17:39:24 local time CHINA
* China to tighten punishment for work safety crimes:
The Supreme People’s Court (SPC) called for courts at all levels to strongly deal with crimes related to work safety in a Wednesday statement.
Major and sensitive criminal cases related to work safety may be handed over to higher level courts in accordance with the law, the statement said.
In line with a related SPC regulation, courts at all levels should harshly punish government employees whose corruption results in work safety accidents, it said.
Severe penalties will also be given to those who allow work safety violations, as well as violators who do not effectively implement damage control measures after accidents occur or initiate rescue efforts in a timely manner, it added.
Work safety has become a hot topic in China following a series of recent workplace accidents. On June 3, a poultry plant fire in northeast China’s Jilin Province left 121 people dead and 77 injured.
17:39:24 local time PHILIPPINES
* Senators: Real independence is freedom from poverty:
On the eve of the 115th anniversary of Philippine independence, senators called for national unity to free the country from the shackles of poverty by supporting government initiatives in pursuit of inclusive growth or by venturing into small business enterprises.
Sen. Loren Legarda said Filipinos should unite behind the government’s economic development and social-reform programs designed to promote inclusive growth, and which had helped make the country the fastest-growing economy in Asia in the first quarter of the year.
“Everyone is enjoined to support these initiatives because like our forefathers, who shared the vision of independence and united toward its fulfillment, we can only free our nation from poverty if we all work together to make good use of the opportunities that come with an improving economy,” Legarda said in a statement.
She said there should be more investments in the countryside through increased support for micro, small and medium enterprises to generate jobs; livelihood training programs; and technical and financial support to farmers and fisherfolk.
16:39:24 local time VIET NAM
* Reviewing Some Potential Garment-Textile Markets:
* TPP brings challenges to Vietnam’s garment sector: Experts:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, aimed at integrating the economies of the Asia-Pacific region, would also bring challenges to the Vietnam garment sector, experts said at a conference held in Vietnam’s southern province of Tien Giang.
* Exported apparel unit prices down:
Vietnam’s garment and textile export volumes to the U.S. and the European Union have increased from earlier in the year but unit prices have sharply declined.
Data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) showed that China took the lead for apparel exports to the U.S. in the first quarter with revenue of US$8.7 billion, followed by Vietnam US$2 billion, India US$1.6 billion, Indonesia US$1.4 billion and Bangladesh US$1.3 billion.
Vietnam posted the strongest growth in apparel export value and volume in this market with 14% and 22.3% respectively. However, the nation saw the strongest decline in average unit price at 7% compared to the same period last year.
According to the Statistical Office of the European Communities (EUROSTAT), Vietnam’s apparel exports to the EU in the first quarter declined 2.5% in value but rose 2.4% in volume while average unit price dropped 4.8% year-on-year.
A report of the Ministry of Industry and Trade released last month estimated that Vietnam’s apparel production and exports would improve with production orders stable until the end of the second or third quarter.
However, the industry is facing danger of shrinking profits compared to previous years due to small orders and tough competition, leading to low export prices.
to read in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 13/6.
16:39:24 local time THAILAND
* Brainstorming for Thailand’s Labour Strategy:
Labour-related organizations, both private and public, are hurriedly planning a new strategy to handle the influx of foreign labours and illegal immigrants after the announcement of 300 Baht minimum wages. This problem clearly requires a strong collaboration from the government, employers and labourers.
On 24 April 2013, Ministry of Labour in association with Silver and Gold Management Co., Ltd. (SGMT) organized the seminar “Thailand’s Labour Strategy under 300 Baht Minimum Wages”, which was presided over by Mr. Phadoemchai Sasomsap, Minister of Labour. The seminar was also joined by ambassadors from Cambodia, Vietnam and Lao PDR, as well as representatives from Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Industry, Internal Security Operations Command, and executives from private organizations.Mr. Phadoemchai Sasomsap, Minister of Labour, advised that labour strategy is important to all countries as a key mechanism that drivestoward a shared successful future.
“Thai government set a strategy to improve labourstandard throughout the country with the announcement of 300 Baht minimum wages. We also provide standardized labour right protection among Thai and foreign labourers impartially.”
It is evident that the 300 Baht minimum wages has attracted more foreigners to come and work in Thailand. This is a positive outcome since many industries have been suffering from shortage of skilled labours for a very long time.
