in the news on-line, 17-18 March 2013

07:59:24 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Labor rights advocates commemorate fallen unionists, warn of worsening repression:

On average, 90 trade unionists and activists per year become victims of filing of criminal charges since the Aquino administration took over. This is more than double the yearly number of cases from 2004-2009.

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) commemorates this month the life and struggle of two trade unionists: Rogelio Concepcion, who was abducted and who remains missing up to this day, and Gerardo “Gerry” Cristobal, who was killed. Both of these cases happened on the month of March during the Arroyo administration.

“The cases of Cristobal and Concepcion remind us that the fight for justice and trade union rights should live on even amidst unrelenting state violence, oppressive and exploitative social structures,” said Dylin Lauron, CTUHR coordinator for Women Workers in Struggle for Employment, Empowerment and Emancipation Women WISE3.  read more.

06:59:24 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Footwear firms buoyed by prospect of EU deal:

Free trade agreements between ASEAN countries and the EU would help Viet Nam’s footwear industry enjoy a reduction of tariffs from the current 12.4 per cent to zero.

According to the Viet Nam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso), footwear is one of Viet Nam’s major exports, accounting for between 7-12 per cent of the country’s total export turnover.
The footwear industry includes more than 500 businesses that employ more than 65,000 workers, 75 per cent of them are women.

The EU is an important trading partner for Viet Nam and also a traditional market for the Vietnamese footwear sector.
Last year, footwear earned an export turnover of US$8.76 billion, accounting for 7.6 per cent of the country’s entire export revenue. Export revenue from shoes alone accounted for $2.65 billion and export revenue from bags was valued at $434 million.
read more. & read more.

* National week on labor safety and fire control launched:

The 15th National Week on Labor Safety and Hygiene and Fire and Explosion Control was launched on Sunday in Bac Giang province.

This year’s theme is “Promoting labor safety culture and measures to prevent industrial accidents, occupational diseases and fires at work”. Pham Thi Hai Chuyen, Head of the Organizing Board and Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, addressed the launching ceremony.
She said: “Employers have not done enough to ensure safety for workers: no protective equipment or unsafe equipment, no training on labor safety for workers. Workers also breach regulations on labor safety such as they don’t use personal protective equipment.”
On this occasion, 5 collectives were awarded the Prime Minister’s certificates of merit for their excellent performance in fire prevention and control in 2012.  to read.

 * Vietnam apparels makers resigned to another bad year:

Garment producers expect demand to be sluggish this year against a backdrop of likely inflation and static wages.

Many shops in Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s commercial hub, are offering unseasonal discounts of up to 80 percent, but still failing to attract customers, Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper reported Wednesday.
Few are willing to shell out even the dollar-odd for a T-shirt, two for a pair of trousers, and three for a dress.
Businesses said sales was 15-20 percent down from the same period last year.
read more.

06:59:24 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Leather industry upgrade urged to cope with high demand:

The local tannery industry needs to improve its production process to cope with higher costs after domestic leather prices increased by 250% over the past two years to a record high due to a shortage of leather supplies.

Wet salted hide is now traded at a record 58 baht per kilogramme from 20 baht in 2010 and 48 baht at the end of last year, said Somkiaet Bongkotpannarai, president of the Thai Leather Cluster. And prices are projected to rise further.

Currently, leather supply stands at half the demand. Thailand exports 30 billion baht worth of leather products a year excluding shoes, while 80% of the leather used here is imported.

“To cope with the shortage, manufacturers are looking at alternative materials such as polyvinyl chloride and fabrics and using less leather. We’re going to import leather from new sources such as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Africa,” said Mr Somkiaet, who is also a consultant to Sky Leather Co.  read more.
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06:59:24 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Myanmar’s siren song:

burma factories
Workers make clothing at a garment factory on the outskirts of Yangon in September of last year. Photograph: AFP

Unions and labour rights groups have spent recent months unashamedly drilling home a stark reminder: Cambodia’s minimum garment wage, at $61 per month, compares poorly with those in Thailand – where workers earn more than $200 a month – and Vietnam, which has a base wage of $110 in some areas.

One country deliberately left out of these comparisons is Myanmar, where, according to different sources, the minimum wage for garment workers languishes between $28 and $40 a month.
With the lifting of sanctions opening up what was long regarded a pariah state, stakeholders in Myanmar’s garment industry are expecting an explosion as Western investors seek to cash in on the opportunities such conditions spawn.

“In the near future, thousands of garment factories will appear in Myanmar,” U Aung Winn, vice chairman of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA), said in November.
The industry, in fact, has already been expanding. Although Myanmar was shunned by the West until last year, Japan more than doubled its orders from the country in 2011, as did South Korea.
This gathering of momentum has not gone unnoticed in Phnom Penh.  read more.

* Weaving a new future for silk:

In a little farm in Prek Bongkong village, in Kandal province’s Khsach Kandal district, one industrious Cambodian family is bent on keeping the silk industry alive in the Kingdom.

Older generations of the family used to raise their own silkworms and make silk, but the practices were forgotten during the Khmer Rouge regime.
Led by 27-year-old Heng Ney Sim, the family started raising their own silkworms again four months ago.

The worms are raised in giant rattan baskets, and the nursery is filled with mulberry leaves – nutritious chow for the fledgling worms.
Clutching one of the rattan nurseries, Ney Sim lifted the lid and revealed hundreds of tiny dead worms. She said she had spent the morning trying to save the remaining live ones from the high temperatures over the preceding days.  read more.

