04:18:27 local time VIET NAM
* More orders come, bigger worries raised to exporters:
Seafood and garment exporters have confirmed that orders have come in rapid fire since the beginning of the year. However, this has raised the worry about the lack of materials and the production cost increases.
Resuming the production on February 15, the catfish of the Hung Vuong Seafood Company have been running at full capacity to be able to deliver goods on schedule. Duong Ngoc Minh, General Director of Hung Vuong, said many other seafood companies also have to gear up and increase the production shifts to fulfill the orders.
The importers from Europe, the US and the Middle East have come back because they have realized that Vietnam’s catfish is now too cheap.
“Hung Vuong has got the orders until the end of April, and we now dare not take any more orders for fear that we would not be able to fulfill all of them,” Minh said.
Garment companies have also reportedly got big orders so far this year. Pham Xuan Hong, Deputy Chair of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas), said the world market has recovered, which has brought more orders, more jobs, stable income and less worries to workers. read more.
04:18:27 local time THAILAND
* Factories urged to save power to stave off crisis:
Factories nationwide are being urged to help cut power use by 10% or 1,200 megawatts a day in order to save the country from an energy crisis.
Industry permanent secretary Witoon Simachokedee yesterday said the ministry plans to ask for more than 70,000 factories accounting for 12,000 MW or 40% of Thailand’s daily electricity consumption of 27,000 MW to cooperate.
Factories on 40 industrial estates use a combined 3,700 MW of electricity a day.
04:18:27 local time CAMBODIA
* Cambodian Workers Camp Out, Hunger Strike Against Walmart and H&M:
Hundreds of Phnom Penh workers are camping outside their shuttered garment factory to demand Walmart and H&M pay them the wages they are owed. This week they launch a hunger strike. Photo: James McCormick.
Self-organized garment workers at a Walmart and H&M supplier factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, have been camping in front of their shuttered factory for almost two months to prevent their bosses from taking out the sewing machinery.
Now the workers have escalated to blocking roads, and will launch a hunger strike February 27—all to push Walmart and H&M to pay them the back wages they are owed. Their cause is drawing support from workers at another Walmart subcontractor on the other side of the world.
“We decided to go on hunger strike to show that we not just any workers,” said one of the leaders, Sorn Sothy, 26, who works in the warehousing part of the Cambodian factory. “We are strong, committed, and united.” read more.
* Walmart and H&M: Kingsland Workers will Commence Hunger Strike:
The Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) would like to express its concern for the health and well-being of workers at Kingsland Garment Cambodia Ltd. Yesterday, workers issued a letter to Walmart and H&M representatives informing that they will commence a hunger strike on Thursday, 28 February, 2013.
The international brands have confirmed their participation in a conciliation meeting regarding outstanding payments of almost US$200,000 owed by their supplier who suddenly closed its doors last December. The conciliation meeting will be held on Friday, 1 March, 2013.
In response workers issued a letter expressing their disappointment with current offers of compensation, which in some cases is less than a third of what is required under the Cambodian Labor Law (1997). The letter goes on to state “we cannot accept this and write to inform you that we will go on hunger strike starting Thursday, 28 February, 2013. This will continue until there is a resolution in our case – one that is acceptable for everyone.”
In an attempt to ensure payments, workers at the shuttered garment factory have maintained a 24-hour vigil, repeatedly blocked major roads and gathered en-masse to submit petitions to Swedish and US embassies. read more.
* Hunger strike threatened at Kingsland:
Stranded workers at the closed-down Kingsland Garment factory said yesterday they would go on hunger strike today until Prime Minister Hun Sen and the global companies that had bought from the factory – Walmart and H&M – help resolve an outstanding $200,000 wage issue.
Or Sokuong, one of about 700 workers who lost their jobs when the Hong Kong-owned factory closed unannounced in late December, said the workers would begin fasting outside Kingsland, in the capital’s Meanchey district, where many have slept.
“We want to know whether they have pity for us or not,” she said. “We don’t have money to buy food, to support family and give to our parents anymore,” he said.
