* Labor shortage, rising wages top concerns in GMS development:
Participants at a seminar in Bangkok yesterday raised concerns over labor shortages and how to share resources in the growing economy of the Greater Mekong Sub-region.
The labor market in the GMS was one of the topics at “GMS and the Asean Economic Community: Convergence, Opportunity and Challenges”, a seminar arranged by Euromoney Conferences.
The GMS consists of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and China’s Yunnan province.
The participants agreed that the sub-region was an attractive market for trade and investment ahead of the AEC, and the economies of the riparian countries were improving as a result.
However, labor shortages might become a barrier to business competitiveness, said Virasak Sutanthavibul, senior executive vice president of Bangkok Bank.
Virasak said the GMS was the place for businesses that want low costs, citing Cambodia as an example.
The shortage of labor, however, is a more serious issue for Thailand than other countries in the GMS because it is no longer considered a low-wage market, so many labor-intensive businesses have shifted to Cambodia.
Thai businesses should seriously think about mechanizing their production because they cannot rely on workers from neighboring countries, he said.
“Laos is not a source of labor because of the low population, while workers in Cambodia often strike. Therefore, Myanmar is the choice for Thai business, but Myanmar is developing, and once it has become a developed country, Thailand might be unable to rely on workers from Myanmar.”
20:57:36 local time PHILIPPINES
* PH minimum wage on par with Asia – DoLE:
Amid petitions from labor groups for a higher pay, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) said minimum wage rate in the country is at par with that of its Asian neighbors.
Citing a report from the National Wages Productivity Commission (NWPC), Labor secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the country’s minimum wage rate could compete with other Asian countries.
She issued the statement amid criticism from some progressive labor groups the current minimum wage rates in the county is not sufficient to provide workers with decent living conditions.
Data from the NWPC showed minimum wage rates in Regions 3, 4-A and 7, where there are existing economic hubs, were almost similar to that in China, Malaysia, and Thailand.
“The NWPC data showed that the daily minimum wages in Regions III (US$7.91), IV-A (US$8.23), and VII (US$7.18) are comparable with those of China (US$8.08), Malaysia (US$9.75), and Thailand (US9.75),” Baldoz said.
* New Pinoy textile technology:
It is called nanotechnology. It is changing the patterns of Philippines textiles.
It was showcased by the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in a “neo-ethnic” fashion show yesterday.
“The science community boasts of a breakthrough research with the textile industry having finally spun functional and smart textile that is comfortable, breathable, surprisingly water-repellent and even anti-microbial,” said Dr. Rowena L. Guevara, Executive Director of the DOST Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development which funded PTRI’s neo-ethnic textiles R&D.
19:57:36 local time VIET NAM
* VINATEX’s CEO to get dismiss if firm suffers loss in 2 consecutive years:
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vietnam National Textile Garment Group (Vinatex) would get dismiss if the firm suffers loss in 02 consecutive years. This is one of the contents of the draft on Charter and Regulation of Vinatex set up by (MoIT).
Under the draft, CEO of Vinatex will get dismiss if the firm suffers loss in 02 consecutive years or does not meet the targeted ROE ( return on equity) which was set up by the owner in 02 consecutive years or either the firm is in the state of loss, profit but can not get recovery.
Vinatex is a limited liability company which is 100% owned by State and has charter capital of VND3.4 trillion. The government targeted to develop Vinatex as a diversified economic group, specializing in textile industry.
* Dong Nai grants licence to RoK’s 14 mln USD plant:
Southern Dong Nai province’s authorities on June 12 granted an investment license to the Republic of Korea’s JingWoo Vina Co. Ltd. to start the construction of a 14 million USD plant.
Covering an area of 4 hectares, the plant specialising cloth production will be built at Tan Tao garment and textiles industrial zone in Nhon Trach district.
Earlier in 2005, the RoK company invested a 15 million USD factory in Long Thanh industrial zone.
19:57:36 local time THAILAND
* Tight labour market to push up Thai wages 5.8% this year:
Salaries in Thailand are expected to rise by 5.8 per cent this year, outstripping the estimated inflation rate of 3.2 per cent, because of the tight labour market, with unemployment at 1 per cent, the lowest in the region, according to Towers Watson, a global professional-services company.
