17:04:40 local time CHINA
* Wages in China:
Wage levels in China have increased continually over the last two decades as the economy has developed and the private sector has created new employment opportunities.
However, disparities among geographic regions, industrial sectors and between top executives and ordinary workers have also increased significantly, widening the rich-poor gap. Moreover, wage increases for China’s lowest paid workers have often been eroded by higher costs of living, and the issue of wage arrears remains a serious and unresolved problem throughout the country.
16:04:40 local time VIET NAM
* Regent Garment Co. ensures laborers’ working environment:
Workers of Regent Garment Co., Ltd. work in favorable conditions
The company has invested billions of dongs in installation of a cooling system for the officers and workers to work in the best conditions.
Regent Garment Co., Ltd. (Nam Sach industrial park, Hai Duong) specializes in production of export garments.
The company currently employs 8,200 laborers working in 11 production workshops with income from VND5 – 6 million/ person/ month.
Despite hot summer days, the working environment there is fairly airy and cool.
Dong Thi Phuong, an officer of the company’s Administration Division, said, “The company has invested billions of dongs in installation of a cooling system from the office to the workshops for the officers and workers to work in the best conditions. The company annually spends money in maintenance and repair to ensure the cooling system’s uninterrupted operation.”
The company also arranges devices supplying hot, cold drinking water at working places for the workers’ use.
* Vietnamese footwear exports top $3 bln in 5 months:
Vietnam exported US$750 million worth of footwear products in May, bringing the commodity’s export turnovers in the first five months of the year to more than $3.1 billion.
Export turnovers rose 11.4 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso).
Footwear manufacturers have stable orders, and are signing contracts with new importers, the association said.
The footwear sector will greatly benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, as there will be more chances for local exporters to penetrate new large markets with a zero duty, instead of the current 14.3 percent, according to Lefaso.
16:04:40 local time THAILAND
* Lower labour costs draw bag maker to Laos factory:
Dpac Inter Corporation, the plastic bag making subsidiary of the King Pac Group, plans to set up its production in Laos in the fourth quarter to avoid rising wages in Thailand and expand its Asean presence.
Deputy managing director Methee Athichiskul said the machine tools will be relocated to the factory in Laos, which Dpac will rent from a local company.
Distribution will start after the set-up is complete in next year’s first quarter.
Wages are lower in Laos than in Thailand, where the daily minimum was lifted to 300 baht nationwide on Jan 1, while machinery is also cheaper there, said Mr Methee.
He said the company will spend 300-400 million baht on the move, and up to 90% of the production in Laos will be exported to Thailand, with the rest distributed in Laos.
16:04:40 local time CAMBODIA
* Justice demanded as Bandith hearing nears:
A court official yesterday insisted today’s scheduled hearing of former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith would go ahead as planned, but stopped short of saying what punishment Bandith might face should he fail to show again.
“We will not delay it any longer and Chhouk Bandith must show up in the court room,” Svay Rieng provincial court prosecutor Hing Bunchea said.
On May 21, a scheduled hearing of Bandith’s case was postponed after neither he nor his lawyers appeared at court. The powerful former governor stands accused of shooting three garment workers during a factory protest in February 2012 in a case that has since bounced between courts with little hint at resolution.
Victims and rights workers said yesterday they would – once again – appear at court in the hope the trial might go forward. But, they admitted, they held little hope for a just resolution.
* Hundreds of strikers fired from Nike factory: union:
Hundreds of workers have been fired from a Cambodian factory making sportswear for US giant Nike following a series of protests over pay, unionists said on Tuesday, denouncing the move as “unacceptable” and illegal.
“They have been forced to resign from their jobs without any compensation. This act is illegal,” said Mann Seng Hak, a leader of the Free Trade Union.
He said nearly 300 workers had been sacked.
“This is a kind of punishment to threaten workers not to hold more protests or strikes. It’s unacceptable,” he told AFP, adding that his group would complain to the government.
There was no immediate comment from the factory owner.
Cambodian workers have staged a series of shows of discontent at low wages and tough conditions in the multibillion-dollar textile industry, which produces goods for top western brands.
* Nearly 300 Cambodian garment makers fired over strikes:
Nearly 300 Cambodian garment workers who produce clothing for U.S sportswear company Nike have been dismissed for taking part in strikes seeking higher pay that turned violent, according to their union and dismissal notices.
Low-cost labour has attracted Western brands to the Southeast Asian country and garments now account for around 75 percent of its exports, but strikes over pay and working conditions have become common.
Thousands of workers at Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment Manufacturing Corp went on strike for higher pay from May 21.
On Tuesday, hundreds of them protested at a provincial court to demand the release of eight workers and unionists arrested on June 3, when around 4,000 workers forced their way into the factory, clashing with colleagues who had remained on the job.
A union grouping some of the workers at the plant said 288 workers had been fired on June 6 and 7. It says they were dismissed for going on strike.
