in the news on-line, 7-8 April 2013

07:52:14 local time map of mongolia MONGOLIA

* Agricultural products exchange piloted:

An agricultural products exchange piloted today with an opening bell at 12.00. Government officials from Ministry of Industry and Agriculture, Agency for Fair Competition and Consumer Rights and 19 brokerage companies gathered at the opening ceremony to participate in the pilot trading.

As decided, Sukhbaatar, Khentii, Dornod aimags were covered in first turn trade in which are rich in wool and cashmere. Buying orders linked to suppliers via internet and dedicatory software at the auditorium.
The market will trade in agricultural products and other raw materials and contracts based on them such as trading contracts to receive products in a certain time and it aimed to protect the herders-suppliers from price drops and the processors-buyer from price rises. to read.

07:52:14 local time map of china CHINA

* Minimum wage hike helps workers as costs go up:

Old Yang, a 55-year-old security guard in a residential complex, has been counting the days until his next paycheck. Effective this month, the minimum wage in Shanghai rises to 1,620 yuan (US$261) a month from 1,450 yuan.

Like most low-wage workers in the city, Old Yang is finding it hard to cope with rising prices for groceries, medicine, transport and the other basic necessities of life.
Sitting in the gate room of a residential compound on Anguo Road in Hongkou District, a cigarette glowing in his left hand, Old Yang said “food, transportation, tuition, water, gas and power bills. You have to pay for everything with the minimum wage.”

Old Yang lost his job during the global financial crisis in 2008 and found work as a security guard through a government-sponsored re-employment program aimed at helping jobless people in their 40s and 50s.
“Many jobless people chose to stay at home after the crisis,” Old Yang said. “I chose not to because my family needs money and I want to get a pension after retirement.”
read more.

08:52:14 local time map of korea_n NORTH KOREA

* More S. Koreans leave N. Korean factory:

More South Koreans on Saturday began to leave North Korea and the factory park where they work, four days after Pyongyang closed the border to people and goods.

Twenty-one South Koreans returned from the Kaesong industrial park Saturday morning, and about 100 of the roughly 600 still there were expected to return home by day’s end, the Unification Ministry in Seoul said.
One manager, Han Nam-il, interviewed as he left, said he saw North Korean security officials “fully armed” before he crossed the border.

The industrial park is the last remnant of North-South cooperation. Pyongyang’s blocking of traffic there is among many provocative moves it has made recently in anger over U.N. sanctions for its Feb. 12 nuclear test and current U.S.-South Korean military drills. North Korea suggested earlier this week that diplomats in Pyongyang leave for their own safety.
Sung Hyun-sang, head of an apparel manufacturer that employs 1,400 North Korean workers, said Friday that his factory will be “in real trouble” if supplies aren’t sent to his factory in Kaesong in a week or two. read more.

* North Korea prevents South Korea’s workers from entering industrial park:

North Korea prevented South Korean workers from entering a jointly run industrial park on Wednesday, adding to tensions after saying it will restart a mothballed nuclear plant and threatening to attack its southern neighbor.

Workers aren’t being allowed access to the Gaeseong zone for the first time since 2009, though they’re being allowed to leave, South Korean Unification Ministry Spokesman Kim Hyung-suk said. North Korea said on March 30 it may shut the park in response to recent flights over the Korean peninsula by US stealth bombers.
Kim Jong Un’s regime generates about $100-million profit annually from the joint project and South Korea makes quadruple that amount, according to Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

About 200,000 North Koreans, including workers and their families, depend on the Gaeseong industrial zone for income, Yang said.
More than 120 South Korean companies, including apparel company Shinwon Corp., underwear manufacturer Good People Co. and watchmaker Romanson Co. employ more than 53,000 North Korean workers at Gaeseong, located about 16 kilometers north of the demilitarized zone.
The minimum monthly wage for North Korean workers is $67 after last year’s 5 percent raise.  read more.

* Facts about Kaesong joint industrial estate:

North Korea’s decision to block access to its Kaesong joint industrial zone with South Korea is an extremely rare case of Pyongyang tampering with a project that has weathered multiple inter-Korean crises.

What is Kaesong?
Kaesong is formally labelled as a special administrative industrial region of North Korea.
It is operated as a collaborative economic development zone that hosts South Korean companies attracted by its source of cheap, educated, skilled labor. Kaesong was born out the “Sunshine Policy” of inter-Korean conciliation initiated in the late 1990s by South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung which led to a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il in 2000.
Who works there and what do they do?
There are currently 123 South Korean companies operating in Kaesong, the bulk of them textile units, along with machinery electronics and chemical manufacturers.
read more.
The Manila Times Logo

* Production at Kaesong Complex could drop by half next week:

Companies unable to get raw materials needed for production; work will grind to a halt if the North doesn’t reopen access

If North Korea continues blocking access to the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the operational rate of the 123 firms working there may drop below 50% next week, some observers worry. On Apr. 5, the third day that South Koreans were not allowed to enter the complex, North Korea saw the beginning of a three-day break that includes a national holiday and the weekend.

