15:04:25 local time CHINA
* Inventories swell at Chinese garment factories: CNGA:
The inventories with garment manufacturing units in China have been rising in recent years, according to the China National Garment Association (CNGA).
The association said the inventories with garment factories have risen to such a level that even if all the garment units across China closed, the stock would be enough to last for three years, chinadaily.com.cn reported.
The high inventory is despite a steady growth in apparel sales in recent months. In May 2013, apparel sales rose 6.6 percent year-on-year.
* China curbs its enthusiasm for the new Labour Contract Law:
When China’s Labour Contract Law was implemented in 2008, it created quite a bang. The newly revised Labour Contract Law, which will go into effect on 1 July this year, is creating little more than a whimper.
The original legislation was the subject of intense debate both inside and outside China, with business lobbyists predicting the end of China’s economic competitiveness if it became law. That clearly did not happen, and this time the business community does not seem overly concerned that the revisions to the law will impact its bottom line. Neither are the workers the law is supposed to protect particularly enthusiastic about it.
Perhaps the reason no one seems to be making a big fuss about the revised law is because no one really thinks it will do what it is supposed to do; namely end abuses of the employment agency system in China and ensure that all employees working in the same business get equal pay for equal work.
14:04:25 local time VIET NAM
* Over 10,000 garment workers given helmets:
The Garment 10 Joint Stock Corporation (GARCO 10) on June 18 presented helmets of standard quality to its 10,000 workers, and encouraged them to wear helmets as a practical action to contribute to reducing the bad consequences of traffic accidents.
Addressing the ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc who is also Head of the National Committee for Traffic Safety, praised the corporation for giving helmets to workers and educating them to increase their awareness about reducing traffic accidents.
Each year, traffic accidents take the lives of over 10,000 people and injure 30,800 others, leaving a serious burden for the society.
* U.S., Vietnam still far apart on clothing in trade talks:
U.S. efforts to forge a “21st Century” trade agreement with Vietnam and 10 other countries in the Asia Pacific region are running into problems mired in the past, including a textile trade policy that U.S. industry does not want to give up.
The United States hopes to finish talks on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact by the end of the year, but Vietnam says the sides are nowhere close on its biggest priority: market access for its clothing and footwear exports.
The latest U.S. offer “is really, really difficult for us to accept,” Nguyen Vu Tung, deputy chief of mission at Vietnam’s embassy in Washington, said on Wednesday during a panel discussion at The Wilson Center, a foreign policy think tank.
Unless the two sides can reach a breakthrough, “I’m really concerned about the prospect of Vietnam to conclude the successful negotiation of TPP,” Tung said.
The problem is rooted in decades of tariff protection for the U.S. textile industry, which now employs fewer than 300,000 workers compared to more than 2 million in the 1970s.
14:04:25 local time CAMBODIA
* Union leader announces protest for release of workers:
A prominent Cambodia union leader said Thursday that he will lead a protest next week to demand for the release of workers arrested in a clash with police earlier in the month.
Chea Mony, President of Free Trade Union of Workers of Cambodia (FTUWC), said that the eight workers and a member of FTUWC are currently facing court charges.
During the clash on June 3 at the Taiwanese-owned Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment MFG Corp factory, police arrested eight people, seven of whom are members of the FTUC, while another is a member of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU).
The factory, located in the village of Trapaing Russey, Sambo Commune in Samrong district, Kampong Speu province, employs around 5,300 workers and manufacturers sport apparel.
* National Road 2 Blocked by 2,000 Protesters:
About 2,000 garment workers that make clothes for Swedish clothing brand H&M blocked National Road 2 in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district for two hours Wednesday, issuing a series of demands to increase their wages and improve working conditions.
The mostly women laborers working for the M&V International Manufacturing Limited factory swarmed onto the road at 8 a.m. and finished the protest shortly after 9:30 a.m., when factory and Ministry of Labor representatives agreed to negotiate with 10 of the protesters inside the factory.
* Municipal officials given a larger hand in labour disputes:
Continuing its efforts to quell an increasing number of strikes in the Kingdom’s lucrative garment sector, the government this week issued a directive aimed at giving provincial and municipal governors powers to resolve issues at factories without calling on ministries in Phnom Penh.