“This is completely illegal,” Free Trade Union President Chea Mony said of the dismissals, adding the company had only fired people who said they had witnessed violence by the authorities.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Pagna’s Story: Life after Work as a Child Labourer:
When Ros Pagna was only 11 years old, she began working in a garment factory in Phnom Penh.
The oldest of five siblings, Pagna left school at Grade 6, and using a fake ID, she got a job alongside her mother.
Having learned how to use a sewing machine at a young age, Pagna was a skilled sticher and sewing t-shirts came easily to her. “My supervisor liked me and I was so happy to be earning money to help my family,” she says. On pay day, Pagna gave all of earnings, ranging from $60–$90, to her grandmother. “It was very difficult because we did not have much money and our family had no land.” When her grandmother became sick, it was the money that Pagna earned from working at the factory that helped pay for her medicine.
Days began very early, and before even setting out for the factory on her bicycle, Pagna would go to the market and bring home fresh fish for her grandmother to sell. At home, Pagna and her family—including her four siblings, her mother and grandmother—all lived in a one-room rental in Phnom Penh.
For two years, Pagna worked at garment factories, denied the opportunity to receive an education or to enjoy her childhood. But in 2009, her life took a dramatic change, when Ms. Malika Ok, a Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) monitor, came across several cases of suspected child labour in a factory during a standard monitoring visit. Pagna, then 13 years old, was one of these cases.
* Corruption worse than in Bangladesh: NGO:
In a country where corruption is as rife as it is in Cambodia, global brands must work with governments to ensure garment factories are safe and working conditions legal, international NGO Transparency International (TI) said yesterday.
Responding to reports that some retailers will leave Bangladesh following the Rana Plaza factory collapse that killed more than 1,100 people in April, TI said brands should instead work towards safer, less corrupt markets in countries from which they buy.
In Cambodia, where two workers were killed when a ceiling collapsed at the Wing Star Shoes factory on May 16, corruption is more extreme than in Bangladesh, TI said.
“This suggests widespread corruption risk, which could make safety inspection vulnerable to bribery,” a statement from TI says.
Leng Tong, director of the Ministry of Labour’s occupational health and safety department, said corruption had been an issue among some government officials whose work focused on the garment sector.
“We’ve investigated certain officials who have taken money while inspecting factories,” he said, without elaborating on how many. “We have suspended them.”
Those officials, however, were not actually fired, he added.
Jason Judd, a technical specialist for the International Labour Organization’s monitoring program Better Factories Cambodia (BFC), declined to comment on whether corruption was as prevalent in the garment sector as elsewhere in the country. BFC’s compliance assessments, which focus primarily on working conditions, did not cover some issues raised by TI, including bribery and collusion when it came to licensing and permits, he said.
Dave Welsh, American Center for International Labor Solidarity country manager, said brands, factories and the government needed to respond better to issues raised by BFC.
17:04:40 local time INDONESIA
* Analysis: The tyranny of brands:
We live in a world full of brands. Whether it’s a car or a deodorant, a bank or an antacid, a religious leader or a president, marketing and media are shaping the choices we make and the opinions we form every day. Could we live in a world without logos? Would the planet stop if there was no advertising?
There was a time long ago when a brand, its logo and its message represented an assurance of quality. With a multitude of brands in the same category, the need for differentiation redefined the word “image”.
Today, our personal image is embellished if not represented by the brands we use, consume, display.
For too many brand-conscious people, self-confidence would be undermined without logos.
It would be all too painful to imagine life without the badge on the car, the wrist-watch, the mobile phone, the T-shirt.
* Researchers: people need jobs more than cash:
The people needs jobs more than they need cash , a researcher from the Institute for Development of Economic and Finance (Indef) Eko Listiyanto said.
The government should concentrate more on providing jobs rather than giving cash aid to help cope with short term difficulties of poor, Eko said here on Monday.
The government plans to provide Rp150,000 (around US$15) per household of the country`s poor after it finally raises the price of subsidized oil fuels.
The government is expected to raise the price of subsidized premium gasoline to Rp6,500 from Rp4,500 at present per liter in the middle of this month.
“By giving the people jobs instead of cash the impact is long term and the recipients would feel respected,” Eko said.
Indonesia`s poor are estimated to total 30 million among the world`s fourth largest population of around 240 million.
15:34:40 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* After Bangladesh Tragedy, Questions for Burma’s Garment Sector:
At last week’s World Economic Forum in Naypyidaw, one message seemed to transcend the rest: Burma is open for business, and labor, the government and foreign companies are all weighing the promise and pitfalls of the nation’s increasingly attractive investment climate.
With the lifting of long-entrenched barriers to investment in the country, Burma’s low-wage workforce of some 33 million people could prove tempting to manufacturers globally. But labor rights groups are urging Burma to get it right when it comes to responsibly managing any new wave of labor-intensive job opportunities, as neighboring Bangladesh takes a hard look at its own textile industry after a building collapse there killed more than 1,100 garment factory workers in April.
