in the news on-line, 22 February 2013

06:34:13 local time map of china CHINA

* Workers’ rights in China important for everyone: Chinese labour leader:

Hong Kong-based Chinese dissident Han Dongfang, has said that independent labour unions were helping raise aspirations in China, and this would have its benefits in Australia.

Han, who was expelled from China 20 years ago after forming the Beijing Workers’ Autonomous Federation – the country’s first non-state-controlled union – lives in Hong Kong and edits the China Labour Bulletin, which he founded.  read more.
ManufacturesMONTHLY

05:34:13 local time map of laos LAOS

* Minimum wage increase remains unpaid, despite new ruling:

Many businesses, notably garment factories, are failing to comply with an increase in the minimum wage paid to workers, which came into effect on January 1.

The government announced that the monthly minimum wage would increase from 348,000 kip to 626,000 kip.
The announcement stated that an unskilled worker must be paid a monthly minimum wage of 626,000 kip together with any supporting allowances previously received, such as for lunch, good performance and social welfare benefits.

The refusal by employers to increase the wage as mandated has been repeatedly reported on. Officials have announced on several occasions that they will conduct checks to ensure that businesses are complying with the new policy. In the meantime many are failing to do so, the Federation of Trade Union has said.
read more.
VientianeTimes_logo

* Laotian firms fail to comply with minimum wage hike:

Many Laotian businesses, notably garment factories, are failing to comply with an increase in the minimum wage that came into effect on January 1.

The government announced that the monthly minimum wage would increase from 348,000 kip (Bt1,314) to 626,000 kip.
The announcement stated that an unskilled worker must be paid a monthly minimum wage of 626,000 kip together with any supporting allowances previously received, such as for lunch, good performance and social welfare benefits.

The refusal by employers to increase the wage as mandated has been repeatedly reported on. Officials have announced on several occasions that they will conduct checks to ensure that businesses are complying with the new policy. In the meantime many are failing to do so, the Federation of Trade Unions has said.
“Employees in many workplaces have not had their monthly wage increased,” the director-general of the union’s Worker Protection Department, Ounkham Bounyaseng, told the Vientiane Times last week.

“Some workers have been paid less than the legal rate of 626,000 kip.”
read more.
THENATION

05:34:13 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Australian minister urged to end modern slavery in Thailand:

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr was urged to discuss the actions needed to end the use of modern slavery in Thailand when meeting with Thai government officials today.

The Uniting Church in Victoria and Tasmania said in a statement that trafficked and forced labour continue to be major problems in the seafood, fruit and vegetable and garment industries in Thailand. Australian companies, including major retail chains Coles and Woolworths, are importers of these goods into Australia, with Thailand being Australia’s ninth largest trading partner. read more.
THENATION

* Workers blast call to lift age of retirement:

Labour leaders and workers have rejected proposals to extend the retirement age of workers in the private sector from 55 to 60.

They said such a scheme would delay old-age benefits which many workers are waiting to receive.
During a labour seminar on Tuesday, Ladda Damrikanlert, deputy secretary-general of the Foundation of Thai Gerontology Research and Development Institute, called for the retirement age of employees in the private sector to be raised to 60.

But Chalee Loysung, a worker at Panasonic Co, said many workers in their production line are waiting for their retirement period to begin at 55 so they can start receiving pension funds. read more.
bangkokpost

05:34:13 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Workers from Hong Kong factory demand to see owner:

More than 200 workers from Kingsland Garment Cambodia Ltd gathered Thursday at the Phnom Penh Tower Hotel demanding to see the owner of the Hong Kong-owned factory.

Worker Sorn Sothy said the owner disappeared in September after paying employees only half of their salaries.
Based in Meanchey district, Kingsland has about 300 workers producing panties.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Government loan pays off employees:

Workers at the shuttered Yung Wah I and II garment factories have been paid 95 per cent of outstanding wages and benefits, workers and unionists said yesterday, while stranded Kingsland Garment workers kept waiting for money owed to them.

Kandal deputy governor Phau Bun Chhoeun claimed on Tuesday that more than 7,000 workers at the Tahkmao town factories would be paid a combined $6.5 million – money secured, he said, through a loan from the national budget.
“Don’t worry about corruption because… the Ministry of Economics and Finance calculated it all before sending us the money,” he said the next day.

