in the news on-line, 14-15 April 2013

21:58:32 local time map of china CHINA

* Retail sales: China will overtake the United States in 2016 :

China’s consumer market is on track to earn 4,200 billion dollars in 2016, which will put it ahead of the United States for the first time ever.

The retail market in China is expected to grow 10.3% in 2013, after which it will increase on an average of 10.4% over the following three years, according to PwC. The growth will especially be sustained by the fashion and apparel markets, with which Asia has already surpassed markets in North America and Western Europe. In fact, this gap is even expected to widen significantly during the next several years according to PwC. Their forecast sees strong growth of fast fashion foreign brands, which will still have to contend with expanding local competition. read more.

* Report: Wages on the rise:

Manufacturing wages in southern China’s Pearl River Delta are expected to rise 9.2 percent this year, faster than the 7.6 percent rate of growth respondents reported for 2012 wages, Standard Chartered said in a report.

“The rise is partly policy-induced and partly a reflection of labor shortages,” said Stephen Green, an economist with Standard Chartered.

Nearly 63 percent of respondents say 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, the report said. read more.

21:58:32 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Cuisia calls on AmCham to support PHL efforts to boost trade with US:

Saying the Philippines cannot do it alone, Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr., in a statement over the weekend, urged the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) to support Manila’s efforts to deepen economic relations with the United States—the country’s third-largest trading partner.

“In most endeavors, we cannot do it alone. It is in this regard that I would like to solicit the help of the AmCham, in becoming fellow advocates for stronger US-Philippine ties,” Cuisia said in his presentation before the AmCham General Membership Meeting at the Tower Club in Makati City.
According to current figures from the US Trade Representative, trade between the two countries stood at $22 billion in 2011, up from the $13 billion in 2009.

Cuisia said the support of the AmCham would be particularly crucial in Manila’s efforts to convince Washington to keep the door open for the preferential entry of $1 billion worth of exports from the Philippines that are covered under the General Scheme of Preferences (GSP).
(…)
But the ambassador expressed concern that the Philippines may lose its GSP eligibility when this comes under review in July as a result of complaints raised by labor-rights groups.  “We are addressing the concerns raised to ensure that we will be able to continue exporting to the US market about $1 billion annually at zero or preferential duty rates,” he said.
(…)
The proposed legislation seeks to revive the Philippine garments industry and create a new export market in Asia for American textile by increasing two-way trade in the textile and apparel industry.  read more.
businessmirrorPH

20:58:32 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Garment business potential not yet fully tapped:

Garment businesses are not yet taking full advantage of the country’s political stability, incentive policies, low labour costs and long working hours that allow them to fill their orders quickly.

They also need to clarify the reasons foreign partners chose to order their goods from Vietnam.
The remarks were made by experts at a recent workshop in Ho Chi Minh City on the competitiveness of the Vietnamese garment industry, held jointly by the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) and the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) under the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

China remains the largest garment exporter to the EU while Vietnam is only number ten. However, EU businesses are now looking for other suppliers besides China, they said.
Therefore, Vietnam must grasp this favorable opportunity and show its strength in order to gain a better place on the list of suppliers chosen by the EU.  read more.
VIETMAZ

* Officials want minimum wages raised, firms balk:

Officials at a Wednesday meeting suggested raising the minimum wage to give factory workers basic living conditions, given rising inflation, but many businesses said they cannot afford that.

At the meeting organized by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, a plan to increase wages was presented but officials said they were not satisfied, the Tien Phong reported Thursday.
Ngo Chi Hung, deputy manager of Hanoi Industrial Parks and Export Processing Zones, said 34 wildcat strikes had taken place during the first half this year.

The workers were asking for a rise as their current salaries could not meet their basic needs, Hung said.
A recent government decision raised the minimum wage by 14 percent as of May 1, from VND730,000 (US$35) to VND830,000 ($40) a month. But this does not match recent price hikes and inflation looks set to accelerate further.  read more.
VIETMAZ

* Footwear businesses receive orders until Q3:

The footwear sector plans to earn US$9.7 billion in export revenue this year, up 10 percent on 2012.

The Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso) hopes that the sector’s export orders will increase by 20 percent compared to the previous year.
Orders from Japan is likely to rise sharply after the Tokyo Business Association sent representatives from ten footwear firms to Vietnam to learn about the market in late 2012.  More than half of them have already decided to import from Vietnam rather from China.
Some large Vietnamese businesses claim to have received orders for the second or third quarters, said Lefaso.
The footwear sector’s export earnings in the first quarter of this year hit US$2.46 billion, 20 percent higher than last year’s same period.
to read in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 15/4 (4th item).
VNNet

20:58:32 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* LESE MAJESTE :Families of prisoners pin hopes on royal pardon:

Relatives of those convicted and jailed for lese majeste are pinning their hopes on royal pardons so they can be reunited with their loved ones.

Lese majeste convicts deal with missing their families by maintaining hope they will be released soon through a royal pardon.
Kichiang sae Lim, 75, father of Thantawut Thaweewarodom, who was sentenced to 13 years for being the webmaster of the alleged anti-monarchy website NorporchorUSA, said the situation in his family has become better.
Before, the family faced social stigma associated with the serious charge.
read more.
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20:58:32 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Better Work to Collaborate on HERproject in Cambodia:

In May 2013, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and Better Work will launch HERproject in Cambodia. HERproject links multinational companies and their factories to local NGOs to create sustainable workplace programmes that increase women’s health awareness.

The project also seeks to demonstrate the return on investment for factory-based women’s health programmes, through benefits that include increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and turnover, and improved worker-management relations.
read more.
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* Better Factories Cambodia “One Change” Campaign Helps to Address Fainting Challenges:

As an ear shattering whistle blows, 400 young men and women immediately stand to attention with hands by their side.

Cambodian pop music suddenly blares and a loud speaker instructs the masses “Moi, Pii, Bai” (“one, two, three”). The crowd joins the chant with enthusiastic fervour. A middle-aged gentleman facing the crowd animatedly leads the movements: hands on hips, squats, air kicks, knees up, arms up, stretch, turn around, punch the air. “Moi, Pii, Bai” is shouted after each cycle. Intense concentration is painted on the faces of the crowd, but every once in a while, they unwittingly break into a giggle.

This is not your typical aerobics class. The 400 participants are Cambodian garment workers, the location a factory that processes denim for Levi Strauss & Co. on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, and the lead instructor is Mr Kimna Chhay, the owner and manager of the Kimna Dry Process factory.  read more.
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21:58:32 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* In the Workers’ Kampong – Better Work Indonesia raises awareness about improved health and well-being for female garment workers:

They came in out of the rain in trickles, but by four in the afternoon, Better Work Indonesia had a packed house.

In conjunction with International Women’s Day, Better Work Indonesia held an informal seminar in a community densely populated with female garment workers. On Sunday 10 March, over 50 women from Kelurahan Sukapura Cakung, a Jakarta suburb, gathered to learn about harassment and bullying, health, nutrition and beauty.

Speaking first, Angesty from Yayasan Pulih, a Jakarta-based NGO focusing on mental health of victims of violence, defined harassment and bullying, and provided tangible ways the women could deal with similar situations, not just in the workplace, but also at home.  read more.
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* Betterworks Indonesia Media Update:

1. Govt to ensure political stability ahead of 2014 general elections.
Read the full article here.
2. Minimum wage could prove costly for Jakarta. Read the full article here.
3. Business told to shape up ahead of ASEAN single market. Read the full article here.
4. Minister supports employers’ desire to set wages for workers.
Read the full article here.
5. Sofyan Wanandi reelected as Apindo general chairman. Read the full article here.
6. Apindo Calls for Higher Subsidized Fuel Price to Ease the State Budget.
Read the full article here.
7. President calls for eradication of illegal levies.  Read the full article here.

BetterWorks Indonesia Overview
BW indonesia

19:58:32 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* 126 garment factories sued for doing business without approval:

Twenty official inspection teams have filed case against 126 garment units in the capital for doing business without prior approval.

These units also lack measures for safety and security of workers, officials said.
A process has also been initiated to file cases against 71 more factories, they added.
The special teams, formed by the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE), following two recent devastating fire incidents at Tazreen Fashions Ltd and Smart Export Garment Ltd.
(…)
Many of the 126 factories are doing business without licence and the remaining units are found very risky regarding fire safety standards, he said.

There are also a large number of factories not fully compliant with fire safety standards. “We are giving them a deadline to improve,” he said adding if they fail to comply, the teams will take action.

