22:18:32 local time CHINA
* China’s textile industry performance in 2012: An overview:
Labour costs of the Chinese textile industry increased in 2012, and 67.1 percent of the …
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* China’s ‘world factory’ status will not be replaced:
In recent years, as China replaced Japan as the second largest trading country in the world, and became the second largest industrial manufacturing country in the world after the United States, its international status as the “world factory” is gradually solidified.
However, compared with 10 years ago, China’s labor cost advantage has significantly weakened. Part of the manufacturing industry is shifting to Southeast Asia. Coupled with accelerated process of “re-industrialization” in developed countries, China’s manufacturing industry is faced with new challenges. In this regard, People’s Daily Online interviewed the Director of the Institute of Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Pei Changhong.
Vietnam has replaced China as largest producer of Nike shoes
Q: What new challenges will China’s manufacturing industry be facing as economic development in developing countries accelerate and labor-intensive industries shift to the Southeast Asian countries?
Pei: Compared with some neighboring countries, China’s traditional comparative advantage of low labor costs is gradually subsided. According to data of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), labor costs in China have a substantial increase of nearly four times in the recent 10 years.
The labor cost per unit hour increased from 0.6 U.S. dollar in 2000 to 2.9 U.S. dollars in 2011, a rate equivalent to 1.5 times that of Thailand, 2.5 times that of the Philippines, and 3.5 times that of Indonesia. Resource costs represented by land also rose sharply. In late 2011, the overall level of land price of the nation’s major monitored urban area was 3,049 yuan per square meter, which is 2.4 times of the price at the end of 2005.
In this context, two new trends have emerged in the flow of world manufacturing industry. read more.
22:18:32 local time PHILIPPINES
* Lower demand pulls down Philippine abaca exports:
21:18:32 local time CAMBODIA
* Cambodian garment workers union calls for $150 monthly minimum wage:
CAMPAIGNERS URGE FASHION BRANDS TO SUPPORT MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE
Consumers and activists across Europe are mobilising on the streets and on social media this week to ask major high street fashion brands to support a minimum wage increase for garment workers in Cambodia.
To bring the shocking reality of workers suffering from malnutrition and children left in poverty to the attention of major retailers, the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) will collect petition signatures outside popular stores. The petition will ask brands to support a higher minimum wage for workers in their Cambodian production facilities.
The actions lead up to negotiations due to take place next week, when Cambodian trade unions will negotiate with government and industry officials in an attempt to raise the minimum wage.
Due to rapidly escalating living costs for workers in the Cambodian garment industry, unions say the current minimum wage of $61 per month simply isn’t enough. Over 90% of Cambodia’s garment workers are women, aged 18-35, many have children and families to provide for on very low wages, and many are now suffering from malnutrition and live in dire poverty.
The Cambodian Allied Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) are asking for the minimum wage to go up from $61 to $150 a month. The Clean Clothes Campaign have put their support behind this figure, pointing to evidence that shows that a ‘living wage’ is more than 4 times the current minimum.
Athit Kong, Vice President of the Cambodian trade union C.CADWU said “The rising food and fuel costs have left many workers in need. C.CAWDU is calling for $150 minimum wage, which is achievable and very necessary.”
In the aftermath of a Swedish documentary focusing on H&M’s production in Cambodia, broadcast last Autumn, H&M’s representatives repeatedly acknowledged the fact that garment workers’ wages in Cambodia are too low and that there is a need to increase the minimum wage. H&M have also stated that workers should be able to live on what they earn and that the minimum wage should provide the basis
for a decent livelihood.
“Major fashion brands, who often say that a minimum wage increase is the only fair way for wages to go up, must take this opportunity to act,” said Jeroen Merk from the International Clean Clothes Campaign.
“We’re calling on brands such as H&M to ‘put their money where their mouth is’ and publicly support a significant wage increase that could curb poverty for Cambodian workers.”
Gap, Zara and Levi’s also source a significant number products from factories in Cambodia and Clean Clothes Campaign are all asking these brands to add their support to the negotiations.
The Clean Clothes Campaign, as part of its ‘No More Excuses’ living wage initiative, will continue to ask H&M to make long-term efforts to work for a genuine living wage in its supply chain, by adopting a concrete action plan with timelines, benchmarks and a follow up procedure.