The owner of a company operating at Kaesong met with Hankyoreh reporters on May. 5. “If things keep going as they are, the operational rate of companies in the complex will fall below 50% by next week, and by the weekend, a considerable number of companies will be forced to stop operations altogether,” he said. “If the factories shut down, the majority of firms will go out of business, with the exception of a few companies in the demonstration area. These firms have barely been getting by for the past five years.”
“We have determined that three textile companies at the Kaesong Complex are not able to operate their factories because of a shortage of raw materials,” said Kim Hyung-suk, spokesperson for the Unification Ministry, at a press briefing held on the same day. He said they believed that the number of companies unable to continue manufacturing would increase in the next few days.  read more.

07:52:14 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Reprisals on another illegally dismissed workers four years after their reinstatement to work:

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed that the workers who were illegally dismissed but reinstated after we issued our appeal have once again been repressed by their employer. In September 2008, the shoe company reinstated the workers they had illegally dismissed after they went on strike and filed complaints of sexual abuse. The company agreed to all the workers demands; however, they repressed them by imposing forced leaves, delay in paying their salary and threatening to close the shop.

UPDATED APPEAL: (Based on the documentation by the Defend Job Philippines and the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights)

In August 2008, we issued an appeal about the illegal dismissal and sexual abuse of factory workers at the Bleustar Manufacturing and Marketing Corporation (BMMC), a manufacturer of the branded footwear Advan. After issuing our appeals, the workers were reinstated and the company signed an agreement on September 22, 2008, at the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), agreeing to all of the workers’ demands. For details, read: AHRC-UAC-173-2008.
read more.

 * Ecop: P85 wage hike may drive away potential investors:

Employers in the private sector appealed to the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) to reconsider their request for an P85 wage hike for Metro Manila workers, saying this could scare away potential foreign investors.

Employers Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop) Chairman Miguel Varela urged the group to wait for the recent upgrade of the country’s sovereign ratings to investment grade by credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings to result in more foreign investments.
“Let’s get more foreign investments which, in turn, would create more jobs. If labor in the Philippines becomes more expensive, we might scare away investors,” said Varela in a telephone interview. read more.

* Roadmap readied for silk production:

With its silk industry in rapid decline, the Philippines is pinning its hopes on  weaving a long-term strategy for expanding silk production that would provide local producers better access to niche markets, including the European fashion industry.

Cecilia Gloria Soriano, Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) administrator, said they expect to complete this year the silk roadmap to help the industry propagate silk production to other areas in the country, as well as cap the gap in the worldwide supply of silk.

“This month, we hope to meet with representatives of the Department of Trade and Industry, the Board of Investments and the private sector to discuss possible incentives to those who want to invest in the silk-weaving industry and put up their own textile mills,” Soriano told reporters.  read more.

06:52:14 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Over 200 Vietnamese found working at illegal factories in Russia:

More than 200 Vietnamese have been caught working at five illegal garment factories in southeastern Moscow recently, Vietnam News Agency reported on Wednesday.|

It quoted Zalina Kornilova, spokeswoman of Russia’s Federal Migration Service, as telling the local news agency Interfax that the workers were working in unhygienic conditions when Russian forces raided the factories on Tuesday.
According to the spokeswoman, it cannot be discerned yet if the Vietnamese workers are illegal immigrants. She said authorities were investigating the matter.

It was reported that some of the garment factories made copycats of famous brands like Adidas, Nike and Gucci. to read.

* Rosy outlook for garment trade:

Workers at the Nam Ha Garment Company make clothes for export. The target of 12-14 per cent export growth for the garment and textile sector is achievable, according to the industry association. — VNA/VNS Photo Vu Sinh

The goal of 12-15 per cent export growth rate for the garment and textile industry this year is achievable, fetching between US$18.8-19.3 billion.

According to the Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas), the garment export value hit $4.2 billion in the first quarter of this year, a rise of 16 per cent over the same period last year.
Vitas vice-president Dang Phuong Dung said garment and textile enterprises had the advantage of nearly 100 per cent of workers returning to work after Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday.

Exports into traditional markets, such as Russia, Eastern Europe, the US, Japan and Europe saw stable growth while many enterprises penetrated new markets, such as South Korea, Turkey, Africa and Middle East countries. Some enterprises scored production orders until June.  read more.

06:52:14 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* BetterFactories Media Update:

To read in printed version Phnom Penh Post:
2013-04-04 Like it or not, soaring wages mean price rises.gif
2013-04-04 Wage law quickly dismissed.gif

To read in printed version The Cambodia Daily:
2013-04-04 Proposed minimum wage law shot down in National Assembly.gif
2013-04-04 Workers protest over Khmer New Year.gif

BetterFactories’ overview here.


07:52:14 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Islands in focus: W. Java workers’ lawsuit deemed baseless:

West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan, through the lawyers of West Java administration, demanded the Bandung State Administrative Court (PTUN) on Thursday to dismiss the lawsuit filed by major confederations of labor unions regarding the postponement of the 2013 regional minimum wage (U MR).

