19:15:07 local time CHINA
* Sportswear maker 361 net profit drops 37.6%:
Fujian-based sportswear maker 361 Degrees International Ltd said its net profit declined 37.6 percent to 715 million yuan ($113.73 million) in 2012.
Its gross profit margin was 39.8 percent, down 2.6 percent year-on-year. The inventory balance was at 460 million yuan, while the value of work in progress increased to 116 million yuan from 60 million yuan in 2012.
The Hong Kong-listed company said that oversupply and fierce competition drove down the average selling price of its products and the gross profit margin.
19:15:07 local time PHILIPPINES
* PH faces last bar to EU GSP eligibility:
The Philippines has to hurdle one more criterion -– that which involves labor rights – to be eligible for an expanded duty-free scheme with the European Union.
In a statement, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the EU had indicated that the Philippines is now eligible under the first criterion: the non-diversification of exports and low proportions of EU imports under the generalized systems of preferences (GSP) plus.
The Philippines is a beneficiary of the general GSP arrangement. The GSP covers a total of 6,209 products, 2,442 of which are subject to zero duty while 3,767 are subject to reduced tariffs. On the other hand, the GSP plus arrangement has a larger coverage of 6,274 products, all of which are subject to zero duty. read more.
18:15:07 local time VIET NAM
* Garment businesses receive orders until Q3:
Garment businesses’ are seemingly more optimistic about their prospect of production and export business after receiving many orders for the second and third quarters of this year, according to the Import and Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).
However, domestic consumption remains at a low level with sales of clothes for adults staying at 149.2 million units in February, a 19 percent decrease from January’s figure although the total sales in the past two months rose to 367 million units, up 0.7 percent from last year’s same period.
In the meantime, the industry’s export revenue hit US$2.84 billion, an increase of 38.4 percent from a year earlier. read more.
18:15:07 local time CAMBODIA
* Increasing Wage, Lowering Down Strike for Garment Workers:
* ‘Strange’ interlude for Clean Clothes activists:
Five Clean Clothes Campaign foreign activists detained while visiting workers on strike at the E Garment factory in Kandal province were released without charge late Tuesday night, one of them told the Post yesterday.
Ben Vanpeperstraete, from Belgian NGO World Solidarity, which is part of CCC’s network, said the five had walked free at about 11:30pm after six hours in police custody.
“They did not give a charge or [state] a suspicion. To be honest, I think [the detainment] might have been to scare us,” he said, adding that the whole incident had been “a bit strange”.
The five were detained after meeting with members of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union outside the factory, where workers, who say they make garments for H&M, have been striking since late January.
C.CAWDU members claim they have been injured, including by military police, in two instances in the past month. read more.
17:15:07 local time BANGLA DESH
* Fire safety improvements ‘essential’ in Bangladeshi garment sector:
A number of fatal factory fires have highlighted underlying faults with regards to workers’ rights in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector. David Stevenson looks at the issue and the growing calls for change.
Less than a month into the New Year and international media headlines were focused on a garment factory fire which killed seven people in Dhaka, Bangladesh. However, the incident at Smart Export was not a single, confined event.
Unfortunately it just highlighted, yet again, the risks faced by many workers in the country’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector. It was also the next chapter in an unhappy storyline, which only recently saw over 100 workers lose their lives in a factory fire that ripped through the premises at Tazreen Fashions in November 2012.
These incidents are the latest editions in a series of deadly fires that could have been prevented with appropriate measures, according to numerous labour rights advocates.
In fact, a report conducted by the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) entitled Deadly Secrets, has highlighted how corporate-controlled monitoring has failed to protect workers’ lives since 1990, with over 1,000 people having been killed in garment factories in Bangladesh alone. read more.
* BGMEA sign deals with BADAS, STEP:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Wednesday signed two agreements with Diabetic Association of Bangladesh (BADAS) and Skills and Training Enhancement Project (STEP) to ensure health safety of RMG-sector workforce and increase their skills respectively.
Under the deal signed with BADAS, the association’s network will provide health services to the employees of the BGMEA member factories.
BGMEA president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said: “Occupational safety is the largest challenge that the RMG sector is now facing. Workers of the sector will get access to the country’s most expanded health service network through the initiative.”
16:45:07 local time INDIA
* Time for Transparency-The case of the Tamil Nadu textile and garment industry:
This paper argues in favour of enhanced transparency in the global garment supply chain. Building on recent work on the appalling employment and labour conditions in the Tamil Nadu (India) textile and garment industry, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) build the case for substantial supply chain transparency.
SOMO and ICN believe that disclosure of detailed information regarding corporate structure, suppliers’ base, employment relations, work force, and due diligence processes, among others, is an important prerequisite to enable different actors along the supply chain, workers in the first place, to address human rights violations and improve working conditions.
Read more & Download whole publication: Time for Transparency.
* Textile mill owners in Maharashtra agree to 48% wage hike:
* Minimum wage hiked under central scheme in state:
In another development that marks a thaw in the relations between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress, just about two months before the panchayat polls, the Centre on Monday increased the minimum wages in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) in West Bengal from Rs 136 to Rs 151.
“Our demand was Rs 174 per day and for this I have written nine letters to Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh since I became minister for this department two years ago,” Subrata Mukherjee, state minister for panchayat and rural development, told The Indian Express.
