14:11:43 local time CHINA
* Textile towns In the Shadows of Pollution:
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* Cotton farmers reap harvest:
Chinese firm sows seeds of success with Tanzania park
Tanzania’s cotton industry reaped in $81.52 million in exports last year. It employs nearly 16 million people in a nation of 45 million. It provides around 13 percent of the country’s agricultural exports, second only to coffee.
Still, the country’s cotton farmers are suffering because of a system with no safety nets. A private entrepreneur from Yancheng, Jiangsu province, hopes to change that.
The Dahong Group expects to complete the construction of the China-Tanzania Modern Agricultural Industrial Park by early 2014. The park, which broke ground in June, will help the African country improve its textile manufacturing sector and provide a blueprint for private textile companies in Jiangsu province that are looking to expand overseas.
“It’s definitely a win-win solution,” says Wang Shuchen, general manager of Tanzania Dahong Cotton Products Ltd, a subsidiary of Dahong Group based in Shinyanga, northern Tanzania, one of the country’s major cotton production regions.
The park currently provides training for 3,000 Tanzanian farmers each year, and exports approximately 80,000 tons of cotton yarn overseas, including China.
Despite the African country being a major source of cotton, nearly 400,000 farmers have seen little improvement in their lives. Many live in poverty and do not have the means to refine the cotton they produce. Around 70 percent of Tanzanian-produced cotton is raw. Many are also cheated out of fair prices by middlemen, who buy the cotton and sell it to ginneries for refinement. read more.
* Li Ning reports 1.98b yuan loss:
Chinese sportswear producer Li Ning Co announced Tuesday a huge loss for 2012, its first year in the red since it was listed in Hong Kong in 2004, amid a sluggish domestic economy and an industry downturn.
The company said in an annual report that it suffered a 1.98 billion yuan ($318.8 million) loss in 2012, compared with a profit of 386 million yuan in 2011.
Its stock price dropped 4.09 percent Tuesday to HK$4.46 ($0.57) following the news.
The sportswear firm attributed the greater-than-expected loss to intensified competition in the sector as a result of market saturation and increased pressure to clear inventories due to overexpansion.
“Its huge loss is within expectations as the company offered big discounts to clear its inventories,” Wang Qianjin, an analyst at textile industry information provider webtex.cn, told the Global Times Tuesday.
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14:11:43 local time PHILIPPINES
* House committe report on P125 Wage Hike Bill hailed:
Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno lauded the House Committee on Labor and Employment today for releasing the committee report on a bill that seeks to legislate a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide, saying the report’s release is a step forward for the workers’ struggle for a significant wage increase.
A copy of COLE Report No. 2703, which recommends House Bill 375 or the P125 Wage Hike Bill for approval without amendment, was received by the office of Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Rafael V. Mariano, the bill’s main sponsor, last Monday.
“This is a step forward for the workers’ struggle for a significant wage hike. This is a victory of the country’s workers and poor who have launched various forms of mass actions for a P125 across-the-board wage increase nationwide,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson. read more.
13:11:43 local time CAMBODIA
* Hun Sen touts role in wage talks:
In speech containing campaign-like rhetoric, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday spelled out in no uncertain terms the role he had played in securing garment workers a $75 monthly minimum wage last week.
“The minimum wage will reach $80 [including a $5 health bonus] after the negotiations between unions and employers and intervention from the prime minister,” he said at the inauguration of a pagoda in Kampong Cham province’s O’Reang-ou district.
During Hun Sen’s speech, which included fresh calls for villagers to vote for him and talk of his sons – one of whom, Hun Many, is standing in July’s National Election – the prime minister said the ruling CPP had overseen many minimum wage increases.
“And we will keep negotiating… wages in the garment sector and in some cases provide a higher wage,” he said, adding the minimum wage had increased from $30 per month in the 1990s. read more.
* Hun Sen, minimum wage discussions not final:
The Prime Minister said Tuesday there will be another discussion about the increase of minimum wages for factory workers.
Speaking at an inauguration ceremony for the Toul Sophy Secondary School in the district of Ou Rang Ov, he said around 500,000 to 600,000 people are working in garment sector, and the minimum wage has been increased to $80 while it was only between $30 to $40 before.
“We will continue discussions involving the three partners to talk about minimum wage issues in our garment sector,” he said.
“Because of the recent continuous wage increases, workers could save some money to send back to their parents in their hometowns.
“With the minimum wage increased to $80, workers can still be able to get bonuses on top of that,” he added. read more.
* Unionists convicted for violence :
Ten unionists from the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) were given suspended six-month prison sentences on Monday, resulting from violence at the E Garment factory in Kandal province almost three years ago.