The teams are following a check list in factory inspection that includes basic information about a factory such as registration or renewal of its registration with the government authorities, the main products it manufactures, the number of workers, officials, approval of its building design, factory layout design, exit points and number of staircases, sources said. read more.

* BTMA demands tax holiday till 2018:

Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) has urged the government to continue tax holiday facilities until 2018 for both textile and garment industries that will be established in Dhaka, Gazipur and Narayanganj.

The apex body of the country’s textile mills made the appeal at its budget proposal submitted recently to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) also urging the government to withdraw taxes at sources and assessing income tax at the rate of 10 per cent instead of 15 per cent.
The textile millers also urged the government to increase the existing cash incentive from 5 per cent to 10 per cent and continue the facilities to help the industry to retain its external market amid stiff competition from some neighbouring countries.

“The governments of China, Pakistan and India provide various facilities to the sector with a view to consolidating their position in the world market,” said the BTMA in its 10-point budget proposal for the year 2013-14.
To attract more foreign investment in the field of Dyeing, Printing and Finishing, they also urged  the government to introduce cash incentive for the  industry which they said would put the industry on strong footing. read more.
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* Keraniganj apparel hub growing in importance:

Keraniganj across the river Buriganga is emerging as a growing apparel hub. It now meets 70 per cent of the demand for such products in the local market.

Readymade garments (RMG) that are made in an increase number of production units in the area meet now about 70 per cent of the domestic demand with the denim items accounting for 50 per cent, said Alauddin Malik, president of Bangladesh Avyantorin Poshak Prostutkarok Malik Somiti (BAPPMS) — an association of the owners of RMG production units for the domestic market — at Keraniganj.
read more.

*          ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:

* End Death Traps: 10 city tour, April 8-26, 2013:

For years, Walmart, Gap and other major brands have produced clothes in factories that they know are fire traps. As a result, over 600 garment workers, mostly young women, have died in what could have been preventable factory fires. Fight this horrendous abuse by joining the growing numbers of consumers working to hold Walmart, Gap and other major retailers accountable for their failure to uphold labor rights throughout their supply chains. 

Partner with Corporate Action Network, International Labor Rights Forum, Making Change at Walmart, SumOfUs, United Students Against Sweatshops, and Warehouse Workers United to call on U.S. brands and retailers to sign onto the game-changing, labor-supported fire safety agreement. Call on Walmart and all other Tazreen buyers to pay the compensation they owe to factory fire victims.

Stand with workers and demand respect, dignity and safe workplaces for all, from the factory floor to warehouses to the retail store. Turn out for a Tour event and have your voice heard.  read more.
CANactionCENTER

* Bangladesh fire survivor seeks compensation:

Sumi Abedin, who survived deadly Tazreen factory fire, lobbies for safer working conditions in her homeland

The Tazreen factory fire was one of Bangladesh’s worst manufacturing fires, killing more than 110 workers last November. An official inquiry found it was an act of sabotage.

Sumi Abedin was working in the factory when it caught fire. Now she has travelled to the United States to raise awareness of the working conditions in manufacturing factories in her homeland, and to ask for compensation. Here’s her story. (Video).
aljazeera

* Bangladesh Factory Fire Victim Calls On Walmart To Pay Compensation:

Sumi Abedin hasn’t worked a day since Nov. 24 of last year. That was when her workplace, Tazreen Fashions in Bangladesh, went up in flames, killing at least 112 workers. Abedin, 24, was brave enough to jump from the factory’s third floor, having found no other clear route to safety.

Still recovering from a broken leg and hand from the fall, Abedin has traveled from Bangladesh to Capitol Hill, hoping to pressure U.S. garment buyers to commit themselves to improving safety standards at workplaces in her homeland. She’s also here to demand that Walmart, which, among other retailers, had clothes manufactured at the facility, pay compensation to victims like herself and the families of those who died at Tazreen.

“I have come here to ensure safety at readymade garment factories,” Abedin, who ran a machine sewing pockets onto pants, told HuffPost in Bengali.
read more & see video.
huffpost

19:28:32 local time map of india INDIA

* Power crisis, yarn price hit power loom units in Erode:

More than 50 per cent of the powerlooms units in Erode region have closed their operations due to the slump in demand, spiralling prices of cotton yarn and power crisis.

