in the news on-line, 20 March 2013

07:39:05 local time map of china CHINA

* Young women workers in China: Seeking a better life:

After getting off work one evening at a Japanese-owned factory in the Pearl River Delta, a young woman walked in the Sunflower Women Workers Centre and picked up several copies of the centre’s newsletter:

“I’m going to distribute it to my sisters at the factory,” she said proudly.

The next day was 8 March, International Women’s Day, and the newsletter featured stories on the origin of Women’s Day and whether women workers in China are allowed to take the day off. Other stories included the dairy of two factory girls, a colloquial interpretation of labour law, and a training session on collective bargaining.

The Sunflower Centre was set up last year by Hong Mei, a young migrant worker from the central province of Hunan whose arm had been badly injured whilst operating a dangerously antiquated machine at a family run workshop in Guangdong. Hong Mei had to battle a long time with her boss just to get miniscule compensation.

Moreover, no other factory in the area would hire her because of her disability. She knew of many other women who had suffered a similar fate and decided to set up organisation that could provide a platform for women workers to share their experiences and get training.  read more.
China Labour Bulletin

* Weiqiao Textile Group EPS skyrockets 90.5% in 2012:

Weiqiao Textile Company Limited and its subsidiaries the largest cotton textile producer in China, announced its annual results for the year ended December 31, 2012

Since the beginning of 2012, the Chinese textile industry has faced a very complex and volatile environment both domestically and overseas. A variety of adverse factors such as weak demand in overseas markets, slowing growth in domestic markets, widening gaps between domestic and overseas cotton prices, and increasing production costs, has resulted in a notable slowdown in China’s textile industry.

However, growth rates of the textile industry’s major economic indicators have picked up slightly since September of 2012 due to stable growth in domestic demand, adjustments made by enterprises in commodity inventory levels, and lower comparable basis in 2011; while the gap between domestic and overseas cotton prices continued to widen, and demand from international markets remained sluggish, leaving the prospect for an industry recovery on shaky ground. read more.

07:39:05 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* PH garment brands attract top Indon retail group:

Indonesia’s leading lifestyle retailer PT Mitra Adiperkasa (MAP) is considering buying more products from the Philippines, the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. said in its latest weekly news bulletin.

Alma Argayoso, commercial attache at the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in Jakarta, was quoted in the news bulletin as saying she has discussed with the head of MAP the possible purchases of Philippine lifestyle products like garments. read more.

06:39:05 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Textile association boosts cooperation with Korean partner:

Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas) has signed a strategy cooperation deal with the Republic of Korea’s Daegu Gyeongbuk Textile Industries Association (DGTIA).

A textile factory in central Thanh Hoa province (Source: VNA)

The deal will help the two sides boost development cooperation in textile industry and exploit the ASEAN – RoK Free Trade Area (AKFTA) more effectively. Under the deal, Vitas and DGTIA will develop cooperation projects in the textile companies from both countries to penetrate into each other’s markets, as well as exchange information on trade fairs, exhibitions and related events.  read more.

* ‘Out of Vietnam’ project to generate Merino wool demand:

The Woolmark Company anticipates its Out of Vietnam project will generate growth in the Vietnam wool processing industry, resulting in increased demand for Australian Merino wool.

The Out of Vietnam project is working towards developing a sustainable supply chain in Vietnam and expands the country’s current manufacturing market.
The Woolmark Company has received an overwhelming response to the project since its launch in Hanoi in June 2012, and has since launched the project’s second phase in Ho Chi Minh City in November 2012.

“The response to Out of Vietnam has been tremendous and all agreed partners have shown the utmost confidence in the project,” The Woolmark Company General Manager for Product Development and Commercialisation, Jimmy Jackson, said.
read more.

* Chances await VN shoemakers in EU market:

Generalized System of Preferences provided by the European Union, many Vietnamese footwear makers are now at ease as they will be eligible for new preferential treatment.

The Generalized System of Preferences, known as GSP for short, is a scheme that gives preferential access for a wide range of industrial and agricultural products originating from certain developing countries to the EU markets. The preferential treatment includes reduced or zero customs duties.

Under the newly-released GSP scheme, the average duty for Vietnamese-made footwear exports to the EU is lowered from 12.4 percent to between 3.5 and 4 percent, starting January 1, 2014.  read more.

