23:23:23 local time CHINA
* The need for workers to have a choice in work-related injury compensation payments:
The Chinese government last month invited public comment on its proposals to improve the implementation of the Work-related Injury Insurance Regulations (工伤保险条例).
The proposals issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) are on the whole constructive and should help better protect the rights of victims of occupational injury and illness. However, China Labour Bulletin has noted a few potential problems in the proposals, which we outlined in a detailed submission to the MOHRSS in mid-February.
CLB’s main concern is Clause 16 of the Draft for Comment which seeks to prevent long-term payment schedules being disbursed as a one-off payment. The rationale for phasing out one-off payments is understandable in that, once the money is gone, the recipient has nothing to fall back on and no legal rights to additional compensation. read more.
* More fail checks on uniforms:
Another two batches of school uniforms produced by a Shanghai garment company have been found to contain cancer-causing dyes, city quality authorities said yesterday.
A police investigation into the supplier, Shanghai Ouxia Clothing Co Ltd, is also under way, the city government said. Disciplinary supervision authorities are also investigating whether officials allowed the substandard uniforms to enter school campuses.
The city’s quality watchdog conducted tests on 106 batches of uniforms from Shanghai Ouxia, the supplier found to have used banned aromatic amine dyes in earlier checks, and two batches were found to contain the carcinogenic substance, the authorities said. read more.
* School uniforms contain cancer-causing dye:
Another two batches of school uniforms have been found with cancer-causing dyes, according to Shanghai’s quality watchdog.
The Shanghai Municipal Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau said on Monday that it has received 106 batches of samples of school uniforms produced by Shanghai Ouxia Clothing Company, which were found to have used banned dyes in previous checks.
Among these 106 batches, two were found to contain the carcinogenic substance.
In a previous test, the city’s quality watchdog examined 22 batches of uniforms, including tops and trousers, and six batches failed the quality test. Some of six batches contained toxic substances. read more.
* Most Chinese believe CPI will rise: poll:
Chinese people are feeling the pinch from rising prices, especially in regards to food and housing, and a majority believe prices will rise this year, an ongoing poll shows.
Around 75 percent of respondents said food prices have the largest impact on their lives, while 15 percent pointed to rising home costs and rent, according to an online survey conducted by the People’s Daily Online, the official website of the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China.
The poll shows that 77 percent of respondents believe the consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, will rise by a large margin this year.
The majority of respondents said they believe the government should take measures to counter the impact of rising prices, including enhancing supervision over pricing, reducing logistics costs and raising minimum wage levels. read more.
* Salary rise of 15-25% expected:
Job seekers aiming to change jobs in China in 2013 can expect an average pay increase of 15-25 percent, up slightly from last year, due to the strong demand for labor from multinational companies, a Robert Walters survey said yesterday.
The robust need for workers is due to MNCs which move their headquarters to Shanghai and continue to expand their business in China, the UK-based headhunting firm said. It predicts global brands in the retail, luxury and fast-moving consumer goods markets will expand to second- and third-tier Chinese cities, fuelling demand for sales, human resource, training and business development professionals.
23:23:23 local time PHILIPPINES
* The minimum wage puzzle:
Although the topic has not appeared on the media radar for a couple months, the always-contentious issue of the minimum wage will again be front-page news in 2013, if everything goes according to the Aquino administration’s plans.
By the end of this year, the government has a goal to replace the current minimum wage regulations with a two-tiered system that will consist of a low floor wage for new and unskilled workers, with a productivity-based wage tier for more experienced workers. The second, higher tier will reportedly be regulated by wage advisories for specific business sectors, based on indicators such as labor productivity growth, business outlook, labor market conditions and other factors.
Once again, the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd has demonstrated its uncanny ability to take an issue that has some merit and find a way to micromanage any possible benefit to anyone out of it. The original intention of the two-tiered system was to offer a compromise to the strident calls for a P125 across-the-board hike in the minimum wage in the first few months of Aquino’s term, an idea which was naturally unpopular with employers.
The solution, however, won’t work for anyone; the lowest-paid workers, the ones who actually get the most benefit from mandated minimum wages, will likely be paid even less under the new scheme, while employers will be saddled with another layer of impractical government regulation that discourages job or wage growth.
* US to check on PH labor practices for GSP perks:
Labor practices remain the focus of the country review of the Philippines for its qualification under the United States Generalized System of Preferences.
