18:50:45 local time CHINA
* Unions target foreign businesses:
China’s top trade union organization will prioritize setting up unions in all overseas-funded businesses that have been operating in the country for more than five years, particularly the world’s four-biggest audit firms, which have a strong presence in China.
Of the roughly 200,000 foreign-funded corporations in China, 91.4 percent had union representative by the end of 2012, said Wang Ying, a deputy chief overseeing grassroots labor organizations in the All-China Federation of Trade Unions.
“There are still enterprises that have invested in China for many years but are still reluctant to set up unions,” she said, highlighting particularly the ‘Big Four’ audit companies of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd, Ernst & Young, and KPMG, which together employ nearly 40,000 people nationwide.
17:50:45 local time VIET NAM
* Good orders fail to please Vietnamese garment exporters:
17:50:45 local time THAILAND
* Industrial production index, output on uptrend:
The Industrial Production Index is expected to move up by 5-6 per cent this year and industrial output by 3.5-4.5 per cent, according to the Industrial Economics Office.
Risks include slippage in the US and EU economies, appreciation of the baht, higher wages and volatile oil prices. Positives include growth in exports to Asean and other Asian markets, mild inflation and shallow interest rates.
The production index in January stood at 175.97, a jump of 10.1 per cent from last year in the wake of the great flood of late 2011. Director-general Nattapon Nattasomboon said yesterday that the improving index indicated that the quarterly index would grow at the same rate as January’s.
But garment production dropped because of the lingering economic problems of the United States and the European Union. Garment exports declined 5 per cent.
17:50:45 local time CAMBODIA
* Kingsland workers win settlement of more than US$200,000!:
20130301 This afternoon (loc.time) CLEC @cleccambodia tweeted:
Kingsland workers win settlement of more than US$200,000! Their spirit is
According to CLEC:
Workers went up against Walmart and H&M and won! Walmart supplier, Saramax
Apparel Group contributed $100,000, H&M supplier New Archid contributed
$45,000 to complement the sale of assets which will total $60,000.
Legal settlement demanded for our 156 clients is approximately US$205,000.
* Walmart, H&M at table:
Workers formerly employed by the Kingsland Garment factory, which closed down in December, take part in a two-day hunger strike yesterday. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post
As more than 80 workers from the shuttered Kingsland Garment factory enter day two of a hunger strike today, their representatives will meet with retail giants Walmart and H&M seeking more than $200,000 in owed wages and benefits.
To heap pressure on the two buyers – both of which claim their business with Kingsland ended months before the factory closed – workers began their hunger strike outside the Phnom Penh factory yesterday.
“We’re not eating … to seek a fair solution regarding our wages,” worker Or Sokuong said. read more.
* Factories Offer $11 Wage Increase; Unions Stick to Demands:
A coalition of garment factory owners offered to increase the minimum wage for garment workers by $11 per month, from $61 to $72, during pay negotiations on Tuesday with unions that are set to continue today at the Ministry of Social Affairs in Phnom Penh.
Last week, garment worker unions agreed on a joint demand that the monthly factory wage be increased to $120 per month, citing ever-higher living costs in Cambodia, and the ability of factories and international clothing corporations to meet the wage demand.
Unions at the meeting on Tuesday quickly rejected the $11 increase.
“It is not fair, which is why we did not agree,” said Som Aun, president of the National Union Alliance Chamber of Cambodia.
“In the union discussions, we might agree on a certain decrease [from the $120 demand],” Mr. Aun said, adding that he could not say what the unions’ new goal would be, since the negotiations will continue until an agreement is reached.
* Union still at odds over wages:
Union groups and social affair officials continued talks today in order to find solution to worker’s wages.
The talks were made following a failure to reach an agreement on wage increases on Wednesday between garment manufacturers and union groups.
Today’s meeting discussed the discrepencies each group had over the issue of minimum wage, the Cambodian Confederation of Trade Unions official, Vong Sovann told reporters.
“There’s a huge gap,” he said.
“The Ministry of Social Affairs have to meet separately with union groups inorder to close that gap.”
