17:14:52 local time PHILIPPINES
* ‘Raise wages, lower prices’- Workers call for noise barrage protests on April 17:
Half a month before Labor Day, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno called on the country’s workers and the poor to participate in noise barrage protests on April 17 for a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide and against the recent power rate hike and the impending privatization of government hospitals.
Dubbed “Kalampagan ng Manggagawa at Maralita: Sahod, Itaas! Presyo, Ibaba!” the protest will highlight noise barrage protests in various protest centers in Metro Manila in the afternoon.
The labor center is calling for the immediate passage of House Bill 375, or the P125 Wage Hike Bill, which seeks to legislate a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives Committee on Labor and Employment last Feb. 6 and is awaiting deliberations at the plenary level.
* Workers picket DOLE, slam opposition to wage hike:
Less than a month before Labor Day, workers led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno picketed the Labor Department’s main office in Intramuros, Manila to condemn the agency’s opposition to proposals for a significant wage hike, claiming the agency has consistently favored capitalists over the country’s workers.
KMU condemned the Department of Labor and Employment for rejecting the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines’ petition for an P85 increase in the minimum wage in Metro Manila on the grounds that there are no “supervening conditions” so the ban to entertaining wage hike petitions within one year after the issuance of the last wage order still holds.
“The Labor Department is ignoring the plight of the country’s workers and the poor. It is trying to hide beneath technicalities in order to deny workers a timely wage hike, especially a significant one,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
“Last year’s meager adjustments failed to bring the minimum wage any closer to livable levels. What workers need is a significant wage hike, not mere crumbs for adjustments,” he added. read more.
16:14:52 local time 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.
Some experts said the country has proven its ability to ship and deliver a wide range of products in a timely manner.
The validity of a future Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is another advantage for the garment sector to boost exports to the market.
Dhyana Van Der Pols, CBI senior expert, advised Vietnamese businesses to focus on a specific market and work out appropriate export strategies for their goods.
to read in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 17/4.
16:14:52 local time CAMBODIA
* World Bank Says Financial Stability Will Aid Garment Sector:
The World Bank yesterday recognized better-than-expected economic growth in Cambodia last year, and predicted that a more stable global economy will be a boon to Cambodia’s garment sector.
In its latest quarterly East Asia and Pacific Economic Update, the World Bank raised its figure for growth in Cambodia’s economy in 2012, which it had estimated at 7 percent in December.
“Cambodia grew faster than expected, at 7.3 percent, bolstered by the strong performance of agriculture, construction and tourism and a recovery in garments,” the report says. read more. & read more.
17:14:52 local time INDONESIA
* Small, Medium Industries to Receive Concession From Govt:
The government will offer capital-intensive small- and medium-scale industries a concession in the form of training and equipment to deal with its plan to adjust the subsidized fuel price.
Euis Saedah, the Industry Ministry’s director general for small- and medium-scale industries, said that those industries would suffer the most from the government’s plan to raise the subsidized fuel price.
She said that it was impossible for the government to continue giving subsidies to the industries as they often missed the target, adding that this was why the government had decided to help the industry in the form of equipment and training, especially for small industries in the metal, garment and fashion sectors.
15:14:52 local time BANGLA DESH
ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* European brands agree to compensate Tazreen victims:
Major European retailers C&A, KiK and El Corte Inglés will contribute to a compensation plan for the victims of the Tazreen Fashions fire in Bangladesh.
The brands made the commitment at a meeting held on 15 April in Geneva to discuss a 5.7 million USD compensation plan for the victims of the Tazreen Fashions fire in Bangladesh, which killed 112 workers and injured about 120 in November 2012.
The meeting was hosted by IndustriALL Global Union and attended by major European retailers, a leading Bangladesh trade unionist, the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Worker Rights Consortium.
Major European retailers C&A (Netherlands), KiK (Germany) and El Corte Inglés (Spain) attended the meeting and agreed to make substantial contributions to the compensation plan for the families of the dead and for the injured. The Italian clothing brand Piazza Italia did not attend but has agreed to participate in the package.
* Walmart refuses to compensate Tazreen Fire Victims 1:
Three European retailers agree to contribute to compensation plan
A meeting was held on 15 April in Geneva to discuss a 5.7 million USD compensation plan for the victims of the Tazreen Fashions fire in Bangladesh, which killed 112 workers and injured about 120 in November 2012. The meeting was hosted by IndustriALL Global Union and attended by major European retailers, a leading Bangladesh trade unionist, the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Worker Rights Consortium.