In a notice posted on it website, the US Trade Representative announced it was seeking comments for a scheduled hearing on the ongoing GSP country practice reviews.
The hearings would tackle pending country practice petitions submitted as part of previous GSP Annual Reviews.
A hearing will be held by the GSP on March 28. The USTR had placed the country together with Bangladesh, Georgia, Niger, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan under review for their GSP status on a petition pertaining to how they treat their workers.
* PH to pursue preferential treatment for garments:
There is still hope for the Philippines to get preferential access for its garments exports to the United States even as it remains confident that labor issues would not be a major stumbling block in continuing to be a beneficiary of Washington’s generalized system of preferences (GSP).
In an interview at the Arangkada Forum at the Makati Shangri-La yesterday, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said despite failure to pass the Save our Industries Act, the Philippines is confident the bill could still be saved.
The trick now, he said, is to find a bigger or more major trade bill for which the Save Act can piggyback on. read more.
22:23:23 local time CAMBODIA
* Kingsland Workers on Hunger Strike:
Dear Walmart and H&M,
We have been told that you will come to Cambodia for a meeting regarding the Kingsland case on 1 March, 2013. We welcome your decision to come.
We very much hope that we can find a resolution tht is accepable for everuone.
The Ministry of Social Affairs tells us that they plan to sell the machines at the factory. Their offer of compensation is much, much less than what is required under the law.
We cannot accept this and write to inform you that we will go onhungerstrike starting Thursday, 28 February 2013. This will continue until there is a resolution in our case – one that is acceptable for everyone.
We thank you for your attendance at the meeting and we hope that we can find a resolution on Friday.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Cambodian Center for Human Rights to host Roundtable Discussion on “Business and Human Rights in Garment Factories in Cambodia”:
On 27 February 2013, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (“CCHR”) will host a Roundtable Discussion on “Business and Human Rights in Garment Factories in Cambodia” aimed at exploring the impact and challenges of implementing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (“UN Guiding Principles”) in Cambodia’s garment industry as well as seek recommendations from stakeholders. read more.
* Former Bavet governor in court over shooting:
Former Bavet governor Chhouk Bandith appeared in the Court of Appeal Wednesday over the shooting of protesting workers in the border town last year.
The three victims, 21-year-old Bun Chinda, 16-year-old Keo Nea and 23-year-old Nout Sakhorn also attended the hearing along with many human rights activists.
Chhouk Bandith was first accused of unintentionally injuring the three workers from the Manhattan Special Economic Zone when he opened fire in February last year.
Svay Rieng Provincial Court dropped the charges in December, saying the court didn’t have enough evidence.
Bavet is a boom town on the Vietnamese border with numerous casinos and low-cost manufacturing facilities. to read.
* Minimum wage talks deadlock:
Workers in the Kingdom’s lucrative garment and footwear industries appear close to a monthly minimum wage increase of at least $6, despite talks between trade unions, the factories’ association and the government ending in deadlock yesterday.
The three parties agreed in the early evening to adjourn closed-door talks until this afternoon, after unions stood firm in their demands for nearly double the minimum wage across the $4 billion export industries.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU), said unions had dismissed a figure put forward by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) and would lobby again today for the minimum wage to be increased from $61 to $120.
“They said they can provide us with $72 per month. This meeting did not get anywhere, because they offered us too little. We can’t agree with it,” he said.
GMAC had failed to explain to unions the exact reason why – given the huge profits generated by the country’s 400-plus factories – a 100 per cent increase was out of the question, Chhun added.
“We demand $120,” he said, adding that it would bring workers in line with their counterparts in Thailand and Vietnam. “Seventy-two dollars is a long way from what we want.” read more.
* Talks continue as unions reject offer of 18 pct pay rise:
Trade union groups say they have rejected an 18 percent wage increase offered by garment manufacturers and insist they want the minimum wage raised by almost 100 percent.
Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng said his ministry would oversee a new round of talks Wednesday with 10 representatives of employers 10 union representatives.
“I hope they can find a possible solution which can show a positive result,” he said. “Unlike in the past, both sides have to negotiate if they want an increase in salaries.”
The minister said the government wanted workers to have good salaries to cover their cost of living but added that the demands should be negotiated with employers.
* Cambodian silk industry on its last threads:
In a small room in the Cambodian capital, laboratory technicians wearing latex gloves and flip-flops inspect hundreds of buzzing white silkworm moths before pairing them up to mate.
