18:53:28 local time CHINA
* Worker protests continue in China after Lunar New Year:
The number of worker protests in China fell, as expected, last month because of the Lunar New Year holiday. Nevertheless, almost as soon as the week-long break concluded, workers went out on strike again.
China Labour Bulletin recorded a total of 32 strikes and protests in February, primarily in the manufacturing and service industries. There were 22 protests at factories, mostly in the Pearl River and Yangtze River delta regions, with workers demanding both the payment of outstanding wages and salary increases.
Workers at a Taiwanese-owned factory in Guangzhou that produces shoes for Nike, for example, got an increase in their basic pay from 1,100 yuan per month to 1,300 yuan after going out on strike on 26 February. read more.
17:53:28 local time VIET NAM
* Missing owners bequeath messy legacy:
Workers of a Korean-owned garment company confiscate work machinery and equipment in November 2008 after their boss, who still owed them two-month salaries, fled Vietnam.
Lack of relevant regulations to retrieve assets compounds the problem of unpaid workers, overdue taxes and other arrears left behind by absconding foreign investors
Last October, the owner of Ado Vina – a South Korean-owned garment company in the southern province of Binh Duong – was found to have left the country secretly, owing VND250 million (US$11,933) in workers’ salaries, and tens of thousands of dollars to suppliers.
According to the Binh Duong Department of Planning and Investment, the owner had rented a factory in Thuan An Town and leased all the machines needed for production.
So, there was nothing much left to pay the debts, the department said, adding that even Ado Vina’s utility bills were incurred by the owner of the premises.
17:53:28 local time THAILAND
* Ministers urged to wear only Thai fabric:
The Culture Ministry will file a proposal with the Cabinet today suggesting that Cabinet ministers wear only clothes made from Thai fabric.
Culture Minister Sonthaya Kunplome said the measure would conserve energy, preserve Thai culture and promote the local textile industry. He has assigned permanent secretary Prissana Pongthadsirikul to notify all ministry offices to start a campaign urging that the public also wear Thai fabrics.
Five patterns have been designed for men and women to wear at work, as well as casual and semi-casual attire. The fabrics will include the “Ban Rai Phaoi Ngam” natural-dyed cloth designed by National Artist Saengda Bansith in Chiang Mai; chequered cloth from Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Thong Chai district; and the “Lukkaew” pattern from Songkhla. read more.
17:53:28 local time CAMBODIA
* ‘Historic’ factory deal leads to calls for more:
In the absence of a mechanism that pays out garment workers left stranded by factory closures, Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) will keep pushing global brands to negotiate resolutions like the one achieved at Kingsland Garment last week, a representative said yesterday.
“[With Kingsland], we were very clear with the brands that there was a responsibility because there was no one else to go to,” said Jill Tucker, chief technical adviser at BFC, an International Labour Organization monitoring program that helped bring H&M and Walmart to the bargaining table.
Although the retail giants, which had bought garments from Kingsland through separate vendors, won’t put forward any of the $205,000 promised to about 200 stranded workers, their involvement in talks was significant, Tucker said.
* Bandith charges reinstated:
In just 30 minutes, and out of public view, the Court of Appeal yesterday ordered the Svay Rieng Provincial Court to reinvestigate the case against former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith, who stands accused of shooting three garment workers during a protest last year.
The decision effectively places the reinvestigation back in the hands of a court that in December dropped charges against Bandith, citing insufficient evidence.
Speaking to journalists after the hearing, prosecuting judge Khun Meng Leang said Bandith’s charges of causing unintentional injury had been re-levied. read more.
* Cambodia to re-probe into shooting case against senior official:
Cambodia’s Court of Appeals on Monday ordered the Svay Rieng Provincial Court to bring ex- governor of Bavet city Chhouk Bandith to trial for ” unintentionally shooting” three female garment workers in a mass protest in February last year.
The Court’s order was made after a two-day closed-door hearing last week.
“Presiding Judge Khun Leang Meng had charged Chhouk Bandith with unintentionally wounding the three female protesters during a protest in February last year and he ordered the Svay Rieng Provincial Court to re-investigate and set a date for trial,” Chin Lyda, a lawyer for human rights group Licadho who is representing the three women, told reporters after the Court’s decision.