In an outrageous display of indifference to the suffering of Bangladeshi families, major US corporations Walmart, Sears/Kmart and Disney, refused to pay any compensation to the victims and failed to attend the meeting. Walmart was apparently the largest buyer from the Tazreen factory. The companies which failed to enforce their own worker safety standards, have claimed to be deeply saddened by the deaths. read more.
* Wal-Mart refuses to compensate Tazreen fire victims 2:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) have so far declined to join Li & Fung Ltd. and other companies in voluntarily compensating victims of a fire last year at a Bangladesh garment factory.
Wal-Mart and Sears also didn’t respond to an invitation to attend a meeting today in Geneva, where companies whose clothing was manufactured at the Tazreen Design Ltd. factory are expected to discuss compensation payments, said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, a Washington-based international labor-monitoring group.
“At Wal-mart, our goal is to positively impact global supply chain practices by raising our own standards and by partnering with other stakeholders to improve the standards for workers across the industry,” Gardner said in an e-mailed statement.
The school will offer fire safety training to Bangladesh apparel manufacturers, Wal-Mart said in a news release.
Nova said the donation was “of dubious value” because many factories lack such basic features as fire escapes and that “$1.6 million is a meaningless sum relative to what is actually needed to make the industry safe.”
Li & Fung, (494) a Hong Kong-based exporter, has agreed to pay $1,280 to the family of each worker who died and to each injured worker via a fund set up by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
A separate foundation will fund the education of victims’ children, Katherine Wang, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement.
“We’re continuing our dialogue with the industry in Bangladesh to determine what else we can do to help,” Wang said.
European retailer C&A has donated $1,200 per family via its foundation, according to the Worker Rights Consortium. C&A also committed to providing monthly payments of $50 to the children of the dead, the group said.
Italian retailer Piazza Italia agreed to “participate fully in whatever compensation plan is agreed at the meeting” but declined to attend, Nova said.
C&A and Piazza Italia couldn’t be reached for comment.
read more. & read more.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* RMG exports to EU, US still steady:
Bangladesh’s apparel exports to the major markets like the EU and US were able to maintain its growth in the first nine months of the current fiscal up to March this year despite political violence specially hartals hitting hard production and shipment, sources said.
Intermittent hartals plus weekend and national holidays led the industries
to suffer partial production and shipment losses for 24 days during the month of March and during April ten out of the first 15 days also suffered losses on account of hartals.
In spite of this, garments sector has been so far able to maintain its growth largely because of the resilience of the manufacturers and exporters, insiders said.
The country’s apparel exports to the US and EU grew by 8.67 per cent and 8.09 per cent respectively during the July-March period of the current fiscal year, according to a data compiled by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). read more.
* Export to US marks growth in July-Feb of current FY:
Export earnings from the USA witnessed a 4.70 per cent growth during the first eight months (July-February) of the current fiscal (FY) 2012-13, due mostly to moderate performance of the readymade garments (RMG) sector, reports UNB.
The export earnings totaled US$3,471.48 million during July-Feb of current FY-2012-13 compared to $3,315.73 million during the same period of the previous FY-2011-12. read more.
* Banks offering low-cost funds to non-compliant RMG units:
The country’s commercial banks have lately expressed their willingness to bring down the lending rate to a single-digit level to enable those garment factories which are yet to upgrade their safety measures and meet the compliance-related requirements, official sources said.
Local apparel makers have long been pursuing the banks for getting low-cost funds from banks so that they can raise their compliance standards to the international level, they added. read more.
* Annisul Huq sued by young entrepreneur:
A well-known garment manufacturer sued by a young entrepreneur. Nuher Latif Khan, one of the top ‘high-achieving young entrepreneurs’ in Bangladesh, has sued Annisul Huq of Mohammadi Group, which runs a few readymade garments factories.
Khan and his sister are seeking protection entitled to minority shareholders in a limited company. Nuher Khan, in his petition, says Annisul Huq and his family “have resorted to outright threats, intimidation and bullying tactics to the point of forcing the petitioner out of the office” and then he was removed as the Managing Director on Mar 23 of Desh Energy with a portfolio of 110 megawatts. read more.
* Jute cultivation going on in Mymensingh:
The Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) has taken up a programme to cultivate jute during the current season in the district DAE sources said, the department has fixed a target of 10,495 hectares of land to cultivate jute with a production target of 95,057 bales.