“To ensure further contributions to economic growth and to solve problems for the people, the government gives [municipal] and provincial governors more duties,” states the directive, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday and obtained yesterday.
Under the changes, provincial authorities have powers to monitor the productivity of their local factories, examine worksites, solve industrial disputes and maintain public order when workers strike.
The Labour and Social Affairs ministries have previously exclusively carried out such duties.
Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, called the directive “meaningful”, but said he believed only the Ministry of Labour should deal with strikes.
“Some officials enflame disputes, which leads to violent crackdowns,” he said.
* Workers hurt in truck crash:
Forty garment workers on their way to their jobs in the Seng Special Economic Zone were injured when the two trucks that carried them hit one another on Wednesday morning.
The crash occurred when the trucks, which were driving next to each other, collided as they drove down National Road 1 in Svay Reing’s Bavet district at about 7:40am, said deputy district police chief Chea Sina.
Workers on the trucks suffered sprained arms and legs, peeled skin and injuries from hitting their heads, Sina said.
Police impounded both trucks for evidence, said Pich Sarorn, Svay Reing provincial chief of traffic police. Many of the injured were hospitalised with varying degrees of injury.
“Now, some workers are staying at the hospital and some have recovered and got out,” Sarorn said.
The accident underscores the need for factory owners to provide better pay and benefits for their employees, said Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center.
Garment workers are typically only granted between $7 and $10 per month to subsidise their travel to and from work, leading them to choose cheap, but unsafe forms of transportation, like crowded truck beds.
* There is no justice, No-one is safe:
Again former the Bavet Governor, Chhouk Bandith failed to appear in court to face charges for the brutal shooting of three Cambodian garment workers in February 2012.
Last week, Bandith was tried in absentia on 12-14 June, 2013. During the three day hearing nineteen witnesses were called, eighteen of those were police officers. Hearsay from almost all witnesses indicated that the shooter was wearing a bodyguard uniform. Further:
* 7 eye-witnesses testified Chhouk Bandith was at the scene of the crime, with a weapon wearing a bodyguard uniform and later fleeing the scene;
* 2 eye-witnesses testified that Chhouk Bandith fired that weapon in the direction of the victims;
* All statements from Chhouk Bandith admitted that he was present at the scene of the crime and fired his weapon;
* The only explanation offered was that police officer and scapegoat, Sor Chantha was in fact the shooter; BUT
* 7 eye-witnesses testified that Sor Chantha was not at the scene of the crime; and
* A further 7 eye-witnesses testified that Sor Chantha was 500 meters from the scene of the crime, did not have a weapon and was wearing a civil uniform.
Despite overwhelming evidence that Chhouk Bandith is the shooter the Svay Rieng prosecutor’s closing arguments did not reflect the evidence provided. The verdict will be announced Tuesday 25 June, 2013.
The only conclusion an independent observer can make is that, yet again, the judiciary is being manipulated.
15:04:25 local time INDONESIA
* Impoverished women first to be hit by price rise:
A group of female activists voiced their rejection on Wednesday of the planned fuel-price hike, which they said would put more burden on low-income women workers and homemakers.
The activists, who represent different organizations and communities, have joined the Women’s Action Committee (KAP).
Siti Kholifah from Tanah Baru in Depok, West Java, said women, who generally manage their families’ budgets, would be prone to domestic violence as their husbands would not care how they handled the money to cope with increasing prices of staple foods.
13:04:25 local time BANGLADESH
* 43 problems linked to labour unrest in RMG sector :
A set of proposals intended to address 43 problems linked to labour unrest has been sent to the highest authorities of the government and stakeholders in a bid to save the country’s readymade garment (RMG) sector, sources said.
Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan recently sent the proposals to Prime Minister’s Office, concerned ministries, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and labour rights organisations for taking necessary measures.
According to sources, the proposals came in line with the directive of the Prime Minister.
Following frequent labour unrest in the Ashulia industrial belt, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina held a meeting with the Home, the Labour and the Shipping Ministers and instructed them to talk to both the owners and the workers. She also asked them to come up with recommendations.