The Unions have lowered their demand from $120 a month to $100, employers however, remain firm at $72. to read.
* Bandith hearing concludes:
After two days and dozens of testimonies, hearings concerning the case of former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith concluded yesterday afternoon at the Court of Appeal.
On Monday, judges will announce whether Bandith should in fact be charged for the February 2012 shooting of three garment workers during a violent protest at a Svay Rieng special economic zone.
Charges of causing unintentional injury were dropped against the former governor in December after months of feet-dragging by the prosecutor and investigating judge. Amid public outcry, an Appeal Court prosecutor called for a re-investigation.
* Former Bavet City Governor Admits Shooting:
At times smiling and coolly confident, Bavet City’s former governor Chhouk Bundith on Wednesday attended an Appeal Court hearing to decide if he will be finally charged with shooting and injuring three women during a violent strike protest last year.
Reporters were prevented from entering the courtroom while lawyers and court officials declined to comment on the proceedings.
Appeal Court presiding Judge Khun Leang Meng said the court kept the controversial case closed to the public on the grounds the hearing was still “an investigation. It is not an entire trial.”
Seated on a bench facing the three judges on Wednesday, Mr. Bundith—who court documents claimed to be 38, but who looked several years older—could be seen through the courtroom’s Plexiglas door demonstrating what appeared to be his brandishing of a handgun during the violent events of February 20, 2012.
* Verdict of former Bavet governor due next Monday:
The Court of Appeal said it would announce next Monday the verdict in the case of former Bavet governor Chhouk Bandith, accused of shooting three protesting workers last year.
In hearings attended by many human rights activists on Wednesday and Thursday, the court questioned the former governor as well as the three victims and 20 witnesses. read more.
18:50:45 local time INDONESIA
* Thousands of Workers Rally Against Minimum Wage Exemption in Jakarta:
Thousands of workers on Thursday gathered in the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle and at the State Palace to rally against the government’s decision of granting companies exemption from having to pay the minimum wage set by regional governments.
President of the Confederation of the All Indonesia Workers Unions (KSPSI) Andi Gani Nena Wea said that the protesters have five demands, including asking the government to abolish minimum wage reprieve, low-wage policies and outsourcing.
They also called on the government to implement the Social Security Organizing Body (BPJS) Law, which requires all workers’ insurance and pension schemes to be managed by a single entity, the BPJS, It will provide health insurance to all Indonesians, and expatriates who have worked here for at least six months. The new body is scheduled to be established by Jan. 1, 2014/ read more.
* RI industry ‘heading for higher technology’:
Global production is currently shifting from basic goods to higher value-added goods, reflecting the change in the nature of worldwide trade; and the trend is also taking place in Indonesia at present, a report from British bank HSBC reveals.
The shift in production of basic goods toward higher value goods has taken place, particularly in Asia, with China leading the export growth of information and communications technology (ICT)-based products and industrial machinery, the latest HSBC Commercial Banking Trade Forecast says.
This will give an opportunity to other countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam to enter industrial sectors, such as textiles, that are heavily dependent on low labor costs, it says. read more.
17:20:45 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Burmese Workers in Jordan Strike for Better Pay, Conditions:
Burmese workers on strike at a garment factory in Jordan. (Photo: Kyaw Zin Oo)
Striking Burmese workers at a garment factory in Jordan say they will continue to push for better pay and working conditions, two weeks after walking off the job to protest what they describe as discrimination by their employer.
“Our demands are to be provided with Burmese-friendly food, an end to discriminatory treatment based on racial background and an increase in our salary from the current amount of US $155 to $200,” Kyaw Zin Oo, one of the protesting workers, told The Irrawaddy.
He said there are more than 1,200 female and 100 male workers from Burma currently employed at his factory, which is owned by the Century Miracle Apparel Mfg. Co., Ltd and located in the northwestern Jordanian city of Ar Ramtha.
16:50:45 local time BANGLA DESH
* RMG attracts newer markets:
One of the key impediments, witnessed over the years about Bangladesh’s export market structure, is the excessive dependence on a few target markets for major export products.