In February, the confederations filed a lawsuit against West Java Gubernatorial Decree No. 561, which allows 257 companies in 11 regencies and mayoralties to postpone the implementation of the 2013 minimum wage issued on Jan. 18.

Aris Eka, who represents West Java administration, said the plaintiffs had no legal capacity to file the lawsuit. “The plaintiffs are not even workers. In this case, the confederations have no direct connection [with the wage increase]. It should have been the workers [who filed the suit],” said Aris.

“Is it true that they [confederations] really represent the workers of the 257 companies?” he continued. read more.

* Better Work Indonesia – Legal Updates:

Better Work Indonesia has produced a Legal Update as our ongoing service to you.

In this edition we are highlighting the procedure of minimum wage fixing in Indonesia and also introduce the procedure of minimum wage postponement and frequently asked question around that topic.
Please click here to access the file.

You can also click here to view the previous Legal Update on minimum wage that we have released back in January 2013 along with the minimum wage table for 3 provinces in Indonesia.
read more.
BW indonesia

06:22:14 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Myanmar workers in Jordan continue to work:

Over 900 Myanmar workers will remain in Jordan and continue with their employment in spite of fact that most desire to return to their home, Ei Ei Aung, a leader of workers, said.

Many are facing all sorts of difficulties, said Ei Ei Aung, speaking to reporters after a meeting at the 88’s Generation Students Group’s office in Yangon on March 31.
Among the 1,300 workers, over 200 workers have already come back. The rest are staying at Jordan because of various reasons.

“Some had to mortgage their houses and lands when they went to Jordan and now they have been still in debt so they couldn’t go back to Myanmar. Some are staying there as their contract is nearly complete and so they don’t want to pay compensation to the company. They hope that some officials from Myanmar come there and help them,” she added.

Myanmar workers working at Century Garment Apparel protest started when diarrhea broke out after eating the meals the employer has given to them.
They have demanded for raising salary up to US $ 200, to end racial discrimination and to provide healthy food that is suitable with Myanmar people. Their protest started from February 14 to March 25 peacefully but the factory owner didn’t agree with them.  read more.
Eleven Myanmar

05:52:14 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Hefajat enforces hartal Monday, 18-party Tuesday, Wednesday:

The country goes into the grip of a three-day hartal as Hefajat-e-Islam is set to enforce a daylong hartal on Monday while the BNP-led 18-party alliance on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh from a mammoth rally on Saturday called the countrywide shutdown protesting the government obstructions to its long march programme and repression of its activists on their way to Dhaka.
read more. & read more.
  daily star bd

* Workers go on indefinite strike at Benapole port shade Monday:

Benapole Port-handling Workers’ Union will enforce an indefinite strike at a shade of the port on Monday demanding action against shade in-charge Nahiduzzaman.

President of the workers’ union Golam Mostafa said in-charge of Shade-41 was caught red-handed while taking three sacks of imported clothes out of the port on April 2.
They workers informed the port director of the matter and demanded taking action against him.
“We’ve decided to stop the loading and unloading of goods at Shade-41 for an indefinite period from Monday as no action was taken against shade in-charge Nahiduzzaman,” Mostafa said.  read more.

* Siege of road by RMG workers affects examinees:

Workers of a garment factory today laid siege to the city road at Sadarghat area to realize enhanced wages. They demonstrated on the road at Sadarghat Kali Bari intersection from 9.00 am to 11 am causing delay to the HSC examinees of at least two examination centres.

Around one thousand workers of Global Specialized Garments, a sweater producing unit of the Azim Group of Industries, started demonstrating as on their arrival they saw entrance to the factory closed.

The road blockade caused sufferings to the HSC examinees. Several hundred examinees from different areas in the city were late by about half an hour to reach the examination centres at Chittagong City Government University College and Islamia Degree College on Sadarghat Road. Movement of all transports on the road was halted for two hours.  read more.

* Fire breaks out at CEPZ footwear factory:

A fire broke out at a footwear factory at Chittagong Export Procession Zone (CEPZ) on Friday afternoon.

Deputy assistant director of Chittagong Fire Service Jasim Uddin said the fire originated at Excelsior Shoes Ltd around 3:30 pm.
On information, six firefighting units rushed in to douse the blaze, hours later.
The extent of loss caused by the fire could not be known immediately. The reason behind the fire could not also be known yet.
Deputy director at local fire service Ruhul Amin said that the extent of loss and the reason behind the fire would be known after an investigation as the factory was closed today due to weekly holiday. to read. & to read.
  daily star bd

* CEPZ factory fire under control:

The fire, which broke out at a shoe factory in Chittagong Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) on Friday, was brought under control nearly after two hours.

No casualty was reported as the factory remained closed due to its weekly holiday, firemen said.
Fourteen units from different stations of Chittagong Fire Service and Civil Defence including Agrabad, Bandar, CEPZ and Nandan Kanon fire stations had to work for two hours to douse the flame around 6:00pm.