Chhouk Bundit, who was the only prime suspect of shooting Cambodian garment workers in a mass protest on Feb. 20 last year at the Manhattan Special Economic Zone (SEZ) situated in southeastern Svay Rieng province’s Bavet city. read more.
* Appeals Court Cements Lesser Charge Against Bandith, Orders Trial:
This afternoon, the Appeals Court’s Investigation Chamber charged ex-Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith with causing involuntary bodily harm under article 236 of the Penal Code, and sent the case file back to the Svay Rieng court for trial.
The Appeals Court apparently did not consider a more serious accusation than the one originally submitted against Bandith to loud public outcry. This decision follows a two-day long closed hearing in which Bandith admitted to shooting his weapon during the worker’s protest that resulted in serious gun shot injuries to three women, but denied knowing where the bullets went.
A key witness who testified during the hearing, a commune police deputy chief, said that he believed Bandith was the shooter, as he saw Bandith pointing his handgun at workers seconds after the shooting. read more.
18:53:28 local time MALAYSIA
* Why there is a need for a minimum wage policy:
All these years people have talked about how Malaysia’s poverty line income (PLI) is way too low and that we have been understating the amount of poverty in the country.
Some even go as far as to say that the amount of poor in Malaysia could well be increasing.
But when we set a minimum wage based on reference to the PLI for households in Malaysia, there was a lot of outrage over this.
“How are we to be able to make ends meet and show a profit” the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) ask.
The price of food and services will go up, they say and most of us will go bankrupt, the SMEs add. But will they really or will we see a fairly rapid shift to get more out of each employee and raise productivity? read more.
18:53:28 local time INDONESIA
* Indorama to Build $185 Million Plant in Purawakarta, West Java:
Polyester maker Indorama Group is building a new $185 million polyester plant in Purwakarta, West Java, founder Sri Prakash Lohia said in a rare interview on Monday.
The company aims to raise its production capacity by 300,000 tons per annum, more than doubling current capacity at the site, said Sri Prakash, who is also the chairman of the group. “It is the biggest factory that we have in our group. It is the largest in Asean [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations] and among the top 10 in the world,” Lohia said. read more.
17:23:28 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Burmese Workers in Jordan Prepare to Sue Factory:
Burmese workers on strike at a garment factory in Jordan. (Photo: Kyaw Zin Oo)
Striking Burmese workers at a garment factory in Jordan are preparing to sue their employers for abuse and neglecting the rights of employees following an incident on Saturday in which at least four workers were injured.
“One male and three female workers were injured when the factory supervisors and some local workers came to their hostels and dragged them out of their rooms and forced them to go to work. When they refused, they were beaten,” said Htun Htun Soe, one of the striking workers.
“Since this action threatened us despite our peaceful demands, we are planning to sue the factory management,” he added. read more.
16:38:28 local time NEPAL
* Eight minors rescued from traffickers:
Eight minors were rescued from Raxaul railway station from being trafficked on Friday evening, while they were about to board a train to Mumbai.
Development Nepal, an non-government organisation, rescued the minors aged between 13-15 years. Among the eight, seven were from Rautahat district alone and one from Bara.
According to the NGO officials, the minors are forced to do menial jobs and mostly employed in fabrication works, sewing plastics, leather and cloth bags in different parts of India.
Hundreds of minor children, aged between 12-15 years, from Bara, Rautahat, Sarlahi and Mahottari districts are trafficked to several cities in India for forced labour through a train that runs every Saturday from Raxaul.
Development Nepal’s Coordinator Sandip Singh said some minors are taken forcefully while in many other cases parents willingly send their children expecting that their earnings can help in running the household. “This is becoming a
serious problem,” he added. read more.
16:53:28 local time BANGLA DESH
* A flurry of fires in Bangladesh raise concerns over garment-worker safety:
Rajina Aktar was sewing pockets into a pile of winter jackets bound for Europe when the fire’s toxic smoke knocked her out on a second-story floor.
In a pitch-dark panic that saw more than 350 people bolt for a single exit, someone carried the 15-year-old girl to safety. Eight others were trampled to death on the staircase, a few steps shy of daylight, in the Jan. 26 blaze at Smart Export Garments, an illegal factory on the outskirts of Bangaldesh’s capital.