06:39:05 local time map of laos LAOS

* Union steps up pressure for payment of minimum wage :

The Lao Federation of Trade Unions will push businesses to pay the higher minimum wage approved by the government last year, after learning that many employers are failing to comply, a senior union official has said.

Deputy Director General of the union’s Worker Protection Department, Mr Samanesay Khanthanouxay, told the Vientiane Times yesterday the union will raise the issue again at the quarterly tripartite meeting expected to take place sometime this month.
But the coordinating party has yet to name the date when the union, the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare will meet for talks, Mr Samanesay said.

The government issued an announcement about the increase in the monthly minimum wage from 348,000 kip to 626,000 kip, which came into effect on January 1, 2012.
However, whilst more than a year has passed since this date, many businesses are still not complying with the announcement, the union observed.  read more.

06:39:05 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Police Beaten workers at Marochun factory:

Tim Eng Fainted worker after beaten by the police

This morning 20 March 2013 at around 9:20am the violence exploited while the workers try to block the car of the company.

The police come and they use the electric botton and stone to hit the workers. There are 7 workers injured, 5 female and 2 male. One of five she just gave birth around one month. One woman fainted after beaten and now she stayes at private hospital near the factory. see more.

* Minimum wage: Agreement on increase still elusive:

Two further days of negotiations between unions and factories have again failed to result in an increase to the garment sector’s $61 monthly minimum wage.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said employers, through the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), had refused to budge on its $70 per month offer and that representatives of the 10 unions present were themselves divided.

“I will keep demanding $100 and will lead a big [strike] if workers can’t get this,” he said, adding that six pro-government unions had been willing to go as low as $73, three had demanded $100 and one $120. read more.

* Wage talk goes no where:

Union leaders asked garment workers to go on strike and demand the $100/month wage because the factory owners were not budging from their $75 stance.

Rong Chhun, President of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said that in the meeting Tuesday at Ministry of Social Affairs, employers were steadfast and maintained their $75/month position which included $5 for health care.

He said, the $78 demand received six votes from union leaders, while three votes went to $100 and $120 only received one vote.

“This was the last meeting and we couldn’t get the $100/month we wanted for workers,” he said. “The last choice we have is to issue a joint statement appealing to garment workers to join in the strike.”   to read.

* Cambodia’s garment employers, union leaders in stalemate over pay rise talks:

The fourth round of negotiations between Cambodia’s garment and footwear factory owners and trade union leaders for a monthly minimum wage increase for workers remained locked in stalemate on Tuesday.

“The meeting still ended up without result after a two-hour talk this morning,” Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, who represented workers in the negotiation, told Xinhua over the phone.
He said the talk was made between the employers represented by Nang Sothy, co-chair of the Government-Private Working Group on Industrial Relations and 10 representatives of the kingdom’s trade unions under the coordination by officials from the ministries of labor and social affairs.

The trade unions still stayed firm to demand a monthly minimum wage of $100 for a worker, while the employers remained firm to increase only $9 to the existing wage of $61, he said.
“We don’t lower our demand and they don’t increase their offer, so there is no result at all,” he said, warning that if their demand is not met, the last resort will be a mass protest.  read more.

07:39:05 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Malaysia defers new minimum wages for foreign workers in SMEs:

The Malaysian government has approved the delayed implementation by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of new minimum wage standard for their foreign workers, local media reported Wednesday.

The National Wages Consultative Council, which is responsible for the implementation of the standard, said in a statement that the employers in SMEs are permitted to defer the implementation until Dec. 31.
The employers who have already embraced the new standard would be provided with blanket approval for deductions of levy and cost of accommodation.  read more.

* The fabric of a society:

A private museum and gallery in Kuching strives to keep the Iban heritage alive.

Agnes Lia Belon creates an intricate pattern in the textile, weaving one thread at a time. This is the sungkit (supplementary weft) technique, one of the three methods used for making Iban textiles. The other two are ikat (tie and dye) and anyam (supplementary weft-weave).

An example of sungkit.

“I’ve always enjoyed weaving, but when my children were young, I didn’t have the time nor the opportunity to learn,” says the 59-year-old Iban from Saratok, a town about 140km east of Kuching.

But thanks to the Tun Jugah Foundation, women like Belon can take up the Iban tradition of weaving at the Datin Amar Margaret Linggi Pua Gallery in Kuching.
read more.
The Star Online

07:39:05 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Companies Who Don’t Pay the Minimum Wage Should Leave the Capital: Basuki:

The Jakarta administration said on Tuesday that companies who were not willing to pay the new minimum wage to their employees should just leave the capital.