The fire broke out at Excel Sure Shoe Factory, located in CEPZ area, at around 4:15pm; our Chittagong correspondent said quoting the fire service sources.
SM Abdur Rashid, managing director of Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority of Chittagong, said, the fire might be originated from the wastages that were stocked at the ground floor adjacent to the chemical store of the factory.
read more.
daily star bd

* Six waste godowns gutted in Gazipur:

At least six waste go-downs  were gutted in a fire that broke out at Konabari Jailroad under Gazipur Sader upazila in the district on Saturday morning.

The owners of the affected go-downs claimed that the loss caused by the fire would be around Tk 80 lakh, but the cause of the fire could not be known immediately.
It is suspected that the fire originated from an electric short circuit.
Station Officer of Kaliakoir Fire Service Apurbo Bol said, the fire incident occurred at 4 am on Saturday.
Valuables including clothes and cotton of six go-downs  owned by Mizanur Rahman, Shozol, Yasin Mollah, Obaidul Haque, Helal Uddin and Manik Miah were gutted in the fire. On information, two units of fire service from Gazipur and Konabari fire stations  rushed to the spot  and doused the flame after four hours of frantic efforts. to read.

* Garments sector faces tough times:

Bangladesh today unveils the sad tale of a country – one that has been ravaged by man-made disasters which are nothing but frequent hartals.

A joint statement last Monday (April 01) by the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) brought to the fore the shocks that the economy suffers from regular shutdowns.
This should be a grim reminder of the fallout from the politicians’ use of the tool of hartal for voicing their dissent in a democratic polity. The two organisations have claimed that readymade garments (RMG) orders to the tune of $500 million have been shifted to India, a tough competitor of Bangladeshi exportables in the international market.   read more.

* Hartal costs RMG exporters Tk 250cr in Jan, Feb: BGMEA, BKMEA:

US$ 2.2mn export orders cancelled; US$ 7.8mn export shipments uncertain

Voicing deep concern at the fresh spell of countrywide shutdown calls, apparel sector’s trade bodies — BGMEA and BKMEA — on Sunday said the exporters had to count additional losses of around Tk 250 crore because of air shipments due to hartals in January and February alone. 
“Export orders worth US$ 2.2 million of 15 factories have so far been cancelled due to frequent hartals…timely shipments of export goods worth US$ 7.8 million through seaway have become uncertain also because of shutdowns,” they said in a joint statement.
It also said the buyers demanded about US$ 0.7 million discount as the exporters failed to make the shipments timely (due to hartal) while the exporters had to count air freights worth US$ 1.71 million.
The BNP-led 18-party and Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh separately called hartals for three days from Monday.    read more. & read more.& read more.

* 15 RMG units incur $3.31m loss for political turmoil:

Fifteen garment factories incurred loss of $3.31 million due to the country’s ongoing political instability, mainly frequent strikes, showed an assessment survey.

The political turmoil is taking heavy toll on the readymade garment sector as the entrepreneurs are incurring huge loss from order cancellations, discounts, air freight fares and vandalism, showed the survey initiated by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
The BGMEA asked the factory owners on March 28 to submit the impact of recent political violence and frequent strikes on their units. It could collect data from 15 garment factories till Saturday.  read more. & read more.

* Buyers cancel clothing orders worth US$ 2.2m:

Shipment orders of apparel worth about US$ 2.208 million were cancelled over the last one and half months due to failure in maintaining shipment time because of observance of hartal and political unrests. The companies also incurred a loss of US$ 0.896 million because of razing of the consignments while on their way to the port.  

“The buyers had negotiated prices, the fabrics and accessories had come and we had sewn the cloths.
But, finally, the orders got cancelled,” said Atiqul Islam, president of BGMEA.
A Hartal Impact Assessment Survey recently conducted by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), revealed the figure Sunday adding that many entrepreneurs are also facing discounts, cancellation and deferred payment for failing to make shipments timely.
The survey conducted on 15 Readymade Garment (RMG) enterprises also revealed that the factories had to compensate US$ 0.705 million as discounts to the buyers and air freight payment of US$ 1.714 million during the period. Cloths worth about US$ 7.498 million were also delayed in shipment because of the unrest. read more.

* Restive political situation causing substantial loss to apparel sector:

The ongoing confrontational political situation has been causing a significant amount of loss to the country’s apparel sector, the industry insiders said Sunday.

An assessment, conducted on 15 garment manufacturing units by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Exporters Association (BGMEA), revealed that the units suffered a loss amounting to US$ 13 million since December 2012 to March 2013 mainly because of the political turmoil.

The BGMEA data shows that orders worth about $ 2,208,654.08 have been cancelled while the 15 factories faced discounts worth $ 705,079.12, paid $ 1,714,672.93 for air shipment and shipment worth $ 7,498,087.70 is being delayed.
read more.

* OPINION: Ways of containing labour unrest peacefully:

Labour unrest is one of the most serious problems facing our economy today. Hardly a day passes when the newspapers do not report a strike or two in the major industrial belts or houses.

