in the news on-line, 22-24 June 2013

21:16:26 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Businesses worried sick about minimum wages:

20130624 VNNet

From July 1, 2013, the minimum wage of workers would be VND100,000 higher than the current level, at VND1.15 million instead of the current VND1.05 million.

The director of a construction company in Hanoi admitted that with a lot of exertion, the company made a modest pretax profit of VND96 billion in 2012. Meanwhile, the company only fulfilled 30 percent of the yearly business plan in the first half of the year.
“I tried my best to maintain the average salary of VND5.64 million a month last year. Meanwhile, I have to cut the salary by 30 percent in recent months,” he said.

With the VND100,000 increase in the minimum wage, from July 1, the company would have to pay VND20 billion for the existing 200 workers. “We are considering many ways to arrange money to pay to workers. One of the methods is borrowing money from banks,” he said.
read more.

* Promoting textile/garment exports to the EU:

Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) recently signed a cooperative agreement with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Center for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI) to kick off a project to promote direct exports to the EU.

The project was designed to update textile and garment businesses on European import standards, assist Vietnamese businesses to promote the export of textiles and garments to the EU under FOB (free on board) and access commercial aid sources and quality fabric and material supply sources, and meet the FOB production mode to add value to and improve the competitiveness of Vietnamese textiles and garments.
read more.

* Hong Kong Group invests US$200 million in garment project:

The TAL Group from Hong Kong plans to invest US$200 million to produce fabrics, garments and textiles in Vietnam.

This is the second project of its kind in Vietnam.
During a recent working session in Hanoi with Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment (MPI), Cao Viet Sinh, TAL Hong Kong Development  Director Roger Lee said that his group wants to expand its investments in Vietnam with a US$200 million project to manufacture fabrics, garments and textiles.
The products will be produced using modern technologies that do not cause pollution and the company will ensure environment standards, he said.
Lee said that the group will also work on the project with representatives from the Vietnam National Garment and Textile Group (Vinatex)  and the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).
The MPI is willing to support and create favourable conditions for TAL to expand investment in Vietnam and has assigned the Foreign Investment Agency to contact TAL on supporting the progress of the project, said Deputy Minister Sinh.
to read. & to read.
VOVonline VNBusinessTIMES

* Garment sector dressed for success :

The textile and garment sector is working to get itself in shape for brighter horizons.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade is drafting the textile-garment industry development planning to 2020, with vision towards 2030 for submission to the prime minister for approval.
This plan will see landmark changes compared to the previous plan approved by the government via Decision 36/2008/QD-TTg in 2008.

In the new planning, the sector envisages an export value of $31-$32 billion by 2020, which will double to $60-$65 billion by 2030 and hiking localisation rate to 60 and 80 per cent, respectively.Under current planning, by 2015 the sector is set to report $18 billion in total export value and to $25 billion by 2020, and respective localisation rates were set at 60 and 70 per cent.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa said the draft planning was built factoring in comments relevant to current planning and encompassing amendments amid the current development context.In fact, its largest challenge is that most of production materials, machinery, equipment, chemicals and dyeing substances are imported.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 24/6 (2nd item).

21:16:26 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Hourly wage proposal shelved:

The Labour Ministry’s Central Wage Committee has agreed to hold back on a plan to set a minimum hourly wage for part-time workers, committee chairman Somkiat Chayasriwong said on Friday.

The committee accepted the recommendation of a sub-panel set up to look into the issue, he said.
The panel reported that a minimum hourly wage would not be appropriate at this time because there is no regulation regarding specific hours worked by part-time employees, said Mr Somkiat, the permanent secretary for labour.
If an hourly minimum wage were set it could widely affect the labour market. Employers might use more part-time workers because it would cost less. The overall expense would be cheaper as employers would not be responsible for their welfare, including social security payments, and other costs.
read more.
Bangkok Post Logo

21:16:26 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Nike asks gov’t for Sabrina inquiry:

20130624 PPP 3_sabrina_workers_protest_kampong_cham_heng_chivoan
Workers strike in front of the Sabrina garment factory in Kampong Speu province in May. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

In the days after police violence allegedly caused two pregnant women to miscarry during a strike at Sabrina garment factory, footwear giant Nike urged the government to launch an independent inquiry into the incident, letters obtained yesterday reveal.