“Businessmen are allowed to leave, we did not raise the minimum wage without thorough consideration, that is why I told Apindo [Indonesian Employers Association] that I’m keeping my stance,” Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki Thahaja Purnama told city news portal BeritaJakarta on Tuesday.

Basuki denied that the government’s decision to increase the province’s minimum wage by 44 percent to Rp 2.2 million ($227) a month was too steep and would affect businesses.  read more.
JG Logo

* WB warns RI of bigger local risks:

The World Bank (WB) is cautioning Indonesia on increased risks this year from domestic factors.

The agency warned of moderate investment growth, and soaring inflation might undermine the consumer purchasing power needed to propel the consumption-reliant economy.
“Indonesia also continues to face stiff competition from other economies in the region for export-oriented investment at a time when labor costs, at least for minimum wage workers, have risen significantly,” the report said.  read more.

* Toray Group Ready to Invest US$500 Million:

Toray Group Indonesia commits to invest US$500 million in Indonesia up to 2020 for strengthening the company’s core business and new business expansion.

The company will allocate 50% or US$250 million to strengthen its core businesses, which are fiber and textile, PT Toray Industries Indonesia President Hideyasu Okawara said. As for the rest of the fund, it will be used for expanding new businesses.  read more.
bisnis indonesia

* Indonesian textile industry may see modest growth in 2013:

The textile industry of Indonesia could witness modest growth in 2013 due to several domestic challenges faced by the textile manufacturers including increasing cost of electricity and minimum wage of workers, coupled with the ongoing economic crisis in the developed countries, such as the EU and the US. 
Speaking to fibre2fashion, secretary general of Asosiasi Pertekstilan Indonesia (API or Indonesian Textile Association), Mr. Asep Setiaharja said, “We still predict that textile industry in Indonesia is in growing phase. However, since the crisis in developed countries, such as the US and the EU, has not yet fully recovered, our textile export activities will only rise not more than 5 percent compared to last year.
read more.

06:09:05 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Comment: Burma in brief – a short garment industry study:

Worker safety is a serious issue in many of Burma’s garment factories.

Fresh from a visit to Burma/Myanmar, David Birnbaum is in no doubt that the local garment industry faces some serious challenges if it is to develop into a first-class garment exporting industry.

I recently completed a short study of the Burma/Myanmar garment industry, during which time I visited a number of factories and held a series of discussions with the leaders of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) as well as the International Labor Organization (ILO),other interested groups, and some leading academics.
There is no doubt that the local industry faces serious challenges.  read more.
just style

* Thein Sein’s minimum wage recommendations accepted by Parliament:

The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (General Assembly) accepted President Thein Sein’s recommendations for the 2013-Minimum Wage Bill, according to a report in the state-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar on March 19.

The Minister of Finance and Revenue announced on March 15 that all civil servants will receive a 20,000 kyat (US$23) monthly pay rise beginning in April; however, no figures for the proposed general minimum wage have been released yet.

Speaking on the issue last June, Thein Sein said, “The basic need of every citizen is comprehensive health care as well as income security or in other words job security. We are in the process of enacting a law to fix minimum wage for workers to enjoy basic social rights they deserve.”

The minimum salary for workers in industrial zones was temporarily set at 56,700 kyat (about US$ 65) per month following several strikes by garment factory workers last year.

A garment worker in a Yangon Industrial Zone said that some workers received a salary of around 30,000 kyat (US$ 35) per month, not including overtime.   read more.

05:39:05 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Walmart ‘to reduce reliance on Bangladesh’:

Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), the world’s biggest retailer, could move some of its apparel manufacturing out of Bangladesh, according to a report published in Women’s Wear Daily.

The report said the company has a strategy to reduce its reliance on Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is the world’s second-biggest apparel exporter, after China, with an industry worth about $19 billion. Its labour costs are the lowest in the world, says Charles Kernaghan, executive director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights.
He says workers there make from 18¢ to 26¢ an hour while in China they make an average of $1.34 an hour. Kernaghan also notes that the Bangladesh Parliament is controlled by the business community and the export processing zones by the military.