The court found that the C.CAWDU members, former employees of the factory, were involved in a clash with four other workers – who were also given suspended sentences – in July 2010.
The opposing parties were ordered to pay each other $3,000.
C.CAWDU, however, claims its union members were victims of an attack.
“They did not hit anyone, but they were seriously beaten,” said Um Visal, a C.CAWDU legal officer.
E Garment officials and a factory-aligned union could not be reached yesterday.
* Cambodia Hosts a National Workshop on Green Industry:
The Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy in cooperation with Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) hosted here yesterday a two-day national workshop on green development.
The workshop was chaired by H.E. Suy Sem, Minister of Industry, Mines, and Energy and representatives from KOICA and UNIDO.
Mr. Be Pito, Director of Technical Industry Department of Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy, said the two-day workshop attracted some 150 participants from different industries in Cambodia including garments, beverages, plastic, and the chemical products distributors. read more.
12:11:43 local time BANGLA DESH
* Unrest puts garment export target at risk:
Business is slow at apparel factories as the political turmoil discourages buyers from visiting Dhaka and placing orders with local manufacturers. Photo: Amran Hossain
The ongoing political unrest continues to upset the garment sector as buyers now call apparel makers to go and meet them in India or China, to avoid the turbulences in Dhaka.
Many buyers have already suspended trips to Bangladesh although, in usual situation, they come to Dhaka, visit factories and place orders.
Some buyers are even thinking to purchase garments from other countries at higher prices due to the uncertainties in Bangladesh.
If the situation worsens further, it will be difficult to achieve the export target at $21.53 billion at the end of the current fiscal year, exporters said. read more.
* RMG export to India facing setback:
Bangladesh’s clothing exports to India is facing a serious setback as about two dozens local garment factories have failed to secure payment of nearly $5 million from an Indian buyer Liliput Kidswear Ltd, exporters said.
They feared they would default on bank loans and would not be able to pay workers’ wages, which might trigger labour unrest in their factories only because of the non-payment by the Indian company.
This issue, according to sources, has put a break to the tempo in RMG exports to India since many of Bangladeshi garment manufacturers have lost their confidence to export to the neibouring India, a huge market for Bangladesh.
The entrepreneurs of 22 garment manufacturers, who have not received their payments from the Lilliput, will soon sit with the new committee of BGMEA to find out ways how to realize the payment.
If failed, they will chalk out new programme to realize the same. “We have made shipments after concrete deals with the Indian company.
About 18 months have passed, but we are yet to receive my payments,” Fazlur Rahman, managing director of Gemini Garments Limited, one of the affected apparel unit. read more.
* Sewing their way to empowerment:
Women train to sew their way out of destitution. The picture was taken at a centre run by MRDI in the border village of Basatpur in Jessore. Photo: MRDI
It has always been a dream of Parveen Khatun to contribute financially to her family of six that includes three daughters and a son.
But the dream, seemed a distant one, because of her lack of education.
Her husband, a day labourer, was the sole bread earner for the family, meaning they had to live under constant hardship.
Parveen’s story, however, is not atypical for Jessore’s Basatpur village.
The village, lining the Bangladesh-India border, lacks opportunities, with destitution making many young women easy prey for human traffickers.
But thanks to attending a workshop at Basatpur Women and Children Development Agency, Parveen’s life took up a different narrative.
“I am now earning money — I make merchandise for many clothing stores in Dhaka with the sewing and embroidery skills I picked up at the workshop.” read more.
11:41:43 local time INDIA
* Govt launches special package for weavers, silk farmers:
The state government on Tuesday launched a special package for weavers, artisans and silk farmers of the state at Aska, about 40 km from here. Chief minister NaveenPatnaik had announced the package on January 8.
Under the special package, the government would bear the insurance premiums of the beneficiaries under the health insurance scheme and Mahatma Gandhi Bunakar Bima Yojana (MGBBY), provide Rs 45,000 to weavers in three phases for construction of work sheds and solar lantern to each family. The annual premium share of the beneficiaries is Rs 50 and Rs 80 under health and MGBBY, respectively.
The landless and qualified weavers and artisans’ families would also be provided assistance under the Mo Kudia scheme. Similarly, weavers and artisans aged above 60 would be included in Madhubabu Pension Yojana of Rs 300 a month.
“The sops are aimed at betterment of people depending on handicraft and handloom sectors for their livelihood, said Textiles and handloom minister Sarojini Hembram. Around 50,000 families would benefit from the special scheme. read more.
* Cotton records longest slump in six months:
The commodity hits longest slump in six months, on mounting speculation that global supplies will outpace demand
Cotton futures fell, capping the longest slump in six months, on mounting speculation that global supplies will outpace demand. Sugar and cocoa slid, while coffee and orange juice gained.