Burma’s Parliament passed a new foreign investment law last year that was largely seen as a welcoming overture to outside investors, and the business landscape is expected to boom in the coming years as the private sector adjusts to new opportunities brought about by the reformist government of President Thein Sein.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh has seen its international business reputation as a low-wage manufacturing enclave tainted by serious questions about the country’s ability to ensure a safe work environment for its people.
Judy Gearhart, executive director of the US-based International Labor Rights Forum, said the situation in Bangladesh should serve as a cautionary tale as Burma’s garment industry sees renewed interest from foreign firms.
“The one thing for sure that we hope will be the lesson drawn from the tragedy in Bangladesh is that Burma very much should take the high road to development,” she told The Irrawaddy, adding that companies may start to trickle out of Bangladesh in search of countries with labor markets that are less of a potential liability.
15:04:40 local time BANGLADESH
* No improvement in clothing factory fire safety:
The six-storey Nadia Complex housing three clothing factories on the New Eskaton Road in the capital Dhaka has a ladder made of bamboo and rope for emergency evacuation. The photo was taken on Monday. — Sanaul Haque
The authorities concerned are yet to significantly improve fire safety system in apparel factories because of lax oversight, exposing thousands of workers to threat, even after the recurrence of fire incidents.
The officials concerned, however, blamed the lack of manpower and logistic supports in their inspection that allowed the factory owners to continue with their apparel production amid poor fire safety.
An estimated 20 per cent of the factories that the fire authorities inspected in the past six months have been found to have inadequate fire equipment, poor water reservoir and inadequate fire exits for evacuation in case of emergencies.
Some clothing factory owners also seemed indifferent to having adequate fire safety gears.
Government, labour organisations and employers’ associations in a tripartite statement on January 15 committed to a full adherence to all relevant laws, regulations and procedures aimed at ensuring fire safety at workplace, according to documents available with the International Labour Organisation.
The six-storey Nadia Complex housing three clothing factories on the New Eskaton Road in the capital Dhaka has a ladder made of bamboo and rope, a New Age investigation finds. About 1,250 workers are employed in the three Envoy Group factories — Astras, Regal and Nadia.
* 2 RMG factories shut amid workers’ unrest:
The authorities of two readymade garments on Tuesday shut their factories for indefinite period amid continuous workers’ unrest.
Workers of Fountain Garments Ltd and Indian garment PGCL ltd saw factory closure notices on the gates when came to join work in the morning.
The agitated workers hurled brick chips aiming the factories and police dispersed them immediately.
Later the workers tried to vandalize two other adjacent garments and authorities of those garment shut their factories for Tuesday.
* RMG Unrest: 6 factories shut in Ashulia:
Production at six garment factories at Bypail and Jamgarah areas in Ashulia were suspended on Tuesday following labour unrest.
Locals said workers of Fountain Garment and Pal Garment in Bypail area started demonstrations in the morning when they found notices at the factories announcing an indefinite closure.
On information, police rushed in and dispersed the workers from the area.
Meanwhile, garment factories Dress Up, Aran Textile, CIPL Clothing and four units of JK Group were declared closed for the day as the workers staged demonstrations for various demands, including a hike in their wages.
read more. & read more.
* Garment workers stage protest in Dhaka demanding lunch bill hike:
Police charged batons to disperse the angry garment workers, as hundreds of workers demonstrated in their bid to raise lunch bills at Shantinagar area in the capital Dhaka. The picture was taken on Tuesday. — Sony Ramany
Hundreds of angry garment workers demonstrated in their bid to raise lunch bills at New Eskaton road in the capital, police and witnesses said.
The workers of Regal Garments, Astras Garments and Nadia Garments housed in the same six-storey building began their protests in their respective production lines in the morning and then came out of the factories at about 11:00am.
Md Mohiuddin, a sub-inspector of Ramna police station, said additional police have been deployed to avert any violence.
Earlier the factory authorities enhanced attendance allowances of the workers in the wake of similar demonstrations.
The agitating garment workers were moving toward Envoy group head office which is located at Malibagh for pressing their demands.
to read. & read more.
* Employees of textile mills agitate for wages:
The employees and workers of Gonoswastho Grameen Textile Mills at Bhadraghat area in Kamarkhanda upazila of Sirajganj district have been agitating for payment of their wages for four months.
Hundreds of employees and workers have been staging demonstrations, including procession, rally and strike, at the mill premises for the last few days demanding the arrears. The demonstrators also claimed that the authorities of the mills are trying to lay-off the mills without paying their arrears on the plea of frequent losses.
Employees and workers of the mills said, they have not been getting their salaries for the last four months. For this reason, they started to stage demonstrations to realise their arrears. On June 6 morning, the agitated workers and employees locked the main gate of the mills. They also brought out a procession and held a rally at the mill gate area. At one stage, the demonstrators kept Mir Rakib, DGM of the mills, confined in his office room.
On getting information, Sadar thana police rushed to the spot, brought the situation under control and rescued the DGM from the hands of the demonstrators.