The demand for fabric from the domestic apparel manufacturers and export oriented units had come down sharply in the last few months.
The global economic slowdown and the crisis in European countries were said to be the primary reasons for the sharp fall in the orders from the garment export units.

Erode, Namakkal, Salem and Tirupur districts have more than three lakh units, which provide employment to thousands of people. More than 50 per cent of the fabric produced in these units is meant for export-oriented garments and apparel manufacturing units. read more.
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* Knitwear exporters upset over panel caution on signing trade pact with EU:

Knitwear exporting fraternity in Tirupur cluster is by and large upset over the cautioning of the ‘Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce’ against the speedy signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with European Union (EU).

Reports
The Standing Committee on Commerce had asked the Centre, in the wake of reports that negotiations with EU were set to conclude soon, that it should wait till the Committee’s report on the subject ‘India’s Engagement with FTAs: challenges and opportunities’ was tabled in Parliament.  read more.
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* Indian cotton exports at a standstill:

Cotton exports from India are at a standstill and the estimated production for this season (Oct 2012-Sep 2013) is 35.1 million bales of 170 Kg each.

“Exports from India are virtually at a standstill,” said Dhiren Sheth, President of Mumbai based Cotton Association of India (CAI).
CAI recently estimated Indian’s production for this season. According to CAI, the total cotton supply during this season will be 41.9 million bales. The domestic consumption will be 27.5 million bales. The surplus for this season will be 14.4 million bales.  read more.
fibre2fashion

* 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.
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* Fire in spinning mill:

In a major fire accident in a spinning mill near Edlapadu, a large number of cotton bales were gutted, causing a huge loss.

‘Electrical short circuit’
Electrical short circuit is believed to be the cause for fire. Fire tenders from Chilakaluripet and Guntur rushed to the spot.
Completely putting out the blaze is going to take several hours. to read.
Return to frontpage

* Fire mishap in cotton godown:

In a major fire in a godown near Timmapuram village of Edlapadu mandal, cotton stocks worth about Rs 16 crore were burnt to ashes on Saturday night. The fire destroyed about 6,000 cotton bales. The police are yet to ascertain the cause. However, the godown management claimed that the fire was due to electric short-circuit.

Cotton Corporation of India general manager SK Panigrahi rushed to the spot as the CCI too stored massive stocks in the godown. At least four fire-fighting tenders were engaged to control the fire. The strong winds only added fuel to the raging fire as the flames spread to nearby areas.
Police said the fire at block I of G Parandhamaiah godowns began at around 7.30 pm where about 1,600 cotton bales were stored by a spinning mill. read more.
TOInew

19:28:32 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Govt. seeks GSP from China:

The government is in the process of obtaining a GSP through a trade agreement with the People’s Republic of China, sources close to the Ministry of Industrial and Commerce told Ceylon Today.

The government expects to commence direct discussions without any delay and China has already conveyed willingness to discuss the matter through the Sri Lankan Ambassador in China, sources added.

A top official attached to the ministry also said the garment industry is faced with a number of issues, as the European Union took measures to withdraw the GSP+ system. The official said the new opportunity will be a long-time investment, if the government is able to reach an agreement.Meanwhile, sources from the Presidential Secretariat confirmed President Mahinda Rajapaksa expects to visit China at the end of this month. to read.

18:58:32 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* LCCI opposes minimum wage of Rs 15,000:

Punjab Employees Social Security Institution, while admitting the long delay in issuance of registration cards to industrial workers, has decided to form mobile teams to issue PESSI cards to industrial workers.

The decision was announced by the Commissioner PESSI Dr Sajid Yousafani while speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday.
He said the institution has decided to constitute mobile teams that would visit the respective Industrial association during every second week of the month and issue the cards to the new workers. He, however, made it clear that these PESSI teams would give their visit schedule to the respective associations well ahead of time.

He said that the PESSI is going to introduce online contribution system very soon as pilot projects had already been launched in Shahdra and Sialkot that would hopefully be a great facilitation to the businessmen.
To questions about delays in issuance of marriage/death grants, the Commissioner said that the necessary measures are being taken.
Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI Senior Vice President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh and Vice President Mian Abuzar Shad said that the business community strongly opposes increase in the wage ceiling from Rs.12000 to Rs.15000.  read more.
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* Factory registration moves at snail’s pace:

A critically slow pace of work at the Sindh labour department can be imagined from the fact that its inspectors and field officers could register, or detect, only 82 factories under The Factory Act, 1934 in the first two months of this year.The latest data acquired from the labour directorate suggests that 82 factories are registered and 99 others could be knocked at or inspected for “promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well being of people engaged in work or employment there”.

