15:35:32 local time CHINA
* Textiles losing global competitiveness:
The international competitiveness of China’s textile industry declined due to rising labor costs and administrative controls on cotton prices, Gao Yong, secretary-general of the China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC), was quoted by Xinhua as saying Tuesday.
The export volume of China’s textile products accounted for 37.51 percent of the total imports of European countries in the first quarter, 1.04 percentage points lower than a year ago, according to the CNTAC.
* Chinese textiles to benefit from Sino-Swiss FTA:
Chinese textiles and clothing sector is among the industries that are likely to get a boost due to the likely implementation of a free trade agreement (FTA) between China and Switzerland, next month.
15:35:32 local time PHILIPPINES
* Workers picket Congress, call for wage hike bill’s passage:
In time for the resumption of the House of Representatives’ session on Wednesday, workers led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno held a picket this afternoon in front of the Batasang Pambansa to call for the passage of a bill seeking to legislate a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide.
Workers said the measure, House Bill 375 or the P125 Wage Hike Bill, is urgently needed amidst the growing hunger in the country, citing the Social Weather Stations survey for the first quarter of 2013 which shows hunger increasing from 22.7 per cent to 25.5 per cent among the country’s poor.
14:35:32 local time VIET NAM
* Injured workers face slow claims process:
The insurance claim process for accidents suffered by employees at work should be made simpler and more effective, experts declared at a workshop held in Ha Noi yesterday.
The Viet Nam Social Insurance Agency released statistics showing that about 5,500 workers get support from insurance companies every year following work accidents and occupational illnesses.
This number accounts for just 0.1 per cent of people who pay for social insurance, which includes labour accident insurance.
14:35:32 local time CAMBODIA
* Union leader warns of bigger protest over arrest of workers:
Chea Mony, President of the Free Trade Union of Workers of Cambodia (FTUWC), warned that he will hold a mass protest if authorities do not release union representatives arrested in yesterday’s clash with police.
Chea Mony’s demonstration warning was made Tuesday in a news conference at FTUWC headquarters.
In Monday’s clash at a the Taiwanese-owned Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment MFG Corp, police arrested eight people, seven of whom were members of FTUC.
The clash broke out after workers, who had protested for the past ten days, damaged equipment and property within the factory.
In the protest the garment workers demanded an additional $14 increase to their minimum wages of $95 including a $5 bonus for healthcare.
* Unions divided over clash:
Sabrina Garment Factory workers clashed with police during protests in Kampong Speu province on Monday. Eight employees have been arrested. Photo by Reuters
The president of the Free Trade Union has threatened to order a large strike if eight FTU members arrested on Monday during violent clashes at the ongoing Sabrina Garment factory strike are not released.
Chea Mony said yesterday that members of rival union the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), who remained working at the Kampong Speu factory during protests, were responsible for violence that resulted in injuries on all sides.
“I want to tell [the police] that if they do not release my members … we all will join together to demand their release, because they did not do anything wrong. It is unfair,” he said.
The demonstrations at the Nike supplier turned violent for the second time in two weeks when protesters entered the factory on Monday and exchanged volleys of sticks and stones with employees still at work.
Mony said protesters were entering the factory to discuss their demands with the company when they were targeted.
* Clashes as thousands of Cambodians protest Nike factory work conditions:
Hundreds of police intervened after around 4,000 striking staff at Nike’s factory in the Cambodian capital clashed with colleagues, who continued working. This comes after the factory’s management refused to raise monthly salaries by US$12.
Police said that at least 11 officers and eight workers were injured during the brawl in Phnom Penh. The strikers also say seven people were arrested.
The employees at the Sabrina factory are pressing for a wage increase, following the death of 1,000 people in a collapse of a garment factory building in Bangladesh this April.
According to witnesses, the striking workers, who were armed with sticks and rocks, smashed windows before being confronted by the members of the opposing labor union, who didn’t support the action.
A contingent of about 1,000 police and soldiers, with batons and shields, was required to separate the clashing sides and disperse the strikers.
The president of the Free Trade Union (FTU) at Sabrina, Sao Sreytouch, has accused the police and factory owners of colluding “to cause chaos” and force an end to the strike, running since May 21.
He said that the striking workers, who want their salary to be raised from the equivalent of $74 dollars to $88 per month, were the only ones beaten up and detained during the brawl.
* Garment IPO may arrive in time for polls:
After the listing of Taiwanese-owned garment company Grand Twins International (Cambodia) Plc on the Kingdom’s stock exchange was delayed indefinitely, its underwriter said yesterday that the firm hopes to list before the national elections in late July.