If Walmart did move some of its apparel manufacturing out of Bangladesh, there are at least two other places it might go: Cambodia, where the average wage is 29¢ an hour, according to Kernaghan; and Vietnam, where workers make about 55¢ an hour.
Walmart’s labour costs would go up, but it could benefit from the better infrastructure available in those countries.

“Bangladesh needs to make a giant step forward in terms of enforceable labor rights,” Kernaghan says. “But when it comes to making the factories safer, this has to be up to the big retailers. It’s at least 50 percent their responsibility.”
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* Promoting labour rights in Bangladesh:

IndustriALL’s campaign to improve labour rights, minimum wages and fire safety in Bangladesh continues. Discussions with the government, employers and foreign garment brands and retailers have progressed, but there is a long way to go to ensure a sustainable future and creation of new decent jobs.

The Executive Committee of IndustriALL Global Union listed Bangladesh as one of the priority countries for action. Almost half of the population of 160 million live under the national poverty line.
The government is betting on the future of textile and garment industries, which employ 3.5 million workers. This figure could double by 2015 and triple by 2020. Last year garment exports amounted to 20 billion dollars, or 80 per cent of total export income.

IndustriALL supports the goal of finding a sustainable growth path for the Bangladeshi garment industry and the creation of millions of good quality jobs. This future is under serious threat.
During the past years, media reports in Europe and North America have drawn the consumers’ attention to problems with labour rights, extremely low wages, long working hours, and fire safety.

Visiting Bangladesh in February, I found out that there is a functioning and registered local trade union only in a couple of dozens of garment factories out of 5000. As a result of intimidation and problems with registration, less than 1 per cent of the workforce is unionized.  read more.

* Textile, RMG traders worry as cotton goes pricey:

The country’s textile industry is likely to face a tough situation in coming days as prices of raw cotton have started climbing in the international market since February and have now reached to new highs in recent days.

Already hit hard by power and energy crisis as well as fund crunch, the fresh spate of price hike of raw materials will severely affect the competitiveness of the industry which depends almost entirely on imported cotton, sources said.
According to industry insiders, the prices of yarn will be increased substantially as a sequel to increase in the prices of cotton which, they said, will ultimately hamper the country’s apparel sub-sector.

“We have already started feeling the pinch of price hike,” said Mohammad Hatem, Vice President of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), adding that the spinners have also increased the prices of yarn by about 10 per cent.  read more.

* Foreign investors, buyers shying away from B’desh:

The country’s confrontational political situation is now taking its toll on investment and business negotiations with foreign buyers, especially in the export-oriented sectors, industry sources said.

They said the continuous ‘hartals’ (general strike) might lead investors, and foreign buyers of Bangladesh-made products, to shift their investments and orders respectively to other countries like Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.

In recent times, a number of foreign investors and buyers have cancelled their visits to Dhaka expressing concern over the present volatile political situation, they said. Many of them already held meetings in Hong Kong and Bangkok, in place of Dhaka.

A delegation from Samsung of South Korea was scheduled to hold a meeting with the high officials of the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) Tuesday. But it was cancelled due to hartal.  read more.

* BGMEA bldg a ‘cancerous’ structure: HC:

The BGMEA building in the capital's Hatirjheel awaits demolition in 90 days as per the full text of a High Court verdict.  Photo: Anisur rahmanThe BGMEA building in the capital’s Hatirjheel awaits demolition in 90 days as per the full text of a High Court verdict. Photo: Anisur Rahman

A High Court (HC) bench in a full copy of its verdict on the demolition of the BGMEA Bhaban said that “Be you ever so high, the law is above you.”

“We cannot allow a class of privileged people to flout the law because they are rich: Lord Denning’s command must not be ignored; ‘Be you ever so high, the law is above you’,” the HC bench comprising Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain made the observation in a verdict copy that was released on Tuesday.
However, the action of the HC verdict would not be effective because of the stay order of the Appellate Division over the issue, deputy attorney general Amit Talukder told reporters after getting a copy of the HC verdict.
“The HC verdict cannot be implemented as the Appellate Division had already stayed the HC verdict soon after its order,” Talukder said this while addressing a press conference at the apex court.
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* Indian duty waiver and some shocks:

A worker operates a machine at a textile factory in Gazipur. Analysts say both Bangladesh and India should initiate talks soon to settle duty-related issues to help Bangladeshi garment exporters benefit from a waiver given by the neighbour. Photo: Star
A worker operates a machine at a textile factory in Gazipur. Analysts say both Bangladesh and India should initiate talks soon to settle duty-related issues to help Bangladeshi garment exporters benefit from a waiver given by the neighbour. Photo: Star

A new era had emerged for Bangladesh’s garments in the Indian markets in September 2011 with the declaration of a duty waiver by the neighbouring giant for 46 items of Bangladesh.