07:59:24 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Ministry Will Brief Foreign Workers Of Delay In Minimum Wage Implementation – Subramaniam:

The Human Resource Ministry has mobilised it committee to brief foreign workers on the delay in the implementation of the minimum wage policy in certain industrial sectors throughout the country.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam said the committee was mobilised with the help of foreign embassies to avoid any misunderstanding in the implementation of the policy.
“I am confident the foreign workers will be able to understand and accept the reasons. The delay is only temporary and done according to the law by employers.
read more.

07:59:24 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Asian brands focus on local fashion scene:

The country is becoming a preferential place for glossy Asian fashion and lifestyle brands seeking to showcase their merchandise.

Within a month, two large Japanese retailers, Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., the brand owner of UNIQLO, and AEON MALL Co. Ltd., have established their presence by setting up flagship stores here.

Two other big department stores from Indonesia’s immediate neighbors, Parkson Retail Asia, headquartered in Malaysia, and Thailand-based Central Retail Corporation (CRC), are already looking to open their first stores here next year.
read more.

05:59:24 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH


* Call for quick detection of Tazreen victims:

The families of the workers of Tazreen Fashions yesterday expressed their outrage, as the BGMEA and the government have not yet identified the bodies of the victims who died in the factory fire nearly four months earlier.

Meanwhile, Tazreen workers who were injured in the fire stated that many of them had not been given any compensation for their treatment.
They spoke at a press briefing organised by Garments Sromik Oikko Forum, Activist-Anthropologist and Garments Sromik Shonghoti at Dhaka Reporter’s Unity.
So far 41 bodies have been identified through DNA samples, but as many as 27 bodies still remain “missing”, speakers said.
“What happened to the body of the wife who died in the fire? We provided blood samples, but they said the blood of my father-in-law didn’t match any of the victims. Then we ask the government: what happened to her?” asked an outraged Ruhul Hannan.  read more.
daily star bd

* Govt, BGMEA accused of hiding real number of missing workers:

Families of the workers who went missing in the Tazreen Fashions blaze, labour bodies, and a group of anthropologists on Saturday accused the government and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association of machinating to hide the actual number of workers burnt to death on November 24 last.

The allegation was made at a press conference jointly organised by families of Tazreen fire victims, labour organisations, and the Activist Anthropologists at the Dhaka Reporters’ Unity.
Family members of the missing victims said four months had passed since the incident but they were yet to get justice or compensations. They demanded immediate action against the owner of the company and other people responsible for the fire.
The Activist Anthropologists claimed the death toll in the fire was more than 126 but the government and the owners claimed it to be 112, which was a clear attempt at hiding the truth.  read more.


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* 334 unauthorised RMG units detected in city:

An official committee, formed following the tragic fire incident at the Tazreen Fasions, has identified 334 non-compliant small-scale garment factories in the capital where safety and security of workers are under constant threat.

The committee in a report has suggested immediate relocation of these ill-equipped and unauthorised factories to avert possible accidents.

The report has listed, at least, eight different types of deficiencies in the factories that have been continuing their operations for decades defying rules and regulations.
read more.

* 10 injured as RMG workers clash with police:

At least 10 workers of a readymade garment factory were injured in a clash with police on Sunday at Katherpool under Sadar upazila in Narayanganj.

Police said the workers were demanding their arrears and an increase in their wages for the last few days.
When the workers of Kadtex readymade garments factory came to work, they found the factory gate locked and police were deployed in the factory.
The workers also got a notice from factory authorities that the factory was closed for an indefinite period.
As the workers tried to enter the factory breaking the gate, police personnel charged baton on them, leading to the clash for half an hour, which left 10 workers injured.
to read. & read more.

* Investors prefer BD to Thailand-Malaysia:

Foreign investors are choosing Bangladesh as investment destination due to low labour cost comparing to that of other countries, including China and Vietnam.

In China, the average wage of a worker is 500 US dollar, in Vietnam it is 300 US dollar while in Bangladesh the average wage is 60 US dollar.
Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Area (BEPZA) Major General KM Mominur Rahman made the disclosure at a press conference at BEPZA office on Wednesday last.

He also claimed that Bangladesh is going to be a developed country soon.
Due to high wage of labor in China, the investors went to Thailand and Malaysia much ago and that is why the wage format increased to 300 US dollar in these countries.

On the other hand, the average monthly wage of a worker in Bangladesh is only 60 to 65 US dollar, he told the newsmen.
BEPZA chairman told: “Due to big difference in labor wage the production oriented companies are failing to compete with other companies, which has made them compelled to relocate their factories in Bangladesh.”

He informed the journalists many big companies are going to close their factories in China, Malaysia and Thailand and Bangladesh is their first choice.  read more.
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* Compliance can cut RMG fire tragedies: roundtable:

There is no alternative to ensuring ‘compliance’ to reduce fire tragedies at the readymade garment factories in Bangladesh, industry stakeholders say.
They recommend enforcing the law to improve compliance, constructing buildings according to the code, keeping adequate fire-fighting equipment and training factory workers on fire-fighting system.

The suggestions came from a roundtable discussion on ‘Strategies to reduce fire risk in the Bangladesh garment industry’ in Dhaka on Thursday.
The roundtable was attended by the representatives from labour sector, buyers, suppliers, Fire Service and Civil Defence, insurance corporations, relevant ministries, European Union and other stakeholders.
read more. & read more. & read more.
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* Potential for local woven industry remains largely untapped:

The growth potential of the country’s woven textile industry remains yet largely untapped.

