16:15:54 local time CHINA
* Wage growth for migrant workers set to accelerate:
Manufacturing wages in the Pearl River Delta region in southern China are expected to rise 9.2 percent this year, compared with the 7.6 percent rate of growth respondents reported for wages last year, Standard Chartered said in a report on Monday.
The rise is partly policy-induced and partly a reflection of labor shortages, the survey said.
Sixty-three percent of respondents said that minimum wage hikes have had at least some impact on the wages they pay, while 88 percent believe the current labor shortage is at least as bad as last year. Additional pressure is coming from stricter enforcement of companies’ social insurance payments and wage negotiations with labor representatives.
Higher productivity helps to explain and absorb higher wages, the survey showed. The majority of companies said that output per worker has risen faster than wages, a positive sign. read more.
16:15:54 local time PHILIPPINES
* DOLE presses two-tier wage system:
The Department of Labor and Employment is set to urge employers to adopt the government’s two-tiered wage system that combines minimum wage increases with non-cash benefits.
The campaign comes on the heels of the adoption of the system by most regional wage in their latest wage orders.
“We are going on a campaign to raise awareness among employers that minimum wage pay should go hand in hand with productivity-based wage,” Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said.
Baldoz said the incentive-based pay would be beneficial to both the business sector and the workers. read more.
* Aquino’s new labor laws viewed as ‘Trojan horse’ vs workers:
The two newly-signed labor laws mandating tripartism and compulsory arbitration effectively weaken unions and their power of collective action to bargain for better working conditions.
Two decades and four years since his mother’s administration enhanced rather than revoked the martial law-oriented Labor Code, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino seems on the path toward continuing where the first Aquino administration left off. Yesterday (March 24), he signed two new labor laws which the progressive labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) immediately condemned as an “attack on workers’ rights.” The labor group described the two new labor laws as Aquino’s “Trojan horses” for workers this coming Labor Day.
The first of the two laws creates the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council to be headed by the Labor Secretary. It seeks to strengthen tripartism, but according to KMU, it is actually the formal body that would “facilitate the collusion among the government, big capitalists and pro-business labor groups against workers.”
15:15:54 local time CAMBODIA
* Union seeks $100 from Prime Minister:
Chea Mony, the president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of Cambodia, has asked Hun Sen to increase the salary of garment and footwear workers to $100 per month.
In a letter written to Hun Sen, he said, “I have already received the information about your raise from $61 per month, plus $5 for health care, to $80, and it will be presented this Friday to the Labor Advisory Committee for a decision.
“Adding to the $61 per month, workers will also get other benefits including $10 bonuses, $7 for transport and rent, $5 for health care and $0.5 for meal, but these benefits will not be adopted equally among the factories.” read more.
* Cambodian garment industry begins to fray:
f Cambodia is anything to go by, physical size and a population of just 15m are immaterial when it comes to a successful garment manufacturing industry. But as a series of strikes were brought to a close on Friday with a minimum wage rise for workers of 20 per cent, globally recognised brands such as Levi Strauss, Gap and H&M will have to decide whether Cambodia is likely to remain their most cost effective option.
Garment factory workers will receive a monthly pay rise from $61 to $75 and additional medical cover worth $5 from May 1, but some union officials said that the raise was not enough, claiming that an inflation spike in 2008 had eaten into workers’ livelihoods, which have not yet recovered. The strikes ended when the Cambodian government intervened to force a settlement between unions and employers, represented by the Garment Manufacturers’ Association of Cambodia, in an industry that employs about 350,000 people, mostly women.
According to the UN’s International Labour Organization, Cambodia has become a favoured home of garment manufacturers for exporting clothes to the US and European Union because of its location and reputation for compliance with minimum labour standards. From a standing start in the early 1990s, garments now account for between 70 and 80 per cent of total exports. But it hasn’t been all good news. When the global financial crisis throttled demand in western markets in 2008, garment factories cut about 70,000 jobs – quite a shock for an industry that was growing at 40 per cent per year. read more.
* Spoof advertisements Clean Clothes Campaign targets poverty wages H&M:
‘Conscious collection’ H&M leaves seamstresses unconsious
Clean Clothes Campaign launches a spoof campaign called ‘Unconcsious Collapsed’. The campaign targets H&M’s launch of the new ‘Conscious Collection’, criticising the working conditions in Asian garment factories. In Cambodia alone, more than 2900 workers have collapsed since 2010, several hundred of them at H&M suppliers.
