07:25:17 local time CAMBODIA
* Strikers block road, burn tyres:
More than 1,000 workers from the Maru Chuen garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district blocked the Veng Sreng road on the outskirts of Phnom Penh for half an hour yesterday, burning about 20 tyres and demanding a monthly minimum wage increase from $61 to $100 and other benefits.
According to Workers Union Federation officer Tha Tory, workers stopped blocking the road when district officials, eager for an end to the roadblock, facilitated negotiations between workers and the factory. When those negotiations failed, however, workers said they would block the road again today, for a longer time.
“We will do it until we have success,” Tory said.
Maru Chuen factory officials declined to comment yesterday. to read.
* Garment workers blocked Veng Sreng Street- Phnom Penh:
The Mary Chun factory garment workers started strike 13 March. Organized by Workers Union Federation. This union negotiated today (18th) with employer without success.
(The factory has a Trade Union “Khmer help Khmer Union”, and every month the employer cut salary of the worker-members without permission of the workers.)
The demands are:
1. Transportation 15$
2. Attendance bonus 15$
3. Minimum Wage 100$
4. The employer have to provide TU right
5. The employer have to provide lunch to workers
6. The employer have to provide to paid foot allowance for OT to workers for
7. The employer have to provide to apply when workers resigned only 7 days
8. When The workers absence 3 days, employer have to protect all for
attendance bonus and after this will proportion deduct .
9. The employer have to provide 3$ to the workers working on Sunday and
10. When the workers will be late only 15 minute employers do not deduct
attendance bonus of workers.
11. Over time will be depend on the workers volunteer.
* Garment workers wage talks to resume:
Union leaders, factory employers and representatives from government will resume their discussion of wage increases for workers on Tuesday.
Rong Chhun, President of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said that if the meetings doesn’t yield any resolutions concerning pay, he will lead workers on strike.
The union is asking for a wage increase from the current $61 to $100 a month.
He said, factory employers seemed to be standing firm on their position to only increase pay up to $75 and no further. read more.
08:25:17 local time INDONESIA
* BetterWork Indonesia- Preventing Harassment at Workplace:
In the month of March, ILO’s Better Work Indonesia programme is focusing on putting an end to workplace harassment, sexual harassment and bullying.
A recent study conducted by Tufts University United States of America and University of Indonesia found that 85 percent of workers are concerned about sexual harassment. A further 80 percent of respondents said they were concerned about verbal abuse, and 87 percent cited concerns about physical abuse.
Coinciding with International Women’s Day, Better Work Indonesia is releasing
Guidelines for the Prevention of Workplace Harassment.
This document defines different types of harassment, provides insight into the harmful effects of harassing behaviour, and offers ways companies can work towards prevention for a stronger, more efficient and happier workforce.
06:25:17 local time BANGLA DESH
* Action plan to prevent fire at RMG factories finalised:
A tripartite committee comprising representatives of the government, apparel unit owners, and labour leaders has finalised an action plan to prevent fire incidents at readymade garment factories.
The committee was formed in January headed by labour and employment secretary Mikail Shipar in the face of continued pressure of buyers following the deadly fire incidents at Tazreen Fashions and Smart Export Garments.
A gazette notification on the action plan will be published soon, said a committee member.
According to the action plan, all RMG units will have to use fire extinguishers of the same standard and ensure uniform fire training for workers, labour leaders, and owners. read more.
* Govt spots 334 faulty garment plants:
People try to extinguish a fire that broke out at a factory of Smart Export Garments at Mohammadpur in Dhaka on January 26. Photo: Star/FILE
The government will soon give a deadline to 334 garment factories in the capital to improve their safety standards, said Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar yesterday.
The labour and employment ministry got the list of the factories last week from the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, which conducted a survey on the garment units.
“If the factories fail to take adequate fire safety measures within 15-20 days, the government will scrap their licences,” Shipar said.
However, these factories, mostly located in Old Dhaka, are not export-oriented.
The secretary also said the government does not want to close these factories as they provide jobs to a lot of people.
Also, the ministry last month inspected around 500 factories, which were mainly involved in subcontracting for garment exporters.
“Most of these factories have already improved their fire safety standards. Others who failed will face punitive actions,” Shipar told The Daily Star by phone.
* USTR hearing and the fate of GSP:
As the USTR (United States Trade Representative) hearing to decide the fate of duty preferences enjoyed by Bangladesh under the US GSP (generalised system of preference) scheme draws nearer (March 28), stakeholders in the country are waiting with their fingers crossed.