This, according to some relevant analysis, is a disconcerting situation, considering particularly the growing demand for fabrics from the local readymade garment (RMG) sector.
Fresh investments in the woven textile sector saw a drastic fall in the last calendar year, the data from different sources indicated.  read more.

* Withdraw Mar 18-19 hartal: BGMEA, BKMEA:

Concerned at the fresh hartal call, BGMEA and BKMEA on Saturday urged the political parties concerned to call off March 18-19 countrywide hartal in the greater interest of the economy.

In a joint statement, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association said hartal will impede growth, discourage investment, and slow down export putting employment at risk.
“BGMEA and BKMEA request the political parties to refrain from harmful programmes like hartal in the future apart from withdrawing the March 18-19 countrywide hartal,” it said.
The statement noted that the export-oriented garment industries in the country have already been affected badly due to the global economic downtrend and gas and electricity crises.  read more. & read more. & read more.
  daily star bd  wf-escenic-times

* Strike, political unrest take toll on RMG sector:

Frequent general strikes and political unrest in recent times have taken their toll on the readymade garments sector, raising cost of production, industry people said.

And due to the rise in the production cost country’s RMG sector is losing its competitiveness, they said.
They expressed their concern that a number of small and medium level entrepreneurs would be forced out from the sector as they have been facing threat of discount, cancellation of orders and deferred payment from buyers.

RMG exporters said they were incurring huge losses as they had been forced to increase working hours and make shipments of their products by air to keep deadlines due to frequent general strikes.
They claimed that during the recent general strikes enforced by the opposition political parties the production fell by 30-50 per cent and the cost of production went up by 30-40 per cent.  read more.

* RMG stock lot worth Tk 30b created for political turmoil:

Stock lot of readymade garment (RMG) has been increasing due to strikes and shutdowns called by political parties, the BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) research cell said.

It also said if the condition doesn’t improve, the buyers will be discouraged to give orders for Bangladeshi RMG.

“The RMG industry is passing a critical period because of the ongoing political turmoil featured with strikes, shutdowns and vandalism,” BGMEA President Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin told the FE.  read more.

* Machinery, goods of sweater factory looted in Gazipur:

Machinery and goods worth about Taka 52 crore were looted from  Naaj Sweaters Limited, an export- oriented sweater factory,  at Baimail area under Konabari  in sadar upazila of the district from February 28 to March 2 this year.

The criminals looted these properties  after  occupying the factory  and stopping all production activities forcibly. As a result,  the owners of the factory incurred  huge financial losses. He filed a case with the court  when failed to get the cooperation of the local police station. Court sources said, Abul Kalam Azad, a resident of Khilkhet in Dhaka,   rented several floors of FF Tower located  at Baimail area  under Konabari  beside Dhaka-Tangail highway under Gazipur sadar upazila  and started production  of Naaj Sweaters Limited, a fully export-oriented sweater  factory,  in 2008.

According to the  agreement, the owners of the FF Tower Jamal Uddin did not complete the construction work of three additional floors  at proper time. After a few days, Jamal Uddin died and his son Faruk Ahmed Samchi did not cooperate  with the factory owner. He also disagreed to complete the construction work of the floors violating the terms and conditions  of rental agreement. For this reason, Naaj Factory authority could not be able to go into full production.
More than 6,000 workers became unemployed as they closed the factory. Naaj Sweater authority filed a case  against Faruk Ahmed Samchi and his associates in the court.  read more.

* Many RMG entrepreneurs are ‘unaware of compliance benefits’:

Initial investment in sustainability pays back within a short time, said a leading ready-made garment (RMG) entrepreneur in the country.

A compliant factory enjoys more productivity and produces better quality products at less manufacturing costs in the long run, added Mr. MA Jabbar, managing director of DBL Group.

He further said business sustainability and compliance go hand-in-hand and these are nothing but awareness and mindset. In Bangladesh a lot of RMG entrepreneurs are not aware of the benefits of compliance, he observed.  read more.

05:29:24 local time map of india INDIA

* Demand for safe repatriation of kids employed in bangle industry:

Shortly after the United Nations Children’s Fund praised the Rajasthan Government’s efforts for child welfare, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has expressed alarm and concern over the Government’s latest order to clear the State of child labour, forcing an ‘unplanned’ exodus of these children “in batches from the bangle making units at Bhattabasti in Jaipur”.

The exodus of children started after a warning issued by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, North Jaipur, asking owners “to ensure that all children left work sites between March 2 and 12.”

NCPCR member Nina P. Nayak said: “While such action on the part of DCP for making the area free from child labour is appreciated better planning and coordination among all stakeholders is to precede such actions to ensure that the children are repatriated safely.”  read more.
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* Ahmedabad: Past tense, present drab & future bleak for 80 thousand mill workers:

Eighty-thousand mill workers, 29 defunct mills, three FIRs, five mediators and scam worth hundreds of crores of rupees. No, this isn’t a plot to RGV’s new blockbuster, but a mirror to the mess the workers of closed mills in the city are trapped in — their future as bleak and uncertain as their wait for a compensation package.For about four decades now, these workers have knocked on all possible doors for relief, but none came forth so far.
However, in a development that happened earlier this week, CID (Crime) issued a notice to 15 people in connection to siphoning of crores of rupees from the workers’ compensation package.
Cops may soon arrest the miscreants involved in the scam – including the liquidator, officials of labour unions, chartered accountants and bank officials. Sources in CID(Crime) say that if the discrepancies in all the 29 mills are scrutinized properly, the scam may cross even a thousand crore.  read more.
Daily Bhaskar

* Workers seek social security:

Hamali workers laid siege to the Labour Department building here on Saturday, demanding minimum wages and social security benefits.