The data revealed something provoking for people at the helm of affairs and the caretaker government as well. The designated inspectors and other authorised officers were not allowed to enter 43 of the 99 factories to carry out the job enshrined in chapter 3 (health and safety) of the factory act, said an official, terming the denial obstructions in the working of the labour directorate.

Hearing a petition seeking a judicial inquiry into the Baldia Town factory fire of September, 2012, which claimed lives of 259 workers, the Sindh High Court in November had ordered the Sindh government to register all the unregistered industrial units and also report on fire and safety measures in place at the existing factories, according to a source in the provincial labour department.  read more.
dawn

* Towel exports decline on back of power, gas cuts: TMA chief:

A weakening domestic economy, poor law and order situation, political uncertainty and Pakistan’s tarnished image abroad all resulted in the decline of the country’s exports, especially its textile share on the world market.

“Cuts in gas and electricity supply have badly affected towel manufacturing, resulting in a downturn of its export,” says Chairman of Towel Manufacturers Association of Pakistan (TMA), Mehtabuddin Chawla.

During a discussion with newsmen at Karachi Press Club on Saturday, the leading exporter believed that the weakness of the local currency against US dollar could be used as an opportunity if the government increased its support to industries. “We can easily double the quantum of total exports in two years, notwithstanding the weakness of Pakistani rupee against the US dollar, if the government ensures uninterrupted supplies of gas, electricity and water to manufacturing units,” he maintained.   read more.

* Powerloom workers hold rallies against loadshedding:

Severe loadshedding paralysed life in urban and rural areas in the district and villagers were baldy affected by the shutdown.

Workers of powerlooms took out protest rallies against loadshedding. Taking to journalists, farmers including Ch Muhammad Akram, Mian Safdar and others said tube wells and houses were dried and there was no single drop of water was available.
Vegetable crops were destroyed for lack of water. Hundreds of farmers protested on Lahore-Kasur road where traffic remained jammed for eight hours. No body from Wapda and district administration reached the spot to talk to the protesters. It seems caretaker government has nothing to do with this public issue. The sale of UPS and batteries has increased. The prices of UPS and batteries have increased.
to read.
thenews.com.pk

 

map of Asia

HEADLINES:

CHINA
* Retail sales: China will overtake the United States in 2016
* Report: Wages on the rise

PHILIPPINES
* Cuisia calls on AmCham to support PHL efforts to boost trade with US

VIET NAM
* Garment business potential not yet fully tapped
* Officials want minimum wages raised, firms balk
* Footwear businesses receive orders until Q3

THAILAND
* LESE MAJESTE :Families of prisoners pin hopes on royal pardon

CAMBODIA
* Better Work to Collaborate on HERproject in Cambodia
* Better Factories Cambodia “One Change” Campaign Helps to Address Fainting Challenges

INDONESIA
* In the Workers’ Kampong – Better Work Indonesia raises awareness about improved health and well-being for female garment workers
* Betterworks Indonesia Media Update

BANGLA DESH
* 126 garment factories sued for doing business without approval
* BTMA demands tax holiday till 2018
* Keraniganj apparel hub growing in importance
* ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* End Death Traps: 10 city tour, April 8-26, 2013
* Bangladesh fire survivor seeks compensation
* Bangladesh Factory Fire Victim Calls On Walmart To Pay Compensation

INDIA
* Power crisis, yarn price hit power loom units in Erode
* Knitwear exporters upset over panel caution on signing trade pact with EU
* Indian cotton exports at a standstill
* Cotton imports may go up
* Fire in spinning mill
* Fire mishap in cotton godown

SRI LANKA
* Govt. seeks GSP from China

PAKISTAN
* LCCI opposes minimum wage of Rs 15,000
* Factory registration moves at snail’s pace
* Towel exports decline on back of power, gas cuts: TMA chief
* Powerloom workers hold rallies against loadshedding

latest tweets (& news)

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

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

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