There are reasons for serious concern which may not tell upon the economy in the immediate future, given the small volume of exports that currently benefit from the US GSP scheme but the far-reaching consequences in the event of a negative fallout may seriously threaten the country’s trade, economy and investment.
It may be recalled that the March 28 hearing in Washington traces back to the Tazreen Fashions blaze. Coupled with it are the unresolved killing of labour activist Aminul Islam and an overall perception about the labour rights scenario in the country’s garment sector.
The move from the USTR came in response to a petition from the largest federation of unions in the United States, AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations), asking for tough actions for labour rights violation in Bangladesh through scrapping of the GSP. read more.
* Frequent hartals irk BGMEA, BKMEA:
Upset at the ongoing countrywide hartal, BGMEA and BKMEA on Monday said many people would simply turn jobless overnight if the existence of the country’s readymade garment sector is endangered for reasons like political instability.
“The country’s present economy doesn’t have the strength to endure the burden of joblessness of a large number of people,” the trade bodies said in a joint statement. In the statement, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) said hartal will impede the growth, discourage investment, and slow down export putting employment at risk.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* ‘Hartal pushes apparel industry to ruination’ :
Garment and textile manufacturers Monday once again expressed their grave concern over the present spate of protests and shutdowns urging the political parties to find out an alternative to hartals to keep local industry alive.
Leaders of the apparel makers – the country’s largest export earners – in a joint statement urged the political parties to refrain from observing destructive programmes, in the name of hartal, in the greater interest of the country.
The Readymade Garment (RMG) industry, the country’s largest exporting and highest job generating sector would not be able to maintain its sustainability if such repeated strikes grip the country, said a statement jointly issued by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).
The foreign buyers have already started threatening to cancel orders for delayed shipment and exporters have to go for expensive air freights to meet the cut-off time, reads the statement.
Some of the entrepreneurs are also experiencing stock-lot (rejection of goods by buyers) problems due to strikes and shutdowns called by political parties. Many of the exporters are being faced with problems like deferred payment, cancellation and discounts as they failed to make shipment in time. This has put many of the factories in the risks of turning into sick industries, they feared. read more.
* Hundreds of RMG units likely to become sick:
Hundreds of garment factories, especially the small and medium ones, are facing the threat of becoming sick as buyers are warning of cancelling and diverting their orders due to the ongoing political turmoil, industry people said Monday.
They said buyers are now thinking of shifting their orders from Bangladesh to other destinations as they are afraid that the Bangladeshi exporters might not be able to make timely shipments due to the ongoing unrest and vandalism.
The country’s largest foreign currency earner – ready-made garment (RMG) – is already going through a tough time because of the global economic meltdown in its two major markets namely the European Union and the US, they said. read more.
* BGMEA asked to return money:
The High Court on Monday released its full verdict asking Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association to return money to all buyers of floor space in the BGMEA Bhaban within 12 months.
The court asked the government to demolish in 90 days the 15-story BGMEA Bhaban built on Hatirjheel Lake.
The verdict said that the transactions over selling of BGMEA Bhaban floor space ‘stand vitiated.’
The verdict described the BGMEA Bhaban ‘a malignant growth.’
read more. & read more.
05:55:17 local time INDIA
* Handloom weavers to go on strike from today (18e):
Handloom weavers in this region will go on strike for a week from Monday (March 18) demanding withdrawal of import duty on silk.
According to S.R. Palanisamy, president of Handloom Silk, Yarn Saree Weavers and Traders Association, over a lakh handloom weavers in Coimbatore, Erode, Dindigul, Salem and Tirupur districts make different kinds of silk products.
They import nearly 100 tonnes of raw silk every month to make varieties of pure silk and blended products. read more.
* Handloom weavers begin strike:
Handloom weavers in Punjai Puliyampatti went on a week-long strike on Monday protesting against the Government’s move to increase the duty on imported raw silk.
Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, during his budget speech, proposed to increase the duty on raw silk from 5 per cent to 15 per cent in order to give a measure of protection to the domestic sericulture sector. Protesting against this, more than 5,000 handloom units in the region stopped their operations. read more.
* Textile traders stage novel protest:
Textile traders from across Prakasam district took out a half-naked procession on the arterial Trunk road here Thursday in protest against imposition of Value Added Tax on fabric.
The agitators led by Ongole Cloth Merchants Association president Rayavarapu Venkateswarulu came in a huge procession from the Bapuji Market Complex shouting slogans against inclusion of fabric in the sensitive commodities category.