To find out more information about the ‘No More Excuses’ campaign and to join the call on fashion brands to stop making excuses, please visit livingwage.cleanclothes.org
* The documentary about H&M’s sourcing factories in Cambodia is
available here .
* GMAC president rejects unreasonable wage demand:
Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia President Van Sou Ieng said Tuesday that demands to boost the minimum wage from $61 to $150 a month were unreasonable.
Van said “no place” would agree to such a wage increase. “We increase salaries based on inflation which is between 5 and 10 percent a year. The price of goods doesn’t increase by 100 percent,” he said.
“Investors will turn to other countries such as Myanmar if they fear investing in Cambodia because of so many strikes.”
Van noted that three factories had already closed this year. He added that the clothing and footwear sector currently had about 400 factories employing 600,000 workers with exports running at about $4 billion a year.
The comments by Van coincided with a two-day meeting of 75 trade union groups which opened Tuesday to discuss a joint position ahead of wage negotiations next week. read more.
* Hun Sen Orders Workers Compensated:
Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has promised to compensate thousands of garment workers demanding back pay they say they are owed since their factory owner fled the country to escape mounting debt, according to officials.
Around 7,000 workers in Kandal province from the Yung Wah Industrial Complex, which supplies western clothing retailer Gap, blocked traffic on National Road 21B in Takhmao town for two straight days last week to back their demands for more than two months of salary by the company’s Singaporean owner, who fled the country in December. read more.
22:18:32 local time INDONESIA
* Indonesian Adidas workers speak out:
On Feb. 14, two Indonesian workers accompanied by their translator, Rebecca Gluckstein, came to Wayne State to tell their story of the Adidas corporation’s refusal to pay almost $2 million dollars in severance pay to their workers at a factory called PT Kizone.
PT Kizone was a clothing factory located in Tangerang, Indonesia that produced clothing for Adidas, according to a United Students Against Sweatshops flyer. The factory employed about 2,800 workers, most of whom were paid $0.60 per hour on average. to read.
* Workers Protest Bills on Mass Organizations, National Security:
Hundreds of labor union members demonstrated in front on the House of Representatives’ building on Tuesday, demanding that the controversial bills on mass organizations and national security be dropped from the legislature’s docket.
“We demand the mass organizations and national security bills to be dropped because the existence of both regulations would put us, the laborers, in a very difficult position, just like in the New Order era,” said Baris Silitonga, the demonstration’s coordinator. read more.
20:48:32 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Myanmar workers protest against lack of healthcare at factory in Jordan:
Myanmar workers at a garment factory in Jordan have been protesting since last Wednesday over what they say are unhealthy and exploitative working conditions, but government officials here said yesterday they had not yet heard about the protest.
“The information has not reached us yet,” said Thet Naing Oo, an assistant director at the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security. He said the ministry usually worked through Myanmar embassies to assist workers overseas if it was informed of any workers involved in a dispute.
Myanmar does not, however, have an embassy in Jordan.
The protest at CNJ garment factory followed an outbreak of diarrhea believed to be the result of food poisoning, online reports said. The more than 40 workers who got sick were forced to continue working, online reports said. read more.
20:18:32 local time BANGLA DESH
ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* Most families of Tazreen victims get no compensation:
Most of the families of 112 workers died in fire at Tazreen Fashions in November 2012 have yet to get any damages.
The families of only 53 of the 112 victims have received compensation although 103 of the victims have so far been identified.
The families of the 53 compensated victims, however, said that they were yet to get the full package of the compensation promised by the government, Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association and other authorities concerned Even the families of nine of the 62 identified victims listed by the prime minister’s office have yet to get the compensation.
The nine victims were Aynal of Ashulia, Fatema of Madhupur in Tangail, Sima Begum of Sariakandi in Bogra, Rupsha of Rangpur, Nasrin Bewa of Chauhali in Sirajganj, Bulbuli of Sonatala in Bogra, Juleka Begum of Chatmohar in Pabna, and Morsheda Begum and Anowara Begum of Mithapukur in Rangpur. read more.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* American unions vs. Bangladesh’s workers:
Bangladesh has faced a military dictatorship and Islamist threats in the last decade, yet its economy keeps growing at 6 per cent a year.
That’s no small feat, and much credit goes to its garment exporters, who are even starting to edge out Chinese manufacturers. But now a potential move by the U.S. to restrict market access threatens this trade-fueled growth.