The red flag that strikers hold aloft is one of the most popular sights in our industrial areas. The fact is that labour unrest is an inevitable occurrence during industrialisation. It is a worldwide phenomenon and is not confined to Bangladesh alone.

There was a time not very long ago when the workers knew only one method of expressing their protest: strike, Today labour unrest takes numerous forms, some of them strikingly new and ingenious. Strikes, hunger strikes, relay hunger strikes, sudden unannounced stoppage of work, go-slow and gheraos are all used to express discontent of the workers. Most of the time, these forms are peaceful, often turning violent.  read more.

* Garment sector under dark clouds:

Whenever one talks about Bangladesh’s export trade or its volume, the issue of ready-made garment (RMG) comes first.

The RMG sector’s contribution to the GDP (gross domestic product) is very good. About 80 per cent or $19.00 billion out of the $ 24.00 billion export earnings comes from the RMG sector. About 50 million low-paid workers, most of them women, are working in 5,000-plus factories. Now Bangladesh is the second largest RMG exporter in the world, after China. It can be easily said that the economy of the country mostly depends on the RMG sector.

The sector has faced many challenges from the very beginning. But it has never faced so many problems on its growth path as it is now encountering. Recently some issues like safety and security in RMG factories, political unrest, the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in the US and the Indian free trade agreement with the EU (European Union) have put the sector into uncertainty and threaten its future prospects. read more.

* RMG accessories sector having a sound growth:

Bangladesh’s readymade garment (RMG) accessories sector is now having a sound growth thanks to the confidence of global buyers in the country’s suppliers, industry insiders said.

They also said competitive price and maintenance of global standards by local companies have attracted the international buyers to import garment accessories from Bangladesh.

“For better quality and competitive price many buyers are shifting to Bangladesh from China, India and other countries; so demand for local garment accessories is growing in the international market,” President of Bangladesh Garments Accessories and Packaging Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGAPMEA) Rafez Alam Chowdhury told the FE.  read more.

* Hall-Mark scandal lying in illusion of regulation:

The parties while being residents and doing trades between them are fundamentally to be categorised as carrying their businesses within the Domestic Tariff Area (DTA) of the economy.

The letters of credit or LCs –popularly known in the industries as local LCs — that cover these trade transactions are in no way to come within the purview of Uniform Customs and Practices of Documentary Credits (UCPDC) of the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).  read more.

05:22:14 local time map of india INDIA

* Weavers plan strike on April 15:

Handloom weavers associations across Puducherry are planning a protest outside the Assembly on April 15.

If their demand for more work is not met, they have threatened to protest on April 22.
According to a member of an association, the handloom weavers who work for Pontex have not received thread for their weaving in over six months.

Further, over Rs. 4.5 crore worth of cloth made for the Government is lying unused in godowns and the money for it has not been paid.
Every year, the Government distributes saris and lungis to beneficiaries.
Earlier, all the cloth was purchased from the handloom weavers employed by Pontex. For the year 2011-12, however, despite the fact that the cloth was ready it was not purchased. read more.
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* AFT workers plan protest:

Workers at the Anglo-French Textile mills will stage protests from April 10 to 15 against the closing of the mill.

The workers will take out an effigy across the town and burn it at a crematorium, one of the employees said.
“This is the sixth time that the mill has been given a holiday and the workers will not be paid this time. The government is constantly telling us that there is no money to pay the salary, but there are several lakh meters of cloth lying in the mill,” the employee said.

According to the workers, the cloth that was produced when the mill was open last month would earn around Rs. 10 crore. Around six lakh meter of first-quality cotton had been woven and finished and was lying unsold . There was three-lakh meter of cloth woven but unfinished. Before the work could be completed, the mill was shut down.  read more.
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* CITU deliberates on working women:

In view of the alarming increase in incidences of accidents in workplaces throughout the country, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has sought to build pressure upon the government for ratification of all safety related conventions of the International Labour Organisation.

The 14th national conference of the CITU being held here deliberated upon the awareness among workers and trade union activists for organised intervention and stringent preventive safety measures to be adopted by the managements. Detailing upon the statistical data on accidents and casualties in various industries including steel, coal mining and the power sector apart from road accidents, the resolution on safety in workplace and occupational health stated that the issue was yet to be found in the agenda of most unions.  read more.
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* Indian trade unions are getting bigger, coinciding with slowdown:

Early data emerging from the ongoing survey of trade unions in India have revealed they are growing by leaps and bounds from what they were five years ago, contrary to popular belief they are losing their sheen and diminishing by size with the rapid contractualisation of labour.

Going by data from various trade unions, submitted by them to the union labour ministry as part of the survey, the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), affiliated to the Congress party, has emerged as the biggest of the seven central trade unions, with a membership of 33.3 million. This is against its earlier size of a mere 3.9 million.

This is also more than the total membership size of all trade unions in the previous survey conducted in 2008, signifying a giant leap in the size of unions, coinciding with the economic slowdown, which was supposed to push workers into the arms of unions.  read more.