India had said garment items — made of imported or local fabrics — will qualify for duty-free market access to the country, but exporters would have to ensure 30 percent value addition to get the duty benefits.
Analysts and exporters then hailed the move saying that Bangladesh will benefit from the waiver. Accordingly, India had waived a 10 percent basic duty on import of garments from Bangladesh, but kept the countervailing duty (CVD) and some other additional taxes, arguing that its domestic manufacturers pay a similar amount of taxes in the name of excise duty.  read more.
daily star bd

05:09:05 local time map of india INDIA

* Amid the glitz and glamour, India’s sad handloom story:

It wouldn’t be too hard to stick out in a simple white shirt and black pants amid a crowd of glamorous dresses, jazzy shirts, colourful trousers and high heels.

Varanasi-based Badruddin and Hanumanta were a duo with a mission of creating awareness of the charm of India’s age-old handloom work – and its growing problems.
They stood out as fashion-conscious crowds strolled, cheered and even jeered at a plethora of outfits at the exhibition area of the just-concluded Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW).

With as many as 128 participating designers, WIFW served as a business-to-business platform for many, and in their case, to educate people about the lost charm of handlooms.
Busy spinning the yard, they rued how the growing western culture has depleted the importance of handloom work in India and how that is the reason behind their everyday struggle for survival.

“We don’t get wages for the work that requires so much of hard work,” Badruddin, 55, told IANS while showing the minute work that he was busy doing on the handloom machine.  read more.

* Weavers protest against hike in import duty on raw silk:

Protesting against the proposed hike in import duty on raw silk, more than 80,000 handlooms in Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Namakkal and Salem districts stopped production for a week from Monday. As part of the week-long protests, the handloom weavers, traders, designers, processors, and cloth manufacturers plan to organise a rally in Coimbatore on March 22.

Representatives of Handloom Silk, Cotton Saree Weavers and Traders Welfare Association told presspersons here on Tuesday that the Central Government levied 33 per cent import duty on raw silk about three years ago. It was reduced to five per cent later. The cost of China silk now was Rs. 3,500 a kg. By increasing the import duty to 15 per cent, the cost of the imported silk would go up further. This would push up the cost of silk products in the Indian market and reduce the demand. Following the budget announcement of higher import duty, the demand had already come down for China silk during the last few days, the representatives said.

The weavers in this region used at least 30 per cent (for warp) imported silk to make pure silk, and silk and cotton blended products. Monthly imports by weavers in the five districts in the region used to be 70 tonnes a year ago and it was 100 tonnes now. The cost of Indian silk would also go up because of the increase in imported silk prices, the weavers feared.  read more.
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* Clear payment arrears: weavers:

A group of weavers staged a demonstration in Erode on Tuesday urging the State government to clear the mounting arrears of payment to them for the purchases made by the Co-optex under the free dhoti and sari scheme.

The government had engaged more than 20,000 weavers through the cooperative weavers’ societies in the State for the production of dhotis and saris that were meant for distribution to eligible persons during the Pongal festival.

Though the weavers had finished the work and supplied the clothes two months ago, the government was yet to settle their payment.  read more.
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* AEPC proposes measures to boost Indian garment exports:

Chairman AEPC, Dr. A Sakthive, in the proposal presented, to Shri Anand Sharma, the Union Minister for Commerce, Industry & Textiles, has made submission for increasing the garment exports to US $16 billion in 2013-14.

The meeting was just before the finalization of annual supplement to FTP to be announced shortly. Dr. Sakthivel has proposed set of measures to boost the garment exports from the country; which includes detailed road map and changes in policy for duty credit scrip, issues related to overtime, changes in FTP for more making it more inclusive and flexible for garment exporters and manufacturers, recommendations on TUFs, custom duty and service tax.
In his proposal Chairman AEPC has asked to allow duty credit scrip @ 5% of garment exports for the export performance in the year 2012 -13, for issuance of duty credit scrip from the year 2013 -14 and onwards.  read more.