“Everything has gone smoothly and we will complete our work tomorrow,” he added yesterday.
Worker representative Sok Phalla said on Wednesday that some administrative employees had received up to $20,000.  read more.
PPP

06:34:13 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Employers in small, medium industries may apply to extend minimum wage implementation for foreign workers:

Employers in the small and medium industries, who do not have the capacity to pay the minimum wage to all their employees, can appeal individually to extend the minimum wage implementation date for foreign employees only, the National Wages Consultative Council said in a statement on Wednesday.

However, the employers must continue to pay the minimum wage (RM900 for the peninsula and RM800 in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan), with effect from Jan 1, to Malaysian workers.

The statement said that employers who apply for an extension of the wage implementation date were prohibited from deducting the levy and accomodation costs from the workers’ pay.  read more.
the star -malaysia

06:34:13 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Updates From the Road: Badidas Worker Tour Rolls On:

Aslam and Heni are now into their second week of the Badidas Worker Tour.

Since the tour began, they have called on nearly a dozen schools to cut ties with Adidas over the brand’s refusal to pay $1.8 million in legally owed severance to them and their former co-workers at PT Kizone in Indonesia.
Hundreds of students have joined Aslam and Heni in this call. Solidarity with the PT Kizone workers will continue until Adidas pays what is rightfully owed.
What follows are some of the highlights since our last update.
& read more.
badidas-logo-bars-tagline

* Workers’ skills should not decide wages:

Employers can no longer use incompetence or a lack of productivity among their employees as a basis to determine wages.

The director general for training and productivity development at the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, Abdul Wahab Bangkonang, said that employees who had worked for more than one year in the formal sector should have decent skills in their line of work, regardless of their educational background.

“The industrial process in labor-intensive companies, such as garment, footwear and textile factories, relies on simple technology that can be operated by workers who do not possess high qualifications. Workers face no competence problem in handling the technology after one simple training session and one year of employment,” he said.

Abdul Wahab blasted some employers, whom he labeled greedy, for locking their factories, laying off their workers and relocating abroad following the government decision to raise the local minimum wage. read more.
jakartapost

* APF raises production; expands overseas markets to China, US:

Indonesia’s largest polyester producer, PT Asia Pacific Fibers (APF), expects business to improve slightly this year, driven by higher demand both from domestic and foreign buyers.

With the expected improvement in demand, APF president director V. Ravi Shankar estimated the country’s polyester industry would grow by 7 percent in 2013.

The industry would also benefit from the improved economy in China, he said. “As the situation improves there, we will see a reduction in the volume of imported polyester products from China. Last year, there was an influx of Chinese products because China could not absorb all of them,” he added.

APF, which manufactures staple fiber and filament yarn, claims to hold the largest shares in both staple fiber and filament yarn markets with 23 percent and 22 percent, respectively. Most of the company’s products are sold to textile factories in West Java with the remainder going to other businesses, such as packaging, footwear and healthcare.  read more.
jakartapost

04:34:13 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Towel exporter eats up Tk 21cr incentive:

Bismillah Towels Group, a towel manufacturer and exporter, has fooled the government and pocketed nearly Tk 21 crore of taxpayers’ money in the name of incentives, revealed a Bangladesh Bank (BB) inspection.

The group overpriced its exports to enjoy 10 percent cash incentives from the government.
To get the benefit, Managing Director and owner of the group Khaja Soleman Anowar Chowdhury had opened two companies, Banglus Middle East in Dubai and Banglus Singapore, and showed his export destinations there at a much higher price.
read more.
daily star bd

04:04:13 local time map of india INDIA

* All-India strike enters second day:

Tens of millions of Indian workers continued their two-day nationwide strike on Thursday in protest against the government’s “anti-labour” policies.

The banking and transport sectors were among those hit by the strike called by 11 trade union centres to protest against a series of economic reforms embarked on by the government last year.

It also called for the compulsory registration of trade unions with a 45-day period, raising the minimum wage for all workers to 10,000 rupees (185 US dollars) a month and social security provisions for all workers. read more.
EQUALTIMES

* Strike had wide support: trade unions:

The 48-hour all-India strike, coordinated by an umbrella of 11 central trade unions, may have belied fears that life in the State would come to a standstill. But, trade union activists say it was “successful and widely supported”, particularly in the industrial sector and among unorganised workers.

The most visible face of the strike, the transport sector, had declared a 12-hour strike which saw a majority of buses across four road transport corporations going off the road. Industries across the State saw a complete lockdown over two days — around 22 lakh workers employed in large, medium and small-scale factories. The large female workforce employed in garment factories, along the city’s southern outskirts, also struck work.  read more.
THEHINDU

* Trade unions warn of bigger agitation:

Major trade unions on Thursday warned the central government of bigger agitation in the country, describing the two-day national strike as “the beginning of the chapter”.