At issue is Dhaka’s duty-free status under a WTO program known as the Generalized System of Preferences that gives poor countries special tariff treatment on select imports. The office of the U.S. Trade Representative is reconsidering Bangladesh’s GSP privileges because it says Dhaka isn’t paying enough attention to worker rights. Trade officials plan to hold a hearing in March.
Less than 1 per cent of Bangladesh’s $5 billion of annual exports to the U.S. falls under Washington’s GSP program, but the stakes are still high. Revoking a country’s GSP benefits sends powerful signals about its business conditions. Multinationals that source clothes from Bangladesh may reconsider, as could the European Union, which buys Bangladesh garments worth around $8 billion a year, mostly under the EU’s GSP program. Washington has exercised this option rarely, recently against Argentina for not paying arbitration awards to U.S. companies.
The only winners would be unions such as the AFL-CIO, which is responsible for putting Bangladesh in the dock. U.S. officials have to certify that a GSP beneficiary meets certain criteria on labor rights, and the U.S. trade rep began reviewing Bangladesh in 2007 because the AFL-CIO petitioned that Dhaka didn’t let workers unionize easily. The labor group has kept beating this drum, petitioning again in October. read more.
* Dhaka trying hard to uphold labour rights:
Commerce minister GM Quader Tuesday expressed his optimism that the United States Trade Representative (USTR) would be convinced and understand
that Bangladesh is trying hard to uphold the labour rights and substantial progress has been made in the area of freedom of workers’ association.
“We cannot provide the freedom of labour rights as prescribed by the western countries because of our social perspectives which are much different,” said the minister while addressing an award giving ceremony among the winners of environmental compliance programmes.
The prize distribution programme was organized by the BGMEA and held at a city hotel.
“We cannot allow the freedom which will lead to closing the industry,” said the minister highlighting the urgency to comprehend the country’s social conditions where, he said, people first need job. “We cannot ensure equal standard of food and water that the workers enjoy in the USA and EU,” said the minister.
The minister, however, pointed out that the workers in most of the factories are enjoying their rights, except a few factories.
“We are not able at this moment to enforce enhanced safety standards and labour rights in those (cottage) factories. But we do not also discourage them to upgrade their standards. We are trying to bring them under safety clauses,” said the minister referring to a ministerial committee that was formed to look after the compliance issues.
The minister also urged all, including garment makers, to work united to improve safety standards and other social compliance as well as environment issues in factories. read more.
* Quader hopes for retention of US GSP facilities:
Commerce minister GM Quader on Tuesday hoped that the Generalised System of Preferences for Bangladeshi products entering the US market would be retained.
The minister said that he was very much confident that the government would be able to convince the United States Trade Representative that Bangladesh was not against establishing workers’ rights.
Urging the US to realise the social and economic conditions of Bangladesh, he said, ‘If we can survive today we will really go up to your standard within a short time.’
Quader was speaking at the award ceremony of an environmental compliance programme organised by the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association at a city hotel.
He said that after the tragic incident at Tazreen Fashions that killed 122 workers, the garment sector, especially the buyers came under severe criticism. read more.
* GSP to continue for BD, hopes G M Quader:
Bangladesh is optimistic about retention of the GSP facility in the US market, as it is gradually making improvement in fulfilling required compliances and ensuring workers’ rights in the garment factories, Commerce Minister G M Quader said Tuesday.
“We are hopeful that we will be able to convince the United States Trade Representative (USTR),” he said.
Bangladesh has submitted its opinions on the generalised system of preferences (GSP) facility to the USTR, and hopefully the US would consider these positively, he added.
Explaining Bangladesh’s situation he said the social perspective of the country is different from that of the EU and the US.
“We can’t have the standards like the EU or the US. We hope they will consider the situation.”
The minister was speaking at a programme in the city, where 25 garment factories were awarded for maintaining high standards of environmental compliance.
* 25 garment companies get awards for eco-compliance:
Twenty-five garment factories were awarded yesterday for being environmentally-compliant by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and SouthAsia Enterprise Development Facility.
The BGMEA and SEDF selected the awardees in a joint environmental compliance programme of two years, where 250 factories with operations on washing, dyeing and finishing were assessed on environmental standards.
Launched in 2011, the programme was done on waste-water treatment control, air-emission, noise and sound, cleaner production, sludge management, chemicals and hazardous materials management by the factories. read more.