16:39:24 local time CAMBODIA
* 415 Cambodian Nike workers sacked for striking:
One of IndustriALL Global Union’s affiliated garment worker trade unions in Cambodia, the FTUWKC, has suffered a serious backlash for striking in demand of a US$14 monthly pay increase. IndustriALL is working with Nike to intervene.
The workers at the Sabrina factory in Kampong Speu province, west of the capital Phnom Penh produce for Nike, Wilson Sports Apparel and Lululemon Athletica. The latest development in the concerning case is the mass-sacking of 415 workers identified by Sabrina management as participating in the strike.
Say Sokny, General Secretary of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, reports that arrest warrants were issued for 16 workers identified by the Sabrina management as instrumental in the trade union campaign. Eight of the 16 are in jail and the others are in hiding.
The arrested trade union activists must be released immediately without prejudice. They have been transferred to the provincial prison.
* Bandith skips hearing:
Former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith once again failed to appear at Svay Rieng Provincial Court yesterday, nearly 16 months after he allegedly shot three women at a garment factory protest.
His second no-show, coupled with the subsequent walkout of his lawyers, left hopeful victims, their attorneys and civil society representatives exasperated over a case that has been dragged between courts and faced seemingly endless delays.
Before the hearing even began yesterday, argument broke out between the victims’ lawyers, defence lawyers and the prosecutor over a supposed technical error that included Bandith in the list of court witnesses.
Sun Bunnarith, one of Bandith’s lawyers, told the court he could not participate in the trial because Bandith was listed as a key witness at his own trial, while technical police experts had not been invited to testify.
Dozens of military police officers were deployed outside the court, with representatives from factory supplier Puma, NGOs and various supporters of the victims carefully registered and sternly warned they would not be allowed to re-enter the courtroom should they leave. Sar Chantha, the Bavet town police chief, who was charged with the shootings before the court dropped its case against Bandith, took to the stand claiming he was not at the scene of the shootings and was unarmed on that day.
Moeun Tola, CLEC executive director, said there were some positives to be taken from yesterday’s hearing − despite the actions of the defence − as a number of police witnesses were able to testify.
15:24:24 local time NEPAL
* Collective bargaining sought:
To promote better labour relations, stakeholders have sought collective bargaining between trade unions, private sector, government and political parties.
“Frequent trade union unrest and strikes have hurt entrepreneurial sentiments of Nepal along with the fear of Nepal being labelled as a difficult-to-do-business country in the global market,” pointed out vice president of FNCCI Pradeep Jung Pandey, in an interaction here today.
He cautioned that if the situation persists, Nepal will undergo heavy capital flight, adding that the splitting up of political parties have added the dread of forced donation among entrepreneurs. He even challenged the terrorising labour unions and political parties to try to run an industry.
15:39:24 local time BANGLADESH
* Fire at Ashulia garment, 20 hurt:
At least 20 workers were injured when a fire broke out at Arba Textile Limited in Unique area of Ashulia, on the outskirt of the capital, on Thursday morning.
Sources said workers joined their duties in the morning. They found smoke billowing out from godown of the six-storey factory building around 9:00am. Hearing fire alarm, they tried to come out from the factory in a hurry, leaving 20 of them hurt.
On information, two fire fighting units from Dhaka Export Processing Zone rushed to the spot and trying to douse the blaze with the help of locals.
* 3 factories in city 2 in Ashulia and Savar closed:
A total of five apparel factories in city and outskirts Savar and Ashulia have been shut in the wake of workers’ demonstrations, our correspondent reported.
The authority closed three apparel facotire–Regal, Astras and Nadia garments respectively—in New Eskaton road in the capital for indefinite period on Wednesday, one day after the same group of workers demonstrated in their bid to raise tiffin bills and wanted to get lunch bills introduced.
These apparel factories belong to Envoy Group and are housed in the same six-storey building in Easkaton area.
The workers after finding Wednesday morning their work facilities are shut began demonstration in front of the factory. However, police later dispersed them.
read more. & read more.
* 3 RMG factories shut amid workers protest:
Authorities of three readymade garments shut their factories on Tuesday morning amid workers’ protest.
Sources said the workers of JK group stopped working to press their 9-point demand including minimum salary TK 8,200, stopping illegal torture, and permission to carry mobile phone in factory.
At one stage workers tried to form a procession and industrial police charged baton to disperse workers.