The members of the Karnataka State Loading and Unloading Workers’ Union and Karnataka Shramika Shakthi took out a procession to the Labour Department and shouted slogans criticising the government’s attitude towards them.  read more.
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* Near 20% rural wage hike pushing up inflation: Assocham:

The near 20 per cent annual increase in rural wages is building up price pressure on food articles such as cereals, rice and wheat, industry chamber Assocham has said.

This may pose a big challenge for the Reserve Bank of India with regard to interest rate cuts in its monetary policy review slated for Tuesday.

The chamber said “From 2010-11 onward, the nominal rural wages have risen close to 20 per cent per annum, exerting pressure on the prices of food articles.” This works both ways.
The increase in the rural wages has raised demand for food articles, which led to the increase in the cost of production of food articles. “It is mainly a cost push which is fuelling the inflation of such crucial items,” the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry said in a paper on ‘Variables pushing food inflation’.  read more.
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* Government to amend minimum wages law: Minister:

Labour and Employment Minister Mallikarjun Kharge Friday said the minimum wages act would be amended to make the minimum wages announced by the centre “statutory for all states and applicable to all jobs”.

Kharge told the Rajya Sabha that the government would amend the minimum wages act to prescribe the “national floor-level minimum wages, which will be made statutory for all states and applicable to all jobs”.”
At present, the provisions of the minimum wages act are not applicable to those employments where the total number of workers in a state is less than 1,000. After the amendment, the act will be applicable to all employments,” Kharge said while responding to a calling attention motion on the recent trade union strike. read more.

* Lagadapati’s assurance to textile traders:

Vijayawada MP Lagadapati Rajagopal assured the textile traders agitating for scrapping of VAT on their products that the State Government was sympathetic to their cause.

Mr. Rajagopal visited the relay hunger strike camp at Vastralatha Shopping Complex here on Saturday.

Scrapping VAT
Interacting with retail and wholesale dealers he said that the Government was seriously considering scrapping VAT on textiles.
He said the Chief Minister was ready to take a representation from the textile traders and retailers.

Several MLAs had already conveyed to the Chief Minister the demands of the public. But a meeting between the textile traders and the Chief Minister was being delayed because the State Legislative Assembly was in session.
Meanwhile members of the Vijayawada Tailoring Workers Union (affiliated to AITUC) expressed their solidarity to the agitation and took out a silent procession through the main bazaars.  read more.
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* Textile mills feel the heat as cotton prices rise:

The mill sector is in a tight spot as cotton prices have gone up in the domestic and international markets .

While reiterating its demand for offloading cotton procured by Government agencies such as Cotton Corporation of India (CCI), the apex body of textile mills in the South — The Southern India Mills Association (SIMA) — has urged the Government to direct procurement agencies to come out with transparent and consistent policies.
read more.
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* Don’t panic about increasing cotton prices: SIMA:

With the price of Shankar-6, the most widely used variety of cotton, shooting up to Rs. 38,700 a candy on Friday, the Southern India Mills’ Association (SIMA) has urged the textile mills not to panic about the price trend.

Association chairman S. Dinakaran has said, in a press release, on Friday that the prices were expected to stabilise soon and hence, the mills should not get into panic purchase.

He also reiterated the association’s demand that the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) should offload the cotton with it to the actual users.
The CCI and other government agencies had procured over 20 lakh bales of cotton from the farmers in Andhra Pradesh at minimum support price.  read more.
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* Cotton at 11-month high on China import speculation:

The cotton price reached 93.93 cents, the highest for a most- active contract since March 30, 2012. This week, the commodity soared 6.5%, the most in five months

Cotton futures jumped to the highest in 11 months on speculation that China, the world’s biggest consumer, will increase imports.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) last week raised its estimate for Chinese consumption this year to 36 million bales, up by 1.4 per cent from a month earlier. The USDA also boosted its forecast for the Asian nation’s imports by 7.1 per cent. The Chinese government may boost import quotas by April, Reuters reported.

“Talk continues of additional Chinese cotton-import quotas being issued,” Sharon Johnson, a senior market specialist at Knight Futures in Roswell, Georgia, said in a report.  read more.

* Indian textile exporters pin hopes on EU-India FTA:

The textile and garment exporters of India are pinning hopes on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the European Union (EU) and India as it is expected to boost their exports to the EU.
Speaking to fibre2fashion, managing director of Nagreeka exports-leading manufacturer and exporter of cotton, yarn, and fabric, Mr. Sunil Patwari said, “The EU is a major export market for Indian textile and garment exports. So by signing the EU-India FTA, there will be an increase in our textile exports to the EU.”
“Our neighboring countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh are enjoying duty-free exports to the EU in yarn, fabric and garments. Once the India EU FTA is in place, we will be able to compete with these countries in exports,” he informs.
read more.

* Rs 2 lakh worth cotton, equipment gutted:

As many as 40 bags of cotton and several other items were gutted in the fire that broke out in the Hindustan Bedding House shop on Friday.