* “Medical textile field offers promising future”:

Youngsters with entrepreneurial ambitions were given an insight into the means of entering the Rs.3,700-crore medical textile (which includes bandages, sutures, diapers, sanitary napkins) industry at a seminar on the Madurai District Tiny and Small Scale Industries Association (MADITSSIA) campus here on Tuesday.

Organised jointly by MADITSSIA; the South India Textile Research Association (SITRA) of Coimbatore and the office of the Textile Commissioner, Mumbai; the seminar was aimed at providing guidance to the youth on available government assistance, purchase of machinery and use of manpower.

In her inaugural address, Rohini Sridhar, Chief Operating Officer and Director, Medical Services, Apollo Hospital, here said there were tremendous opportunities in the field of medical textiles as it was part of the healthcare sector that remained unaffected even by economic recession.  read more.
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* We will apprise CM on textile traders problems: Kadapa DCC chief:

Textile merchants are facing hardships due to Value Added Tax (VAT), Kadapa District Congress Committee president Makam Ashok Kumar said on Tuesday and assured textile traders that he would apprise Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy on the issue in the meeting with DCC presidents on March 22.

Addressing a meeting of Kadapa New Cloth Merchants Association here, he assured to arrange a meeting of Kadapa textile merchants with the Chief Minister so that they can represent the matter.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) State Minority Cell president Ameer Babu warned that the Government would incur the wrath of textile traders if it did not withdraw VAT. TDP district vice-president C. Sasi Kumar promised scrapping of the VAT on textiles if TDP regained power.  read more.
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* TUF subsidy delay stalls powerloom expansion in state:

The much anticipated expansion of cotton-based powerlooms in Gujarat by the Powerloom Development & Export Promotion Council (PDEXCIL) has hit a roadblock since almost a year due to delay in the Textile Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS).

While PDEXCIL was looking to strengthen the powerloom sector in Gujarat by adding 50,000 more cotton-based looms, the Government of India’s delay in announcing a 30 per cent subsidy for the sector has derailed the former’s plans. “There are over 500,000 looms in Gujarat, of which 30-35,000 are cotton-based, while rest are synthetic. Hence, last year we had set an ambitious target of adding 50,000 cotton-based powerlooms in Gujarat. But we are still awaiting the 30 per cent subsidy on powerloom as promised by the Centre,” said Bharat Chhajer, chairman of PDEXCIL.

The total weaving capacity in the state stands at nine million metres per annum which can cross 10 million metres per annum by such an addition in powerlooms. Moreover, an additional 50,000 looms could give employment to another 25,000 workers in the powerloom sector.  read more.

* Minimum wages panel to meet today:

The committee to suggest minimum wages for textile mill workers, which was constituted recently by the State Government, will meet here on Wednesday.

The committee includes three representatives from textile mills and three from the trade unions. Its first meeting will be held here at the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Labour.

An industry source pointed out that the exercise of recommending minimum wages for apprentice workers in textile mills took nearly nine months. The wages were fixed in 2008 and the apprentice workers now received a minimum of Rs. 196 a day (including Dearness Allowance).
The wages for regular workers varied. Those who had joined the mills when there were regular wage settlements and agreements got Rs. 330 to Rs. 350 a day now. Those who had joined recently received Rs. 130 to Rs. 250 a day.  read more.
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05:09:05 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Marcus slams apparel boss for wanting to import labour:

Workers staying away because working conditions found wanting

The Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZGSEU) Secretary Anton Marcus completely dismissed the claim made by the Chairman of the Apparel Exporters’ Association (AEA) Anis Sattar, that a request was to be made to the government to permit the recruitment of foreign workers to fill the 10 percent worker shortage in the sector.

Sattar, at the annual general meeting of the AEA, a member of the Joint Apparel Associations Forum (JAAF), had argued that there was no question of seeking new markets, as orders they now received could not be met, with vacancies that cannot be filled, as Sri Lanka had been focusing heavily on industries such as Tourism and Ayurveda after the end of the conflict and “therefore a bulk of the labour force has been attracted to those industries.”  read more.

04:39:05 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* LHC constitutes commission to address fire safety:

Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah of Lahore High Court has constituted a 20-member fire safety commission to address and identify fire safety issues in the city of Lahore, with special emphasis on industrial sites and high-rise buildings.