This is a feature characterising the fate of its number-one export product, readymade garments (RMG). This has been so, ever since the emergence of this sector as the mainstay of the country’s export earnings. It is true, though, that global consumption of garments is dependent on two predominantly major markets – the European Union (EU) and the US. There are numerous other potential and niche markets, exploration of which is critically important to sustain the growth of this expanding industry.
As an export product of Bangladesh, RMG grew primarily due to the demands from the two afore-mentioned markets at a time when prospects of growth of most traditional textile and garments producing countries were drastically blocked by the MFA (multi-fibre arrangement) quota regime. read more.
* Minister urges all to foil conspiracies over jute:
Jute and Textiles Minister Abdul Latif Siddique Thursday said Bangladeshi jute still has enormous potentials at home and abroad, but various conspiracies are going on to hinder the progress of local jute industry.
“We should save jute from the conspiracies, and bring back those golden days for the sake of a clean environment,” he said. read more.
* Int’l retailer C&A launches fire safety audit in Bangladesh:
The international Dutch chain of fashion retailer C&A has launched an in-depth fire safety audit at all its suppliers in Bangladesh after the country’s worst-ever industrial blaze at Tazreen Fashions.
The company also treats to shift its orders to other places if any factory fails to comply with the recommendations provided by the audit which is supposed to be completed by middle of March. read more.
ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* C&A declares support for Bangla garment factory victims:
C&A Europe announced numerous support measures following a fire at the garment factory of ‘Tazreen Fashion’ in Dhaka, Bangladesh. During the fire on 24 November, 112 people had died.
Among other products, the factory had manufactured garments for C&A. Ever since this terrible event, supporting the victims and improving fire safety measures in Bangladesh has been the main priority for C&A. An overview of measures is described below.
Recipients of financial support are
1. Children who lost a parent at the fire
2. Those injured and unable as yet to return to work
3. Families who lost a relative in the fire
The total funds being donated by C&A via the C&A Foundation in support of the 3 groups of victims as described above are estimated to be more than one million USD. 70 children from 46 families have been named as having lost at least one parent in the fire. An amount of USD 50 (4000 Taka) per month will be made available for each of these children until they reach the age of 18 years old.
read more. & read more.
16:20:45 local time INDIA
* More than 100 textile mills shut down in over 3 years: Sharma:
As many as 104 private and public sector textile mills have shut down since 2009 on account of financial and labour problems, the Parliament was informed today.
Referring to the Textiles Commissioner data, the Textiles Minister, Anand Sharma said, the number of closed cotton/man-made fibre textiles mills (non-SSI) was 104 from 2009-10 fiscal, up to December 2012.
“The major reason for closure of mills is financial problem. However, mills are also closed on account of labour problems and lock outs,” he said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha. read more.
* Budget proposals to boost investments: Sharma:
Steps proposed in the Union Budget today will help boost investments in the country and provide a thrust to the textiles industry, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said today.
“All the recommendations made by the Textile Ministry has been accepted in the Budget and the major announcements made by the Finance Minister will go a long way in helping the Textile sector, especially the green signal to the demand of the handloom weavers for working capital and term loans at a concessional interest of 6%,” Sharma, who also holds the textiles portfolio, said in a statement. read more.
* A major thrust to textiles sector:
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday gave a big thrust to the labour-intensive textiles sector by allocating Rs. 2,400 crore for modernisation of the power loom sector, Rs. 1,51,000 crore for Textile Upgradation Fund (TUF) and Rs. 50 crore for setting up of apparel parks.
The textiles sector has been reeling under continued international competition, falling demand and drop in exports.
The Minister allocated an additional sum of Rs. 96 crore in the next fiscal to the Ministry of Textiles for interest subsidy. He also proposed, for the first time, the setting up of apparel parks within the Integrated Textile Parks to house apparel manufacturing units.
For this purpose, he proposed an allocation of Rs. 50 crore to the Textiles Ministry to provide an additional grant of up to Rs. 10 crore to each park. Till now only textile parks were being set up. read more.