After downing the shutters for the 10th day in succession, the traders walked on knees at the busy Church Centre and also swiped passing vehicles stopping at the traffic signal to draw the attention of people to “unjustified” VAT on fabric.
* No consensus on rural job scheme paying minimum wages:
Disagreements within the government seem to have stalled any attempts at ensuring that the UPA regime’s flagship rural job guarantee scheme pays minimum wages in all States.
While the Rural Development Ministry has made a deal with the activists who took the government to court over the matter, strong opposition from the Finance Ministry has reportedly stalled any move to amend the law.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 originally stipulated that minimum wages would be paid under the scheme. read more.
* Silk Fab, a treat to the eye:
The richness of silk, exclusivity of handloom and appeal of the traditional embroidery and prints are all available under one roof at Silk Fab, an exhibition organised by the National Handloom Development Corporation.
The Silk Fab, an exhibition and sale of a huge range of silk sarees and fabric, was as much a lesson in geography as a treat to the eye. A rich collection of exquisite sarees, dress materials, duppatas, stoles were on offer at the Expo being organised at Swarna Vedika on Bandar Road here. read more.
* Indian govt finding reasons for dip in Bt cotton yield:
05:25:17 local time PAKISTAN
* PRGMEA organises fire safety training workshop with SGS:
* Energy: textile sector unsure about interim government’s role:
The textile sector which forecasts that energy crisis would peak in summer, is unsure whether the interim government will pay any attention to hedge against manufacturing recession during current fiscal year.
“Total textile exports are forecast to scale down by at least $3 billion this fiscal year for a number of reasons but energy persistently remains the key hindrance behind the output slump,” exporters said on Monday.
There is a big challenge ahead to the caretaker government to handle economic challenges besides improving law and order situation and holding polls in the country, they said. “The policies of the interim government during the key fiscal period have to be apt to help the manufacturing sectors maintain their generation,” said chief co-ordinator Pakistan Readymade Garments and Manufacturers Association (Prgmea), Ijaz Khokhar. read more.
* ‘Textile industry defrauded exchequer of Rs500b’ :
Following up on his statements made a day earlier, Former finance minister Saleem H Mandviwalla has claimed that the textile industry has been involved in tax refund fraud worth Rs500 billion.
“Many fraud cases have been booked against the textile industry over illegal tax refunds of Rs500 billion,” the former finance minister told The Express Tribune. He claimed that the textile industry had been involved in defrauding the exchequer for decades, as the sector was zero-rated and therefore difficult to monitor.
“After imposition of 2% tax, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has detected a tax refund fraud of Rs500 billion though its computerised records, as the textile industry deposited Rs190 billion in sales tax and filed for refunds of Rs690 billion,” he said.
* ‘Around 12.845 million cotton bales sourced to ginners by March 15’:
The Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) fortnightly report shows that around 12.845 million cotton bales were sourced to the country’s ginners by March 15, which shows a decrease of 11.71 percent than last year. PCGA Chairman Mahesh Kumar briefed journalists about seed-cotton (phutti) arrivals, sales and unsold stock of cotton.
He said 11,618,033 cotton bales were sold to the textile units and exporters bought 328,931 bales. Thus, overall 11,946,964 bales were traded without TCP participating in the trading activity so far, he added. He said PCGA was expecting less crop, which might touch the figures of 130 million bales. Kumar said that total 138 out of 1,200 ginning factories were operational in Sindh and Punjab. read more.
* Cotton production 11.7% lower so far this year :
Cotton crop was affected because of floods in the country. DESIGN: CREATIVE COMMONS
Cotton production in Pakistan has so far registered 11.7% lower as compared to last year’s production, reveals a fortnightly report on domestic cotton production issued by the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA).
Government had set the cotton production target at 14.6 million bales for the current year, but later revised it downward to 13.3 million bales following flooding in some parts of the country. read more. & read more.
* Ginning factories receive 20.5pc less cotton bales:
According to the fortnight report issued by PCGA, the total domestic arrivals of seed cotton (phutti) up to March 15, 2013 were 12,845,070 bales that are 1,703,775 bales (11.71pc) lesser than previous year.
The report further details that during the period 9,445,703 bales equivalent seed cotton received in ginning factories of Punjab that was 2,434,274 bales (20.50pc) lesser than previous year whereas 3,399,367 bales equivalent seed cotton was received in ginning factories of Sindh that are 730,499 bales (27.33pc) higher than previous year for the corresponding period. read more.