“Although this figure has gone up slightly from 0.8 per cent last year, it is clear that our country is facing strong pressure in the job market,” Pichpajee Saichuae, managing director of Towers Watson (Thailand), said yesterday.
“On one hand, low unemployment is a positive sign of economic activity, reflecting high demand for goods and services. On the other hand, it also shows a lack of human resources that can have negative effects in the long term,” she said.
* Thailand facing severe labour shortfall of 300,000 this year:
Thai industries are facing a severe labour shortage, with a shortfall of almost 300,000 workers this year, says the Office of Industrial Economics.
Director-general Somchai Harnhirun said demand for labour in 2013 and 2014 is estimated at 5.85 million and 5.91 million, respectively, but the actual supply is 5.46 and 5.51 million.
More than 95% of the shortage of 365,860 workers are vocational graduates.
The textile/apparel sector faces the highest shortage of workers (43,520), followed by the automotive sector (36,606), food (30,825) and electronics sectors (25,600). There are also shortages in the plastics, wood and furniture and jewellery as well as steel sectors.
19:57:36 local time CAMBODIA
* FTU asks for benefits for fired staff:
The Free Trade Union on Wednesday wrote to the Ministry of Labour asking the Labour Dispute Department to compel the Sabrina Garment factory to pay compensation and severance benefits to the nearly 300 workers the factory fired on Saturday.
FTU president Chea Mony said the Kampong Speu factory’s officials had forced workers to thumbprint resignation documents without receiving the benefits they were guaranteed under the Labour Law.
“The company is famous for five-star standards, but in fact, the company put pressure on the workers to resign. So we ask the Ministry of Labour to intervene,” he wrote in the letter.
The workers were fired after protesting the arrest of eight of their colleagues, who are accused of using violence at a demonstration that left at least 23 people injured.
The Sabrina Garment factory, a Nike supplier, could not be reached yesterday.
* Witnesses say they saw shots from Bandith:
On the second day of hearings trying Chhouk Bandith, one witness testified that the former Bavet town governor was responsible for shooting three female garment workers at a demonstration last year, while another said he helped the suspect escape.
Despite the absence of both Bandith and his lawyer, 10 witnesses took to the stand yesterday. Long Phorn, deputy Prasat commune police chief, told the court he was metres away from his former boss when the shootings occurred.
“When I heard two to three shots, I rushed to take a look and saw Chhouk Bandith shooting workers. I also saw a girl vomiting blood who then collapsed, with a young man running to help her,” he said.
After that, Bandith shot four more times into the crowd until his gun stopped working and could have killed many workers, he added. “If Chhouk had not run away after shooting [the workers], he would have been beaten to a pulp.
* Collapses raise concerns over emergency training:
When a bridge and kiosk collapsed into a pond at a Phnom Penh garment factory last month, injuring more than 20 workers, the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit and police rushed to scour the murky water for survivors.
Some hours later, those forces remained unsure whether any workers from the Top World garment factory remained unaccounted for.
The reason, Phnom Penh municipal police chief Choun Sovann said at the time, was that hundreds of garment workers had defied police orders to return to their stations for a headcount.
“Our request was ignored and workers just panicked and gathered right near us,” he said. Members of the bodyguard unit watched as workers wandered onto part of the sheltered bridge that balanced on the pond’s bank.
Other workers stepped over debris that protruded from the water or walked in the way of a crane that was lifting concrete out of the pond, causing the operator to stop his machine and order them back.
“I thought the crane could drop it on the crowd; the number of injured would have risen,” said Cambodian Labour Confederation president Ath Thorn. “The crowd should have been kept away.”
20:57:36 local time MALAYSIA
* Najib: Many Employees Still Being Paid Below Minimum Wage:
Many employees are still being paid below the minimun wage, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
He said this was despite their employers registering huge profits and the minimum wage policy introduced last year.
He said this was travesty of both logic and justice.
“If we wish to become a more developed and more inclusive society, employee welfare must be prioritised. I ask all employers to commit to paying their workers a living wage,” he said in his keynote address at the Invest Malaysia 2013, here, today.
19:27:36 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Myanmar readmitted to EU trade scheme:
The European Union yesterday readmitted Myanmar to its trade preference scheme, saying it wanted to support reform in the once pariah state through economic development.
Myanmar’s membership of the scheme was withdrawn in 1997 due to concerns over the use of forced labour under the then-military junta.