With its silk industry in rapid decline, Cambodia is pinning its hopes on moth matchmaking and disease control to save its precious silkworms and keep centuries-old traditions alive.
More than 30 years ago, the brutal Khmer Rouge regime all but eliminated silk farming and the sector has been slow to recover, lagging regional rivals that use modern technology to produce better quality silk.
Now the country’s silkworms are once again under threat, but from a different kind of enemy.
“Disease is killing more than 50 percent of the silkworms,” said Mey Kalyan, director of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Cambodian silk programme.
23:23:23 local time MALAYSIA
* No indefinite exemption on minimum wage scheme: Minister:
Employers who are given leeway from implementing the minimum wage scheme for foreign workers will not be given the exemption on an indefinite basis.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam has stressed that these relevant employers are only allowed to defer the implementation, to give them time to adjust due to their extenuating circumstances.
“Small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) require more time. It (the exemption) is to give us time to discuss with them, identify the issues and how the government can assist them,”said Subramaniam.
He added the delay would also allow SMEs to undergo the changes and restructuring they need to do. read more.
* Bosses deferring minimum wage must pass audit:
Applications to defer paying the mandatory minimum wage to foreign workers will be stringently scrutinised before they are approved, said National Wages Consultative Council member Mohd Khalid Haji Atan.
Mohd Khalid, who is also the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) president, told theSun last week any employer seeking deferment of the minimum wage would have to provide the implementation committee with three years of audited accounts.
“They also have to provide all information about their workforce and other relevant documents which will be required by the committee,” he said. read more.
* Use Wage System To Encourage Workers To Become More Productive – Subramaniam:
Employers and employees have been encouraged to adopt a Productivity Linked Wage System (PLWS) to increase productivity, control cost and improve the country’s competitiveness.
Human Resources Minister, Datuk Dr. S. Subramaniam said using productivity or performance in giving wages to workers can encourage them to become more productive and successful.
“Full implementation of PLWS can have positive effect, create industrial harmony and enhance job satisfaction of workers as wages are based on the increase in productivity and performance,” he said when opening the National Wage System Linked To Productivity Symposium, here Tuesday. read more.
21:08:23 local time NEPAL
* Nepal garment makers shift focus to Indian market:
Garment manufacturers of Nepal are shifting their focus to Indian market from their traditional markets like the US and the EU, due to increase in demand for ‘Made in Nepal’ clothing in India and decrease in apparel orders from the overseas market.
In a conversation with fibre2fashion, president of Garment Association of Nepal (GAN), Mr. Uday Raj Pandey said, “We are currently focusing on India for garment exports since there is an increase in demand from the country for apparels manufactured in Nepal.”
“With the rapidly growing economy of India and increase in purchasing power of the people in the country, we hope to receive large import orders for clothing from the country,” he opines. read more.
21:23:23 local time BANGLA DESH
* Delhi wants govt guarantee for cotton supply deal:
Commerce ministry holds meeting today to discuss India’s condition
India has attached conditions for exporting of at least 1.5 million bales of cotton annually to Bangladesh under a business-to-business understanding between the two countries, said commerce ministry officials.
India wants a guarantee from the Bangladesh government to strike the memorandum of understanding, the officials said.
They said Delhi expressed intention to strike the MoU during an upcoming visit by Indian president Pranab Mukherjee to the country in March 3-5.
But the Bangladesh government is not in a position to give such guarantee since the imported cotton will be consumed mainly by the private yarn producers, said the officials.
Bangladesh Textile Mills Association president Jahangir Alamin said there should not be any question of guarantee as that would not be a purchase deal. read more.
* Skills development a must for RMG workers:
Says the education minister at the opening ceremony of BGMEA’s new campus in the port city
Development of skills and competence of RMG workers is a must to sustain competitiveness in the modern world, speakers said at the opening ceremony of the new campus of Chittagong BGMEA Institute of Fashion and Technology (CBIFT) on Monday.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) organised the event at the Mahabub Ali Hall of BGMEA Bhaban in the port city.
Four-year Bachelor of Science (honours) courses on apparel manufacturing and technology and fashion design technology will be offered at CBIFT.
read more. & read more.
* US lauds progress in trade union registration:
The visiting US Department of Labour delegation has taken note of some progress being made in the field of trade union registration in Bangladesh.