* Hall-Mark chair Jesmin lands in jail again:
A court here on Tuesday sent Hall-Mark Group chairman Jasmine Islam to jail rejecting her bail prayer in 11 graft cases filed by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).
19:48:32 local time INDIA
* Tannery workers protest closure:
Thousands of tannery workers staged a massive protest in Jajmau area of the city here on Monday to protest against the two-month closure of tanneries during Mahakumbh in Allahabad.
Raising slogans against the government and UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), demonstrators assembled in Jajmau and discussed future course of action.
Convener of ‘Tannery Malik and Mazdoor Sangharsh Morcha’ Babu Bhai and local corporator Shamim Azad addressed the gathering. Azad said, “Nearly 400 tanneries are being shut down, and that too without any fault of theirs.” He questioned why other water-based units operational in and around Kanpur were not targeted and pointed out that thousands of people have been left unemployed by the decision.
Babu Bhai said, “If the decision is not rolled back, we would organise a march to Lucknow on February 21.” Saud Ahmed, a tannery owner said, “Most of the tanneries are equipped with treatment plant and those not having the facility are sending its wastes to KNN run STP’s and PTP’s.”
He added that the tannery owners were being made scapegoat for the failure of Kanpur Nagar Nigam. The tannery owner mentioned that KNN has failed to regulate the treatment plant but the axe has fallen on tanneries and their employees.
* Textile Mills Association demand waiver of entry tax:
Madhya Pradesh Textile Mills Association ( MPTMA) has demanded complete waiver of entry tax on raw materials so as to make the textile industry in the state competitive.
In its plea to the union and state finance ministers prior to presentation to the budgets, the association said entry tax is making textile units in the state unviable as the cost of yarn and finish products go up as compared to neighbouring states like Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra where there is waiver in entry tax while states like West Bengal and Tamil Nadu do not levy any entry tax.
The association has demanded that value added tax (VAT) on all kinds of yarn should be brought down to 2% from the current 5%. What is happening is the fact that the industries have to pay a central sales tax (CST) of 2% in case the yarn was being purchased from other states, whereas they are asked to pay VAT of 5% if they purchase it from within the state. read more.
* Mumbai braces for massive workers’ procession:
Over two lakh workers from all over Maharashtra are expected to join a protest march led by the Shiv Sena Monday ahead of the proposed two-day all India strike called by various trade unions later this week.
With workers arriving in Mumbai from across the state, traffic jams began from early in the morning. The workers will assembly at Byculla, and march to Azad Maidan about five kilometres away.
The march is to protest rising inflation, increased privatisation, erosion of job security, the government’s anti-labour policies and the rise of contractual arrangements among other things. read more.
* Mixed response to trade unions strike:
The 48-hour general strike called by the trade unions on February 20 and 21 has had little effect in West Bengal but in Kerala the strike hits normal life.
There was little impact of the two-day strike called by central trade unions on the first day on Wednesday in West Bengal with situation being normal and peaceful across the state.
Shops and markets were mostly open in the metropolis.
Private buses and taxis were less, though state buses were present in large number on the roads, police sources said.
Barring blockades at Hasnabad and Diamond sections of the Eastern Railway, train services were normal in Howrah and Sealdah divisions, the sources said.
* Trade union strike: Normal life hit in Kerala:
The 48-hour nationwide strike called by central trade unions hit normal life across Kerala today with workers from varied sectors, including transport and banking, staying away from work to protest the UPA government’s economic and labour policies.
Early reports said buses and taxis were off the roads and shops and restaurants remained closed. Train services were not affected.
The Congress-led UDF government has declared ‘dies non’ (no work, no pay) as pro-Left service and teachers unions are also striking work.
Security has been tightened and no violence has been reported from anywhere. Police have offered protection to those willing to work and public conveyances ready to ply, police sources said. read more.
* Hits & misses of the strike:
Normal life will be disrupted in Bangalore as elsewhere in the state as the two-day general strike called by 11 central trade unions kicks in. Schools and colleges are closed, while BMTC and KSRTC buses are off the roads on Wednesday, and autorickshaws will stretch it to Thursday.
PSU banks will be completely shut during the two-day strike. Large banks in the private sector will, however, function. State and central government offices, including utilities like public hospitals, will not be affected.
The strike that is set to cripple the nation is in protest against the policies of the UPA government. It is being called by a rainbow coalition of central trade unions affiliated to all major political formations, including the Congress, BJP and Left parties.