* Union budget positive for textile sector, says CITI:
Confederation of Indian Textiles Industry (CITI) has welcomed the Central Budget 2013-14 presented by the Finance Minister, Shri P. Chidambaram in Parliament as a positive package for accelerating the recovery of the textiles industry. In a statement issued here, Shri S.V. Arumugam, Chairman – CITI, stated that there have been signs of recovery in the industry for the past few months and some of the positive features of the Budget would help this process further.
Restoring the optional excise regime for branded garments and made-ups is the most positive factor in this Budget. Shri Arumugam stated that this has been a long standing demand of the industry. He also welcomed the announcement of continuation of Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) during the 12th Five Year Plan and allocating Rs.2400 crores for 2013-14. read more.
* Growth oriented budget for textile industry-SIMA:
The Indian textile industry, employing over 100 million people directly and indirectly has been looking for various schemes and assistance in the Union Budget 2013-14 to regain its global competitiveness which faced the worst ever crisis in its history during 2010-11 owing to an unprecedented volatility in the cotton prices and external factors.
The government announced a debt restructuring package of Rs.35, 000 crores during May 2012 which has enabled the industry to manage its financial crisis. The production cutback in China and favourable domestic and international market conditions gave a new lease of life to the textile industry from the middle of 2012 and therefore, the industry is on a revival path. read more.
* CMAI welcomes removal of excise duty on branded garments:
* Garment industry welcomes zero excise announcement:
The Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) has “extended thanks” to finance minister P Chidambaram for having “heard its pleas to remove excise duty from branded readymade garments”.
“The industry is in the throes of a crisis and this lifeline was desperately needed to bring back vigour and strength to this beleaguered sector,” CMAI said in a statement released Thursday.
“Reverting to the optional route will give some form of protection to the domestic garment industry from cheap imports. This will also encourage foreign retailers setting up shop in India to manufacture their requirements here rather than import from other countries,” the release said. read more.
* Indian textile sector cheers zero excise duty on garments:
* Textile, apparel sectors get fiscal bailout:
The crisis-ridden domestic textiles and apparel sector got a much-needed fiscal bailout in the budget with the government providing a host of sops to trigger a revival in the labour-intensive sectors that create jobs.
Finance minister P Chidambaram on Thursday proposed Rs. 2,400 crore to modernise the powerloom segment under the technology upgradation fund scheme (TUFS) while the outlay for setting up textile parks was enhanced to Rs. 300 crore including Rs. 50 crore for five new apparel parks.
“I propose to continue the TUFS for the textile sector in the 12th Plan with an investment target of Rs. 151,000 crore,” Chidambaram said. “The major focus would be on modernisation of the powerloom sector. I propose to provide Rs. 2,400 crore in 2013-14 for the purpose.” read more.
* Cut in import duty welcome, more needs to be done: Leather exporters:
The reduction in import duty on specified machinery for manufacture of leather and leather goods, including footwear, has evoked a mixed reaction from the leather industry. Most of the leather exporters in the city have welcomed the move of Union government, several others demanded to end the custom duty.
The finance minister had proposed to reduce the import duty on specified machinery for manufacture of leather and leather goods, including footwear, from 7.5 per cent to 5 per cent.
Mukhtarul Amin, chairman and managing director of a leather unit expressed dissatisfaction over the budget. He said, “The leather sector has received nothing much from this year’s budget. Like the abolition of excise duty from garment products, leather products should also be freed from the excise duty. Footwear should also be completely exempted from the excise duty.” read more.
* Weaving industry welcomes extension of TUF scheme:
The weaving industry, the second largest employer in the district, has welcomed the announcement of concessional interest on loans to weavers and the extension of Technology Upgradation Fund (TUF) scheme in the budget for 2013-14.
A six per cent concessional interest rate was announced for the loans for handloom weavers. It was also proposed that the TUF scheme would continue in the 12th Plan period with an investment target of Rs. 1,51,000 crore. The major focus would be on modernisation of the power loom sector. It was planned to provide Rs. 2,400 crore in 2013-14 for the purpose. read more.