The commission will review existing laws, rules, regulations and policies relating to fire safety in buildings. Besides screening and surveying of high-rise buildings, it will review urban planning policies and practices for building safety.
The commission was constituted while hearing a petition moved by Muhammad Shoaib Saleem through his counsel, Syed Aslam Rizvi, who submitted that there were not enough arrangements of fire fighting and people lack training.
He said that in September 2012, fire in a shoe factory at Bund road left at least 25 labourers dead owing to negligence of the owners and the negligence of the government machinery which deliberately did not ensure fire safety measures at the building. The counsel submitted that in many fire incidents, people lost their lives and the state machinery failed to take safety steps during the construction of the buildings.

He requested that the people responsible for the shoe factory fire should be penalised and the concerned authorities should be directed to take necessary steps so that such an incident does not recur. He also requested that the government should be direted to take measures to protect the lives and properties during the fire incidents.  read more.
Daily Times

* Cotton production declines by 12 percent:

The cotton production in the country has registered a decline of some 12 percent to 12.8 million bales during the ongoing season. With the current production statistics, it is being expected that the cotton production will be less than last season’s output.

Although, several cotton production targets have been set for the current season, the total production is likely to be 13 to 13.5 million bales by the end of April.

According to Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association’s (PCGA) fortnightly statistics issued on Monday, the total domestic arrivals of cotton seed (phutti) up to March 15, 2013 were 12,845,070 bales against 14,548,845 bales in the same period of last year, depicting a decline of 11.71 percent or 1,703,775 bales during the current season.  read more. & read more.

* Textile – Pakistan vs. India:

As Pakistan moves forward to further liberalise trade with India (a positive move), one comes across this quiet kind of confidence in the Pakistani textile sector about its ability to compete successfully with its Indian counterpart; of course, if it is provided with a level playing field.

No harm, since confidence and perception are key hallmarks of any business success story, and more importantly if the growth in Pakistan’s textiles has to be sustainable, then the sector needs to achieve this by competing against the best in this business. However, often one has seen that confidence if not accompanied by prudence can easily lead to complacency.

And given Pakistan’s industrial track record, one cannot help but notice that it is in being complacent, and not being proactive and innovative where our weakness lies. While we may be ready to compete with India in the traditional items based on comparative costs, quality and designs, it is the long-term vision where we seem to be way behind.  read more.
The Nation Newspaper Pakistan

* Textiles getting back on their feet:

The local textile sector, which had been in a bind for long and had even lost export orders worth $1 billion in the last fiscal year, is now showing signs of recovery, as it grew by 8.33 per cent during the first seven months of this year.

The industry is upbeat over the changing situation, and is hopeful that it would meet its target of $14 billion in exports by June 30, owing to an improvement in the supply of gas and electricity.

The overall increase was the outcome of a continued rise in the export of these products since September 2012, due to a slight surge in demand from key markets of Europe and the United States. Ready-made garments, towels and low value products like cotton yarn and cotton cloth led the growth in exports. This also contributed to an overall increase in the country’s total exports to $14.068 billion in the July to January period of the current fiscal year.  read more.

map of asia ASIA

* Asean must live up to promises on equal rights:

The regional grouping cannot prosper if women – half of the population – continue to be denied the full range of social benefits brought by economic development

Although Thailand and Asean have made a lot of progress on rights protection, women are still facing great challenges in terms of gender inequality and the protection of their rights, leaving them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Women continue to face disadvantages in economic and social status. Regional integration, which allows for the freer flow of human resources, has created opportunities for some, but many women in the region still face poverty and unemployment. Many women are domestic workers who are left unprotected by inadequate or non-existent national labour laws. In addition, ingrained social perceptions have resulted in discrimination and domestic violence on a daily basis.

These are the issues facing millions of women in the region, and they will continue to do so despite the promises of improvement made about advent of the Asean Economic Community in 2015. The greater integration of Asean is designed to cover three main pillars: economic, political security and socio-cultural. Every country is accountable when it comes to addressing the problem of gender inequality. Improvement in the status of women is essential if the region is to prosper in a sustainable manner.

Asean has come up with the mantra “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”. It must now live up to that promise. If half of the population is denied the chance to advance in an environment of equality, it will be impossible for the region to get ahead.  read more.
The Nation

map of Asia


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* Marcus slams apparel boss for wanting to import labour

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* Asean must live up to promises on equal rights

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2