industry is virtually in the grip of severe challenges at home as well as abroad in the face of endless energy crisis as well as competing to international prices due to high cost of inputs with in the country.
Textile circles said that textile exports volume dropped by 60 percent as compared to last year in world’s renowned Heimtextil exhibition in Germany, Pakistan has yet to qualify for GSP plus in the EU market which calls for immediate home work in consultation with the textile producing provinces.
Heimtextil being the biggest international trade fair for home textiles and a global benchmark for quality design textiles and have great importance for Pakistani textile exporters, as retailers around the globe visit this fair for new fashion trends and to place their orders. Pakistani exporters were getting about 25 million dollars export orders every year in Heimtextil but this year got only 3 million dollars order due to severe energy shortage and non fulfillment of previous orders on time. read more.
* Strike adversely affects business activities on cotton market:
Strike affected business activities on the cotton market on Monday as most of the traders failed to reach their destination, dealers said.
The official spot price remained unchanged at 6,250, they said. Seed cotton prices in Sindh ranged between Rs 2200-2800 and in the Punjab rates Rs 2300-3000, they said. In the ready business, nearly 1600 bales of cotton changed hand between Rs 6200-7000, they said.
No business activity was seen today as almost all participants could not reach destination, cotton analyst, Naseem Usman said. Law and order situation paralysed routine life in Karachi. The following deals were reported: 600 bales from Saleh Pak at Rs 6250, 400 bales from Rahim Yar Khan at Rs 6500 and 600 bales from Sadiqabad at the same level, they said. read more.
* Massive misuse of sales tax zero-rating regime: over 90 percent of textile giants, leading companies to face action:
Over 90 percent of the textile giants and leading companies would face legal action including registration of FIRs/arrests etc for massive misuse of sales tax-zero rating regime under SRO.283(I)2011 and SRO.1125(I)/2011.
Sources told Business Recorder here on Monday that major textile units involved in tax fraud would have to face stern without any relaxation. Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation Inland Revenue (IR) has launched investigation in a systematic manner to take action against fraudulent units.
The primary focus of the agency is on the units to whom fake/flying sales tax invoices were issued by textile companies. Big textile companies have created these ‘name lending- units’. read more.