The spoof shows Vanessa Paradis, model for H&M, sitting in a leafy garden, surrounded by garment workers, with the text ‘H&M Unconsious Collapsed, start paying a living wage.’
H&M is, alongside Gap, Levis and Zara, one of the main buyers of the booming Cambodian garment industry. Due to the low wage and consequently low calorie intake, many workers in H&M factories are malnourished.
Last week, local unions in Cambodia negotiated the new minimum wage and called for a wage hike of 89 USD, to 150 USD a month. On 21st of March, the Ministry of Social Affairs announced the new minimum wage to be 75 USD, starting May 1st 2013. According to the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, a worker and her family in Cambodia need a monthly living wage of 274 USD to cover basic needs, so almost four times the amount of the newly announced minimum wage. In addition, the minimum wage looses purchasing power due to annual inflation.
Christa Luginbühl from Clean Clothes Campaign says, “H&M claims that their clothes are made with responsibility for people and environment, but hundreds of overworked and malnourished workers faint during their daily work. A fashion collection cannot be “conscious”, “sustainable” or “responsible” if a producer denies garment workers the basic human right for a living wage.”
H&M’s turnover in 2012 was almost 17 billion Euros with a profit of more than 2 billion Euros. “It is the company`s duty to pay a fair share to the workers who make their clothes and guarantee that they have a living wage to cover basic needs, such as food. H&M, as an industry leader, could trigger a change in the sector by committing to a living wage”, says Christa Luginbühl.
H&M has the buyer power to improve the working conditions and livelihood of thousands of garment workers. The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) calls on consumers to join the petition and increase the pressure on H&M and other fashion brands to pay a living wage.
The spoof on Facebook –
Take action – sign the call for a Living Wage here.
Read more about the Living Wage.
16:15:54 local time MALAYSIA
* Adapt to minimum wage, SMEs advised:
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been urged to start adjusting and adapting their operations when the payment of minimum wages to foreign workers comes into effect on Jan 1, 2014.
SMI Association of Malaysia national president Teh Kee Sin said they had to take into account the extra costs in their operations with the implementation of the minimum wage scheme.
“Our SMEs only have nine months to go, and this period is rather crucial as to whether they would be able to adjust and adapt to the new ruling, or continue grappling with escalating operating costs,” he told StarBiz. read more.
14:15:54 local time BANGLA DESH
* Sudden spike in cotton price in local market hits RMG sector hard:
Sudden rise in cotton price in local market has hit hard further the trouble-torn readymade garment (RMG) sector, industry insiders said.
Price of cotton has gone up by around 15 per cent in last fifteen days following the increasing price of raw cotton in the international market, they added.
According to them, the situation is worsening gradually because of hoarding tendency of international consumers including India, Pakistan and China. read more.
* Avoid actions that hurt RMG:
The outgoing president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association yesterday again requested political leaders not to come up with any programmes that take a heavy toll on the garment sector.
The sector is already going through various crises on the domestic front, such as inadequate gas and power, and a shortage of skilled manpower, Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said.
A prolonged financial crisis in their major export destinations — the EU and the US — has worsened their sufferings, he added.
“The damage to the sector is the damage to the economy,” Mohiuddin said at the 30th annual general meeting of the trade body at its office in Dhaka. read more.
* Withdraw hartal; economy at stake: FBCCI:
Requesting the political parties concerned to withdraw the hartal, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry on Monday said the country’s economy has become fragile following frequent hartal calls.
“The country’s economy is at stake now due to frequent hartal calls. Our image is being tarnished globally. If such an instable political situation continues in the country, investment both from home and abroad will be hindered,” the apex trade body said in a statement.
Earlier, at a function both outgoing and new presidents of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) M Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin and M Atiqul Islam voiced concern over the prevailing political instability in the country.
Mohiuddin said they would raise public opinion against hartal and BGMEA will take the lead to carry out an anti-hartal campaign among the business community.
He said the political parties should consider alternative peaceful political programmes considering the sensitivity of the industry, especially the RMG sector.
read more. & read more.
* New BGMEA office bearers take charge:
The newly-elected president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Md Atiqul Islam, on Monday said if required they would appoint lobbyist to attain generalised system of preferences facilities for the garment sector in the US market.
He made the comment at the charge handover ceremony at the BGMEA auditorium in the city.
The immediate past president of the BGMEA, Md Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, handed over the charge to Atiqul. read more.
* New BGMEA leaders take charge:
The newly-elected office bearers of BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) headed by Atiqul Islam took charge Monday.
Earlier, the 30th AGM (Annual General Meeting) of the apparel trade lobbyists’ group BGMEA was held at the BGMEA auditorium.