But the EU said the International Labour Organisation had last year reported “necessary improvements” to labour practices in Myanmar, which was formerly known as Burma.
read more. & read more.
18:42:36 local time NEPAL
* Govt officially endorses workers’ minimum salary of Rs 8,000:
The government has hiked the minimum monthly salary of industrial workers by 29 percent to Rs 8,000. According to a notice published in the Nepal Gazette, factory workers will get Rs 5,100 as basic pay and Rs 2,900 as dearness allowance per month.
The daily wage has been fixed at Rs 318 as per the revised compensation package.
Earlier, the minimum monthly salary of workers was Rs 6,200 (basic salary of Rs 3,550 and dearness allowance of Rs 2,650) and the daily wage was Rs 231.
Two weeks ago, the Minimum Wage Determination Committee consisting of employers, trade unions and the government had decided to increase the workers’ basic monthly salary by 43.66 percent, dearness allowance by 9.44 percent and daily wage by 37.66 percent. The tripartite committee then sent the remuneration plan to the Ministry of Labour and Employment which okayed the proposal last week.
* IPD team to inspect more sick industries:
A team from the Industrial Promotion Division (IPD) has left on an observation tour of some of the applicants including Jomsom Mountain Resort; Geeta Storage, Janakpur; Alina Garment, Sunsari; Baramche Hydropower, Sindhupalchowk and Bidhya Apparels, Kathmandu.
Though the team of experts from Industrial Promotion Division has already left for the observation of the industries, the committee does not have sufficient budget and it is quite difficult to run the observation programme.
18:57:36 local time BANGLADESH
* Bangladesh unions reject new labour laws:
Bangladesh’s union leaders on Thursday rejected new labour laws for garment factory workers drawn up in the wake of April’s industrial disaster, saying they failed to improve their rights and entitlements.
The Bangladesh government had agreed to allow the nation’s factory workers to form trade unions without prior permission from factory owners, after the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment complex that killed more than 1,100 people.
But union leaders said the new amendments now being debated in parliament propose the formation of a “participation committee” in factories to be headed by bosses, instead of unions organised by workers.
“These amendments are a sham,” union leader Wajedul Islam said.
“A participation committee cannot be a collective bargaining agent because it will be headed by the owner. It won’t ensure worker rights, rather curb them,” he said.
“We’ve rejected them and asked the government and the parliament to make necessary changes to make our labour laws in line with international standards,” Islam said.
* Bangladeshi unions reject inadequate labour law changes:
Bangladeshi union leaders have rejected new labour law proposals drawn up by the government, saying they failed to improve their right to organize workers and guarantee freedom of association.
At the end of May, the Executive Committee of IndustriALL Global Union adopted a four-point action plan for Bangladesh:
* Implementation of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety
* Labour law reform to secure freedom of association
* Raising the minimum wage from US$38 a month to reach living wage by 2015
* Launching a massive organizing project to ensure union presence in 5,000 garment factories
Following international pressure and a high-level ILO mission to Bangladesh in May, the Bangladeshi government adopted a proposal on a labour law reform to be presented to the parliament. However, early positive signs have all but evaporated and the package has proved to be a deception. Respect for the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, in particular the rights to organize unions and bargain collectively, is severely lacking.
As an improvement, a former provision that factory owners be given the names of workers wishing to join unions may disappear in the new law. However, Bangladeshi union leaders point out that severe obstacles to unionization, registering of unions, collective bargaining, and the right to conduct strikes remain. In addition, the 360,000 workers in Bangladesh’s eight export processing zones will remain excluded from protection under the labour law, instead relegated to a separate law that prohibits workers from forming a union.
Also the campaign for an increase in the minimum wage from 38 USD a month for four million Bangladeshi garment workers remains stalled, as a result of employers’ resistance.
* Mass hearing on Labour Law amendments starts:
The first phase of the three-day mass hearing of the parliamentary standing committee of Labour and Expatriate Welfare Ministry on Labour Law amendments started today at parliament members club of the Jatiya Sangsad.
Different labour organizations placed their arguments before the committee relating to amendments to the Labour Law, 2013 keeping provisions of forming trade unions in the factories, fixing six months as maternity leave and introducing five percent interest for workers.