According to the underwriter, Phnom Penh Securities (PPS) Plc, negotiations between the company and the Securities Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC) over the initial public offering price are finished by now and “we hope [they can list] before the election…We still have a lot to do. We’ll try our best.”
15:35:32 local time INDONESIA
* A robust wage campaign in 2013:
The May Day rallies in Indonesia this year were mostly peaceful, large and colorful. Why shouldn’t they be? The previous year’s 2012 campaign for higher wages was spectacularly successful.
Besides very large (close to 50 percent) minimum wage increases for the districts in and around the Greater Jakarta, the government also announced a ban on labor outsourcing in all but five ancillary activities. In regard to minimum wages (MW), the manpower minister encouraged Governor Joko Widodo to accept a compromise between ambit union wage claims and more conservative recommendations of employers. The outcome, a Rp 2.2 million (US$224.38) MW increase, was big by any standards and well above the recommendations of the Provincial Wages Council in Jakarta.
Not all governors followed Jakarta’s lead in ratifying large increases in MWs for Jan. 1, 2013. Thus minimum wages are only half the Jakarta level in most regions in Central Java. But the 2012 Jakarta ruling set a new standard of national significance.
* Indonesian govt will support textile units with incentives:
13:35:32 local time BANGLADESH
* RMG workers’ protest in Ashulia:
Garment workers’ protest to press home their 13-point demand triggered a clash with law enforcers in Ashulia on Wednesday morning.
At least 10 workers were injured when police charged baton and fired tear shells to disperse agitated workers.
In the morning, around 700 workers of a garment started protest blocking Bishmail-Zirabo road to press their 13-point demand including pay rise and dues.
Director of the garment said, “We should not meet the demand of the workers without decision of government and BGMEA. If we do, if may spark chaos.”
* Labour rights activists to join Wal-Mart protests in US:
Bangladeshi rights activists will demonstrate at Wal-Mart’s annual general meeting on June 7 in the US, to pile pressure on the world’s largest retailer to pay more for products from here, ultimately improving labour conditions.
Kalpona Akter, executive director of Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity, will join the demonstrating workers of Wal-Mart at the meeting on Friday in Bentonville, Arkansas, a lobby group, Making Change at Wal-Mart, said in a statement.
Sumi Abedin, a survivor of the Tazreen fire that killed 112 in November, is also in the US to join Kalpona in the protests, according to the statement.
Making Change at Wal-Mart is a campaign challenging Wal-Mart to help rebuild the economy and strengthen working families.
Demonstrators will also urge shareholders to push for improved working conditions and safety in the supply chain.
“Wal-Mart and the other large retailers hold the key to ending senseless deaths in garment factories throughout the world,” Kalpona said.
“Wal-Mart must ensure good pay and safe working conditions for all workers in its supply chain: from factories to warehouses to stores.”
* RMG industry: Taking care of workers’ interests:
Emdadul Islam concluding his two-part article, ‘RMG industry in Bangladesh – some thoughts’
There are more to do for the BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) and the BKMEA (Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association). They need to step up and work out new ideas as to how they can help improve the image of this industry for the people in the country and also in the eyes of the rest of the world.
The news of an accident spreads across the globe in a flash. But how many of our own people know about the factories that are doing a lot to help the poor and needy and people in distress?
Many factories rush out to give succour to the victims of flood and cyclones. They run clinics, hospitals, schools and help orphanages. They offer free healthcare for their workers and support financially education of the children of their workers. These are no less important things that the buyers and the people in the foreign countries do need to know. These are things that can change the one-sided vision of the industry inside and outside the country.
Associations can and should come forward, where needed, to respond to the criticisms of the RMG owners of indulging themselves in luxury.
Responsible people in the government, intellectuals and elites of the society are often found commenting on the garment owners riding expensive cars, spending holidays in foreign countries, sending their kids abroad for education etc.
If these comments are not countered with facts and figures, then it might appear in the minds of the people that all garment owners are selfish demons.
If the factory owners are investing money, time and efforts and are working hard day and night to earn a profit for them and their families, then what is wrong there?
If they are really doing all the things that they are accused of doing from their legally earned income, then what is wrong here?
* US firms seek voluntary factory safety deal:
Following deadly factory collapse in Bangladesh, major retailers want ‘opt-in’ rather than binding safety standards.
Top US companies are now in negotiations to agree on new safety standards for their clothing-producing contractors in Bangladesh, after a garment factory’s collapse in Dhaka killed more than 1,100 workers in April.