Sources said, the cultivation of jute has been ongoing in all 12 upazilas of the district under the supervision of field level officers of the department. To make the programme a successful, BADC distributed over 19 metric tones of quality seeds among the jute farmers through their recognized dealers and five BADC’s sale centers in Muktagacha, Gafargoan, Nandail, Iswarganj and Phulpur of the district. Deputy Director of BADC (Seed) Subrata Kumar Karmaker told that there is no shortage of seeds during the season in the district.
The farmers could easily collect seed they need from the dealers and sale centers. The government allotted a total of 25 metric tones of quality seeds in order to enhance jute production as well as achieve the target of jute production in current season. read more.
14:14:52 local time PAKISTAN
THE KARACHI-BALDIA (& LAHORE) FIRE:
* Pleas for help months after Pakistan fire:
Many families still wait for compensation money promised by government after factory blaze that killed 259.t has been more than six months since 259 people were killed in a garment factory fire in the Pakistani city of Karachi.
The government has promised to prosecute those who are responsible, and pay compensation to victims’ families.
But many families, who survived the country’s worst industrial accident, are still waiting the money from government.
Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab reports from Karachi. See Video.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Unions and PTGLWF angry about not implementing minimum wages:
On April 14, 2013 There was a joint meeting of the Pakistan Federation of Labour Unions and PTGLWF with the saffiliaties unions about not implementing of minimum wages according to Government minimum wagesBoard, by the employers.
The Federal Government announce 8000 PKR(=81.30$)/per month and Provincial
government announce 9000PKR(=91.47$) /per month, but the employers pays
7000PKR (=71.14$)/per month for 12 hours a day work.
The Unions/PTGLWF demand 9000PKR(=91.47$)/per month.
And about the failure of the Labour Deparment for Labour Inspections to hold inspection according to Law and Health and safety position at Work places- factories for Bricks kiln, Textile, Garment and General works.
The representatives of Federation decided that they will organize a rally against employer and implementation Department. The rally will held on 1 May in Multan.
In this regard next meeting will be held on April 27, 2013. According to a report of PTGLWF.
* APTMA seeks uninterrupted gas, power supplies:
Spokesman of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has urged the government for uninterrupted electricity supply and five days a week gas supply to the textile industry in order to enable it to achieve export target of $13 billion for current fiscal year.
The exemption available to the industry was withdrawn on the assurance that it would be restored within a week. However, this assurance has not been met by the Ministry of Water and Power. Meanwhile, the gas supply is also very limited so far and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources has not resumed five days a week gas supply with lowering down of domestic demand. read more.
* Textile for restoring five-day gas supply:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has urged the government to ensure uninterrupted electricity and five days a week gas supply to the textile industry in order to enable it to achieve export target of $13 billion for current fiscal year.
The exemption available to the industry was withdrawn on the assurance that it would be restored within a week. However, this assurance has not been met by the Ministry of Water and Power, said a spokesman here on Monday.
Meanwhile, the gas supply has also been very limited so far and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources has not resumed five days a week gas supply with lowering down of domestic demand. read more.
* ‘Victory’ as clothing wages deal extended:
A controversial National Bargaining Council wage agreement in the clothing industry has been extended, the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union said yesterday.
This is a significant development and a great victory for [union] members,” it said.
“It further strengthens our previous claim that those employers who secured a recent judgment [in the Pietermaritzburg High Court] have won a temporary and hollow victory.”
In March, the Pietermaritzburg High Court set aside a decision by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant to extend compliance with the “national main collective agreement” of the National Bargaining Council to companies in the clothing industry that were not party to the agreement.
The court ruling meant that clothing manufacturers that were not part of the council did not have to apply the minimum wage agreements.
But the extension gazetted by Oliphant made its terms legally binding on all clothing employers and all clothing workers in all parts of South Africa, the union said.
* South Africa extends clothing sector wage agreement:
The Minister of Labour has extended the 2012/2013 clothing industry bargaining council wage agreement to non-party companies.
The extension was gazetted on Friday 12 April 2013. The agreement was signed in early October last year, after negotiations between the Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) and seven clothing employers’ organisations represented on the National Bargaining Council For The Clothing Manufacturing Industry (NBC).
The gazetted extension of the agreement has the effect of making its terms legally binding on all clothing employers and all clothing workers in all parts of South Africa
nationally, and empowers the bargaining council to prosecute those employers who do not comply with the agreement’s provisions. read more. & read more.