* RMG workers demand Tk.8,000 minimum monthly wage:
Garment workers Action Committee (GWAC) at a rally Thursday demanded hike in their wages, adequate compensation for Rana Plaza victims and abolition of anti-labour clauses from the proposed labour law.
Held in front of the National Press Club, they demanded Tk 48 lakh compensation for each family of Rana Plaza victims, safety of the workers, free trade unionism at all mills and factories and Tk.8,000 as minimum monthly wage for garment workers.
They criticised the proposed amendment to the Bangladesh Labour Act, approved by the cabinet, for barring free trade union at the mills and factories.
They demanded abolition of all anti-labour clauses from the proposed amendment.
Presided over by Rafiqul Islam Pathik, the rally was addressed among others by its central leader Mir Mosharraf Hossain, Textile garment Federation president Mahbubur Rahman Ismail, Zulhasnain Babu, Jago Bangladesh garment workers Federation president Bahrane Sultan Bahran and Shaobnam Hafiz.
* RMG workers’ unrest worries exporters, trade bodies:
Readymade Garment (RMG) exporters and different trade bodies have expressed deep concern over the present labour unrest in the sector and urged the government to take immediate steps to control the situation.
The unrest is taking place in RMG factories located in the heart of the city in Eskaton; Malibag, Rampura, Mohakhali and Badda areas after Ashulia. The areas of labour unrest are extended demanding safe working place and enhancing wages despite different initiatives taken by the government and factory owners.
Exporters said, if the unrest continues delivery schedule of RMG product to buyers would be affected. In that case foreign buyers may shift their orders to other countries, said Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB).
* RMG factory godown gutted in Ashulia-10 hurt while running for safety:
A readymade garment (RMG) factory was damaged in a devastating fire in Gazirchat area under Ashulia thana today morning.
Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Ashulia Police Station SM Badrul Alam told BSS that the fire originated from the generator located on the ground floor of the six-storey building of Arba Textile Ltd in the area near Unique Bus Stand.
According to Fire Service and Civil Defence sources, three firefighting units from Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) rushed to the spot and extinguished the fire after two hours of frantic efforts with the help of locals and law enforcers.
Around 400 workers were working inside the factory and all of them came out when they were informed about the fire incident. Besides, Most of the workers of the factory were absent during the blaze as they were on work abstention.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* 20 hurt in fire panic stampede in Ashulia apparel factory:
At least 20 apparel workers were injured in a stampede as people were running for safety amid a fire that broke out in a factory at Gazirchat of Ashulia, on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, on Thursday.
Witnesses and fire service officials said that the had originated on the ground floor, who fabrics were stored, of the six-storey building of Arba Textile Ltd about 10:00am. Five fire engines put out the flames in two hours.
Workers and witnesses suspected the fire originated at about 10:00 am at the store room of the factory’s ground floor. The security officials at first saw the fire there and puss the fire alarm of the factory. The workers of the factory hearing the fire alarm rushed towards the entrance to come out of the factory for safety leaving injured 20 workers.
* More Bangladesh factories dangerous:
Bangladeshi garment factories are routinely built without consulting engineers. Many are located in commercial or residential buildings not designed to withstand the stress of heavy manufacturing.
Some add illegal extra floors atop support columns too weak to hold them, according to a survey of scores of factories by an engineering university that was shown to The Associated Press.
A separate inspection, by the garment industry, of 200 risky factories found that 10 percent of them were so dangerous that they were ordered to shut. The textiles minister said a third inspection, conducted by the government, could show that as many as 300 factories were unsafe.
Taken together, the findings offer the first broad look at just how unsafe the working conditions are for the garment workers who produce clothing for major western brands.
And it’s more bad news for the $20 billion industry that has been struggling to regain the confidence of Western retailers and consumers following a November fire at the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory that killed 112 people and the April collapse of the Rana Plaza building that killed 1,129 people in the worst garment industry tragedy. But the proliferation of inspections could signal the industry is finally taking its workers’ safety seriously.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* RMG factories asked to remove cellphone towers from rooftops:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has asked its unit owners to clear their rooftops rented out to cellular phone operators for installing heavy towers endangering building safety.
BGMEA officials said the directive was issued as part of their campaign to ensure garment factory safety against the backdrop of the deadly collapse of “Rana Plaza” in the country’s worst ever industrial disaster that left over 1,000 garment workers dead.