The state is still behind states like Haryana which has the highest wages with Rs 200, and states like Goa, Karnataka, Punjab, Delhi, among others. read more.
* ‘Trade unions responsible for jute mill lockout’:
Neelam Jute Mills Private Limited on Wednesday alleged that the trade unions and lethargic workers were responsible for the lockout of the factory located at Singupuram though the management wanted to protect their interests.
Around 800 workers lost their wages with the lockout declared on Monday by the company on the grounds of ‘irresponsible’ behaviour of the staff and steep drop in production. Addressing a media conference here, factory Executive Director Krishnakant Agarawal said a few leaders of the trade unions had polluted the minds of the workers who in turn were disrupting the production demanding more than 50 per cent hike in wages. read more.
* Textile units shifting base to Kariapatti:
Space constraints and the absence of modern infrastructure have prompted 35 textile manufacturing and processing units in Madurai to shift base to Kariapatti in neighbouring Virudhunagar district.
The units manufacture yarn and process them into fabrics before exporting them to various places. The units in Madurai generate an annual revenue of Rs. 100 crore by direct export and Rs. 350 crore by indirect export within India and to the US and the UK.Ritan N. Thakker, Chairman and Managing Director of Southern District Textile Processing Cluster, told The Hindu that 35 of the 70 units in Madurai would form a cluster at Kariapatti where 104 acres of land had been purchased.
The industrial units had registered their names at the District Industries Centre in Virudhunagar and once the formalities were over, the construction of industrial units will begin. “We are planning to move our base to the new industrial cluster by the end of 2013. It will have a common effluent treatment plant with a processing capacity of 35 lakh litres a day. There will be a green belt of 30 acres in the industrial area,” he said. read more.
* Garment industry hails CVD on Bangladesh goods:
The decision to impose Countervailing Duty (CVD) on garments imported from Bangladesh is being perceived as a game-changer for the industry.
The union budget for 2013-14 has imposed countervailing duty of 12.36% and additional cess of 3% on garments imported from Bangladesh. This was one of the major demands of the knitwear and ready-made garment manufacturers here, who were complaining regularly that the duty-free import of garments from Bangladesh was hurting the Indian industry badly.
The decision to withdraw the central excise duty on branded garments was also a reason to cheer for them.
Now, the industry is hopeful that three factors, including withdrawal of 12.36% of central excise duty on branded garments, imposition of CVD and educational cess would collectively bring about a change in their condition. Chairman of knitwear club, Vinod Thapar said: “The imposing CVD and educational cess on garments imported from Bangladesh will ensure a level-playing field to Indian manufacturers, whose prospects were being hurt due to a tough competition from neighbouring country.”
* Bangladesh rejects India’s request:
Bangladesh has rejected India’s request to notify it as a country from where it imports cotton yarn as input for textile products it exports to the European Union (EU).
“Bangladesh has not accepted India’s request,” Minister of State for Commerce and Industry D Purandeswari told the Lok Sabha in a written reply on March 4.
India had been requesting Bangladesh for more than a year now to extend the EU’s generalised scheme of preferences (GSP) benefits to yarn exporters. If Bangladesh had notified India as a source country for its inputs, under the EU’s revised rules of origin, the tariff concession benefits of EU’s GSP would have been available to Indian fabric and yarn exporters to Bangladesh. read more.
* Four children rescued at Vizag railway station:
As soon as I open my eyes in the morning, I have to rush to the spinning mill and start my work. Everyday, our shift is from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. then 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. again from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., said 10-year-old Tracy (all names changed) with tears in her eyes. Resting for hardly two hours in a day and eating leftover food provided by employers was the life shared by three others from the region.
These four, Tracy, Babitha, Padma and Lakshmi, aged between 10 and 12 years, were rescued by the GRP from the city railway station on Sunday when they were being taken back to Surya Lakshmi Cotton Mills at Amangal, Mahabubnagar district, and handed over to the Childline.
The agent, Office Rao from Ruguda village near Odisha, taking advantage of the poverty, lured the parents and guardians of Tracy and Babitha with well paying jobs in mills and took them there two years ago. After a two-month stint there these kids fell sick and returned home. Office Rao was caught at the station while he was taking Tracy and Babitha along with two new girls, Padma and Lakshmi, to Mahabubnagar.
Working for more than 20 hours a day, these kids never saw money. “Our employers GM, Yaswanth and Ramana never allowed us to sleep or relax. They used to beat us up when we were unwell. If any visitor came, they would hide us in either boys’ hostel or inside big drums kept in the warehouse or take us to nearby hills. We were told that our income would be credited to our parents’ account. There are nearly 5,000 people working in the mill and some used to misbehave with us,” Babitha told The Hindu. read more.
BANGLA DESH / CAMBODIA
* The Apparel Truth – Uncovering Labour Law Violations in the Clothing Trade:
This short film was made to present findings of labour-law violations in the garment industry in Bangladesh and Cambodia.
Sweat shops are still evident behind the mask of structured relationship between big clothing giants such as Nygard, Nike and GAP. Whilst appearing on the surface to adhere to labour laws the garment factories subcontract work to other factories where the laws are ignored and abuse is apparent.