“The two-day countrywide agitation has been successful but we will launch a bigger agitation and this is only a beginning of the chapter,” All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta told reporters here.

“More and more factories and people joined the strike on the last day (Thursday). Those factories which were opened yesterday (Wednesday) joined the agitation today (Thursday),” he told reporters here.  read more.
TOInew

* When trade unions of different hues came together:

Political barriers dissolved, for the first time, in what leaders see as a big plus for Indian labour

The 48-hour agitation that began on Wednesday saw, for the first time, all the 11 central trade unions in the country calling a strike with a list of common demands. Trade union leaders have termed this coming together, an “historic milestone in the Indian labour movement”.

Unlike other countries where trade union memberships have seen a steady decline in the past decade, in India, and in Karnataka, both the number of registered trade unions and the number of memberships have seen a significant increase. However, the rise in union membership has not resulted in more effective collective bargaining, trade unionists say.
They say the onslaught of economic policies has forced them to sink ideological differences. Since 2010, trade unions have come together for two strikes, but both occasions saw one or two organisations holding back. read more.THEHINDU

* No change in cotton exports policy:

Committee of secretaries of union commerce, agriculture and textile ministry have in their meeting decided to continue with current cotton exports policy.

They felt that situation with respect to cotton availability, prices and export is satisfactory.
Cotton advisory board has raised exports target for current year to 8 million bales and after relaxing norms for exports registration last week, exports have started picking up and even cotton prices have shot up in a fortnight nearly 5.9%.
Shankar-6 variety cotton today closed in Mumbai at Rs 10,095 per quintal..
BUSINESSSTANDARD 2

* Vidarbha farmers demand cotton MSP to be raised to Rs 6000:

Farmers in the Vidarbha region of western Indian state of Maharashtra have demanded that the minimum support price (MSP) of cotton be raised to Rs. 6000 per quintal from the existing MSP of Rs. 3900 per quintal. They have also urged the Central Government for a special package in the Union Budget.

Speaking to fibre2fashion, Mr. Kishore Tiwari, president of Vidarbha Jan Andolam Samiti, said, “Vidarbha farmers need special package from the Central Government in the Union Budget, which is to be presented in the Parliament later this month.”
read more.
Fibre2fashion

* ‘Eco-Vastra’ fabric to cure several diseases:

Eco-Vastra, a range of organic cotton fabrics dyed using medical herbs and plants, could cure several diseases by strengthening the skin’s ability to block and resist harmful substances.The Eco-Vastra fabric is developed by Eco Green Unit, a service trust of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University located in southern part of India.
 Speaking to fibre2fashion, project director of Eco Green Unit, Mr. SK Babu said, “Eco-Vastra is made using an ancient technique of dyeing textiles using medicinal herbs and plants.”  read more.
Fibre2fashion

* Save the fabric of tradition:

A two-day national seminar on textiles titled ‘Thari’, organised by the Department of Fine Arts, Stella Maris College, Chennai, was attended by craft and textile activists, experts, faculty and students. The delegates outlined achievements in the field of textiles, present projects, innovations, sustainability, market trends, and gave recommendations for the future.

Began Jaya Jaitly in her keynote address, “How do we honour our textile traditions?” The writer, social activist and president, Dastkari Haat Samiti, New Delhi, is known for conceptualising Dilli Haat which provides a platform for Indian craftspersons to sell their craft.

Uzramma, a goldsmith and founding trustee, Dastkar Andhra and Malkha Marketing, Hyderabad, combines traditional and cutting-edge technologies to suit the contemporary context. Earlier, cotton was subjected to baling and unbaling, both violent processes, and its natural sheen and elasticity were lost.
A small group of engineers and field activists combined technology with social process, creating the Malkha model which Uzramma has established as a self-sustaining eco-friendly entrepreneurship model involving the rural folk.
read more.
THEHINDU

04:04:13 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Marxist trade union asks Sri Lankan workers not to limit struggles only for salary hikes:

Sri Lanka’s National Trade Union Center (NTUC), affiliated with the Marxist party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), says the working masses should not limit themselves to fight only for salary hikes.

Head of the NTUC and JVP politburo member, K.D. Lalkantha said that working people should move out of struggling only for salary issues and come forward to bring in a new social order to the country.