Taking to BSS, Reaz Bin Mahmood, vice president of BGMEA, said they have asked the factory owners in Dhaka and adjoining areas to remove heavy materials from the rooftops for the sake of factory safety.
“We’ve to ensure safety first of workers and factory . . . if the heavy structures like cellular phone base-towers equipped with generators and steel structures appear risky for building safety, and those should be removed from rooftops,” he added.
read more. & read more.
* Factories must have 25pc open space on rooftops:
Govt won’t renew their fire licences if the condition is not met
The government’s fire department will not renew the fire licences of garment factories that do not have at least 25 percent open space on their rooftops.
“The renewal of the fire licences will start from next month. If any factory fails to comply with the rules by this time, we will not renew their licences,” said Ali Ahmed Khan, director general of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence.
Many of the factories have tin-shed extensions on their rooftops, and in many cases, the extensions span all throughout the floor, leaving hardly any open space for emergency exits.
* Building a safer and stronger garment industry:
As the nation continues to mourn the 1127 lives lost and many more maimed, injured and disabled in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza tragedy, our collective focus is towards setting a path for a better way forward for the Ready Made Garments (RMG) industry.
Not only does RMG account for $20bn of exports by revenue and almost 80% of exports from Bangladesh, it is critically responsible for the livelihoods of nearly 4 million people, many of whom are women, and the many millions more associated with the industry.
Understandably, the world has been watching the events unfold and has been keen to get involved. However, most importantly at this time, Bangladesh needs a domestic plan for its most important industry. It is in this context that a group of individuals, from various industries, sectors and civil society, with very varied backgrounds, came together to take a more holistic look at the situation, to collaborate with those both inside and outside the industry and to put together an inclusive reform plan.
The aim from the outset was not to apply blame but to come up with a plan that would move the whole industry forward and set it on a better path for future growth for the benefit of everyone.
The resulting plan that has come out of this collaborative process is known as the “10-point plan.”
read more. ( & see also comment here.)
* BD apparel doesn’t comply with safety accord: US congressmen:
Department of Defence cannot sell apparel that fails to comply
Two US congressmen put forward a motion in the House that the Department of Defence cannot sell any Bangladeshi apparel which does not comply with the Fire and Safety Accord.
“An amendment filed by two House Democrats to a defence authorisation bill would require that garments made in Bangladesh and sold at base retail stores owned by the Department of Defence, known as exchanges, comply with an enforceable fire and building safety accord that will improve conditions in Bangladesh ready-made garment factories.” according to a Congress press release.
Jan Schakowsky and George Miller, who visited Bangladesh last month, put forward the motion Wednesday as ABC News reported that a number of garments and documents with Marine insignias were found in the rubble of the November 2012 Tazreen Fashions fire that killed 112 workers.
read more. & read more.
* Apparel sold at US military stores must comply with fire, safety accord:
An amendment to a defence authorisation bill has been moved in the United States House of Representatives requiring that Bangladesh-made garments sold at stores owned by US Department of Defence must come from factories that comply with fire and building safety accord.
Two Democrats Congressmen George Miller who recently visited Bangladesh and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky piloted the amendment in the House of Representatives.
“An amendment filed by two House Democrats to a defence authorisation bill would require that garments made in Bangladesh and sold at base retail stores owned by the Department of Defense, known as exchanges, comply with an enforceable fire and building safety accord that will improve conditions in Bangladesh ready-made garment factories,” said a media statement issued by the Committee on Education and the Workforce, Democrats on Wednesday.
* Walmart took RMG shipment from Simco, Mars: report:
The Walmart in May accepted shipments of garment products from two Bangladesh factories, which were earlier ‘blacklisted’ by the US retailer, said a report of New York-based ProPublica.
Simco Dresses was ‘blacklisted in January but continued shipping to Walmart Canada into March, it said.
Walmart used to buy clothes from Simco, but after the Rana Plaza collapse that killed 1,131 people, mostly garment workers, in April, the retailer declared 245 Bangladeshi factories including Simco unauthorised.
In June 2011, Walmart said, it banned the Bangladeshi garment factory Mars Apparels from producing goods for the retail giant. But over the last year, Mars has repeatedly shipped tonne of sports bras to Walmart, according to US customs records and Mars owners.