On the other hand in Pal garments of Palashbari area, workers went on strike demanding reappointment of workers. Later workers tried to blockade highway and police dispersed them.
Meanwhile, CIPL factory workers at Khejur Bagan area in Ashulia, stopped working and authority declared the factory shut.
* RMG factories closed in capital, Ashulia amid worker unrest:
Four readymade garment units employing about 1,250 workers on New Eskaton Road in the capital were closed for indefinite period on Wednesday amid demonstration while six factories were shut in Savar and Ashulia.
In the capital, Envoy Group closed their four units of three apparel factories– Regal, Astras and Nadia garments — on New Eskaton Road for indefinite period following continuous demonstration by its worker demanding lunch allowance.
The factories in separate notices said that some of the workers have been observing work abstention pressing for illogical demand for three consecutive days since Sunday.
‘Such behaviour of workers is tantamount to illegal strike,’ the management said in three similar notices.
The workers, who are currently producing clothing for world class brand Next, however, said they have been demanding money for their meal at lunch time but the management did not agree to meet their demand.
read more. & read more.
* DEMANDING WAGES – RMG workers torch, vandalise vehicles in Gazipur:
Agitated garment workers vandalised several vehicles, torched a bus and blocked Dhaka-Mymensingh highway in Gazipur demanding due wages Wednesday evening.
Workers of East West ready made garment factory came on the road around 7:00pm and blocked the highway for two hours near Chhoydana area in Gazipur. During the blockade, they vandalised several vehicles and set fire to a bus.
A clash erupted as police lobbed tear gas canisters and fired several rounds of rubber bullets to disperse the agitated workers, said our Gazipur correspondent quoting Mahfuzur Rahman, assistant sub-inspector of Gazipur Industrial Police.
The traffic came to normalcy around 9:00pm on the highway, he added.
* RMG workers protest near BGMEA Bhaban:
Workers of a ready-made garment unit of Kallyanpur protested near the Kawranbazar office of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Wednesday demanding clearing of their dues.
Over a hundred workers of ‘New Apparel Garments ‘staged the protest around 12:30pm, bdnews24.com Correspondent reported from the scene.
They called off their protest only after getting an assurance that their demands would be met, Ramna Police Station Sub Inspector Shahinur Alam said. “BGMEA leaders hold parleys with a six-member workers delegation to quell the situation,” he said
After the discussions workers were assured that their dues would be cleared within June 18, he said.
* RMG worker-supplying firms emerge in country:
A large number of firms have emerged in the country that are involved in supplying workers, mostly women, to the apparel sector.
The firms gather un-skilled workers, mainly from poverty-hit areas, and supply them to the ready-made garment (RMG) factories in exchange for a lump sum amount of money.
It is estimated that the firms have a share of more than 20 per cent of the total employment in the apparel sector a year.
According to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), around 300,000 people join in the country’s US$ 20-billion RMG factories yearly.
Many semi-skilled workers voluntarily go to the firms with the hope of better remuneration as they mostly fail to bargain with the factory managers.
Many of these firms see the business to be very lucrative in terms of profitability as the demand for workers in the RMG factories is on the rise.
This business does not necessarily need large investments but the firms must maintain a strong network with the factory owners across the country.
People who are either axed or who retired voluntarily from the RMG units and youths involved in ‘jhut’ (waste of garments) business are mostly doing this new trade.
Sources familiar with such business told the FE that many garments including some big ones are increasingly being dependent on these firms.
The sources said the number of such enterprises is around 250, dominating mainly in Savar, Ashulia, Tongi and other industrial hubs across the country.
Abul Kasem, proprietor of Niloy Enterprise, told the FE: “Having been involved with the RMG factories, I noticed that the demand for workers is acute in the sector.”
* Healthy employer-employee relation can avoid labour unrest:
Speakers at a seminar on Wednesday called for a healthy relation between the employers and the employees to avoid labour unrest.
‘Sometimes lack of communication between the employees and the employers gives birth to unexpected incidents like labour unrest,’ said Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Md Sabur Khan at the seminar jointly organised by DCCI and Bangladesh Society for Human Resource Management at the chamber’s conference room in the city.
Maintaining a good employer-employee relationship is a pre-requisite for organisational success, high productivity and human satisfaction, he said.
He stressed sharing of ideas between the employers and the employees to reduce the gap between the two parties.
‘Establishing trade unions in the industrial units and organisations is necessary but those should be free from politics,’ he said.