Following the Tazreen blaze and the Savar tragedy, labour unrest is prevailing in the sector over various issues including health and workplace safety, wage hike and other benefits and right to form trade unions.
“According to the directive from the PM, I have made the proposals that identified the reasons of recent problems and also made some recommendations for owners, workers and the government to solve the problems and save the sector,” Mr Shahjahan Khan told the FE Wednesday.
The papers have also been sent to all including the PMO, concerned ministries and stakeholders, he said adding they had meetings with workers’ representatives and both registered and non-registered labour rights organisations and federations on May 16, 22, 28 and 29.
These meetings identified 30 problems faced by the workers including trade union formation in garment factories, dismissal of workers who try to form unions, lack of trust between owners and workers, misbehaviour of mid-level management and absence of discussion or meeting between owners and workers.
There are 37 registered and 33 non-registered workers’ federations in the garment sector which have so far failed to form trade unions as per factory law. The meetings also suggested that the non-registered labour organisations should be stopped.
The 30-point problems also focused on speedy declaration of new wage structure with tiffin, lunch and other benefits, inclusion of annual increment in it, two festival bonuses every year, provision of appointment letters, stoppage of termination of workers without any reason.
* Labour law amendment bill to be passed next week: JS body chief:
The ‘Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Bill, 2013’ will be passed in Parliament the next week.
Revealing this, chairman of the Standing Committee on Labour and Employment Ministry Israfil Alam MP, said the new law will be an ideal one to protect the interest and rights of the workers and ensure their safety.
He was addressing a roundtable discussion on ‘Compensation for the decased and injured workers in workplaces: Necessary amendment to existing laws’ held at the Cirdap auditorium.
Jointly organised by Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and Safety and Rights Society, the programme was presided over by Justice Md Awlad Ali.
read more. & read more.
* Trade unionism, better pay ignored in amended labour law:
Parliamentary watchdog sets recommendations without accommodating foreign diplomats’ suggestions
A parliamentary body has finalised recommendations on the proposed Labour (amendment) Bill 2013 without accommodating foreign diplomats’ suggestions for ensuring better working condition and rights of workers to unionise.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on labour and employment ministry in its Thursday’s meeting, presided over by its Chairman Israfil Alam, settled the recommendations for the proposed bill.
The meeting follows a three-day public hearing held on June 13, 15 and 16 in which a number of foreign diplomats suggested that the amended bill should contain provisions for ensuring better working conditions and payments, including compensations, for readymade garment factory workers and their rights to form unions.
The garment factory owners who also attended the public hearing, opposed the suggestions for allowing workers to unionise.
The papers that the Dhaka Tribune accessed showed that the recommendations included some clerical changes but the contents had been left largely unchanged.
“The labour law does not debar trade unionism in the RMG units. If the owners agree, the workers can form trade unions,” said Monnuzan Sufian.
* UN Secretary General backs Bangladesh safety deal:
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has pledged his full support for the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord which already has more than 50 global retail brands signed up.
IndustriALL, UNI Global Union and leading NGOs, the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Worker Rights Consortium are working with the global retailers to make Bangladeshi garment factories safe in the wake of the Rana Plaza tragedy. Over 1,100 workers, mainly women, were killed in the recent factory collapse.
In letters to the General Secretaries of IndustriALL and UNI, Jyrki Raina and Philip Jennings, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said, “The building collapse in Dhaka reminds us all that ensuring that workers’ human rights are protected and respected within value chains involves a wide range of societal actors, including governments, employers, buyers and workers’ representatives.”
read more. & read more.
* Canadian investors stress companies to sign:
A group of Canadian investors representing $44 billion in assets wants corporations to support the new Bangladesh safety accord, a broad agreement between factories, workers unions and garment companies launched after more than 1,100 workers died when a factory complex collapsed in April.
The investors—which include the public sector pension plans for such unions as the Public Service Alliance of Canada and Canadian Labour Congress—released a statement pressing for “timely and effective action to ensure respect for the fundamental human rights of workers in the supply chains of the companies in which they invest.”
“We urge apparel brands, retailers and manufacturers that source from Bangladesh to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and participate fully in its implementations,” the statement reads.