Cotton gins, 30 beddings, clothes used for stitching beds and other material and equipment were totally destroyed in the fire. The owners Shafiullah and Maulana have incurred a loss to the tune of Rs two lakh. The exact reason for the incident is yet to be ascertained.

The fire was spotted by the night beat police at around 3.45 am and immediately alerted the Department of Fire and Emergency Services. The Fire officials arrived on the spot and doused the flames in a seven-hour long operation. Four tankers of water were utilised to extinguish the flames.
A case has been registered at the Bangarpet police station.  to read.

* Sircilla in serious crisis:

Weaver attempts suicide; production grinds to a halt

The textile town of Sircilla is in the grip of a serious crisis following the indefinite strike launched by powerloom owners and weavers, which entered the fourteenth day on Sunday in protest against the Fuel Surcharge Adjustment (FSA) on the powerloom sector.

Following the strike, fabric production has come to a grinding halt on all the 34,000-odd powerlooms in Sircilla. The weavers, who are dependent on weekly wages were denied wages since last fortnight and were forced to make huge debts at high interest rates from micro finance companies.

‘Strike illogical’
The strike call given by the CITU trade union cast its shadow on the weavers with a powerloom weaver, Guntaka Santosh (26), making a suicide bid by consuming pesticide in Gandhinagar area of Sircilla on Saturday night. Unable to get work on the looms to clear his loans which mounted to Rs 50,000, the weaver resorted to the extreme step of consuming pesticide. He is undergoing treatment in Sircilla area hospital and his condition is stated to be critical.  read more.
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05:29:24 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Apparel exporters mull labor import:

The newly elected Chairman of the Apparel Exporters Association 200 GFP, Anis Sattar last week suggested that the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF), the apex body representing the Sri Lankan apparel industry request the government to consider at least allowing the import of 10% workers from abroad due to the current shortage of labor in the local industry.

According to Sattar, since many garment factories in the island are presently facing labor shortages which has a bearing on their turnaround it is pertinent to consider importation of both skilled and unskilled labor from countries like Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Addressing the 2013 Annual General Meeting held last week, Sattar said, “We are in a very competitive world, new generation/ideas, are controlling the world. The buying powers of our customers in this industry are rotating on the demand we can offer in terms of price, technology and service.
Therefore, we should strive to keep what Sri Lanka can obtain as orders and sustain it, rather than trying to betray each other, which results in revenue losses to both the country and the companies in concern”.  read more.

* Garments: Uphill Task To Stave Off Competition:

Lanka’s apparel industry is apparently caught up in a vortex with no one to turn to for succour but its own.
Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) Chairman Azeem Ismail speaking at a function in Colombo on Tuesday said that regional countries such as India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia enjoy preferential duties, but not Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka till August 2010 enjoyed duty free exports of garments and several other items to the EU, its single biggest export market, but lost this facility after August 2010 for not allowing the EU to investigate alleged human rights abuse committed during the final stages of its war against the LTTE.

As a result, a number of garment factories relocated their businesses in countries such as Bangladesh which continues to enjoy duty free access to the EU, in order to take advantage of this facility.

When this reporter asked Ismail whether Sri Lanka is going to reapply for the GSP + facility, he said that he doesn’t know as it’s a country decision and doesn’t come under the ambit of JAAF.  read more.

* International union calls for global organising for garment workers:

A local Sri Lankan garment union, FTZ-GSEU recently organised a demonstration to safeguard workers jobs and entitlements. 

In support of this, the global union federation IndustriALL put out a statement against the global ‘race to the bottom’ employed by garment companies. The Federation called on garment workers internationally to come together, speak with one voice and to fight for their rights as a united class organised internationally. read more.

04:59:24 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* PPP govt slammed for not protecting labour rights:

Trade union leaders on Friday criticised the outgoing PPP-led coalition government over what they described as “the worst ever and miserable conditions labourers had to undergo” during the past five years even after restoration of democracy in the country.

Speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, they said that though it was gratifying that an elected government had been able to complete its sanctioned five-year term, they felt compelled to say that the government had failed to meet expectations of workers as far as trade union activities and their rights struggle were concerned.

Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Unions Federation Pakistan (NTUFP) said that it was regrettable that governments in the centre and provinces had totally ignored workers, despite the fact that they played a basic role in various movements towards removal of retired general Pervez Musharraf’s government and restoration of genuine judiciary to the country and offered numerous sacrifices.

It was disappointing that even during the last days of the government, labourers had been subjected to victimisation and violence and were arrested by the police for “practising labour rights at a hotel and a pharmaceutical industry in Karachi,” he said.

He said that it was also ‘shocking’ that 12 power-loom workers were given a collective sentence of 490 years in various cases for their struggle of rights in Punjab, while another group of power-loom workers were tried in anti-terrorism courts.  read more.

* Textile mills created not a single job in last five years:

Members of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), despite being the largest industrial employers of the country, have not created single job during last five years, said senior official of the association.

Briefing a group of US journalists Saturday, Group leader Aptma Gohar Ejaz said that he was making this statement with full responsibility. “How can we create jobs when we are facing power crisis, huge discrimination in US and EU markets where 80 countries enjoy duty free status on their exports,” he questioned.