The most recent shipment was in late May, almost two years after Walmart claims it stopped doing business with the Bangladeshi firm.
* Can you help us turn up the pressure on Gap and Walmart? :
On Saturday, June 29th, students, consumers, workers, and community members will come together in cities across the world to demand that Gap and Walmart put an end to deathtrap factories in their supply chains.
Real action from Gap and Walmart on fire and building safety is long overdue. In April, over 1,100 garment workers perished in the the Rana Plaza collapse, marking the deadliest industrial disaster in a manufacturing facility in recorded history. Since 2005, more than 1,800 garment workers have died in preventable factory fires and building collapses in Bangladesh alone.
In response to these catastrophes, activists across the world joined with unions to demand that apparel companies sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
But instead of ensuring the safety of its workers, Gap and Walmart have been playing public relations games to undermine the accord. Gap has claimed that a binding agreement poses too much financial risk to the company within a “litigious” US legal system – a claim that US legal scholars have since debunked. And now, after weeks of pressure by people across the globe to sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord, Gap put out a press release about its big new plan: partnering with Walmart on a fake “safety plan” that is not accountable to anyone.
There’s too much at stake for Gap and Walmart to continue their business-as-usual approach to fire and building safety. That’s why labor rights advocates have declared an International Day of Action to End Deathtraps on Saturday, June 29th. We will take action at Gap and Walmart stores – picketing, flyering, and conducting civil disobedience – to expose the ugly truth: Gap and Walmart care more about profits than the lives of their workers.
* GSP verdict this month: official:
The United States Trade Representative may hand down the verdict, by this month, on whether Bangladesh will continue to enjoy the generalised system of preferences in the US market, an official said yesterday.
The USTR, the chief trade negotiator for the US president, was supposed to give the verdict in May, but later the date was postponed to early June, Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed said. The USTR is taking time to observe the developments after the Rana Plaza collapse, Ahmed told reporters at his secretariat in Dhaka.
“Now, I think the verdict may come by June,” said Ahmed, who led a 14-member Bangladesh team at a USTR hearing on the continuation of the trade benefit on March 28 in Washington. “I am still hopeful about a positive outcome from the hearing.”
The American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisation (AFL-CIO) and some senators put pressure on the USTR to discontinue the benefit.
* Obama nears decision on Bangladesh trade:
US President Barack Obama could soon decide to cut off trade benefits for Bangladesh, in a largely symbolic response to tragedies in Bangladesh’s garment sector that have cost more than 1,200 lives in the past eight months.
The US Trade Representative’s office, with input from other government agencies, is completing its recommendations in preparation for a White House announcement by June 30.
Even though the trade benefits affect less than 1% of Bangladeshi exports to the United States, the Bangladeshi government has pleaded with the Obama administration not to be cut off.
* Women in Nilphamari given training for garments factories:
National NGO Plan Bangladesh is providing training opportunaties to poor women in Nilphamari district for employment in the knittng and linking works at the garments factories of the country.
Recently 100 such trained women were provided employment in some garments factories of Uttata EPZ Nilphamari. The factories include KP Sweater, SA international, Uttara Sweater and so on.
* ‘BD garment industry will bounce back’:
Garment exporter Ambattur Clothing, which has a huge manufacturing base in Bangladesh, says the current disenchantment with the working conditions in some of the country’s garment factories has not impacted its business.
The industry will clean itself up and bounce back in a year, according to Vijay Mahtaney, Managing Director of the Chennai-headquartered company.
Recent accidents (a fire accident and a building collapse) at two garment factories in Bangladesh, which killed several people, have raised questions about safety standards here.
In an immediate impact, buyers have shifted some of the orders to India, Vietnam and Cambodia.
The business here may shrink five per cent this year, but Bangladesh, seen as a strong threat to India, will get its act together, says Mahtaney.
Cheaper production costs prompted Ambattur Clothing to set shop in Bangladesh in 2007.
The company has two manufacturing units, three lakh sq ft each, in Bangladesh, employing 8,000 people. (It also has manufacturing units in Bahrain, Jordan and Chennai.)
Over 60 per cent of its business comes from Bangladesh, supplying to brands such as Zara, Gap and Taylor. Chennai accounts for just 15 per cent.