The move comes after these companies, most prominently including Walmart and Gap, refused to sign on to a fire and safety standards agreement, announced weeks ago, that has received wide backing among European companies. Yet labour advocates are disparaging the new talks, suggesting the results will likely not be binding and thus will not be able to ensure worker safety.
* Norway offers support for RMG sector dev, safety measures:
Norway on Tuesday offered support to Bangladesh for the development of its readymade garment (RMG) sector, including improvement of its quality as well as fire and building safety measures.
Visiting Norwegian Minister for Development Cooperation Heikki Eidsvoll Holmes came up with the offer of assistance when he met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office in the morning.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, PM’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad said the Norwegian Ministers lauded Bangladesh’s role in climate change adaptation and mitigation, and put emphasis on cooperation on the issue between Dhaka and Oslo.
read more. & read more.
* EU leaders happy with govt’s RMG safety steps: Dipu:
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said Tuesday the leaders from European Union countries were happy with the measures taken by the government to ensure workplace safety in the readymade garment (RMG) sector after the Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashions tragedies.
The minister sounded optimistic that the USA would take a decision soon on continuation of the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) facility for Bangladesh.
The Foreign Minister was speaking at a press conference held in the conference room of the ministry of foreign affairs (MoFA). She was sharing with the press the outcome of her recent visit to the EU and Singapore.
“The European Union leaders seemed happy and accepted those actions taken by the government to ensure better working conditions and enforce safety measures in the country’s apparel sector,” she said.
The leaders promised that the EU would continue support to the country’s apparel sector that employs millions of female workers, she added.
“The review of the GSP facility for Bangladesh in the US market is continuing. The hearing on it has concluded. A Bangladesh team comprising officials from the MoFA, the Ministry of Labour and Employment, and the Ministry of Commerce has discussed the issue with the US authority. I am hopeful that the USTR will take a positive decision in this connection,” the minister said.
* American consumers give mixed reactions:
Most users of ready-made garments (RMG) in the United States are now divided over sourcing of their apparels of choice as rights groups and non-government organisations are engaged in a debate over workplace safety following the recent deadly building collapse in Bangladesh.
According to an opinion poll, more than a half of the Americans who know about the building collapse, say while purchasing clothes they do not bother about their sourcing.
* Dhaka hopeful of continuation of GSP facilities to US market: Dipu Moni:
Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni today categorically said that Dhaka is hopeful of getting positive results regarding continuation of GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) facilities for Bangladeshi garment products to the US market.
“I have discussed the issue at a meeting with the US secretary of State and others US ministers during my recent visit to the USA. I hope that positive results will come in this regard,” she said.
Briefing newsmen at his office on her recent visit to Brussels, Dipu Moni said that she had very fruitful meetings with some EU ministers on the issue and she found EU was very much positive on the steps taken by Bangladesh government to improve the working atmosphere in the garment industries.
“The EU is very much happy with the steps taken by the Bangladesh government as it thoughts that it (government) was working sincerely to resolve all problems existing in country’s garment sector,” she added.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Turkey weighs withdrawal of addl duty on RMG:
The Turkish government is weighing review of the decision regarding imposition of an additional duty on import of readymade garments (RMG), as the global pressure builds in the connection.
“We’ve heard the government is considering withdrawal of the additional duty as the global pressure is mounting,” the general coordinator of Textile Machinery and Accessories Manufacturers Association of Turkey, Richard Salvatore MBE, told the FE.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Families of Rana Plaza victims blockade highway:
Relatives and family members of the Rana Plaza collapse victims blockaded Dhaka-Aricha Highway Tuesday, demanding immediate measures for releasing compensation money by preparing a correct list of the victims.
The worried relatives who have been moving desperately for compensation gathered with a 6-point demand in front of the collapsed Rana Plaza under the guidance of Bangladesh Garment and Industry Workers Federation in the morning.
The other demands include raising monthly wages of a worker to Tk 8000, improving workplace safety, allowing workers to enjoy dearness allowances until a fresh wage is reviewed, arresting the owners who have poor labour practices and freedom to trade union.
read more. & read more.
* BGMEA yet to announce damages for victim families:
Families of the Rana Plaza collapse victims are passing their days through hardship as the BGMEA was yet to clearly announce the compensation planned for the families more than a month after the collapse.
Many of them said that the association even could not collect the required fund.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association leaders said that they were been trying to collect money and hoped to make an announcement after the middle of June.
The association is depending on the government and others organisations such as buyers in giving the compensations as its has failed to make any headway in fund collection from its members.
The families amid such an uncertain situation, the families demanded an early announcement about a comprehensive compensation. They wanted to know of the total amount they would get in compensation.