* Secy-level group to watch labour standard progress:
A secretary-level ‘informal group’ has been formed to look after the progress of implementation of the steps, taken by the government to ensure workers’ rights and labour standard, sources said.
Secretaries of foreign affairs, commerce and labour ministries and additional secretary of home ministry comprise the informal group, they added.
The group of secretaries met last week to discuss the latest developments on labour issues and evaluate the progress made so far with commerce secretary Mahbub Ahmed in the chair at his office.
Sources said the committee also discussed the recently heightened international attention on the prevailing situation of Bangladeshi garment industry, particularly after the Rana Plaza collapse, which claimed 1,127 lives and injured many.
In the meeting they also discussed issues like AFL-CIO’s demand for immediate withdrawal of GSP (generalised system of preference) facility for Bangladesh in the Unites States, and the resolution by the European Parliament warning withdrawal of GSP facility.
* Ways to prevent future disasters:
The deadly collapse of a Bangladeshi factory that claimed 1,127 lives has left governments and clothing retailers scrambling to find a viable solution to the shockingly poor safety standards in the South Asian country.
Coming to the forefront of the debate, both critics of global capitalism and pro-market supporters are asserting their opinions of what should be done to reform working standards in developing countries on the whole — ranging from complete boycott to a do-nothing policy.
In all, it is true that so-called sweatshop labor has been an overall boon to the Bangladeshi economy — raising the country’s average wages and standard of living. And it is true that past attempts to crack down on sweatshop factories and child labor have just led to increased prostitution and starvation. However, that doesn’t mean there is nothing to be done to improve working standards.
Here are some market-oriented reforms that could be championed by both sides of the debate and lead to increased safety.
1. Scrapping Useless Safety Regulations For Higher Company Liability
The recent push for stricter safety standards could be all for naught. Safety regulations in these countries have been notoriously hard to enforce and all but useless. For instance, the Bangladeshi garment factory that caught fire in November, killing 112 people, passed safety inspections by the government. Afterwards it was found that the fire extinguishers were empty and just put there to appease government officials.
Replacing these difficult-to-enforce regulations with a well-established system of company liability would provide an actual incentive for companies to increase safety standards. As it is now, most factories and foreign retailers aren’t liable in the event of an accident or death.
Now, in the complex chain of production we have in a modern economy, it may be hard to determine where the product comes from. Nonetheless, the clothing manufacturers and foreign retailers like Walmart and GAP can amend their contracts to determine joint or sole liability.
2. Cutting Red Tape
Reducing regulation and cutting bureaucratic red tape could actually increase worker safety. By freeing up the funds now used for compliance costs and trade tariffs, Bangladesh, the U.S., and the E.U. could make it less costly for companies to do business, thereby allowing them to use more of their funds for their workers.
According to the World Bank, Bangladesh has one of the highest trade barriers and difficult institutional environments in the world. Moreover, governments like ours in the U.S. hurt workers in developing countries by imposing higher tariffs on their products. For example, the U.S. imposes only a 4% tariff on the average but 15 percent duty on ready-made garments imported from Bangladesh.
Cleaning up this bureaucratic mess and freeing up trade would spur economic growth and increase the wages and working standards in Bangladesh.
3. Allow Unions to Play a Role
Increased economic liberalization and rule of law in Bangladesh could help workers not only start unions but maintain them as well.
* JS body holds public hearing from tomorrow:
Amendment to labour law
The public hearing on the proposed Labour Law, bill of which has been tabled in parliament, begins tomorrow (Thursday) to get the views of all parties on the amendment to the original law.
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour Ministry will conduct the hearing for three days beginning June 13.
Now the committee will make its recommendations to the parliament after getting opinions from stakeholders on the proposed law to make it more effective and time befitting.
* 3 jute godowns gutted in Jessore:
A devastating fire gutted three jute godowns at Jhumjhumpur in the district town on Monday night.
Witnesses said the fire originated from electric short circuit in a godown of Ahad Jute Mills at about 10:45 pm and soon gutted one godown fully and two others partially.
Fire fighters rushed to the spot and doused the flame at 6 am Tuesday after seven hours of frantic efforts.
The mill owner claimed that valuables worth Tk 40 lakh were gutted in the blaze.
to read. & read more.
* BGMEA seeks unified code of conduct for all apparel makers:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) sought same code of conduct from apparel buyers of European countries to ensure discipline in the multi-billion dollar industry.
“We want a unified code of conduct for garment industry so that all stakeholders can be brought under discipline for any issue especially compliance,” M Atiqul Islam, president of BGMEA, told a press conference at a city hotel.
The press conference was arranged after a close-door view- exchange meeting with Readymade Garment (RMG) stakeholders of European countries.
Representatives from International Labour Organization (ILO), Department for International Development (DFID), GIZ of German, officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and apparel makers attended the meeting.
Head of EU delegation to Bangladesh William Hanna was present at the press conference.