Walmart and H&M have both previously played down their responsibility to the workers – both claimed their orders finished before the factory closed – but will send representatives to meet tomorrow with government officials, representatives of the workers, who are not members of a union, and other groups including the Community Legal Education Center and Better Factories Cambodia.
Soun Sokhum, 51, who worked at Kingsland for 11 years, said she and her colleagues had been left with nothing and were struggling to – or couldn’t – pay their rent. read more.
* Impasse at close of wage negotiations:
The minimum wage in the garment and footwear industries will remain at $61 per month – for now – after unions and the Garment Manufacturers’ Association in Cambodia (GMAC) failed to reach agreement on an increase yesterday.
During a second day of negotiations at the Ministry of Social Affairs, GMAC again proposed a $6 wage increase – an offer it had made the previous day – while the unions stood firm on their demands for a $120 minimum wage, a stance they relented slightly on late in the day.
Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said unions had been willing to go as low as $100 – forgoing a $5 additional health bonus – but could not accept what GMAC was offering.
“They have not given us a reason why they cannot meet our demands, and told us that if we don’t agree, let the government decide,” he said. “The unions will discuss this and meet again.”
GMAC’s offer of $72 would actually equate to an increase of only $6 – from $61 to $67 – because it includes a $5 health bonus workers already receive in addition to the minimum wage. read more.
* Unions, bosses fail to agree on minimum wage:
Garment manufacturers and trade union groups failed to reach agreement on wage increases in a second round of talks on Wednesday.
Unions lowered their demand from $120 a month to $100, up from the current minimum wage of $61, but employers remained firm with their offer of $72.
Van Sou Leng, president of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said employers could not increase their offer.
Ath Thon, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’s Democratic Union, said he would meet with members to see if they were satisfied with the offer of $72. to read.
* Need for more transparency:
GREATER transparency along the garment supply chain, from producers to buyers, is required in order to strengthen the accountability of retailers, factories and governments in protecting the rights of workers, Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said yesterday.
“There are a lot of obstacles in the relationship between the producers and consumers, with a lack of detailed information about the supply process made available,” he said. “The connection is blurred, ultimately deflecting responsibility to the detriment of workers.”
Speaking in Phnom Penh at a discussion on business and human rights in the garment sector, Virak made reference to the recent case of workers left jobless after the closing of a Cambodian factory.
Workers have taken their protest to the Swedish Embassy, claiming H&M, an international buyer of Cambodian garments, should share in the responsibility of lost wages, but H&M say the factory was no longer producing their products at the time it closed. read more.
* Getting his day in court:
Sitting directly opposite the three women he has been accused of shooting at a protest last year, former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith smiled as he finally appeared in court yesterday, 10 months after he was first charged with the crime that has drawn so much unwanted attention to Cambodia.
Bandith has kept a low profile since the three garment workers were shot in front of thousands at a protest outside the Kaoway Sports shoe factory in the town he then governed, and few expected him to actually appear at the Appeal Court yesterday.
Just under two months ago, it seemed Bandith would never see the inside of a courtroom when the Svay Rieng Provincial Court dropped its charge of causing “unintentional injury”. But an Appeal Court prosecutor later called for a re-investigation amid public outrage. read more.
05:18:27 local time MALAYSIA
* Minimum wage plan ‘not feasible’:
Pakatan Rakyat’s proposal to increase the minimum wage to RM1,100 will be “darn tough” to implement, said Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
Dr Subramaniam said Pakatan’s minimum wage as announced in its manifesto could increase unemployment and inflation while making it less attractive for foreign direct investment.
“The higher the range of minimum wage, the higher the risk of unemployment and inflation. Even at RM900, our small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) are crying. At RM1,100, I don’t what they are going to do. When it comes to implementation, it is going to be darn tough,” he said, adding that the sum was not feasible. read more.
05:18:27 local time INDONESIA
* Ahok sends protesting workers back to work:
Deputy Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama lost his patience on Tuesday when facing protesting workers.