* Union Budget 2013: Budget balm and blow:
Union finance minister P Chidambaram on Thursday seems to have partly redressed grievances of auto and taxi drivers by including them under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana
The scheme provides protection to BPL households from financial liabilities due to hospitalization, with coverage up to Rs 30,000 for most diseases. Beneficiaries need to pay only Rs 30 as registration fee, the Centre and state pay the premium to the insurer selected by state governments after competitive bidding….
The state power loom industry also received a boost with a five-year extension for funding under the Technology Upgradation Fund. Chidambaram also announced a mega powerloom cluster at Ichalkaranji at a cost of Rs 70 crore
* Clothes might even cost less! :
Saving the garment industry from the throes of a crisis with a lifeline such as zero excise duty for cotton and manmade sector (spun yarn) at the yarn, fabric and garment stages, is expected to help bring down prices.
Kolkata-based Dollar Industries, which makes undergarments, is willing to pass on the benefits to consumers with a 5 per cent drop in prices. “With no excise duties, we will now have a level playing field with the unbranded players. We will pass on the benefit to consumers with a 4-5 per cent drop in prices,’’ said Vinod Gupta, Managing Director, Dollar Industries. read more.
* Death by cotton:
In Maharashtra’s Mansawali village the story of farmer suicides continues as they continue to get entangled in the debt cycle of Bt cotton cultivation
The former Sarpanch of Mansawali village, Ashok Khadase, does not stop counting the honours his village received during his tenure as the village head. Mansawali is located in Hinganghat tehsil of Wardha district, around 60 km away from Wardha city.
“My village has been honoured with many State prizes. Mansawali was declared Tanta Mukti Gaon (dispute free village) three years ago. We also received Nirmal Gram Puraskar two years ago.”
But Ashok falls silent when it comes to farmers from his village who have committed suicide in the past few years. According to him, 15 farmers have committed suicide in the last 15 years and three in the last eight months.
Mansawali falls in the cotton belt of Yavatmal and Wardha district. Almost all the farmers in this village grow Bt cotton. read more.
15:50:45 local time PAKISTAN
* PTEA voices concern over imposition of two percent un-adjustable ST:
Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has expressed great concern over proposed imposition of 2 percent un-adjustable and non-refundable Sales Tax on each stage of textile sector abolishing the sales tax zero rating regime.
Talking to news persons, Asghar Ali Chairman and Muhammad Asif vice chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association termed it as the last nail in the coffin of textile sector. Textile industry was in a state of shock following this proposal as the industry was already on the verge of collapse due to multiple factors.
Such unrealistic decisions would adversely affect textile exports of the country at a time when industrial sector was already in hot waters due to multiple factors including energy crisis, high production cost, squeezing industrial activities and dwindling exports and such changes in tax regime would add fire to the fuel, endangering survival of trade and industry in the country, they said.
Huge amount of sales tax refunds were already stuck up with FBR and exporters were in liquidity crunch and this act will further add insult into the injury, they observed. read more. & read more.
* Exporters concerned at proposed abolition of sales tax zero rating:
Textile exporters have expressed concern over proposed imposition of 2 per cent non-refundable sales tax on each stage of the textile sector and abolition of the sales tax zero rating regime.
In a statement here on Thursday, they said that they were in a state of shock following this proposal as the industry was already on the verge of collapse due to multiple factors, including energy crisis and high production cost. They said that huge amount of sales tax refunds was already stuck up with the FBR and exporters were in liquidity crunch and the proposal would further increase their problems.
* Pakistan textile exporters unhappy over withholding tax:
* Government sets 6% higher cotton production target:
The government has set the cotton production target at 14.1 million bales for next season 2013-14, which is 5.75% more than the current year’s anticipated output.
For this season, the government had originally set the target at 14.6 million bales (each of 170 kg), but later revised it to 13.3 million bales following damage to crops caused by floods.
The Federal Committee on Cotton, which met on Wednesday in the Ministry of Textile Industry under the chairmanship of Textile Secretary Dr Waqar Masood Khan, set the production target for the upcoming season. read more.