Once again, foreign-brand labels were found among the burned-out wreckage, just as they had been in other episodes among a flurry of tragic fires that have set passions alight over the ugly underbelly of the country’s ready-made garment industry.
Garment making is the backbone of Bangladesh’s cash-strapped economy, accounting for annual exports worth $24.3 billion last year, about 80 percent of the country’s earnings. But the staggering frequency of lethal factory fires — which have claimed more than 500 lives since 2006 — shows that rising profits have not led to improvements in safety. read more.
* Apparel sector: A ‘laundry list’ for next BGMEA leadership:
Be it the issue of human resources or industrial relations or labour standards or minimum wage or productivity improvement or safety and security of workers, Bangladesh got to address all issues in its apparel sector in order to maintain its `edge’ in the global apparel ‘supply chain’.
The country entered the apparel export market in 1978 with only 9 units in operation. During the last three decades this sector has achieved a phenomenal growth, mainly due to dynamism of the private sector entrepreneurs receiving government’s policy support. Now the number of RMG units is around 5,000 and the export earnings have exceeded USD 19 billion with 145 countries using ‘made in Bangladesh’ knit garments and 126 countries using `Bangladesh’ woven products. Analysts at home and abroad are convinced- Bangladesh apparel export can be more than doubled by 2020.
RMG roughly covers 76 per cent of the total export of the country and it is the highest revenue earning industry in the economy. There are around 3.6 million workers, out of which 80 percent are women. Marketing ‘Guru’, Philip Kotler when asked on `Bangladesh Branding’, didn’t even spend one minute time to come back with `it got to be in and around its’ ready-made garments’. read more.
* Garments owners concerned over hartal:
Readymade garments factory owners are deeply worried about bad effects of Hartal in their industries.
They have expressed their concern about this foreign related business. Export-Import activities, productions shipment, raw materials carring and workers attendance are hampering seriously during hartal.
On the other hand, overseas buyers from different countries are lossing their interest to give more order in Bangladesh.As a result,a bad impact of hartal interrupted in this important sector of country’s economy,said related sources.
Country wide a three-day-long hartal, called separately by Jamaat-e-Islami for the first two days and by the BNP also separately for the following third day have been running from Sunday.
The incidents of violent clashes in different places of the country have been continuing centering this hartal from Saturday and Sunday that might happen in the next days.In this circumstances, the total businesses in readymade garment sector are experiencing the worst days of such political disturbances as like as other sectors of country’s economy. read more.
* garment exporters demad payment of bills by Indian business house:
In an effort to draw attention of the visiting Indian President Pranab Mukherjee to Dhaka, 22 Bangladeshi garment exporters have renewed their claim on an Indian importer to settle payment of US$ 5 million against shipment of readymade garments that the buyer is not paying back.
Delhi-based importer and super shop chain Lilliput Kidswear having 275 sales outlets across India had imported the apparels last year and despite its repeated assurance of payment the money is not paid yet to the local exporters. Exporters said they bare victims of breach of contracts.
Addressing a press conference at Jatiya Press Club yesterday the local RMG exporters said their factories were facing bankruptcy in absence of fund to run production and meet new supply orders.
It is a mistrust destroying business confidence with Indian buyers, they said adding the lone incidence is leaving negative impact on India-Bangladesh trade relations, they said.
read more. & read more. & read more.
ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* Families of 57 Tazreen fire dead workers get compensation:
Labour and Employment Minister Raziuddin Ahmed Razu informed the House on Monday that the families of a total of 57 persons out of 111 who were killed in a fire at Tazreen Fashion at Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital have been given compensation so far, reports BSS.
“The activities for providing compensation to the families of the rest killed workers are going on,” he said in reply to a tabled question from treasury bench member Begum Faridunnahar Laily.
The minister said Taka 6 lakh is being given to the family of each of the dead workers. The Prime Minister herself handed over a cheque for Taka 6 lakh to each family of the 48 killed workers on December 4, he said.
read more. & read more.