Dozens of workers grouped under the Nusantara Workers Association (SPN) were staging a protest at City Hall, demanding that the city administration force businesses to comply with the new minimum wage of Rp 2.2 million (US$226.69) set by the Jakarta Governor last year.
Basuki told the protesters in a raised voice that the labor issue was not the only one the administration was facing.
“We are focusing on the aftermath of the flooding that recently struck the city and we have just inaugurated new agency heads. So, I am sorry to say that you are not the only Jakarta residents that we have to think about,” he said. “We are not unsympathetic, but there are far more important issues we have to solve.”
* Businesspeople seek more say in city minimum wage policy:
Businesspeople have demanded that Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo involve them more in creating public policies and programs related to their businesses.
Deputy chairman of the Jakarta office of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), Sarman Simanjorang, said on Wednesday that the new administration paid little attention to them.
Sarman said on the sidelines of Kadin’s annual provincial leadership meeting that the organization hoped the governor, who had been in office since October, would be more “open” with businesses. read more.
* Bali reports decline in textiles exports:
Bali`s exports of textile and textile products (TTP) shrank 19.83 percent in value to US$100.65 million in 2012 from US$125.54 million in the previous year.
The export earning fell despite an increase in volume because of shrinking price, I Ketut Teneng, chief spokesman of the Bali provincial administration, said.
Bali`s TTP exports rose 3.02 percent in volume to 45.51 million pieces in 2012, Ketut Teneng said here on Wednesday.
He said TTP contributes 20.89 percent to Bali`s total export earning of US$481.83 million in 2012. read more.
03:48:27 local time BURMA MYANMAR
* Vague laws still hamper FDI in Myanmar: Jetro:
Foreign investors are still concerned about inadequate infrastructure and obscure investment laws and regulations in Myanmar, while the sharp rise in the kyat has hurt its exporters.
“The biggest concern is poor |infrastructure,” Toshihiro Kudo, a senior research fellow at the Japan External Trade Organisation’s Insti-tute of Developing Economies, said yesterday.
Myanmar still faces a power shortage, but electricity supply is set to improve next year when a new power plant commences operations.
Clothing exports from Myanmar to Japan jumped to $408 million in 2012 from $4.6 million in 2005, but this was trivial compared with garment exports from China worth $25 billion in 2012. And these products are made by domestic companies, not by multinational corporations. read more.
03:18:27 local time BANGLA DESH
ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* 2 foreign buyers to form foundation to support wards of Tazreen fire victims:
C & A and Li and Fung-two global buyers have come up with their supports to provide educational and medical expenses to the children of Tazreen fire victims, officials said.
Under the move, the buyers in association with the BGMEA-the apparel apex body-are going to form a foundation to run their support programme until the children turn 18 years old.
BGMEA will work as a facilitator while the two buyers will render the financial support. read more.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Inditex to clear bills for Smart garments but won’t sell products:
Spanish retail giant Inditex has decided to receive the products that the fire-ravaged Smart Export Garments of Bangladesh was making for the retailer without its knowledge.
But the retailer will not put the garments on display as the factory was a noncompliant one, an official of Inditex said.
After buying the products from Smart Export, the Dhaka-based factory where eight workers died in a fire on January 26, the retailer will destroy the products, he said.
Logos of Bershka and Lefties — two major brands of Inditex — were found in the ashes after the fire.“We will buy all the garments from the factory, but will not put those on display at our stores,” said the official at the Dhaka office of Inditex, asking not to be named.
However, the official did not say anything about the value of the garments or how those will be destroyed. read more.
* Families of Bangladesh fire victims receive compensation:
Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina handed out compensation to the families of fire victims at Smart Fashion factory of 26 January 2013. The agreement was negotiated by the IndustriALL Regional Office, IndustriALL Bangladesh Council of trade unions (IBC) and brands Inditex and New Look.
Families of the deceased female workers Nasima (28), Josna (19), Laiju (18), Fatema (17) and Nasima (17) gathered in the Prime Minister Office in Dhaka where disbursement ceremony took place.