Pakistan, he said is the most affected US ally on war against terror. “We have seen thousands of our soldiers martyred and high number of civilian killed in terror attacks.” Around a dozen US journalists visited the Aptma office to interact with the elite business community of Pakistan.
They asked probing questions including the Iran-Pakistan pipeline project. Chairman APTMA Ahsan Bashir told them that the project is of vital importance for the country which would help it generate 4,500 MW of cheap and clean energy. He appealed the US media to see the logic behind Pakistan’s insistence on the pipeline project.
read more.

* Textile industry badly hit by energy woes in five years, US journalists told:

Group leader APTMA Gohar Ejaz has said textile industry has failed to produce a single job during last five years due to energy crisis and absence of market access to the world markets. He was talking to visiting delegation of US journalists at the APTMA on Saturday afternoon. Central Chairman APTMA Ahsan Bashir, Vice Chairman APTMA Wisal Monnoo and Convenor of International Trade Committee Amir Fayyaz were also present on the occasion.

The group of US journalists is on the tour of Pakistan under the Pakistan-US Journalists Exchange programme in collaboration with Pildat. Dr Shabbir Cheema, Senior Programme, Expert Senior Fellow, Governance and Security, East-West Centre Research Programme, Ms Ann Hartman, Co-ordinator and Pildat representative Jawdat Bilal led the delegation to APTMA.

Gohar said the industry was producing 15 million jobs to produce $12 billion exports, having the capacity of hiring another 15 million jobs with the level of capacity installed to manufacture export goods. The edge of zero rating facility to the competitors was making industry incapacitated, putting the industry into odd situation due to the prevailing disadvantages, he added. According to him, the industry has installed capacity of $22 billion exports but some $10 billion capacity is not in use due to energy crisis and market access issues.  read more.

* APTMA blames prevalent domestic situations for loss of revenue:

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Chairman Ahsad Bashir on Saturday blamed the current domestic crisis for loss of revenue and jobs that could have been created by the textile industry.

According to details, group of US journalists under the Pakistan-US Journalists Exchange Programme in collaboration with Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) visited the APTMA office. APTMA Central Chairman Ahsan Bashir, APTMA Group Leader Gohar Ejaz, APTMA Vice Chairman Wisal Monnoo and Convener of International Trade Committee Amir Fayyaz made detailed presentation on textile industry of Pakistan.

Ahsan Bashir said the APTMA was a premier association in Pakistan and playing a leading role in policy-making of the government. The textile industry had a 46 percent share in the manufacturing sector of Pakistan, absorbing 38 percent labour force of the country, he said.
He further said that the industry was generating 4000 MW through Captive Power Plants (CPPs) to meet energy needs.  read more.

* Strike of industrialists against SRO enters 10th day:

The strike of All Pakistan Sizing Association, Pakistan Yarn Merchants Association and Powerloom Owners Association against the imposition of new statutory regulatory order (SRO) by the Federal Board of Revenue entered the 10th day here on Friday.

Thousands of members of the three associations and factory workers set up a protest camp at Clock Tower Chowk to register their protest against the unwise SRO. They chanted slogans against the federal government and the FBR for clamping the unwarranted SRO, which would increase their problems and create hindrances in smooth running of business.  read more.

* Protest demo against new SROs continues:

Industrialists and members of five zero-rated textile and export sectors have continued their protest against the recently issued SRO 154(i)/2013 dated 28-02-2013; SRO 140(i)/2013 dated 26-02-2013 by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for the second day on Saturday to press the government to withdraw these SROs.

This time demos were held in front of Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (Kati) Office. A very large number of industrialists took out rallies holding black flags, banners and chanting slogans against the FBR. They also threatened to close down industrial units, if government failed to withdraw these SROs. read more.

* PCGA welcomes government decision to rescind SRO-602(1)2012:

Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) Chairman Mahesh Kumar has welcomed the SRO-213(1) 2013 which rescinded the SRO-602(1)2012 and said that government had met their outstanding demand by reducing the general sales tax from 16 to 2 percent on rapeseed oil and binola oil.

Talking to newsmen here along with Haji Muhammad Akram Chairman of Ginners Group and Shehzad Ali Khan ex-Vice Chairman of PCGA he said that this step would help in reducing the oil in market besides checking the tax evasion, corruption and other negative effects. He said that it would be beneficial for all particularly oil mills. Mahesh Kumar said that PCGA and All Pakistan Oil Mills Association had rejected the SRO-602(1)2012 describing it unjust and inapplicable and repugnant to basic human rights.  to read.

* APTMA leadership to take up its issues with high officials:

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) leadership is all set to interact with the Federal Secretaries on burning issues of the textile industry including market access, energy crisis and fiscal matters on March 18.

The APTMA spokesman said three different delegations of APTMA leadership will engage the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), respectively.
Each meeting will be represented by over 20 members of APTMA along with the Convenors of the relevant Committees.

Central Chairman APTMA Ahsan Bashir will lead a delegation of APTMA members from all over the country to the FBR. The delegation will call on Chairman FBR to deliberate the problems on ground being faced by the APTMA members owing to tax relating issues. read more. & read more.

* EU Ambassador asks Pakistan to apply for GSP Plus status:

Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan Mr. Lars-Gunnar Wigemark has said that Pakistan qualifies for EU’s Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP Plus) status as per the new EU regulations and it should submit an application to the EU Commission in Brussels to get the same.
Mr. Wigemark, who held separate meetings with the representatives of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) and the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said the new regulations have been incorporated to accommodate countries like Pakistan and it is now up to Pakistan to effectively negotiate with the EU to obtain GSP Plus in 2014.  read more.