Cotlook Ltd., a research company, boosted its forecast today for a global surplus in the 12 months starting August 1 by 51 per cent. US planting this year may total 11 million acres, 10 per cent more than a February 22 government forecast, Jordan Lea, the chairman of Eastern Trading Co, an exporter in Greenville, South Carolina, said last week.
US “acres will likely be above 10 million, possibly 10.5 million,” John Flanagan, the president of Flanagan Trading in in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, said today in a report. “This could produce a crop of 14 million to 16 million bales and would be viewed as bearish by traders.” read more.
* School chale hum, recount Gujarat child labourers:
During a function organised by Save the Children on Saturday, kids narrated their experience of getting out of child labour and going to school.
The NGO had organised the event in the city to celebrate the completion of its project that aimed to pull children, most of them from rural areas, out of farms and put them back in school. The project was implemented with the help of eight NGO partners, which covered 882 villages in Ahmedabad, Surendranagar, Sabarkantha and Baruch.
Gopal Bakhudi, a 13-year-old student who stood first in class 6, said he used to go to a cotton field. “Then the representatives came to our village and convinced my parents to send me to school. Earlier, when I did not have work in the field, I used to tend cattle. But now I go to school,” said Bakhudi.
Shaba Desai, who has worked in Bavla village of Dhandhuka, said that economic crisis often forces parents to send their children to work at a young age. “Most of them are poor. The children get measly amount for working in fields but even that contributes to the income of the family. Hence, it is very difficult to convince parents not to send their children below 14 years of age to work,” said Desai. She said that despite their best efforts, they have managed to pull only some students out of child labour and into school. read more.
* Two-way trade:
It is unfortunate that the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) is holding on to stockpiles of cotton in the facile belief hope that open market prices would improve or failing which the Finance Ministry would underwrite the resultant losses in offloading the current inventory.
The likes of CCI, Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Nafed are, at the end of the day, hoarders of farm produce, even if their operations might serve a benign purpose: Ensuring that farmers get the official minimum support price (MSP) for their produce.
Since harvesting of crops happens over a short time span, there is always the possibility of open market prices falling due to bunching of arrivals. To prevent that, these parastatals are, then, forced to procure kapas (seed-cotton), wheat or mustard during the peak arrival period, which accumulates in their godowns. read more.
11:11:43 local time PAKISTAN
THE KARACHI-BALDIA FIRE:
* Piler deposits $750,000 in account of SHC nazir:
The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) on Tuesday deposited $750,000 in the account of the Sindh High Court nazir on a directive of the SHC commission headed by retired Justice Rahmat Hussain Jafery for distribution among families of the victims of Ali Enterprises.
Piler received the amount from the German garments buyer, KiK Textilien, after it had signed an agreement with the buyer to compensate in cash those affected families who have still not received any compensation from the government or any other source.
Piler through an application had requested the SHC to form a commission for the payment of compensation to the affected families. Subsequently, the commission was constituted and it started functioning by late February. The commission invited applications through newspaper advertisements and currently it is finalising the list of the beneficiaries. read more.
* Piler deposits $1 million in SHC account for Baldia fire victims:
The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) deposited $1million received from the German garments buyer KiK Textilien to the account of the Nazir of the Sindh High Court (SHC), based on the directives of commission headed by Justice (retd) Rahmat Hussain Jafery to distribute among the families of the victims of Ali Enterprises.
Piler had signed an agreement with the German buyer to provide cash for those affected families who were yet to receive any compensation from the government or any other source.
Piler, through an application, requested the SHC to form a commission for the distribution of compensation among the affected families. As a result, the SHC formed the commission, which started functioning by late February. read more.
* Sewing machines drown out gunfire in Aleppo factory:
A Syrian boy works at a clothes factory in the northern city of Aleppo on March 23, 2013. — AFP Photo
“We people from Aleppo are hard workers, we’re renowned for that,” said Mohammed, as he showed a team of AFP journalists around a clothes factory in strife-torn Aleppo city, Syria’s economic heart.
In a building in the eastern district of Tariq al-Bab, the din of sewing machines has replaced the sound of gunfire and bombing, as bombardment of the neighbourhood by regime forces becomes less frequent.
A dozen young men work tirelessly to make a living more than two years into a war that has left some 70,000 people dead, the UN says.
Some were still at school when the battle for Aleppo broke out around nine months ago.
Today, they are sewing onto children’s T-shirts and baby bibs the insignia of FC Barcelona.
Ibrahim, 27, has worked for around four years for the company, which sells its products in Iraq. He used computer technology to design the logo, which is then sewn onto children’s blue and orange shorts. read more.