* Trade union at industrial units for workers-owners relations: Mosharraf:
Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Eng Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain today favoured setting up trade unions at industrial units for preserving workers-owners relations in the country.
“Interest of both the workers and owners could be reserved if trade unions are formed at factories,” he told a seminar in the conference room of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) here.
The DCCI and Bangladesh Society for Human Resources Management(BSHRM) jointly arranged the meeting on ‘Workers-Owners Relations’.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Walmart breaks ban on BD factories:
Since the Rana Plaza building collapse killed more than 1,100 people in April, retailers have faced mounting pressure to improve safety at Bangladesh garment factories and to sever ties with manufacturers that don’t measure up.
The world’s largest retailer, Walmart, last month released a list of more than 200 factories it said it had barred from producing its merchandise because of serious or repeated safety problems, labor violations or unauthorized subcontracting.
But at least two of the factories on the list have continued to send massive shipments of sports bras and girls’ dresses to Walmart stores in recent months, according to interviews and U.S. customs records.
read more. & read more. & read more.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* 4 staff held, remanded:
Forcing workers in Rana Plaza
Four persons, who allegedly forced garment employees to join work despite development of cracks in the Rana Plaza, were remanded Wednesday, a day after their arrest in Savar.
Abdul Mannan, 37, Md Alamgir Hossain, 30, Mohammad Modhu, 27 and Md Russel Ahmed, 31, were placed on a four-day remand.
Police arrested the four at different places in Savar Tuesday night in connection with the April 24 collapse that claimed 1,131 lives.
The members of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) produced them before the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Taibul Hassan in Dhaka on Wednesday with a seven-day remand prayer.
The four along with Sohel Rana, owner of Rana Plaza, forced the garments workers to work on the 2nd floor of the nine-storey building despite the cracks developed in its pillars the previous day, Bijoy Krisna Kar, assistant superintendent of police of CID, told the court.
to read. & read more. & read more.
ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE
* Bangladeshi in hiding after case on factory blaze:
A Bangladeshi said Wednesday he feared for his life after filing legal action over a fire that ripped through a garment factory last year and killed 111 workers.
Motiqul Islam Matin filed a court case last month against the owner of the Tazreen Fashion factory after his sister was among those killed in the blaze on the outskirts of the capital.
The court ordered police to investigate the complaint against the owner and his managers, but the probe was halted last week after the officer investigating the case was transferred, police said.
Matin, 22, said he has started receiving death threats from unknown callers since lodging the case and has been forced to go into hiding.
“They (the callers) asked who had given me the courage to lodge the complaint. They said they would find out my whereabouts and kill me,” he told AFP by phone.
15:09:24 local time INDIA
* Garment exporters fear inflation, pricing pressure from global buyers:
The rupee’s free fall may cheer garment and textile exporters temporarily but they are not getting carried away, as inflation and pricing pressure from global buyers threaten to cut the party short.
Exporters are concerned about the “dramatic” fall in the Indian currency. Says Charath Narsimhan, Managing Director of the Chennai-based Celebrity Fashions, “The volatile rupee could go back as quickly as it fell. The impact can be truly felt only if the momentum sustains.”
According to A. Sakthivel, Chairman, Apparel Export Promotion Council, and owner of Tirupur-based Poppys group, the rupee has fallen “so much, so rapidly” that exporters are scared buyers will start negotiating price reductions.
Exporters have to resist these moves, advises D. K. Nair, Secretary, Confederation of Indian Textile Industry. “When wage and power costs went up, nobody compensated us,” argues Nair.
* DISHA initiative boon to garment exporters:
Garment exporters in Tirupur are probably the happiest lot today.
Thanks to DISHA – ‘Driving Industry towards Sustainable Human Capital Advancement’ – an initiative sponsored by the Ministry of Textiles, which attempts to educate apparel exporters on a code of ethics.
This initiative, which was launched by the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) in December 2011 has started yielding results. “The country is getting paid for being factory compliant. The expansion of orders into India is expected to fetch an additional $3 billion business,” said AEPC Chairman A. Sakthivel.
* Apparel firms, investors struggle to find right fit:
Deals have soured after issues related to handling cash and businesses; investors want more reassurance before starting ventures
Once bitten, twice shy. Recent disputes between Indian apparel makers and private equity (PE) investors are making the latter more cautious of investments in the segment.