* Pakistan submits application for GSP plus to European Commission:

Pakistan has submitted the formal application for grant of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) plus status to the European Commission (EC) on Friday, a statement from Ministry of Commerce confirmed on Saturday.

The GSP is a mechanism in which countries give tariff concessions to developing countries without legally violating most favoured nation obligations under World Trade Organisation.
Under the European Union’s (EU) GSP Plus Scheme, EU grants duty-free access to the products from developing countries if: (i) it is not a high or upper middle income country; (ii) the GSP-covered exports of the beneficiary country do not exceed 2.0 percent of EU’s global GSP imports; (iii) seven largest sectors of products contribute more than 75 percent of its exports to the EU; and (iv) the beneficiary country has signed, ratified and implemented 27 international conventions pertaining to human right, labour rights, environment and good governance.  read more.
Daily Times

* Textile sector posts record profit in Jul-Dec FY13:

The profitability of textile units hit Rs13.2 billion during first half of the current fiscal year as compared to Rs1.1 billion in the same period last year.

The multifold increase in profitability is primarily on the back of higher regional demand and absence of inventory losses that turned many loss-making companies into profits, say Zeeshan Afzal at Topline Securities.

Further, improved sector dynamics kept the textile sector in the limelight at local bourse as higher regional demand culminating into rising exports and firm cotton prices stands out as the chief contributors to the multifold increase in the profitability of Pakistan’s largest industry.  read more.

* Statistics on textile industry in Pakistan :

Pakistan is the 8th largest exporter of textile products in Asia. This sector contributes 9.5% to the GDP and provides employment to about 15 million people or roughly 30% of the 49 million workforce of the country.  Pakistan is the 4th largest producer of cotton with the third largest spinning capacity in Asia after China and India, and contributes 5% to the global spinning capacity.

For Pakistan which was one of the leading producers of cotton in the world, the development of a textile Industry making full use of its abundant resources of cotton has been a priority area towards industrialisation. At present, there are 1,221 ginning units, 442 spinning units, 124 large spinning units and 425 small units which produce textile products.

Even with so many advantages, Pakistan’s total share in global textile trade is less than 1%. To some this may seem like a depression state of affairs. But to others, it is simply an opportunity.  to read.
The Express Tribune

* Is the textile sector finally headed for consolidation? :

Investment bankers in Pakistan have been talking for at least two decades about how the textile sector is ripe for consolidation mergers and acquisitions activity, but are the ingredients finally in place for that to start happening? There is some evidence to suggest that it may already be taking place.

It all started with the energy crisis. Textile in Pakistan has been through several crises before, but the energy crisis seems to have been a completely different ballgame altogether. Many firms have begun to shut down completely, unable to afford to continue operating with the higher cost base, and not having enough scale to absorb it within their margins or pass it on to their customers.

So the consolidation has begun through need: many of the family-owned textile businesses – which had long resisted the economic logic of consolidation – have finally had to give in and sell their factories because they can no longer afford to keep them running. A typical case is Ehsan Yousaf Textile Mills in Faisalabad, which was forced to shut down. It has been bought out by Tauseef Enterprises, a bigger rival that made the smart decision of geographic diversification: it opened operations in Bangladesh before most of its Pakistani competitors.  read more.
The Express Tribune

* Building an iron grip: Textile sector on KSE – things changing for better:

Over 29% of all companies listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) may belong to the textile sector, but a majority of these stocks are illiquid. This is verified by the fact that only four out of the 100 companies that form the KSE-100 Index – the key benchmark of the Karachi bourse – are textile companies.

According to Arif Habib Investments Executive Vice Chairman Nasim Beg, the disproportionately high number of textile companies listed on the KSE is attributed in large part to the ‘licence raj’ of the years gone by.

“Back in the day when the country faced severe foreign exchange shortages restricting the import of heavy machinery, the government required textile and sugar mills to get listed. Since these companies enjoyed a near monopoly, the government wanted them to share their profits with the public at large,” he said, while speaking to The Express Tribune read more.
The Express Tribune

* Anatomy of an indispensable sector: Why the Pakistan textile industry cannot die:

he textile sector enjoys a pivotal position in the exports of Pakistan. The contribution of this industry to total gross domestic product (GDP) is 8.5%. It provides employment to about 15 million people, 30% of the country’s workforce of about 49 million. The annual volume of total world textile trade is $18 trillion which is growing at 2.5%. But Pakistan’s share is less than one per cent.

The past few years, however, have probably been the worst ever for the textile sector in Pakistan. Some of it is obviously not their fault, but some of it is. For example the power crisis, the security situation and the lack of access to global markets has certainly had an effect on the ability of the industry to compete.

However, a lot of it is definitely the fault of the textile industry which for the most part has failed to use the decades of protectionism to its advantage and invest in value addition, in innovation and in improving technology to ensure that they move higher in the value-added chain.  read more.
The Express Tribune

* Karachi cotton godown blaze could not be put off yet:

The abrupt fire that broke out yesterday in a cotton godown near Godown Chowrangi here could not be put off yet, despite fire brigade fighting the blaze for the last 21 hours, Geo News reported this morning.