* Made in Bangladesh: crunching numbers:
Made in Bangladesh’ is not merely a label. It has been and continues to be a slogan that has driven the people and the economy for the last 33 years.
Today, all the success stories seem to be lost in the rubble of Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza. The industry’s reputation seems to be walking towards uncertainty, and the never-ending walk to improve the situation seems to be even longer at this point. The deaths related to the garment industry have numbed us and have created a wall between our civil society and ourselves, the manufacturers, where mistrust happens to be playing out all its cards.
This industry must be understood properly before it is subjected to extreme critique. What needs to be clearly understood is that without this industry, our economy risks coming to a halt. Without this industry, many people, many industries and many segments of our daily lives would perish. I have penned this article just to emphasise the major impact of the garment sector on the economy.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Rana Plaza victims claim foreign aid distribution non-transparent:
A group of Rana Plaza victims alleged that there is a lack of transparency in the distribution of aid money provided by foreign organisations, for the treatment and rehabilitation of the survivors.
The Rana Plaza Garments’ Workers Union made the allegation at a press conference held at the National Press Club Monday.
In a written statement, the union claimed there was no clear and transparent accounting of the grants, which came from abroad for the treatment and assistance of Rana Plaza victims.
“There is lack of transparency, and enough scope for corruption and lies,” the statement said.
Rana Plaza Garments’ Workers Union was formed on May 18 by surviving workers of the five garment factories housed inside the collapsed building at Savar.
The group is a part of the Garments Workers’ Trade Union.
* 4 garment owners denied bail:
A Dhaka court yesterday rejected bail and sent to jail four owners of garment factories housed in Rana Plaza that collapsed on April 24, killing at least 1,131 people.
They are Anisur Rahman, chairman of Ether Tex; Aminul Islam, chairman of Phantom Apparels Ltd and Phantom Tack Ltd; Bazlus Samad Adnan, chairman of New Wave Buttons; and Mahbubur Rahman Tapash, managing director of the factory.
The court passed the order after they were produced before it on completion of their two-day remand.
Bijoy Krishna Kar, assistant superintendent of police of the Criminal Investigation Department and also the investigation officer (IO) of the case, in his forwarding report said he had collected important information about their involvement with the incident.
18:27:36 local time INDIA
* 13 child labourers rescued from shoe factories:
On anti-child Labour Day, 13 child labourers working in shoe factories were rescued in a raid in west Delhi’s Nihal Vihar area. The raid was carried out by an NGO with the help of Delhi Police.
On the complaint by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, a joint team of Delhi Police and Delhi government rescued these children from six different companies and arrested their employers.
All the rescued boys were aged between nine and 15 years. Most of them were trafficked from Bihar and West Bengal.
“I was brought here by a local trafficker. He had promised my mother a good salary for me once I became a master craftsman.
Till then, I was told that I would have to stay in Delhi and learn the work,” said 12-year-old Vishal (name changed), who was employed in one of the shoe factories for seven months. He used to receive only Rs. 400 a month.
* Government urged to organise labour conference:
Activists of Centre of Indian Trade Union took out a protest march from the Town Hall Circle to the Deputy Commissioner’s office here on Thursday demanding that the State government organise a labour conference to address the problems of workers.
District president of CITU Syed Mujeeb demanded that the government invite representatives of factories, labour organisations, officers concerned of the Labour Department, the Chief Minister and the Labour Minister to the conference to understand and solve the problems of the working class.
* National Textile Corporation workers to receive benefits of VI pay panel:
Benefits of VIth pay commission would be given to the National Textile Corporation (NTC) workers who were deprived of it so far. Textile secretary Zohra Chatterjee assured the office-bearers of NTC staff association in New Delhi recently that remaining employees would also get the benefits of the pay commission.
NTC Staff Association general secretary Rajendra Dwivedi said that in a meeting held on Wednesday, the textile secretary assured him to give benefits of pay commission to those who were deprived of it so far.
* MSME secretary urge textile entrepreneurs to take benefits under govt schemes:
Madhav Lal, secretary in ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), government of India has said the manufacturers in the diamond city in particular and Gujarat in general are lagging behind when it comes to taking benefits under the various government schemes to increase production and export.