PE investors are taking a harder look across all levels of the market, in the backdrop of recent tussles such as SAIF Partners versus Catmoss Retail, now before the Delhi High Court.
SAIF, which holds 49 per cent stake in Catmoss, had alleged the latter mishandled Rs 115 crore of PE investment and also of raising money without its consent.
* Weak Rupee pushes up cotton exports, prices:
Total cotton exports to touch 10 million bales against an estimated 8.5 million bales
Coton traders are benefiting from the rupee‘s value slide, with a surge in exports and a resulting boost to prices at home, too.
China and Bangladesh are importing; orders have also started from Pakistan, Vietnam and Thailand. “We expect exports to rise to around 10 million bales (a bale is 170 kg) this year against last year’s 12 mn. The Cotton Advisory Board‘s initial estimate was around 8.5 mn bales. The rise is mainly driven by a weak rupee,” said Rakesh Rathi, president, North India Cotton Association.
* Import of long staple cotton continues:
While export of cotton is rising, import of long staple cotton is continuing, despite high import cost due to rupee depreciation.
The landed cost of extra long staple at Indian ports is Rs 66,275 a candy (365 kg), but some mills are insisting on cotton yarn produced from US and Egyptian cotton, as it is of better variety. South Indian mills find it more viable to import cotton from Africa, as it is cheaper for them to import than have cotton transported from Gujarat or Maharashtra. The contamination level is lower in imported cotton.
“Indian mills are expected to import another eight to 10 lakh bales this cotton year, as it is cheaper for them to import cotton,” said Shirish Bhai Shah, a Mumbai-based trader.
* Eight bonded child workers rescued:
The volunteers of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an All India Movement campaigning for children’s rights, rescued eight bonded child workers from two textile units situated at Lakshmi Nagar in the city on Wednesday.
The children hail from North Indian States. Revenue Divisional Officer T. Palanikumar, before whom the children were produced, told The Hindu that the children were been employed by the unit owners for paltry salaries in the range of Rs. 1,500 a month.
“The money was not given to the children, with owners telling them that the salaries would be sent to their parents,” he said.
15:09:24 local time SRI LANKA
* When a woman goes to work:
What are the laws that are relevant to working women in Sri Lanka?
The Laws that apply to working women in Sri Lanka are:
1. Women’s safety and health in the workplace –
1. Factories Ordinance of 1950 and subsequent amendments
2. Women’s rights during the period of maternity
1. Maternity Benefits Ordinance of 1941
2. Shop and Office Employees Act of 1954
3. Laws protecting the rights of women in the workplace
1. Employment of Women
2. Young Persons and Children’s Act of 1956 and subsequent amendments
4. The equality of men and women is enshrined in the Constitution of Sri Lanka and as a member State of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Sri Lanka is obliged to create the environment for decent work, which in turn leads to productivity and security of service for men and women alike. The ILO’s Decent Work Agenda states that Productive Employment and Decent Work are key elements to achieving a fair globalization and the reduction of poverty.
What are the safety measures ensured by law for night work by women?
14:39:24 local time PAKISTAN
* Labor leader criticizes federal budget 2013-14:
Nasir Mansoor, Deputy General Secretary of National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF) has termed the budget ‘IMF-dictated’ to appease the international lenders to get more loans.
In a statement here Wednesday, he said the new government has attacked working people of Pakistan with economic drones loaded with withdrawing of subsidies and increase in electricity tariff which multiply the miseries many fold of already suppressed working class.
“We strongly condemned the anti people intention of new government policy to increase the sales tax and increase the fee on education while award enormous incentives to big businesses and corporate circles by slashing the tax slab for them.”
|He said it is a cruel joke with millions of salaried employees who have been facing the ever-growing inflation but didn’t get any increase in their salaries.
THE KARACHI-BALDIA FIRE
* Commission distributing compensation still waiting on funds:
Despite its promises, the Sindh government has not released funds to the commission constituted by the court to disburse monetary compensation among the families of the Baldia factory fire.
The Sindh High Court, after learning about the delay in funds, issued notice to the relevant provincial government’s authorities and advocate general on Wednesday to explain why the government has not released funds despite an undertaking given before the court.
At least 259 workers were burnt alive in one of the country’s worst industrial disasters when fire broke out in the Ali Enterprises factory on September 9, 2012.
After multiple human rights advocacy groups approached the high court for a judicial inquiry into the disaster, the federal and provincial governments pledged to give monetary compensation to the victim families.