‘We are passing our days though an extreme hardship as we have failed to pay house rent for two months. Neither the government nor the BGMEA has come forward with help,’ Mariam Akhter, who lost her elder sister Salma Akhter in the building collapse, said.
* Savar horror documented in photographs:
13:05:32 local time INDIA
* Limited gains for garment exporters:
With most exporters opting against taking forward cover to hedge currencyrelated risks as the rupee had remained within a narrow range for the past several months, the steep fall in the currency would improve profits and order flow for garment makers.
“It (rupee depreciation) will benefit exporters. We would become competitive and would be able to get more orders ,” says P Nataraj, Managing Director (MD), KPR Mill. “Existing orders will be benefited as they were locked in when the rupee was at 53-54 levels ,” says B Jaichand, Managing Director, Jay Jay Mills, a mid-sized garment export house in Tirupur.
“The order flow is quite good. We are getting more enquiries ,” says Raja M Shanmugham , MD, Warsaw International , a Tirupur-based garment exporter. The rupee has lost 4.8% in May making it the worst performing Asian currency and is trading close to the record low of 57.32 hit in June last year.
* Textile stocks: Buy spinning mills, garment manufacturers:
Among textiles companies across the various value chains, investors should look at buying stocks of spinning mills and garment-manufacturing companies. Factors such as rupee devaluation, firm demand from China, removal of excise duty and reasonably good demand in the US and Europe are likely to increase the revenue of these companies in the second half of the current fiscal.
In the past six months, cotton yarn prices (40s cone) have gained close to 30% versus a meagre 4% growth in raw cotton prices. This surge, caused by increasing demand from China and the rupee’s devaluation, has lifted the financial performance of most spinning mills in the quarter ended March.
* 2013-14 cotton acreage likely to stand at last year’s levels:
The International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) has scaled up its cotton crop estimate for 2013-14 by 4,80,000 tonnes to 25.09 million tonnes (mt). However, in 2013-14, global output is expected to be lower than last year’s output of 26.36 mt
With the monsoon expected to be normal this year, fears of a fall in cotton acreage have subsided somewhat.
According to the Cotton Advisory Board, in cotton year 2012-13 (October-September), area under the crop stood at 11.77 million hectares, compared with 12.17 million hectares in 2011-12. The board had estimated last year’s production at 34 million bales (1 bale=170 kg), compared with 35.5 million bales in 2011-12.
12:35:32 local time PAKISTAN
* Pakistan could merge its EU exports:
Revisions in the European Union’s (EU’s) import tariff preferences (GSP) scheme, to become effective from January 2014, contain provisions that provide Pakistan with the opportunity to merge its EU exports with an identified development agenda, enabling enhanced economic growth with matching social development.
The European Union (EU) is not only Pakistan’s largest export destination and trading partner; it is also engaged in multiple levels of social and economic development activities. The latter, especially in the area of working conditions for labour, will facilitate Pakistan’s integration into a rules based global economy which is dominated by the inter-linked elements of buyer-driven compliance and cross-border supply chains.
* APTMA accuses NTDC, Pepco for damaging industry:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) leadership has condemned the NTDC and Pepco for issuing notice to the Punjab-based textile industry of 10 hours a day loadshedding, following the Supreme Court order of equal distribution of electricity among consumers.
Group leader All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Gohar Ejaz, central Chairman APTMA Ahsan Bashir and Chairman APTMA Punjab Shahzad Ali Khan said only the mismanagement of the power distribution companies was behind the prevailing loadshedding of electricity, which have either misinterpreted or misunderstood the apex court’s verdict on equal distribution electricity among consumers.
Meanwhile, some industrialists, requesting anonymity, have pointed out that the apex court has misread the situation and passed an undesirable judgment leading to increase in loadshedding from industry from six hours to 12 hours a day. However, the APTMA leadership avoided to make any such comment in the press conference and instead criticised the NTDC and the caretaker set up for the mess.
* Loadshedding: Textile industry clueless about withdrawal:
Textile industry in Punjab is clueless about withdrawal of 12 hours a day loadshedding by the NTDC in pursuance of the apex court decision of equitable distribution of electricity among consumers.
Majority of the millers had no idea whether the NTDC would withdraw the schedule at its own or the Supreme Court would have to intervene to bring the industry out of ordeal.
The millers kept on inquiring about any development on the issue on Tuesday. A day before, the APTMA leadership had lambasted at the NTDC for its biased policies against the Punjab-based industry. The industry circles further pointed out that the Supreme Court verdict had nothing to do with the industrial consumers, as the suo motu notice was on the reports describing the problems of domestic consumers due to disparity. They have expressed the hope that the apex court would address the issue soon.