According to the agreement, each family receives 1,049,000 BDT (13,300 USD), and one family with two minor children gets an additional 10 per cent to meet educational costs for minor children. The injured workers as well as those who lost their employment will also receive compensation. The workers earned an average monthly wage of 4,000 BDT (50 USD). read more.
* BGMEA, BKMEA express concern over hartal:
Associations of the country’s export-oriented apparel business owners on Wednesday expressed their deep concern at the general strike called by the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami for Thursday.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers’ and Exporters’
Association in a joint press release called on Jamaat to withdraw the hartal for the sake of the economy as well as the apparel sector. read more. & read more.
* NCCI urges Sweden to buy more garments from Bangladesh:
* 2nd Global Social Responsibility Conference begins in city today:
Successful business leaders from home and abroad will discuss about business strategies and focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) at an international conference at the Radisson Water Garden Hotel in the city today (Thursday).
The German Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BGCCI) in association with the German Embassy in Dhaka and GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft for Technische Zusammenarbeit) is organising the two-day 2nd Global Social Responsibility Conference 2013. The UNDP and the Netherlands Embassy are also co-partners of the conference. read more.
02:48:27 local time INDIA
* When 100 million Indians went on strike:
Last week was a historic moment for the Indian working class.
Irrespective of political ideology or affiliation, 20-21 February saw around 100 million workers come together in one of the biggest strikes in world history.Millions of workers took to the streets after India’s major trade unions called a two-day countrywide strike from 20-21 February, 2013 (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Responding to the call of 11 central trade unions and independent federations, these workers were protesting against the anti-people and anti-work policies of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
In raising their 10-point charter of demands, they brought the nation to a virtual standstill.
Since independence in 1947, India has seen innumerable strikes and protests.
* Use of bar code low among apparel makers:
The MSME Development Institute under the Union Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises has commenced a drive to improve the use of bar code facilities among the apparel manufacturers falling under the MSME segment in Tirupur knitwear cluster.
The bar codes are the series of black stripes printed on product packages, which can be read by computerised gadgets to instantaneously capture data on price and quantity. read more.
* Demand for lowering cost of fund justified:
The Economic Survey 2012-13, tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, has justified the demands of the industrialists in apparel clusters like Tirupur for lowering the cost of funds and addressing infrastructure bottlenecks immediately.
The Survey has indicated that export of overall manufactured goods had declined by 10.4 per cent between April 1 and November 30 this fiscal when compared to the corresponding period of the last fiscal.
The export of textile goods, including ready made garments, had fallen by 6.4 per cent during the first eight months of the fiscal vis-à-vis corresponding period in 2011-12. read more.
* Withdraw VAT on textile traders: BJP:
BJP district president G.S. Nagaraju urged the government to withdraw Value Added Tax (VAT) on textile traders. In a statement, he said the government remained insensitive to the strike of textile traders for waiving the tax.
He said the textile tax affected every sphere of life and not traders alone.
Hardship to consumers
Consumers would be the victims of the government’s decision.
He alleged that the governments at the Centre and the State were enhancing the taxes at their will and causing severe hardship to all sections.
Meanwhile, the BJP city unit named N. Purnachandra Reddy the president of city Yuvamorcha at a meeting here on Wednesday. to read.
* Textile traders observe bandh:
Following bandh call given by A.P. Federation of Textile Associations, textile traders observed bandh on Wednesday in protest against bringing textile trading under sensitive commodities wing.
Federation district committee members led by Sabarimal and Narasimha Rao, president and secretary respectively took out a massive rally from Balaji Textiles Market in the town to the Collector’s Office where they raised slogans demanding uniform tax structure on the basis of turnover throughout the nation. They felt that bringing the trade under sensitive commodities is force them to pay value added tax, which will burden small textile traders.
Srikakulam Cloth Merchants’ Association on Wednesday urged the government to withdraw Value Added Tax immediately since it would a burden ultimately on consumers.
Association representatives held an emergency meeting and opposed stringent rules that were disrupting the business activity. to read.