Outgoing BGMEA president Shafiul Islam presided over the first session of the AGM while newly-elected president Atiqul Islam presided over the concluding session of the AGM. read more.
* Washington to renew pressure on Dhaka for signing TICFA:
Washington is likely to renew its pressure on Dhaka for signing the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement and for improving labour rights in the apparel sector when the two sides meet here in May.
Foreign ministry officials said engagement between the two sides called the second round of ‘Bangladesh-USA Partnership Dialogue’ is scheduled to take place on May 27-28 in the capital. read more.
* With hopes, govt team leaves Dhaka to attend GSP hearing:
A government team left Dhaka yesterday to attend a hearing in Washington that will decide whether the generalised system of preferences for Bangladesh’s exports will continue in the US market.
Bangladesh was called for the hearing of the United States Trade Representative after complaints about labour and safety standards at Bangladeshi factories.
The 14-member delegation will explain at the hearing Bangladesh’s position and the steps the government has taken so far to improve the standards. read more.
* Mozena wants BD to clarify its steps taken so far:
The US Ambassador in Bangladesh Dan W Mozena suggested Monday that Bangladesh should make it clear about the measures taken so far and what is to be done by May next during the hearing on GSP issues.
A 15-member delegation will appear before the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) hearing scheduled to be held on March 28 on the generalised system of preferences (GSP) issue in Washington. read more.
* ‘Efforts on to retain GSP facility’ :
A Bangladesh delegation, led by Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed, will try its best to address the concerns raised by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to retain the GSP facility for Bangladesh, BGMEA outgoing President M Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said on Monday.
“We’ve already given a very concrete reply to the specific concerns, including the labour standard, safety, union registration and other issues. We’ll try our best so that the GSP facility is not withdrawn,” he said while handing over charge to the new BGMEA leadership at its auditorium in the city.
He said though the country’s readymade garment (RMG) sector is out of the GPS (Generalised System of Preferences), the consequences of the GSP withdrawal would have negative impact. “We’ll in no way give scope to leave Bangladesh out of the facility.” read more.
* Dhaka to face USTR on GSP issue:
A 15-member Bangladesh delegation is leaving Dhaka Tuesday for Washington to appear before the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) hearing scheduled to be held on March 28 on the generalised system of preferences (GSP) issue.
“We will clarify our position and urge the USTR to retain the GSP facilities. We hope that the USTR will continue the trade facility for us,” Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed told the local journalists in his office. Mahbub is leading the Bangladeshi delegation.
The delegation also includes representatives from private sector particularly leaders of apparel exporters’ association.
“We will also focus on getting GSP for readymade garment, which is currently not entitled to the privilege,” newly elected president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) M Atiqul Islam said. He said the RMG export would be increased by 4-5 billion US dollars a year should we get GSP for at least 5 percent of RMG export to US market. Islam, also a member of the delegate, earlier said the BGMEA started a crash programme in the apparel industry across the country to enhance compliances. read more.
13:45:54 local time INDIA
* VAT agitation: textile traders lose Rs. 1,600-cr. business:
The ongoing agitation against Value Added Tax (VAT) on textiles is causing a loss of Rs. 1,600 crore business in the city alone. The textile traders are on a warpath for the last 17 days demanding that the State government waive off one per cent VAT on textiles.
There are about 2,000 textile traders in the city doing a business of roughly Rs.100 crore every day. The VAT affects close to 50,000 people, who were either directly or indirectly dependent on textile business in the city. The shop owners would have to bear the brunt due to the VAT in view of the fact that most of them were less qualified, and cannot employ staff to carry out the paper work, they say. read more.
13:15:54 local time PAKISTAN
* Two percent sales tax: APTMA supports FBR move:
While the entire zero-rated textile sector is opposing imposition of 2 percent sales tax, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has welcomed the Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) decision. Addressing a press conference at APTMA House here on Monday, Yasin Siddik, chairman APTMA Sindh-Balochistan Region, said that there was a wrong perception that FBR imposed the tax without consultation.
“APTMA was taken on board by FBR before imposition of the two percent sales tax on zero-rated textile sector as there were many leakages in the previous system,” he added. “After its imposition, other stakeholders failed to convince the board, therefore, FBR is not willing to withdraw the decision,” he said. read more.
13:15:54 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Rallying Against Child Slave Labor:
Members of the American labor movement recently protested at the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Washington, D.C. Activists say the Uzbek government is using slave labor, including kids, to harvest cotton. Shockingly, this foreign crop is ultimately being used to make many of our American clothes.