There are around 10 demands the trade unions are fighting for. The main issues the workers plan to protest against are the price rise, economic policies of the government like FDI in retail, and for issues like social welfare for labourers and a uniform minimum monthly wage of Rs 10,000. read more.
* Trade unions’ strike likely to be total:
Holiday declared for schools, colleges; public transport to be hit severely
The two-day strike beginning on Wednesday, called by an umbrella of major Indian trade unions across sectors, is likely to be total, with the government declaring a holiday for government and government-aided schools and colleges in Bangalore and transport corporation employees joining in. Schools and colleges in most of the other districts too will remain closed.
A majority of private schools have gone a step further and declared a holiday on both days. All four road transport corporation buses will remain off the road from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Since autorickshaw drivers’ unions have also joined the strike, public transport is likely to take a severe hit. Home Minister R. Ashok has appealed to the union to “not inconvenience commuters”. read more.
19:48:32 local time SRI LANKA
* Sri Lanka to open first garment factory in rebel stronghold:
The Ministry of Economic Development of Sri Lanka will open the first garment factory established under the Northern Spring (Uthuru Wasanthaya) programme in the former rebel stronghold of Kilinochchi.
The Ministry said all arrangements are in place to open the factory within the next few days. Once opened the factory is expected to provide employment to over 2,000 youth in the region.
Colombo based MAS Holdings, a leading apparel producer, has set up the new factory in Kilinochchi as a part of its MAS Active group, the competition and casual sportswear and performance wear manufacturing arm, with the support of USAID organization. According to the Ministry, the MAS Active expects to produce about 100,000 garments pieces monthly and the employees are already receiving training.
* With abolishing of GSP+ 186 garment factories closed:
The abolishing of GSP + concessions has led to the shut down of 186 garment factories the joint- Secretary of the FTZ and GSEU , Mr. Anton Marcus told ‘ Mirror’. He pointed out that almost 217,000 workers lost their their jobs.
In 2000, SL had 835 garment factories and in 2004 it had been reduced to 500.
In the year 2000, those who had employment in the garment trade exceeded one million and now the figure had dropped to 283,000.
However, Mr. Marcus pointed out that the income from the garment industry had not gone down since less workers are working more to offset the drop in those employed. read more.
* FSP hits out at Govt. over loss of GSP:
“The people of Sri Lanka must grasp the political motives hidden beneath talks of ‘economic destruction by hit men’ and ‘presence of sufficient external reserves to say no to the International Monetary Fund (IMF),'” Pubudu Jagoda, Propaganda Secretary of the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP), said yesterday.
Addressing the media in Colombo, Jagoda said, “Under the facade of ‘opposing interference by imperialistic countries’ on the government is trying to cover up the economic downturn that has taken hold of the country.”
Speaking on the loss of employment in the Apparel Sector, as a result of losing the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP)+ tax relief, Jagoda said, “Around 186 apparel factories have been shut down, leading to 217,000 employees losing their jobs. Several ministers say that the government must seek the assistance of the European Union (EU) in this regard while others say that we shouldn’t come under the shadow of imperialism.”
* Multiple achievements in handloom industry:
Sri Lanka’s Handloom Taskforce — the pioneering mechanism setup to revive the sector and to promote Ceylon Handlooms brand globally, has trumped its first year milestone with multiple achievements, according to Industry and Commerce Minister, Rishad Bathiudeen.
“In just one year of its operations and using less than US$ 70,000 the taskforce has successfully hit multiple targets, specifically, expanding the much needed private sector involvement for which I commend it,” said Bathiudeen. read more.
19:18:32 local time PAKISTAN
* Govt should immediately apply for GSP plus:
Pakistan should immediately apply to European Union (EU) to qualify for the grant of Generalized System of Preference (GSP) plus status under the new GSP regulations, said Mian Zahid Aslam, President Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI).
Talking to newsmen, he said that EU is the largest trading partner of Pakistan with 60 percent of our exports of textile and clothing to EU originating from here. EU has already granted Autonomous Trade Preference (ATP) Package to Pakistani exporters from Nov 01, 2012, he added.
He maintained that new GSP regulations offer an excellent opportunity for Pakistan’s relations with the EU in terms of trade, political and on economic front and Pakistan should make hard efforts to qualify for EU’s new GSP regime to come into force from January 01, 2014, to be valid for seven to eight years. read more.