16:23:28 local time INDIA
* ‘Cotton Corporation failed to protect farmers’ interest’:
The Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has not been following the guidelines either on opening the notified procurement centres or on offering proper value to the farmers’ produce, according to a fact finding committee headed by former Andhra Pradesh high court judge Justice G Bikshapathi.
The committee visited the Warangal agriculture market yard, one of the largest cotton markets in the state, on February 8 following a flash protest by the cotton farmers on being denied the minimum support price (MSP). read more.
16:23:28 local time SRI LANKA
* Sri Lanka to establish 25 hand loom industry villages:
Sri Lanka Ministry of Industry and Commerce has taken steps to establish 25 handloom industry villages island wide by the end of this year.
The Ministry aims to encourage the villagers to produce handloom textile, which has a high demand in local and foreign markets, as a measure to increase employment and strengthen rural economy.
The Ministry has planned to establish handloom training centers in these villages and 500 craftsmen, 20 for each village will be trained and employed under this scheme.
Sri Lanka’s handloom industry is estimated to be around US$ 13 million annually, and the Ministry is pushing to upgrade the sector as an OEM ((original equipment manufacturer) supplier to the world market. to read.
15:53:28 local time PAKISTAN
* Pakistan to apply for GSP-plus scheme soon:
Pakistan will apply to the European Union sometime early next week seeking to qualify for GSP+.
According to informed sources, based on a brief prepared by Geneva-based International Trade Centre (ITC), the Ministry of Commerce has prepared a strong case to benefit from EU’s GSP-plus scheme 2014 through enhancing competitiveness in the qualified sectors.
The ITC brief mentions conditions of GSP+ as follows: To qualify for GSP+, Pakistan and other beneficiary countries are eligible for duty-free imports of non-sensitive items and reduced tariffs for sensitive items, subject to ratification and effective application of 27 key international conventions on sustainable development and good governance (16 on human rights and labour rights and 11 on environmental standards and drug enforcement). read more.
* SROs 283 and 1125: textile industry critical of malicious campaign:
The textile industry is quite furious over the malicious campaign with respect to the SROs 283 and 1125 respectively in media. The industry circles said that the spinning industry has fully complied with the requisites of the above-mentioned two SROs with respect to the supplies made to the domestic market.
Therefore, the harassment campaign, being launched in a section of press, needed to be dispelled forthwith by taking up the matter and represented to the Chairman FBR by the Aptma leadership to resolve the concerns of the department. The trading and ancillary industry, as a matter of fact, may indulge into the misuse of the terms and conditions of the two SROs. read more.
* Textile group implicated in tax fraud:
The Intelligence and Investigation of Inland Revenue (I&I IR) of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) unearthed a tax fraud by a leading textile group, which was using benami accounts to evade sales tax.
The group had evaded Rs330.56 million through eight dummy companies. According to the FIR lodged by the I&I IR of Lahore Directorate, a copy of which is available with The News, the group was accused of evading sales tax.
The FBR discovered that the Lahore Textile & General Mills Ltd, Jamhoor Textile Mills Ltd, Tribal Textile Mills Ltd, Shahzad Textile Mills Ltd, Fazal Cloth Mills Ltd and others were involved in massive tax evasion by misusing the facilities granted under SRO 283(I)/2011 dated 01-04-2011. read more.
* Al Jazeera- The price of a ‘fast’ life:
Who is feeding our insatiable desire for food, the latest fashion, and gadgets and do we care about the consequences?
Our programme this week starts with the way we consume the everyday stuff like food, apparel and increasingly, electronic gadgets. These are things which make our lives easier, more exciting. But when we dig a little deeper, we find them all to be tainted with some kind of scandal – the type that exploits people, usually in places where they can least afford it.
But it is something we often put to the back of our minds. When we pick up, say, our Apple iPhone – do we think about the conditions in the Foxconn factories in China where they are made?
Worse still, people die in fires in textile factories in Pakistan and Bangladesh – but does it stop us returning to the same clothes stores to buy more of those products?
Usually not until we start to consume something we had no intention of consuming and the recent horsemeat scandal across Europe has illustrated that quite starkly.
Bangladesh exports $24.3bn worth of clothing – almost 80 percent of all its exports. With around 5,000 garment factories employing more than three million workers – most of them women, the tiny nation is the world’s second largest exporter of clothing after China. read and see more.