Fire Brigade officials said that fire tenders from all over city have been called for fighting out this third degree fire and even presently over dozens of vehicles and water bowzers are engaged in dousing the fire.
Meanwhile, the huge stocks of cotton bales have been gutted. However no loss of life occurred, while the actual material loss could only be assessed after controlling the fire, fire brigade sources said.  to read. & to read.  Geo News

* Fire in TCP cotton godown guts thousands of bales:

Karachi—Cotton worth millions of rupees was burnt to ashes when fire broke out in a godown here on Sunday morning.

According to details, the fire caused due to unknown reasons erupted in a warehouse of cotton owned by Trading Corporation of Pakistan situated in the Korangi Industrial area which quickly engulfed thousand of cotton bales stored there.
Fire brigade units from all over the city were called in who after a hectic effort brought the blaze under control. But meantime thousand of cotton bales were gutted. to read.

                THE KARACHI-BALDIA  FIRE:

* SHC seeks report to determine if factory was built under approved plan:

Six months after the fire at Ali Enterprises which killed 289 workers, the judges have ordered inspection of the wrecked building to determine whether building laws were followed or not.

The Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) and Sindh Industrial Trading Estate (SITE) have been ordered by the Sindh High Court to jointly inspect the gutted garment factory in Baldia Town and submit their report.
“The report should reveal the deviation from the relevant laws, particularly the rules and the regulations,” the bench ordered, further directing that architects and engineers should be available to assist in this task.

The country’s worst industrial fire on September 11, 2012 sparked a wave of countrywide protests against the poor enforcement of laws concerning labour welfare and safety arrangements in the industries.
Factory owners – Abdul Aziz Bhaila, his sons Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila – along with their employees and certain government officials have been booked under murder, mischief by fire and other related charges by the Baldia Town police.
read more.
The Express Tribune

04:59:24 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

 * Uzbekistan Must End State-Sponsored Slavery:

Uzbekistan’s foreign minister, Abdulaziz Kamilov, was one of the first foreign officials to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington this week. The meeting underscored Uzbekistan’s important role in the Northern Distribution Network, through which the United States moves supplies to the troops in Afghanistan.

But there is another, more sinister side to Uzbekistan. While many governments fail to effectively curb human trafficking and slave labor, Uzbekistan stands out. It is the only country where the government is the trafficker.

Each year, the Uzbek government forces hundreds of thousands of its own citizens to pick cotton. Schools are closed and students are threatened with expulsion. Business hours are reduced and workers are threatened with losing their jobs. Essential services are downgraded as teachers, doctors and nurses are forced to pick cotton. Uzbek citizens who fail to meet their government-ordained quotas must pay large sums to hire alternate pickers.  read more.


map of Asia


* Labor rights advocates commemorate fallen unionists, warn of worsening repression

* Footwear firms buoyed by prospect of EU deal
* National week on labor safety and fire control launched
* Vietnam apparels makers resigned to another bad year

* Leather industry upgrade urged to cope with high demand

* Myanmar’s siren song
* Weaving a new future for silk

* Ministry Will Brief Foreign Workers Of Delay In Minimum Wage Implementation

* Asian brands focus on local fashion scene

* Call for quick detection of Tazreen victims
* Govt, BGMEA accused of hiding real number of missing workers
* 334 unauthorised RMG units detected in city
* 10 injured as RMG workers clash with police
* Investors prefer BD to Thailand-Malaysia
* Compliance can cut RMG fire tragedies: roundtable
* Potential for local woven industry remains largely untapped
* Withdraw Mar 18-19 hartal: BGMEA, BKMEA
* Strike, political unrest take toll on RMG sector
* RMG stock lot worth Tk 30b created for political turmoil
* Machinery, goods of sweater factory looted in Gazipur
* Many RMG entrepreneurs are ‘unaware of compliance benefits’

* Demand for safe repatriation of kids employed in bangle industry
* Ahmedabad: Past tense, present drab & future bleak for 80 thousand mill workers
* Workers seek social security
* Near 20% rural wage hike pushing up inflation: Assocham
* Government to amend minimum wages law: Minister
* Lagadapati’s assurance to textile traders
* Textile mills feel the heat as cotton prices rise
* Don’t panic about increasing cotton prices: SIMA
* Cotton at 11-month high on China import speculation
* Indian textile exporters pin hopes on EU-India FTA
* Rs 2 lakh worth cotton, equipment gutted
* Sircilla in serious crisis

* Apparel exporters mull labor import
* Garments: Uphill Task To Stave Off Competition
* International union calls for global organising for garment workers

* PPP govt slammed for not protecting labour rights
* Textile mills created not a single job in last five years
* Textile industry badly hit by energy woes in five years, US journalists told
* APTMA blames prevalent domestic situations for loss of revenue
* Strike of industrialists against SRO enters 10th day
* Protest demo against new SROs continues
* PCGA welcomes government decision to rescind SRO-602(1)2012
* APTMA leadership to take up its issues with high officials
* EU Ambassador asks Pakistan to apply for GSP Plus status
* Pakistan submits application for GSP plus to European Commission
* Textile sector posts record profit in Jul-Dec FY13
* Statistics on textile industry in Pakistan
* Is the textile sector finally headed for consolidation?
* Building an iron grip: Textile sector on KSE – things changing for better
* Anatomy of an indispensable sector: Why the Pakistan textile industry cannot die
* Karachi cotton godown blaze could not be put off yet
* Fire in TCP cotton godown guts thousands of bales
* SHC seeks report to determine if factory was built under approved plan

* Uzbekistan Must End State-Sponsored Slavery

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
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I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

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