“There has been some progress regarding the number of union registration that have been achieved in recent months,” Eric Biel, Acting Associate Deputy Under Secretary for International Affairs of US Department of Labour said.
Trade union is one of the main discussing issues of the GSP review, he said adding that is why they were having discussions with government officials, industry people including BGMEA and workers’ organisations. read more.
* No political side to GSP:
The generalised system of preferences for Bangladesh exports to the US market has no political aspect, an official of the US Department of Labour said yesterday.
“It is a legal process, a statutory process — and not a political process by any means. It is a process that primarily involves trade policy agencies,” said Eric Biel, acting associate deputy undersecretary of the Bureau of International Labour Affairs (ILAB).
ILAB is an operating unit of the US Department of Labour which manages the department’s international responsibilities. read more.
* GSP depends on govt’s ability to ensure improved labour standards: Biel:
The US nod for the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) to Bangladeshi apparel still depends on the Bangladesh government’s ability to ensure improved labour standards and occupational safety, said the head of the visiting US Labour Department’s inspection team on Tuesday.
Eric Biel hinted that the GSP review by the US administration can go in favour of Bangladesh if the government delegation can ably represent the measures taken to improve the labour rights, particularly the implementation of trade union rights, during the hearing of the US Trade Representatives (USTR) in Washington on March 28.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20:53:23 local time INDIA
* Parliament passes sexual harassment at workplace Bill:
Parliament on Tuesday passed a law, providing for protection of women, including domestic helps and agricultural labourers, against sexual harassment at workplace.
The new legislation, seeking to provide a secure and enabling environment for women employees, will make it mandatory for all workplaces including home, universities, hospitals, government and non-government offices, factories, other formal and informal work places to constitute an internal committee for redressal of complaints.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Maharashtra extends subsidy for textile plant expansions:
* Textile traders to down shutters today:
An estimated 75,000 textile traders/shops, big and small, across Andhra Pradesh are expected to down shutters on Wednesday protesting against levy of Value-Added Tax (VAT) on textiles and notifying textiles as ‘sensitive commodities’.
From February 28, they will stop buying goods from other States and bringing them into the State, said Ammanabolu Prakash, president, A.P. Federation of Textile Associations, at a press conference here on Tuesday. He said that for the past several months, they had been agitating with the sole demand of withdrawal of VAT because A.P. was the only State to impose it. read more.
* Government agencies set to reap bonanza from cotton purchases:
Even as cotton farmers are crying hoarse over losses suffered due to non-remunerative prices and damage to the crop because of untimely rains in the State, government agencies like the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) and the National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (NAFED) are all set to laugh their way to the banks, thanks to the current upward trend in cotton prices in the open market.
According to market observers in the district, the rate of a cotton bale candy has gone up by about Rs. 1,500 per unit during the last week and is expected to go up further. A candy is now priced at approximately Rs. 36,500 owing to the growing demand in spinning mills across the country. read more.
* Cotton prices jump 7% in Feb, as buyers eye price rise:
Cotton prices have witnessed a rise of around seven per cent so far this month, thanks to increased stockpiling by foreign traders in anticipation of better price expectations. This has also triggered demand from domestic millers, who are expecting healthy yarn exports this year.
According to market sources, with arrivals starting to decline, prices are likely to firm up to Rs 38,000 a candy (356 kg). Prices are up from Rs 34,000-34,100 a candy on February 1 to Rs 36,500-36,800. Daily arrivals have fallen from 55,000 bales (170 kg) to 40,000-42,000 bales in Gujarat markets. Nationally, the arrivals have fallen from 215,000 bales to 175,000 bales a day. read more.
* ‘Don’t allow import of processed fabric, yarn’:
The Confederation of Indian Weaving Industries has urged the Centre not to allow the import of processed fabric and yarn as it will severely affect the domestic weaving industry.
“We learnt that the government has been planning to allow the liberal import of fabric and yarn from countries such as China, Pakistan and Taiwan by levying minimal customs duty. This will force lakhs of weaving units in the country to shut down,” said M. S. Mathivanan, president of the Confederation, said here on Tuesday.
Mr. Mathivanan told reporters that the garment industries would prefer the imported fabrics as they would be cheaper than those available in the domestic market. As a result, it would affect the pre-weaving activities including ginning, spinning, sizing and warping, and post-weaving activities such as bleaching and dyeing. Lakhs of units doing these activities would be forced to close and labourers depending on the industry would be rendered jobless, he said. read more.