But the statement from Canadian investors argues individual company policies don’t go far enough in the case of Bangladesh, in comments that suggest investors could pressure companies that haven’t signed up. “In certain cases, such as we have seen in Bangladesh, collective action is needed,” it reads. “As investors, we recognize our responsibility to promote positive change withe the companies in our portfolio and encourage them to put respect for human rights tat the core of their business models.”
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Japan’s clothing retailer Uniqlo to buy more from Bangladesh:
Top official speaks on future plan for garment industry
Japanese retail giant Uniqlo plans to bolster its garment order volumes from Bangladesh, a top official of the company said.
“I do not want to disclose the volume though, as it is a business secret,” Yukihiro Nitta, group executive officer of Fast Retailing, Uniqlo’s parent company, told The Daily Star in an interview.
The company has decided to divert 30 percent of its annual purchases from China to Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia.
Bangladesh will be a “significant” beneficiary of this, Nitta said.
“But the garment makers should remember that it is all about quality for the average Japanese consumer. As long as they satisfy the quality-conscious Japanese customer, orders will flow in.”
Nitta praised the country’s garment workers, terming them to be “hard-working” and capable of producing “quality” wares. “We are very much satisfied with their work,” he said.
* BD-India cotton deal stalled over guarantee dispute :
A proposed cotton deal between Dhaka and New Delhi has been stalled over difference of opinion in respect of providing guarantee by Bangladesh for mandatory import of the item, sources said.
Bangladesh was negotiating with India for getting 1.5 million bales of cotton a year. The two neighbours had also moved to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard.
During the negotiation Bangladesh proposed that any Indian ban on cotton will come into effect only after providing it with 1.5 million bales of cotton.
On the other hand, India sought guarantee that Bangladesh will import the same volume of cotton every year under any circumstances.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Bangladesh collapse left many amputees:
It was the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry. When the Rana Plaza factory building crashed down in April, 1,129 people were killed. But many others had to sacrifice their limbs to survive.
Arms and legs were trapped under the building rubble, forcing rescuers with no medical training to perform amputations on the spot to free the victims.
No anesthesia was available. Some of the rescuers used butchers knives or hacksaws to cut through the flesh and save the trapped workers. Many of those freed are still recovering.
Laboni, 21, worked on the fourth floor. Her left arm was amputated to free her from the rubble, 36 hours after the building collapsed. Shahi Noor, 25, worked on the sixth floor. Her right leg was cut off to free her on the day of the collapse.
Bangladesh’s government and garment manufacturers are campaigning to close dangerous factories and to make safety a priority for the country’s most valuable export industry. But many in the government, the industry and the rescue workers said they would not be shocked if another terrible tragedy happened.
* BGMEA probe finds factory, building owners guilty:
A probe committee of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association has accused the owners of collapsed Rana Plaza and the five clothing factories housed in it for the recent deaths of the workers.
In the report the probe committee suggested the government to penalize the owners for their gross negligence.
The report may be made public next week, said a committee member.
He said the report also called for bringing the factory inspectors to book for giving permission to the owners to setup generators on the upper floors of multi-storied Rana Plaza.
According to the committee findings Rana Plaza collapsed due to structural faults.
The pillars could not bear the load of the multi-storied Rana Plaza, according to the findings.
A team of experts from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and technology assisted the probe committee.
Another member of the committee said that the factory owners cannot avoid the responsibility of the disaster as they did not comply with the BGMEA instruction to shut the factories after the Rana Plaza had developed cracks.
12:34:25 local time INDIA
* CITU activists stage protest against anti-labour policies:
Activists of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) staged a demonstration in front of the Prakasam Bhavan in protest against the anti-labour economic policies of the Union and State Governments.
The activists led by CITU city committee president D.Srinvasulu and secretary B.Venkat Rao pressed for immediate withdrawal of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the key sectors such as banking, insurance and retail.
Addressing the activists, CITU district secretary Ch.Srinivasa Rao said that the neo-liberal economic policies of the ruling Congress were making the lives of common people miserable.
* Uttar Pradesh seeks permission to grow Bt cotton: