20:19:22 local time PHILIPPINES
* Party-list group files petition for wage hike:
A party-list group has filed a petition before the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Davao City asking for a P80 wage increase for workers in the Davao Region.
“We filed due to increasing prices of basic commodities, the skyrocketing cost of electricity which will increase from P1.80 to P4 per kilowatt hour due to the current power crisis in Mindanao, the increasing cost of water, the ever-expensive cost of education and healthcare, and the current election spending which is inflationary,” lawyer Raymond C. Mendoza, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) representative, said in a statement.
Mendoza said the increase would give workers a “fair share in the region’s economic development.”
The current daily minimum wage is P300. read more.
19:19:22 local time VIET NAM
* More textile, dyeing projects this year:
Many new textile and dyeing projects will be deployed at home this year as investors are ready to cash in on new opportunities, said Vu Duc Giang, chairman of the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex).
Several companies from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China are planning to make investments in the local textile industry, Giang said. Some are making preparations for investment, some are in the process of negotiating contracts while others are making surveys, he told the Daily.
As planned, there will be three high-class yarn production projects as well as fabric weaving, dyeing and finishing projects in the country, Giang clarified. Most of these projects are located in the north, with Vinatex involving in some. read more.
* Garment, textile show goes hi-tech:
Illustrtive image.—VNA/VNS Photo
The latest automated equipment as well as fabrics incorporating state-of-the-art technology are on view at the SaigonTex exhibition that opened yesterday in HCM City.
Andrew Kay, managing director of CP Exhibition Hong Kong, one of the organisers, said the expo offered local companies an opportunity to learn about and source foreign Free-On-Board products and materials.
The Viet Nam Sai Gon Textile and Garment Industry and Fabric & Garment Accessories Expo is the only textile trade show in the country that has received a certificate of quality from the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry.
19:19:22 local time LAOS
* Weakening dollar hurts garment industry:
The Lao garment industry is struggling to survive as the US dollar continues to fall against the kip, posing a big challenge for exporters.
“We are going through the most difficult time in 20 years,” President of the Lao Association of Garment Industry, Mr Onesy Boutsivongsakd, told the Vientiane Times yesterday. He urged the sectors concerned to support the industry in these troubled times, especially as it is one of the top five foreign exchange earners.
The US dollar is continuing its slide against the kip. Over the past year it has fallen in value from 8,000 kip to 7,713 kip yesterday. In 2000, the dollar was worth 10,000 kip. The rising value of the kip against the dollar is the result of strong economic growth driven by the mining and hydropower sectors.
Mr Onesy said the garment industry wasn’t only suffering from the rising value of the kip but also the high cost of labour after the government increased the monthly minimum wage from 348,000 to 626,000 kip last year.
He said the garment industry could not bargain for higher prices for its products because the global economic slowdown meant that demand was lower worldwide.
19:19:22 local time THAILAND
* EU wants FTA talks to end in 18 months:
The Delegation of the European Union to Thailand is pushing hard to have the negotiations on a Thai-EU free-trade agreement concluded within 18 months, through a commitment to “take into account concerned interests” for a “win-win” deal.
Best efforts to address the concerns of both sides, through consultation with non-government organisations in the EU and Thailand as well as European business circles, are promised to ensure widespread support.
Antonio Berenguer, head of trade and economic affairs at the EU Delegation, said in the group interview that European businesses with narrow margins such as those in textiles and some service sectors would be at a disadvantage. However, for the big picture, the EU is pressing for the agreement and ready to come up with trade-related assistance to help those affected, he said. read more.
* Somyos ‘face’ of free-speech group:
The leaders of the “Faceless People” group have never met lese majeste convict Somyos Pruek-sakasemsuk.
But disturbed by the fate of the jailed former editor of now-defunct Voice of Taksin magazine, and the public’s lack of rights to read materials critical of the monarchy institution, they have decided to don masks of Somyos in public.
The 10-member group was spotted thrice at the recent National Book Fair at Queen Sirikit Convention Centre, causing quite a stir. read more.
19:19:22 local time CAMBODIA
* Blaze a warning for Kingdom:
A steep drop in Cambodian garment and footwear factory compliance with safety standards must be reversed to avoid disasters like the fire that killed more than 100 workers in Bangladesh in November, an International Labour Organization-Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) report says.
In a decline of 30 per cent, only 57 per cent of factories profiled by BFC during its latest monitoring period had fire-access paths free of obstruction, according to the 29th Synthesis Report on Working Conditions in Cambodia’s Garment Sector, released yesterday.
“This report notes a worrisome decline in compliance in some key areas of occupational safety and health,” it says.
Jill Tucker, ILO-BFC chief technical adviser, said growth in the industry – 11 per cent in the first nine months of 2012 – could likely explain the finding.
“However, growth should not result in an increase in non-compliance among factories in an area as intrinsic to worker safety as having clear pathways,” she said. “Recent garment-sector fire tragedies in neighbouring countries demonstrate the great need for Cambodia to address this issue.” read more.
* ILO Says Fire Safety Measures Lacking in Garment Sector:
Cambodia’s garment industry is experiencing a worrying rise in fire safety violations as factories struggle to cope with a sharp increase in the number of orders they are receiving, the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Better Factories Cambodia program (BFC) said in a report on Thursday.
The ILO also said that the industry was giving workers excessive amounts of overtime—defined as more than two hours extra per day—and that there was a lack of improvement to factors that contribute to episodes of mass fainting. read more.
* 50 foreign companies to invest in Cambodia:
Deputy Prime Minister, Nhiek Bun Chhay said, around 50 major foreign companies plan to invest in Cambodia very soon.
Speaking Thursday in a meeting with Funcinpec activists, he said those investments would provide a lot jobs for Cambodia’s citizens and help boost economic growth.
He said, wages of Cambodia’s worker are lower, but it’s still better than having no salary.
Workers made $61 before, but now they get $80 per month and future wages will get better, he said.
He criticized the opposition’s plan to raise wages up to $150 per month if they win the election and said,”this increase would cause factory employers to run”.
* New fashioned threads: Ikat gets a makeover:
A Concerto of squeaks and clacks drifts out from a house nestled by a countryside road in Takeo’s Cheu Teal Village. It’s the sound of many wooden looms and spinning machines set in motion by a group of ikat weaving artisans from the surrounding villages.
Traditionally, families in Takeo produced silk in their households and then sold it to buyers who came to the village. Now they work under a single roof for their American employer Push Pull, using the ancient craft to produce cotton handbags and accessories. Soon the brand will launch a range of designs by Cambodian artisans, who will use the traditional medium to weave contemporary patterns.
18:04:22 local time NEPAL
* Fire at cotton factory:
Raw materials worth 3.2 million rupees were destroyed by fire at the Bhairavi Cotton Factory at Trishuli in Nuwakot district.
Processed cotton, raw materials for preparing the cotton, textiles and other equipments were reduced to ashes by the fire that started at 11 p.m. from the A Block of the factory on Wednesday. The fire was brought under control only at 5 a.m. today.
Police said the fire destroyed 56 quintals of processed cotton and 700 quintals of textiles at the factory which was established this year only. How the fire started from the block which does not have electricity connectivity is not known.
The personnel of Nepal Army and the Nepal Police and the locals fought the fire with the help of a fire engine belonging to the Bidur Municipality. to read.
18:19:22 local time BANGLA DESH
* Spectrum collapse: eight years on and still little action on safety:
April 11 marks the eighth anniversary of the tragic collapse of the Spectrum garment factory. In 2005 the illegally built extra floors within the building collapsed, killing 64 workers and injuring 80 others. The tragedy set the standard for worker compensation, yet workers of recent fatal accidents remain without compensation.
Almost a decade after Spectrum, buildings in Bangladesh remain structurally unsafe: buildings are illegally converted into factories and factories run day and night in order to meet production targets. Keeping costs low is prioritized while widespread fatal health and safety faults remain. Faulty electrical circuits, unstable buildings, inadequate escape routes and unsafe equipment are a major cause of death and injury.
Only four months ago, the fire at Tazreen – a factory close the former location of Spectrum – cost the lives of 112 workers and injured scores of others. Again, the high death toll was linked to illegally built constructions. Meanwhile, the garment industry in Bangladesh continues to grow at record rates to become the second largest export of apparel after China.
Unless there is a real game-change, workers keep risking their lives for our clothes. That is why CCC, together with labour organisations all over the world, has been pushing brands to start working directly with workers to clean up their supply chain.
* Dhaka has to reply to 19 USTR queries on labour rights, safety:
Post-hearing briefs on GSP review to be submitted by Apr 24
Bangladesh will have to make its position clear on, at least, 19 issues about labour rights and workplace safety in the apparel sector.
This will be required as part of the post-hearing briefs on the review of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) by the United States Trade Representative (USTR), official sources said.
The post-hearing briefs will have to be submitted online by April 24 next.
The briefs will contain answers to the 19 queries, inclusive of those made by the USTR and the ones raised during the hearing session by the GSP sub-committee panellists. read more.
* BGMEA urge political leaders to sit & discuss a way out from political unrest:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Thursday urged the political leaders to sit for discussing a way out from the recent political unrest.
Talking to reporters after a meeting at the Bangladesh Bank, newly elected president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Atiqul Islam said that recent hartals (general strikes) have almost paralyzed the export-import activities in the country. read more.
* Apparels industry in doldrums:
Calls for talks fall on deaf ears
PLEASE rescue us from the situation. We want to do business.” That was the call of despair from the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers Association.
The readymade garment (RMG) industry is one of the largest foreign exchange earning sectors and has been under tremendous pressure thanks to the ongoing political stalemate. Indeed, the week gone by saw four out of five working days in hartals.
The message from the $19billion industry is that the country risks losing its hard earned place in the global apparel industry. That the jobs of some 50million people engaged directly or indirectly in the industry are at risk should the current state of affairs continue cannot be lost on anyone. read more.
* Do not choke battered apparel industry- BGMEA:
Bangladesh Bank has decided to form a 3-member joint committee with Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) to look after the issues regarding accepting ‘inland bills’ of the garment manufacturers and their accessories supplying parties to run the country’s export-oriented apparel industry.
The central bank took the decision at a meeting on Thursday with leaders of BGMEA, who long demanded Bangladesh Bank’s interference in to the commercial banks’ reluctance to clear the inland documentary bills of acceptance for letters of credit.
Inland Bills are documents ordering the payment of money; drawn by one person or bank on another. The committee will be formed with Bangladesh Bank Executive Director SM Moniruzzaman as the head with two more members from the BGMEA.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
17:49:22 local time INDIA
* Special focus tag sought for man-made fibre textiles:
The Textiles Ministry has sought the inclusion of man-made fibre textiles under the Special Focus Initiative to promote exports from the sector.
The Textiles Ministry has stated that man-made fibre textiles has huge export potential, with the current global textiles trade (exports) estimated at $300 billion, in which the share of man-made fibre textiles is about 60 per cent ($180 billion). However, India’s share in the global trade of man-made fibre textiles is a meagre 3 per cent.
“Exports of man-made fibre textiles account for 17 per cent of Indian textiles exports . This sector, being labour-intensive, could provide employment on a large scale, especially near the rural areas. Therefore, if man-made fibre textiles is included under the Special Focus Initiative, it will provide the necessary encouragement to the exporters from this sector,” it said in a note to the Finance and Commerce Ministries.
* Gujarat govt to amend textile policy soon:
After launching one of the most competitive textile policies in the country, the Gujarat government is now set to amend the Gujarat Textile Policy 2012 soon. Apparently, industry representatives had sought further benefits under the policy.
“Gujarat’s strength is cotton but we have to boost the spinning industry. Several industry representatives had met me seeking further benefits. Keeping it in mind, necessary amendments to the textile policy will be done shortly and will be announced in next 15-20 days,” said Saurabh Patel, minister of state for industries, mines and petrochemicals said recently at an international conference on cotton.
* Cotton imports may go up:
With six months of the current cotton season (October 2012 to September 2013) over, the domestic textile industry feels that this year’s cotton imports may be higher than last year.
Apart from 355 lakh bales of domestic production in 2011-2012, cotton imports were 12 lakh bales. The textile mills consumed 244 lakh bales.
This year, demand from the domestic textile mills is high, with the mills consuming nearly 22 lakh bales a month. With cotton exports going up, an expected drop in domestic cotton production and fluctuation in prices, cotton imports may be higher, said S. Dinakaran, Chairman of Southern India Mills’ Association. read more.
* Spinning mills will cut yarn prices soon, hopes apparel sector:
The apparel sector is expecting the spinning mills to cut cotton yarn price.
Speaking to Business Line from Delhi, the Chairman of the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), A. Sakthivel said that the meeting with the Secretary, Ministry of Textiles ended on a positive note.
“The Secretary in conclusion conceded that there was an abnormal increase in the price of the cotton yarn and urged the mill sector to cut the price to the maximum at the earliest,” he said.While the timeframe and the quantum of reduction in the price of cotton yarn was not immediately known, the downstream garment and made up sector is now hoping that the situation would improve soon. read more.
* Western wear edges out saris at offices:
Maybe they should also teach the art of dressing (not just dressing-up balance sheets) at B-school. Time was when placement season on campus mostly resembled formal parties – young men in sharp suits and ladies draped in elegant saris, all smartened up for the big day. But that’s changed now, with most women not prepared to go the whole nine yards.
While the most visible women CEOs who occupy the corner office are almost always elegantly clad in saris, be it a Shikha Sharma at Axis Bank, Chanda Kochhar at ICICI Bank, Naina Lal Kidwai at HSBC or Meera Sanyal at RBS, the next generation prefers a different look.
Western work-wear (or some fusion thereof) is becoming entrenched in the Indian office. The trend started in the 1990s with young business scions sporting not only foreign degrees but also international brands. Gradually, even domestic brands have flourished, catering to a widening consumer base.
A CEO, who believes strongly in the sari, attributes the change to a generational shift influenced in part by the media. “There is perhaps a misplaced perception among youngsters that the more global they look, the more global the mindset attributed to them will be,” she says. “So they are only dressing in a way that they feel will advance their careers.” read more.
17:19:22 local time PAKISTAN
* Pakistan’s efforts to combat CLCV impress US scientists:
Pakistani cotton scientists’ efforts to combat the dreadful Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCV) damaging cotton yield in the country, has impressed a delegation of US cotton scientists visiting Pakistan.
The delegation of US scientists visited Pakistan in order to help Pakistani cotton scientists to review the success of the existing models and develop new strategies for countering the CLCV, which damaged around 1.5 million bales of cotton, i.e. about 15 percent of Pakistan’s total cotton output for this season. read more.
* Pakistan to get GSP plus status by year-end: EU:
Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark here on Thursday said that Pakistan would get the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) plus status by the end of this year which will give a better market access of Pakistani products to EU markets.
Addressing at a dinner hosted by ICCI in honor of EU Ambassadors designated in Pakistan, he said that Pakistan and EU are enjoying deep rooted political and economic relations as EU has supported Pakistan in a number of sectors.
* China to continue boosting spinning sector’s prospects:
The prospects of the spinning industry – an important subsector of the textile industry – are expected to shine for at least another year. The good news came from China, which has decided to continue support cotton prices at home resulting in the continuation of yarn imports from regional countries including Pakistan.
The government’s support to the cotton prices in China made it very difficult for its spinning industry to continue manufacturing yarn, thus China is for the most part relying on yarn imports for the last few years. That is an ideal situation for Pakistan, which has surplus production of yarn.
“This is very good news for the spinning industry of Pakistan,” All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Vice Chairman Yasin Siddik told The Express Tribune, “This will definitely support the spinning industry of Pakistan.” read more.
* Wage ladder – what’s next?:
The worldwide garment industry produces enormous wealth – surely workers can share in these gains? A question posed by today’s guest blogger, Ivo Spauwen of the Fair Wear Foundation, who writes in response to our report on labour rights in Unilever’s supply chain
In many garment production facilities, wages are too low for workers to meet basic needs. We need to develop effective mechanisms to enable workers earn a wage they can live on – in a reasonable number of working hours.
The idea of living wages is not a new one. The term has been used since the turn of the last century, and the concept is included in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In recent decades, living wages have come to the fore with the advent of codes of conduct and global supply chains. Nevertheless, the living wage standard is one of the most challenging to implement in garment supply chains.
Climbing the wage ladder
To help define and measure living wages, FWF (the Fair Wear Foundation) has developed the FWF Wage Ladder. This charts local estimates of a living wage by a wide range of stakeholders, as well as other wage benchmarks, such as the local legal minimum wage. It is a tool that visualises the gap between these wage levels, and can be used to chart wages in individual factories. read more.
* Book Review: Living in the labyrinth of low pay: (by Financial Express BD )
Living Low Paid: The Dark Side of Prosperous Australia, by Helen Masterman-Smith & Barbara Pocock. Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW 2065, Australia, 2008. pp.241, ISBN: 9781741753967, $35.00 paperback
This book presents a startling contrast to our thinking of the seemingly strong Australian economy assuring the well-being of all its working class citizens. In fact, it brings into focus the realities and day-to-day challenges of the low-paid working class in a country, where the wealth distribution is skewed and unequal and illustrates that pay disparities are a notable feature of industrial capitalism.
The book sheds light on the true reality of the Australians working more for less and points out that the low-wage path to prosperity assumption is flawed.
Helen Masterman-Smith and Barbara Pocock use quantitative data from national labour market statistics collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey throughout the book to supplement the qualitative findings from the interviews of the 92 low-paid respondents in the survey. read more.
And Submitted by AtStake:
* Raise the Curtain: Human Rights in Retail Supply Chains:
By Sean Ansett
Supply chain human rights issues continue to make the headlines. Even in industries like apparel, it seems we are far from solutions despite significant investments to address systemic supply chain human rights issues since the 1990s.
Technological trends suggest that in the next several years we will enter an age of “hyper-transparency” in upstream and downstream supply chains with lower cost technologies like smart phones creating new communication platforms for workers and communities in the global south.
This brave new world is empowering to some stakeholders and creates much needed transparency and thus accountability. However, it may be of concern others. New engagement processes will be required as information loops exponentially picks up pace and brands lose control of their message and engagement strategies. In response to this evolution, every corporate apparel executive should be asking themselves the following questions:
1. What is the story behind our product or service?
2. Are we proud of that story?
3. Would my customer be proud of that story?
4. Do we own the story or do others own it for us?
Addressing supply chain human rights issues is not easy and in fairness there is still a large number of “free riders” in the industry that invest little or nothing in ethical trade. However, there is much to be learned from the mistakes of the past and opportunities to leverage that learning. read more.