* Resist attacks on trade unions, workers told:

Strongly condemning the attacks on trade union movements by corporates, the police, and the administration, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has called upon workers of all trade unions to rise in protest against such attacks across the country.

Briefing presspersons on the penultimate day of the CITU national conference on Sunday, A.K. Padmanabhan, CITU national president, said that during the general strike called by trade unions on February 20 and 21, nearly 200 functionaries of the CITU and affiliated unions were arrested and detained in jail at Noida in Uttar Pradesh. The situation was no different at the Maruti Suzuki plant at Manesar in Haryana where dismissal of hundreds of permanent workers and 1,800 contract workers had taken place.  read more.
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* Details of sari distribution plan worked out:

The government has laid down detailed guidelines for its scheme to procure and distribute saris and blankets to poor women and old people. The distribution scheme would also help promote the cause of weavers for government plans to purchase saris in bulk from weavers through its agencies.

The district-level committees headed by district magistrates would buy saris and blankets for distribution. Experts from UPICA/Handloom would also be part of the committee so that technical specifications are followed.
At least 60% of the total number of saris to be distributed to women would be procured from the weaver groups through UP Industrial Cooperative Association Ltd (UPICA) and UP Handloom Corporation.
The remaining part would be bought from the National Textile Corporation and UPICA and UP Handloom Corporation. Similarly, half the bulk of blankets would be purchased from the Central government’s National Textile Corporation and remaining from the state’s handloom units.  read more.

* Liberalisation has led to dilution of labour laws, says Seetharam:

The 13th Working Women’s Convention organised by the LIC Employees Association, Mysore Division, was held in the city on Friday and teleserial director T.N. Seetharam opined that concept of globalisation and liberalisation had destroyed the essence of struggle in society.

Mr. Seetharam said consumerism had become the order of the day and the pursuit of materialism had diluted all forms of progressive struggles. There was a “shining India” and a “suffering India” as a result of the economic policies of the government while liberalisation has led to dilution of labour laws in favour of investors, he said.
read more.
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* WFTU to strengthen class-oriented TUs:

The Athens-based World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) will further its trade union initiatives to strengthen class-oriented trade union movement worldwide as labour rights all over the world are under attack, according to its representative Alexandra Lymperi.

Ms. Lymperi, chief of the media department of the WFTU, who is here as a delegate at the national conference of the Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU), told a press conference here on Friday that issues such as increasing tax concessions, flexible working hours, and migration of workers, among others, should be addressed by the trade unions.

The WFTU had been organising international action against corporate monopolies, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. It was important for workers to be united under the trade unions, she said.  to read.
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* Cut in working hours sought:

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has demanded that the Union government reduce the working hours as development in technology has increased the productivity of workers.

Briefing presspersons on the deliberations at the national conference of the CITU under way here, CITU general secretary Tapan Sen said on Friday that jobless growth was a new phenomenon. The period of GDP growth was a period of decline in job opportunities.

The neoliberal policies pursued by the government were aggravating unemployment, price rise, and impoverishment of the people. As the input of technology had increased the productivity of workers, they should work for lesser hours, he said. Same wage for same work, 35 hours/week work and four-shift working day, social security for all, no employment below the statutory minimum wage, and social security were among the tasks set by the report.  read more.
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* AEPC pleads for duty-free cotton yarn import:

Concerned over volatility in cotton yarn prices in the domestic market, the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) has asked the government to restrict its exports and allow duty free imports .

AEPC Chairman A Sakthivel in a letter to Commerce, Industry and Textiles Minister Anand Sharma said the steep rise in cotton yarn prices is affecting various segments of the industry.
“Now, the situation has become alarming and shocking to value—added garment export sector. It is an alarming situation, the garment exporting community is looking upon you for your immediate intervention so that prices can be brought down,” the letter stated.  read more.
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* Textile park in Perambalur and SIDCO industrial complex in Ariyalur planned:

Industrialisation in the two backward districts of Perambalur and Ariyalur is set to get a push with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa announcing setting up of a textile park on the Tiruchi-Chennai national highway in Perambalur and a SIDCO industrial complex in Ariyalur.

Farmers from the delta region too have good news with the decision to construct 25 grade wall structures in the various tributaries of the Cauvery, channels and drainage to enable restoration of theoretical bed level in order to provide effective irrigation to farmers at an estimated cost of Rs.68.55 crore.