Ambassadors from different EU countries including the Netherlands, British and French Ambassadors, from Dutch BGMEA Vice-Presidents and directors were also present at the press conference.
Atiqul Islam said the Readymade Garment (RMG) industry lacks unified code of conduct as buyers have respective guidelines for producing garment goods, which creates trouble for the apparel industry.
read more. & read more.
* RMG makers want fair price, unified code of conducts:
Diplomats from European countries and USA which are major destinations of the Bangladeshi apparel items on Tuesday said that they wanted to see commitments made by the government and factory owners to ensure workers safety in the readymade garment sector were turned into action to avoid any incidents like Rana Plaza building collapse in future.
On the other hand, garment factory owners demanded an increase in prices of the RMG products and a unified code of conducts from the buyers so that they could make their factories compliant smoothly.
Western diplomats, however, did not make any commitment to the demand but assured that they would discuss the issue with the retailers in their countries.
* Enough of statements, let’s get down to work:
EU diplomats call for real action in RMG industry
Top European Union diplomats yesterday called for visible actions, rather than promises, towards improving the workplace safety and labour rights at the country’s garment factories.
The Rana Plaza collapse on April 24 that has so far killed 1,131 and injured thousands has shocked the world due to the scale of its ruin, said William Hanna, head of EU delegation to Bangladesh.
“This is something that has had a big impact all over the world.”
“It is a general and emotional concern what is happening in the country — people want to see a change,” Hanna said.
Therefore, the EU wants to work with the stakeholders to make it happen, he said.
“We want to work together to avoid any problem in future. But that means real work, not just statements — real commitment.”
* Continuation of GSP facility stressed:
A 10-member delegation of the International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB) led by its founding president and former Chittagong City Corporation mayor Mahmudul Islam Chowdhury left the city for US on May 30 to explore business opportunities and enhance trade relationship between Bangladesh and US, said a press statement.
The IBFB delegation held a meeting with the US Commercial Service of Federal Government team in Los Angeles. Rachid Sayouty, Director of US Commercial Service of Federal Government in Los Angeles, led the US side where Bobby Hines, international trade specialist was also present.
During the meeting, the Bangladesh team laid emphasis on continuation of GSP facility and other steps to help Bangladesh RMG sector. The IBFB delegation also urged for opening an office of US Commercial Service in Bangladesh.
* RMG Crisis: EU not thinking about sanction:
European Union Ambassador to Bangladesh William Hanna on Tuesday said the EU is keen on working together with Bangladesh to ‘avoid problems’ in the readymade garment (RMG) sector, but not thinking about having any sanction.
“We don’t want to have a sanction, but we’ll work together to change the situation,” he told reporters after a meeting on RMG affairs between European delegates and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) leaders.
The meeting was organised by BGMEA at a city hotel.
Noting that the Rana Plaza collapse generated a grave scale of shock across the world, Hanna said: “As buyers, we’re also responsible… every one around the table has to work together to change the situation. We need to work together for a long time.”
read more. & read more.
* EU still concerned over safety issues:
The ambassadors of the European countries are still concerned about the safety issues in Bangladesh’s apparel industry and they believe that a well-focused plan of action is needed by the industry leaders for addressing those, EU Ambassador said Tuesday.
“There have to be a turning point in ways industry is organizing in Bangladesh. What is happening in Bangladesh
disaster, number of deaths is still shocking and still in media focus,” William Hanna, EU Ambassador said after a meeting with the BGMEA leaders held at Westin Hotel.
* Primark initiates inspection of Bangla garment factories:
Primark has recently begun a programme of building surveys in Bangladesh in order to assess the structural integrity of factories from which it sources garments.
Primark is committed to inspecting all factories in Bangladesh producing products for the company as part of the assessment programme.
The structural surveys will assess planning records, including structural drawings where available, and will assess building integrity, evaluate the standard of construction and materials, and check other issues such as the location and loading of heavy machinery.
* “60 Minutes” exposes need for Australian brands to sign Accord:
Kmart and Target in Australia sign up as global momentum continues to build for Bangladesh safety deal: Australian prime time investigative news programme 60 Minutes visits Bangladeshi factories.
Australia’s prime time news programme, Sixty Minutes, asks why Australian companies have been slow to join the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
Watch the programme here
UNI Global Union and leading New Zealand affiliate First Union welcome Kmart’s decision to join the Accord.
* ‘Clothing companies asked to tackle factory safety’:
Global clothing companies must work with governments and local groups to improve factory safety and working conditions, said by Bangladesh, Cambodia and Indonesia chapters of anti-corruption group Transparency International (TI) in a joint statement today.
Media reports that some companies are turning away from Bangladesh send the wrong signal about their commitment to worker’s rights and fighting corruption, the Transparency International chapters said. Instead, it said, they should lobby the government to pass legal reforms to uplift the integrity in the sector and dedicate greater resources to the government officials responsible for safety inspection.