He said the NTUC was engaged in forming a broad platform that would include members from other trade unions and political movements to build a common people’s movement to win the rights of the trade union movement and everyone in the country.  read more.
colombo

03:34:13 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Millers fear $1 billion drop in exports as cotton production falls:

20130222 TRIBUNE textilemillfactoryAFP
Millers think that India is the best available import market for them, which will help them meet annual targets already hit by the ongoing energy crisis. PHOTO: AFP

Official statistics released by the Cotton Crop Assessment Committee a few days ago reveal that the cotton target has been missed by 1.3 million bales, due to which textile millers fear they will lose an additional $1 billion in exports in fiscal 2012-13.

“A drop of 1.3 million bales means we are about to lose a billion dollar worth of exports,” said Shahzad Ali Khan, chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, Punjab.

However, unlike Khan, other millers believe that the shortfall might not affect yarn production, as the import of raw cotton from India – expected to cross a million bales by the end of this year –will help the Pakistani textile industry meet its production targets. They are worried solely about the ongoing energy crisis, which has halted the production capacity of almost a third of textile industry,  read more.
tribune

* No blanket amnesty to units involved in tax evasion: FBR, APTMA agree to revise ST zero-rating regime:

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) agreed on Thursday to revise sales tax zero-rating regime under SRO.1125(I)/2011 without granting any blanket amnesty to the textile units involved in tax evasion. Official sources told Business Recorder here on Thursday that the FBR and APTMA convened an important meeting at the FBR House to resolve the issues relating to the SRO.1125(I)/2011.

The FBR has rejected the demand of the association to grant amnesty to the textile units who have not paid tax under SRO.1125(I)/2011. The FBR and APTMA have also agreed to abolish zero-percent tax under SRO.1125(I)/2011 and a uniform rate of sales tax may be 2 percent be imposed at local stage. It has also been agreed that the difference between zero-percent and five percent sales tax is very large which should be narrowed. Similarly, five percent sales tax would also be reduced to a lower rate like 2 percent. read more.
BUSINESSRECORDER

 ASIA

* No Sweat: The story of the people who make our clothes:

No Sweat tells the story of the clothes we wear and the people who make them by tracing those products back to the source

Sweatshop labor is a worldwide problem to which we, as consumers, contribute every day. As a cause it’s not nearly as fashionable as global warming or other human rights problems, and rarely receives any attention. 

While traveling in Bangladesh several years ago I toured a garment factory where shirts were being made for U.S. consumers. It was a small factory and one that was considered good by Bangladesh standards.
The women were paid a fair wage, worked reasonable hours, were not abused and were all part of a larger project to help Bangladeshi families pull themselves out of poverty, but from the perspective of a visiting American the conditions were far from ideal. While on the tour one name kept coming up: Wal-Mart.
Wondering where my clothes were made and under what conditions, I got the idea to make a film to find the answer. To personalize the problem of sweatshop labor I will take five popular clothing items and trace each back to the country and factory where it was made, introducing viewers to the faces behind the clothes they wear.
read more.
No Sweat Documentary KICKSTARTER

 

map of Asia

INFO:

The next newsletter and news bulletin will be published 25 February 2013

HEADLINES:

CHINA
* Workers’ rights in China important for everyone: Chinese labour leader

LAOS
* Minimum wage increase remains unpaid, despite new ruling
* Laotian firms fail to comply with minimum wage hike

THAILAND
* Australian minister urged to end modern slavery in Thailand
* Workers blast call to lift age of retirement

CAMBODIA
* Workers from Hong Kong factory demand to see owner
* Government loan pays off employees

MALAYSIA
* Employers in small, medium industries may apply to extend minimum wage implementation for foreign workers

INDONESIA
* Updates From the Road: Badidas Worker Tour Rolls On
* Workers’ skills should not decide wages
* APF raises production; expands overseas markets to China, US

BANGLA DESH
* Towel exporter eats up Tk 21cr incentive

INDIA
* All-India strike enters second day
* Strike had wide support: trade unions
* Trade unions warn of bigger agitation
* When trade unions of different hues came together
* No change in cotton exports policy
* Vidarbha farmers demand cotton MSP to be raised to Rs 6000
* ‘Eco-Vastra’ fabric to cure several diseases
* Save the fabric of tradition

SRI LANKA
* Marxist trade union asks Sri Lankan workers not to limit struggles only for salary hikes

PAKISTAN
* Millers fear $1 billion drop in exports as cotton production falls
* No blanket amnesty to units involved in tax evasion: FBR, APTMA agree to revise ST zero-rating regime

ASIA
* No Sweat: The story of the people who make our clothes

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2