Establishment of an eco-tourist centre at Muthupettai lagoon in Tiruvarur district and promotion of eco-tourism at Panchamalai near Thuraiyur in Tiruchi district, setting up of a fossil museum in Ariyalur, a new bus stand for Karur, and expansion of the existing ones in Pudukottai and Gandharvakottai are among the significant development projects for the central region announced by the Chief Minister at the conclusion of the conference of district collectors and police officers in Chennai during December 2012.  read more.
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* Indian textile sector keen to explore emerging markets:

Indian textile and garment manufacturers are eyeing on emerging markets, including South America, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Africa, for exports.  
According to industry representatives, Indian textile sector witnessed a negative growth mainly due to decline in clothing exports in 2012-13. However, exports to non-traditional markets recorded positive growth during this period and the textile and apparel makers expect the growth to continue in the current fiscal year.
Speaking to fibre2fashion, secretary of Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI), Mr. DK Nair said, “Last fiscal year may have ended with a negative growth in exports of textiles, basically because of the decline in garment exports. But now the demand for our garments has started improving in the traditional markets and exports to some new markets have also started growing. Thus, our exports of textiles during 2013-14 are expected to register a significant positive growth.”
read more.

* ‘Embrace functional textile technologies to stay in market’:

Indian Textile Industry should embrace functional textile technologies currently followed in United States of America and Japan to realise the full value of Textile Industry, Advisor/Scientist ‘G’, Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, A.Mukhopadhyay said here.

The functional textile technologies include use of nanofibres and textiles being designed for different climatic conditions. “We need more Research & Development in the areas of nanofibres. Unfortunately, the least R& D is in the fields of Textile Technology due to lack of support from the market,’’ Mr. Mukhopadhyay said at a seminar on, “Textile Industry: A perspective on future potential growth,’’ held on the Vignan University campus on Saturday. The senior scientist also opened a Textile Lab.  read more.
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05:22:14 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Weaving new hope for Sri Lankan textile manufacturers:

Furthering its efforts to revive distinctive local industries of Sri Lanka, NDB recently initiated a special development programme aimed at rebuilding the defunct handloom textile industry.

The pilot project of a long term development programme was launched in the Kuleegama village, Divulapititya of the Gampaha District which has once been renowned for its handloom products.

NDB joined hands with the Department of Textile Industry and the Divisional Secretariat of Divulapitiya to support the skilled weavers in the village who have been away from the industry since 2002, to resume manufacturing. The initial meeting organised by NDB with the participation of representatives of the department of Textile and the Divisional Secretariat official was attended by over 30 manufacturers.  read more.

* SME apparel exporters to be linked to Customs electronic system:

In a significant development for Sri Lanka’s apparel industry, for the first time, Sri Lanka’s SME apparel exporters are to be linked to the much awaited global customs electronic system. The dazzling result being the total realm of apparels, Sri Lanka’s topmost export earner, will be able to migrate to the global electronic customs regime.

“If our current preparations continue as planned, we can link our SME apparel exporters shipments to the ASYCUDA global e-system by May 2013. This could enhance our SME apparel sector exports thereby enhancing our $2.8 bn apparel volume, said Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce.

The SME apparel exporters themselves requested Minister Bathiudeen’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce to take new initiatives in this regard and as a result, more than 220 registered SME apparel manufacturers would benefit from ASYCUDA’s apparel export module to be commenced by the Industry and Commerce Ministry in May 13.

In 2012, Sri Lanka’s apparel exports recorded $ 2.83 bn earnings of which $1.53 bn was from the US and $ 1.86 bn was from the EU despite the challenging situation in these segments. World’s third largest retail giant TESCO is directly purchasing from Sri Lanka annually to the tune of $ 100 mn. In Y2012, 71 SME garment exporters shipped $ 46.7 mn apparel from Sri Lanka, showing strong unrealised growth potential they have. Among the leading such exporters were Crest Fashion Ltd, Queens Work Wear and FNTZ Garments. read more. & read more. & read more.Daily News Online  island  theNATION SL

04:52:14 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Energy issue: Pakistan loses $10b in textile export:

Image problem and energy shortage are two major challenges of textile industry in Pakistan that lost $10 billion export opportunity in last seven years while the regional competitors grew enormously during the same time.

This was stated by Secretary APTMA Punjab Anis-ul-Haq during a detailed presentation on the APTMA and Sustainable Production Centre to visiting German delegation.
A German delegation from Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation & Development, German Embassy, KFW Bank of Germany and GIZ, visited APTMA Punjab office Friday. Members Steering Committee on Sustainable Production Center (SPC) APTMA Seth Muhammad Akbar, Syed Ahsan Ali and Shahid Faraz welcomed the delegation at the APTMA office.  read more.

* Pak tannery second best in Asia:

Pak tannery second best in Asia

The energy-starved leather industry had largest ever participation in Asian Pacific Leather Fair Hong Kong this year.

More than 75 companies participated in the fair. Pakistan first time participated in global contest of tannery of the year 2013 and Pakistani tannery based at Lahore was decorated with first position in highly commended award of Asia and was declared second best tannery in Asia after Japan. The award ceremony was held in Hong Kong among hundreds of tanners from all over the world. read more.


* Support Nicaraguan Garment Workers:

Exactly one month ago, on March 4, garment workers in Nicaragua were brutally beaten during a peaceful protest when the company they work for – SAE-A, a Walmart supplier – paid a mob of more than 300 other workers to attack these employees, using scissors, metal pipes, and other weapons.

Sign the petition.