Madhav Lal, who was in the city to attend the installation of Kamlesh Yagnik as the new president of Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SGCCI) visited the textile processing, weaving and embroidery units in the city to understand the country’s biggest Man-Made Fibre (MMF) industry on Wednesday.
* Wonder weave:
While agriculture was the most respected occupation in Tamil Nadu in ancient times, weaving was not far behind.
There are references in Sangam literature to show that silk, cotton and woollen clothes were woven in Tamil Nadu. While weaving was largely the job of men, it was destitute women and widows who spun the threads. These women used to be called ‘Paruthi Pendir,’ says Puranaanooru.
Dr. Rajagopalan, popularly known as Malayaman, says, “Textiles were classified as aruvai (cotton), thugil (fine material) and kalingam (extremely fine material). Nattrinai speaks of superfine material with embroidery. According to Puranaanooru, the threads used for kalingam were finer than the fibres inside the hollow of a bamboo. Silk fabric was referred to as ‘Noolaak kalingam.’
18:27:36 local time SRI LANKA
* Apparel industry to benefit from JASTECA:
The JASTECA Institute of Management has teamed up with J. K. Agencies (Pvt) Ltd., to organize a JUKI Production Management Programme to bolster productivity and production management techniques of the local garment industry.
This specially designed programme, which was initially conducted two decades ago is organized in coordination with JUKI Corp., Japan and is suited for the executives, middle and senior level managers of the garment industries in Sri Lanka.
The programme will cover a wide range of topics such as Process Analysis, Operational Analysis, Time Study, Motion Study and Introduction to Lean Management, which would be beneficial to those organizations that have not yet employed these new management techniques.
17:57:36 local time PAKISTAN
* PRGMEA: Budget balanced:
The Zonal Chairman PRGMEA, Mr. Shaikh Mohammad Shafiq has termed the Federal budget as a balanced one.
He said that the proposal to reduce corporate income tax rate by 1% is appreciable. He also appreciated Minister’s announcement that the corporate income tax will be reduced to 30%, in phases, over next four years. He, however, said that the increase in the sales tax from 16% to 17% will have inflationary effect on consumers.
* APTMA fears high cost of business, inflation:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has apprehended increase in the industrial cost of doing business and high inflation due to various budgetary measures introduced for the fiscal year 2013-14.
APTMA spokesman Anisul Haq Thursday said textile industry cannot sustain and export inflation. The federal budget for 2013-14 has added another 2.0 percent as further tax on supplies to unregistered persons, which would encourage re-introduction of fake registrations and flying invoices, he apprehended.
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* No relief for industry: increased ST rate will stoke inflation: APTMA Sindh:
M Yasin Siddik, Chairman APTMA Sindh Balochistan Region while commenting on the federal budget 2013-14 said that no relief was announced for industry. He said that the five leading export oriented sectors including textiles were required to charge 2 percent non refundable sales tax irrespective of sales to unregistered persons.
Re-introduction of further tax of 2 percent in addition to on sales to unregistered persons through Finance Bill 2013-14 would encourage malpractice and flying invoices as the total sales tax of 4 percent would be an attractive amount to encourage evasion. Commenting on increase in sales tax rate from 16 percent to 17 percent, he said that it would increase the cost of production which would have impact on prices of all commodities and would increase inflation.
* Raise in GST may lead to corruption, under-invoicing: PTA:
Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA), while expressing concern over the proposed increase in the general sales tax from 16 percent to 17 percent in the federal budget 2013-14 to improve revenue target, has said it could lead to corruption and under-invoicing.
PTA Central Chairman Agha Saiddain told Business Recorder on Thursday that higher percentage of tax always gave birth to malpractices such as under-invoicing and other corrupt practices. As a result, the government might lose both sales tax and customs duty on account of under-invoicing on imported items on one hand while the general public would face inflationary pressure, as prices of all commodities would shoot up, he added.
17:57:36 local time UZBEKISTAN
* International Labour Organization requests – yet again – access to Uzbek cotton fields:
The International Labour Organization (ILO) demanded once more that forced labor by children and adults be stopped in Uzbekistan, and requested that its observers be allowed to inspect this year’s harvesting of cotton.
The ILO’s Committee on the Application of Standards held hearings in Geneva in which labor representatives, employers, and government representatives demanded that the government of Uzbekistan pass immediate and significant measures to stop the exploitation of children and adults in Uzbek’s cotton industry.