“Companies leaving in the face of such tragedies, or to avoid greater regulation, will only be punishing the victims of corruption rather than the perpetrators,” said Iftekhar Zaman,head of Transparency International Bangladesh. “The alternative to dumping business in Bangladesh is to work with the government on ensuring factories apply safety rules.”
* Global clothing companies can’t pull out: 3 TI chapters:
Global clothing companies must work with governments and local groups to improve factory safety and working conditions, the Bangladesh, Cambodia and Indonesia chapters of Transparency International said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
Media reports that some companies are turning away from Bangladesh send the wrong signal about their commitment to worker’s rights and fighting corruption, the three TI chapters said in the statement issued simultaneously from Dhaka, Phnom Penh and Jakarta.
Instead, they should lobby the government to pass legal reforms to uplift the integrity in the sector and dedicate greater resources to the government officials responsible for safety inspection.
‘Companies leaving in the face of such tragedies, or to avoid greater regulation, will only be punishing the victims of corruption rather than the perpetrators,’ said Iftekhar Zaman, head of Transparency International Bangladesh.
read more. & read more. & read more.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Uncertain future for Survivors:
The news spread quickly: somebody was coming to give out more money. By the middle of the steely gray morning of June 7, thousands of men and women who used to work at the collapsed Rana Plaza factory complex had made their way to a military school in Savar, the industrial district outside Dhaka.
They stood outside the compound’s walls as rain pattered down on their umbrellas. It was a chance to get some much-needed cash, but also a chance to trade information — about the dead, the missing, how to get compensation and, perhaps most elusively, what they should do next.
Six weeks after the worst industrial accident in the history of garment industry, information is still in short supply. The official death toll of the Rana Plaza collapse is 1,129, with 301 bodies still unidentified, but workers’-rights groups think the count is higher.
Of a group of 20 or so people crowded under a tree, nobody quite knew why they had waited in line that morning to register their names, surrounded by soldiers and security guards in crisp polo shirts.
Nor were the workers sure who, exactly, had provided the 1,000 taka — about $12 — that they were handed before they left. “An NGO?” somebody in the crowd offered. Khadija Begum, who worked at Phantom Apparels on the building’s 4th floor, said a neighbor had told her to come. “They gave us 1,000 taka and I wrote my name down on a list,” she said. “I don’t know who the money was from.”
ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE
* Negligence unpardonable:
Home probe suggests trial of owner
A government body to probe last year’s devastating fire at Tazreen Fashions Ltd in Ashulia has found “unpardonable neglect” on the part of the owner but said the incident might have been “subversive”.
The fire at Tazreen in Ashulia on November 24 last year killed at least 112 people and injured many others.
The committee, formed by the home ministry, recommended that Md Delwar Hossain, owner of the factory, be tried under Section 304 (A) of the Penal Code, which hands down only five years’ imprisonment as maximum punishment.
Delwar, the managing director of the garment factory, ruled out his responsibility in connection with the fire and claimed he was innocent. He told The Daily Star that law enforcers had not arrested him as there were no specific charges against him.
Some of the security workers were responsible for the disaster and they were absconding, he added.
The home ministry recently sent its probe report to the Office of the Attorney General for submission before the High Court on June 19.
14:34:40 local time INDIA
* INTUC to form single trade union in country:
Indian National Trade Union Congress is planning to form a single trade union in the country, INTUC national president G. Sanjeeva Reddy has said. He was inaugurating a meeting of INTUC’s State and district-level office-bearers here on Tuesday.
“We are having talks with other trade unions,” he said. The INTUC wanted progressive legislation on labour laws which were in the interests of the working class. He said INTUC wanted to abolish the contract system in the country. “Our organisation demands that persons employed under the contract system be paid the same salary as permanent employees till the former is regularised. Now there are several persons under contract system who work for a paltry salary of Rs.3,000 or Rs.4,000. We want to abolish this system.”
He also demanded that the national minimum wages be fixed at Rs.10,000 a month for all types of workers. He also demanded that the Provident Fund (PF) pension be increased by at least Rs.1,000 now and later by Rs.5,000. The INTUC, he said, was now torn between its efforts to maintain unity of all trade unions and the task of emerging the number one trade union.
* CITU organises dharna:
CITU organised dharna at Aurobindo Pharma premises near Pydibhimavaram alleging that the management was adopting anti labour policies.
CITU leaders demanded that the management should enhance wages while implementing ESI, PF and other facilities.
* Uma Jute Mill workers stage dharna:
Kothavalasa based Uma Jute Mill workers under the leadership of Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) staged a dharna at the office of Joint Commissioner of Labour (JCL) protesting against the management declared lockout.
The mill workers submitted a memorandum to the JCL. IFTU state committee member M.Venkateswarlu addressed the workers.
* Global buyers expand sourcing from Indian apparel units: AEPC:
With more and more apparel units addressing the issue of child labour, global buyers like Walmart and Zara have preferred to expand their merchandise sourcing from India which may fetch more business of USD 3 billion in 2013-14, garment industry body AEPC said today.
The Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) said that factory-compliant manufacturing in India has surged with new and unprecedented export orders in the current season.
“In the present volatility in international buying, brands have preferred expanding their merchandise sourcing from India. The flow of expansion of orders in India is expected to fetch additional USD 3 billion (around Rs 17,500 crore) business in the country,” it said.
In 2012-13, the apparel exports declined by 5.76 per cent to USD 12.92 billion due to demand slowdown in major markets of the US and Europe. These are the biggest markets for India’s garment sector.
* Global brands expanding sourcing; companies may bag $3bn more orders:
Textile sector is expected to bag additional orders worth around Rs 17,500 crore as global brands have expanded their sourcing of merchandise from the country, Apparel Export Promotion Council said today.
Factory-compliant manufacturing in the country has surged with unprecedented export orders in the current season, Council’s Chairman A Shaktivel said.
In the current volatility in international buying, many brands have preferred expanding their sourcing of the merchandise from the country and the flow of expansion of orders was expected to fetch additional USD 3 billion business, he said.
India has been chosen as the best place due to the persistent improvement in factory capacity building through ambitious programme AEPC Common Code of Conduct, DISHA, (Driving Industry Towards Sustainable Human Capital Advancement) an initiative of union textile ministry, he said.
* Rupee depreciation pushes apparel exporters’ margins by 5-7%:
The Indian currency hit a life-low of Rs 58.98 (before closing at Rs. 58.38) against dollar on Tuesday as against level of Rs 53.31 in January 2012
The sudden weakening of the rupee has set some cash registers ringing for Indian apparel exporters, at least for a short run. According to industry players, margins in apparel exports have risen by five-seven per cent in the past few days.
“The bottom line has improved for us. The rupee depreciation has increased our export realisations by five-seven per cent. This will encourage us to go for more orders now,” says Gautam Jain, partner of Bangalore-based garment exporter Mahalaxmi INC.
* Red-hit Bagjobra set to spin a new yarn:
Monday was a historic day for the residents of Bagjobra, a remote village in Churchu block, with 2100 tribals, largely women, set to spin and weave silk threads for making silk products under the brand name of Bagjobra.
These handmade products will not only be marketed across the country but also abroad.
The Jharkhand Silk Textile and Handicraft Development Corporation Ltd (Jharcraft) launched a training programme Srijan here on Monday.
It is an initiative to train the tribals in making handicrafts, handloom and also sericulture. The training will be imparted to 2100 tribal women of 12 villages in Bagjobra in Churchu block and has a Maoist presence.
* Compliance helps Indian garment exporters bag more orders:
Factory compliant manufacturing in India has surged with new and unprecedented export orders in the current season.
Chain stores and international brands like Walmart, GAP, American Egle, JC Penny, Target, Sears, Tommy, Nike, Abecombic & Fitch, Old Navy, Sara Lee, Hanes, Marks & Spencers, CA, H&M, Debenham, Primark, Top Mom, Top Shop, TESCO, Sainsbery, Addidas, PUMA, Paul Smith, River Island, Mango, ZARA, French Connection and many more maintain highest standards of factory compliance.
In the current volatility in international buying, brands have preferred expanding their sourcing of the merchandise from India. The flow of expansion of orders in India is expected to fetch additional US$ 3 Bn business in the country!
Dr A Sakthivel said that India has been chosen as the best place due to the persistent improvement in factory capacity building through ambitious programme AEPC Common Code of Conduct – DISHA, an initiative of Ministry of Textiles.
Over 200 garment manufacturing units have already gone through vigorous capacity building in the area of 11 management principle under DISHA like Hours of Work, Wages and Benefits, Health and Safety, Freedom of Association, prohibit child labour, prohibit bonded and forced labour, prevent harassment and abuse, right to collective bargaining, protect environment and establish and implement management system.
* Fillip to garment exports:
Exports of apparels and ready made garments are likely to get a big boost with India attaining the status of a factory complaint country with international retail chains and brands placing orders which are likely to exceed $3 billion.
Retail chain stores and international brands such as Walmart, GAP, American Eagle, JC Penny, Target, Sears, Tommy, Nike, Abecombic & Fitch, Old Navy, and Sara Lee are among the few known to maintain highest standards of factory compliance.
The latest move to source merchandise from India will fetch an additional $3 billion in foreign exchange for the country.
Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) Chairman A. Sakthivel said that India had been chosen due to the persistent improvement in factory capacity building. This was done with the help of the AEPC Common Code of Conduct – DISHA, an initiative of the Ministry of Textiles.
* Textiles Ministry collecting data on varieties of Kapas:
The Central Government is making efforts to collect data on different varieties of Kapas (Kapas is unginned cotton) viz, short staple, medium staple, medium long staple, long staple and extra long staple from ginners and traders of north Karnataka.