This courageous group of workers is fighting to improve their working conditions, demand respect and win better wages. They are trying to form a new union, but in the process they are experiencing extreme retaliation. Workers have been bribed and 16 have been illegally fired in the company’s efforts to silence them. The brutal beating was the last straw.
Sign the petition and tell Walmart to demand its suppliers reinstate the workers, end all violent and illegal practices inside the factory and reimburse workers for medical bills and stolen property that resulted from the violent attack March 4.

More than 8,000 workers produce camisoles, T-shirts and lycra clothing for Walmart and other retailers at this one garment factory inside an export processing zone in Tipitapa, Nicaragua. They are paid less than $1 per hour. They are mistreated, regularly yelled at, denied trips to the bathroom and more.

The Worker Rights Consortium, which monitors garment factories, conducted an investigation of the violent attack. Facts in this article and petition are taken from its report, which you can find here.

Read more.
Warehouse Workers United

map of asia ASIA

* Ethnic tensions the biggest threat to Asean economic unity:

Joining as one economic community by 2015 is a long-cherished Asean dream. But events in recent weeks have shown just how difficult the task will be, driving home the complex realities facing the 10-member Asean particularly on issues of race and creed.

Hardline Islamic militancy has surfaced again in Indonesia, while in the Southern Philippines ongoing tensions between Christians, Muslims and ethnic Moros in search of a homeland have spilled over into Sabah in East Malaysia. In Myanmar, anti-Muslim attacks have spread, while in Vietnam and Laos all religions must follow the lead of an atheist central government.

Asean has already witnessed unprecedented political divisions, which were well documented last year when Cambodia as the chair of Asean ignored regional responsibilities and sided with China on negotiations over territorial claims in the South China Sea.

However, religious and ethnic animosities are more deeply rooted and pose the biggest obstacles to lowering the barriers for the 500-million who can begin moving across borders in search of work and mingling like never before, once the Asean Economic Community (AEC) becomes a reality.
In short, religion will also emerge as a backstop or guardian for communities seeking protection from the middle-men and peddlers of dirt-cheap labour in a region where forced child labour, press gangs and human trafficking on behalf of industries ranging from garments to fishing have flourished.

On the other hand, there is also a risk that religious problems will travel with the mass migration of workers. The violence of today could thus be taken into parts of Southeast Asia previously untouched by militancy.

“There won’t be too many problems for skilled people at the higher end,” Welsh said, referring to professionals like doctors or engineers. “But at the lowest end the AEC could just be legitimising modern day slave labour practices.”  read more.
The Nation


map of Asia


* Agricultural products exchange piloted

* Minimum wage hike helps workers as costs go up

* More S. Koreans leave N. Korean factory
* North Korea prevents South Korea’s workers from entering industrial park
* Facts about Kaesong joint industrial estate
* Production at Kaesong Complex could drop by half next week

* Reprisals on another illegally dismissed workers four years after their reinstatement to work
* Ecop: P85 wage hike may drive away potential investors
* Roadmap readied for silk production

* Over 200 Vietnamese found working at illegal factories in Russia
* Rosy outlook for garment trade

* BetterFactories Media Update

* Islands in focus: W. Java workers’ lawsuit deemed baseless
* Better Work Indonesia – Legal Updates

* Myanmar workers in Jordan continue to work

* Hefajat enforces hartal Monday, 18-party Tuesday, Wednesday
* Workers go on indefinite strike at Benapole port shade Monday
* Siege of road by RMG workers affects examinees
* Fire breaks out at CEPZ footwear factory
* CEPZ factory fire under control
* Six waste godowns gutted in Gazipur
* Garments sector faces tough times
* Hartal costs RMG exporters Tk 250cr in Jan, Feb: BGMEA, BKMEA
* 15 RMG units incur $3.31m loss for political turmoil
* Buyers cancel clothing orders worth US$ 2.2m
* Restive political situation causing substantial loss to apparel sector
* OPINION: Ways of containing labour unrest peacefully
* Garment sector under dark clouds
* RMG accessories sector having a sound growth
* Hall-Mark scandal lying in illusion of regulation

* Weavers plan strike on April 15
* AFT workers plan protest
* CITU deliberates on working women
* Indian trade unions are getting bigger, coinciding with slowdown
* Resist attacks on trade unions, workers told
* Details of sari distribution plan worked out
* Liberalisation has led to dilution of labour laws, says Seetharam
* WFTU to strengthen class-oriented TUs
* Cut in working hours sought
* AEPC pleads for duty-free cotton yarn import
* Textile park in Perambalur and SIDCO industrial complex in Ariyalur planned
* Indian textile sector keen to explore emerging markets
* ‘Embrace functional textile technologies to stay in market’

* Weaving new hope for Sri Lankan textile manufacturers
* SME apparel exporters to be linked to Customs electronic system

* Energy issue: Pakistan loses $10b in textile export
* Pak tannery second best in Asia

* Support Nicaraguan Garment Workers

* Ethnic tensions the biggest threat to Asean economic unity

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

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