* AP textile traders to stop buying products from other States:
The Andhra Pradesh Federation of Textile Association representing some 75,000 textile shop owners, has called for a total textile bandh in the State on Wednesday.
This is to register its protest against the State Government’s move to bring textiles under Sensitive Commodities, which would put an extra financial burden on traders.
Traders have also decided to stop buying textile products from other States, especially Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka, so that manufacturers in those States would put pressure on the Centre for roll-back of the Andhra Pradesh Government’s move. read more.
* Mills’ body wants Cotton Corp to fix price for MCU-5:
The Southern India Mills Association (SIMA) has urged the Textiles Ministry to ask the Cotton Corporation of India to announce a selling price for the cotton the latter procured from Andhra Pradesh.
The association, the apex body for spinning mills in the country, said that the corporation should in particular announce the price for the long staple variety MCU-5 to help the spinners.
The Cotton Corporation has procured over 20 lakh bales of the natural fibre, including MCU-5, as part of the Government’s market intervention operations. read more.
* Buyer-seller meet on jute products:
There is a definite need for exploring value addition possibilities in the textiles export sector to survive and improve the position. Jute products offer the much-needed variety to stay afloat in the international market, speakers underlined at a state level buyer-seller meet on jute products here on Wednesday.
The Textiles Committee, Karur District Handloom Export Cloth Manufacturers Association, MSME Development Institute, Chennai, and the South India Jute Association, Chennai, jointly organised the programme for facilitating a meeting of jute diversified product manufacturers and home textile exporters of Karur.
While the Karur home textile exporters are trying to identify the value additions that could keep them afloat in the international market beating competition, the jute product manufacturing sector is searching for viable market for its varied products. The stable jute prices could offset the yarn price fluctuations that affect the home textile export industry pretty often, many exporters felt. read more.
02:18:27 local time PAKISTAN
* Prgmea opposed to two percent sales tax on textile:
Pakistan Ready-made Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (Prgmea) on Wednesday termed the proposition of 2 percent sales tax at each stage as the last nail in the coffin of textile sector.
Prgmea patron in-chief Ijaz Khokhar said the country’s textile is already facing severe crisis such as energy, gas and is unable to compete in the world market due to high cost of doing business in Pakistan.
“The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is going to impose two percent sales tax on textile at a time, when the industry is seeking some relief from the government to compete in the international market,” he said, adding that this will be last nail in the coffin of the ailing textile industry. read more.
* PTEA hails release of tax refund claims:
The Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has hailed the release of Rs2 billion in funds for drawbacks on local taxes and levies (DLTL), the export financing scheme and mark-up rates schemes and incentives announced in the Textile Policy (2009-14), and has termed it a positive step towards export promotion.
In a press statement issued here today, PTEA Chairman Asghar Ali and Vice Chairman Muhammad welcomed the government’s decision and demanded more funds for the payment of pending DLTL claims. They said that different schemes under the Textile Policy, including the Textile Investment Support Fund, drawback of local taxes, refund of past research and development claims and the Export Financing Scheme, were initiated in 2009 to boost textile exports. read more.
* Pakistan textile industry upbeat as power crisis ends:
THE KARACHI-BALDIA FIRE:
* No bodies, no compensation for heirs:
Several months have passed since the fire erupted at the garment factory in Baldia Town, but dozens of families are still waiting for the victims’ bodies as well as for the compensation amounting to Rs900,000 for each victim’s family.
There are still 23 legal heirs of the victims who have not been compensated because their DNA samples did not match the bodies that were recently buried.
Nazia Parveen is one such legal heir. She is the widow of Riaz Ahmed and the sister of Rafaqat Ali. Ahmed and Ali both lost their lives in the fire at Ali Enterprises, the garment factory.
However, despite providing DNA samples thrice, she was not handed over her husband’s body and is yet to be compensated as well.
Parveen, along with other heirs of the victims, had recently staged a demonstration in front of the Sindh Assembly to demand the victims’ bodies and compensation.