20:23:23 local time PAKISTAN
* Textile Policy (2009-14) Rs two billion released for various schemes, incentives:
The government has released Rs 2 billion for different schemes and incentives, announced in Textile Policy (2009-14), informed sources revealed to Business Recorder. The amount was released against Drawbacks on Local Taxes and Levies (DLTL), Export Financing Scheme and markup rates, sources revealed.
However no amount has been released against Employees Old-age Benefits Institution (EOBI) and Social Security. This was the first release in the current year, where the government has earmarked Rs 7.5 billion in budget 2012-13 for implementation of different initiatives of the Textile Policy. No amount was released in the first two quarters of the current fiscal year to the Ministry of Textile Industry.
* Textile entrepreneurs creatively combat energy shortages:
The outcome of acute energy shortages in Punjab is that some entrepreneurs have offset increased energy costs by adding high value to their products, particularly cotton yarn and fabric, sources said.
According to the data compiled by the Ministry of Textiles and All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, the average export price of $1.70 billion yarn exported by the country in 2011-12 was $3.14 per kg. Some spinners add high value to the yarn they spin, thereby obtaining as high as $8.50 per kg, which is 2.5 times higher than the average export price of yarn.
“We introduced cotton dyed yarn in Pakistan a few years back,” S M Tanveer, leading spinner in Punjab, said. “Initially we supplied yarn to domestic knitwear manufacturers, while exploring the export market. Currently we are exporting two-third of our total yarn that fetches $419-20 million a year.”
A knitwear exporter M I Khurram said that now nothing goes to waste and even dust, which contains traces of wax is also exported to Japan and Korea where it is used as fertiliser to grow mushrooms. “Manufacturers are exploring every avenue to reduce costs and offset the impact of high energy costs,” he added. read more.
* FIRs lodged against textile firms:
Misuse of new sales tax withholding regime
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has registered first information reports (FIRs) against seven textile companies for misusing the new sales tax withholding regime, sources said.
These firms, namely Tribal Textile (Lahore), Jamhoor Textile (Lahore), Shehzad Textile (Lahore), The Lahore Textile (Lahore), Salfi Textile (Karachi), Colony Mills (Multan), and Hussain Limited (Faisalabad), were found involved in multibillion rupee transactions in the name of fake companies.
Colony Mills and Hussain Limited alone caused a loss of Rs200 million to the national exchequer. read more.
* Textile industry rejects revised withholding tax:
The textile industry rejected the Federal Board of Revenue’s move of extending the imposition of the withholding tax they fear the step will affect exports adversely.
Earlier, the government enhanced the scope of the sales tax withholding regime to all registered companies and exporters to deduct 20% of the payable sales tax on all purchases. The decision took effect from February 14.
Pakistan Textile Exporters Association Vice Chairman Muhammad Asif, in a press statement, said this move will not only increase the cost of doing business but will also hit their cash flows hard. The statutory regulatory order (SRO) was issued without any prior notice or consultation with the business community. read more.
* Value-added textile sector: PHMA rejects proposed 2 percent ST as ‘draconian’ measure:
Textile sector has termed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) decision to impose 2 percent sales tax on value-added textile sector as ‘draconian’ measure, saying that the imposition will ruin the already fragile sector.
Talking to Business Recorder on Tuesday, Central Chairman of Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PHMA) Muhammad Jawed Bilwani said the FBR decision was alarming.
“Such a decision without taking the genuine stakeholders on board is shocking and most alarming,” he showed concerns. He contradicted the FBR claim, saying “Rs 12 billion of refund was against packing material while Rs 2 billion was of the unregistered sector and not the registered Textile Export Sector.” read more.
* GSP plus application to be submitted in March:
Pakistan would submit an application with the European Commission by the middle of March for availing the GSP plus duty advantage for its exports, according to commerce ministry here, Geo News reported.
Talking to Geo News, commerce ministry deputy secretary (foreign trade), Muhammad Ashraf said that the concerned ministries/organizations would submit their reports relating to the compliance of the UN Conventions for availing GSP plus duty advantage from EU by February 28 to his ministry, which would be attached to the application, as it was mandatory for obtaining GSP plus facility.
Muhammad Ashraf said that the prime minister has already given his approval for the submission of application for trade facility and hoped that Pakistan would succeed in getting the GSP plus facility. to read. & to read.