“This data on different varieties will consist of opening stock, cotton imported, cotton sold in the domestic market and closing stock on monthly basis to file the returns, to arrive at realistic balance sheet of cotton production,” said Krishna Prasad, Assistant Director of Textiles, Union Ministry of Textiles.
“The traders to avail themselves of the benefit of the textile department should try to provide the necessary information to help upgrade the statistics of national cotton production,” he added. He toured the cotton growing region in north Karnataka and interacted with cotton ginning, pressing and traders located in Hubli-Dharwad, Gadag and Haveri districts.
* Cotton blooms on demand boost:
Cotton price gained slowly and strongly on the back of short supply and good demand from domestic mills. According to market sources internationally, mainly in China, limited stock position may boost the export from India and it may support the price rise.
About 8,000 bales of 170 kg each of cotton arrived in Gujarat and 27,000-28,000 bales arrived in India.
A cotton broker said that demand from domestic mills is very strong and it may further gain this month.
Spinners were expecting that ginners would increase selling in coming days due to arrival of monsoon in key growing areas.
China’s massive cotton stockpiles have been interpreted as bearish for prices by the US Department of Agriculture, but analysts suggest a tight supply outside the country and the unwillingness of local textile mills to buy at auction, which will push prices higher into next season.
* Cottonseed pricing: Hike royalty fee but deposit it in escrow account, orders Court:
The Andhra Pradesh High Court has asked seed companies and the State Government to create an escrow account to temporarily put an end to the row over the cottonseed technology trait fee.
In an interim order on Friday, the court has allowed the seed companies to collect Rs 60-100 additionally to make up for the difference between the trait value fixed by the State and Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech Limited.
The court found contradictions in the Government arguments and observed that trait value is a small component in the overall seed price.
The contentious trait value is the fee collected by Mahyco-Monsanto, the joint venture between Indian seed major Mahyco and multinational agri-biotech company Monsanto, in lieu of providing the technology that gives cotton hybrids internal strength to kill bollworms. Bollworm is the single largest reason for yield losses in cotton.
* Cotton Association sees output at 352 lakh bales:
The Cotton Association of India (CAI) has projected cotton output of 352 lakh bales (lb) and total supply of 425 lb in its May estimate. However, output in key growing areas of the north and central zone is expected to fall sharply.
The total cotton output in the northern zone including Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan is expected to drop leading to lower production at 54 lb against 64 lb registered last year. Similarly, in the central zone, which includes Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, the cotton production is estimated lower at 174 lb (204 lb). Production in Gujarat is estimated to fall to 85 lb (114 lb) as farmers switched over to other crops for better price realisation.
* ‘Reebok plans to moderate expansion for profitability’:
Sports goods major Reebok is now planning to tread carefully as it seeks to unleash its second phase of restructuring in the country after incurring significant losses due to financial irregularities at its India unit.
“We are definitely being more cautious,” said Erick Haskell, the managing director of parent brand Adidas, who assumed office in January.
14:34:40 local time SRI LANKA
* Expropriated enterprises offered to listed firms, leading private businesses:
Several publicly listed firms and leading business houses in the country have been offered some of the enterprises that were vested with the government under the Revival of Underperforming Enterprises or Underutilized Assets Act in 2011.
According to the 2012 annual report of the Ministry of Finance and Planning, over 15 companies out of the 37 acquired, have been offered to new investors for revival.
Among the prominent names of the new investors have been MAS, Brandix, Expolanka, DIMO, Piramal Glass, JAT Holdings, Concord Apperal and Sterling Jercy.
The manufacturing facilities of Sinotex (Lanka) Ltd, a major apparel manufacturer who shut down operations in 2009 have been given to Brandix Lanka, Expo Lanka, Preit Pvt. Ltd, Kansay Nerolac Paints Ltd and JAT Holdings for revival.
The land belonging to Adamjee Extractions (Pvt) Ltd, a unit of Vanaspati operations in Sri Lanka has been given to Piramal Glass Pvt Ltd. while Continental Vanaspati (Pvt) Ltd. has been given to BCC Lanka
The two garment manufacturing facilities, Tendon Lanka (Pvt) Ltd and Hy Fashion Garments (Pvt) Ltd. have been offered to MAS Industries and Concord Apparel Ltd, respectively.
* Transparency International prods Asia factories on safety:
Global clothing companies must work with governments and local groups to improve factory safety and working conditions, the Bangladesh, Cambodia and Indonesia chapters of anti-corruption group Transparency International (TI) said in a joint statement.
Media reports that some companies are turning away from Bangladesh send the wrong signal about their commitment to worker’s rights and fighting corruption, the Transparency International chapters said. Instead, they should lobby the government to pass legal reforms to uplift the integrity in the sector and dedicate greater resources to the government officials responsible for safety inspection.
“Companies leaving in the face of such tragedies, or to avoid greater regulation, will only be punishing the victims of corruption rather than the perpetrators,” said Iftekhar Zaman, head of Transparency International Bangladesh. “The alternative to dumping business in Bangladesh is to work with the government on ensuring factories apply safety rules.”