Sent on May 30 to Labour Minister Vong Sauth and Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh, the two identical letters express buyer Nike’s “deepest concerns with the treatment of workers” injured when confronted by police.
“Nike respectfully requests that the Cambodian government open an inquiry using credible, independent third parties to determine the cause of the incident,” state the letters, signed by Hannah Jones, Nike’s vice president of sustainable business and innovation. “In addition, we urge the Cambodian government to consider the appropriate support for the injured workers.”

At least 50 people, including nine police officers, were injured during strikes at the factory  starting in May that involved about 3,000 workers. Eight Free Trade Unions members were arrested on June 3, accused of inciting violence.
Oum Mean, secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour, declined to comment yesterday, while Prasidh could not be reached.

In a separate letter dated last Tuesday and obtained yesterday, Cambodia’s Free Trade Union pressed Nike to help secure the eight workers’ freedom.
read more.

* Nike seeks probe on Cambodia factory raid:

The US sportswear multinational Nike Inc has called for an inquiry by Cambodia into a police crackdown on workers at one of its suppliers, during which a pregnant women miscarried and other people were injured.

Nike expressed “deep concerns” over the May 27 incident at the Sabrina Cambodia Garment Manufacturing plant outside Phnom Penh, in a letter to Cambodia’s commerce and labour ministers released late on Friday in the United States.
Several factory workers were injured by police when 4,000 workers clashed with police outside the plant’s premises in Kampong Speu province, Nike said.
Following the violence, eight workers and trade union members were detained and hundreds of employees were dismissed.
The Cambodian government should “open an inquiry using credible, independent third parties to determine the cause of the incident,” the company’s vice president Hannah Jones said in the letter dated May 30.
read  more.

* BetterFactories Media updates 12-21 June 2013, Justice for workers in Bandith’s hearing:

* to read in the printed edition Phnom Penh Post:

2013-06-12 Corruption worse than in Bangladesh NGO
2013-06-12 Justice demanded as Bandith hearing nears
2013-06-13 Bandith skips hearing
2013-06-13 It’s time to put an end to hidden child labour
2013-06-14 Collapses raise concerns over emergency training
2013-06-14 FTU asks for benefits for fired staff
2013-06-14 Work-related deaths, injurires rose in 2012
2013-06-17 Bandith trail ends with procesector accusing two
2013-06-17 Workers hurt in crash with train
2013-06-20 Stop striking, or the economy gets it
2013-06-21Municipal officials given a larger hand in labour disputes
2013-06-21Workers hurt in truck crash

* to read in the printed edition Cambodia Daily:

2013-06-12 Sabrina factory fire 300 workers over strikes
2013-06-13 Bandith fails to show up at retrail for triple shooting
2013-06-14 Witness tell court former govenor Bundith shot workers
2013-06-17 Tesco halts Bangladesh outsourcing over safety
2013-06-18 Eight more changed over violent factory protest
2013-06-20 National road 2 blocked by 2,000 protesters

* to read in the printed edition Khmer Newspaper Koh Santepheap Daily:

2013-06-13 Chhouk Bandith doesn’t appear in court
2013-06-13 Electrocution in a factory killing 21 workers
2013-06-18 Ming Da garment workers receive wage and back wages

Overview BetterFactories here.
Better Factories Cambodia

22:16:26 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Workers Walk Out as Govt Prepares for Fuel-Price Protesters:


Protesters demonstrate in Jababeka industrial area, Cikarang, West Java on June 21, 2013. (Photo courtesy of Infokom Buruh)

The head of Indonesia’s largest labor union promised strikes that could paralyze the country as thousands of workers walked out on Friday and police prepared for widespread protests ahead of tonight’s announcement of a fuel price hike.

“Nationally, we can manage the security level. We can also manage the demonstrations that appear across the nation,” Coordinating Minister for Legal, Political and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto said on Friday.
Four water cannon and six armored vehicles have been mobilized to secure the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises against any demonstrators crossing police lines, while hundreds of police officers and military personnel have been assigned to the area.
In the city’s satellite industrial centers, thousands of workers downed tools to protest the government’s plan to raise the price of subsidized fuel.
read more.
The Jakarta Globe

*  BetterWork Indonesia Media update:

1. Labor Intensive Industry is Burdened by Wages Problem.
Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia).
2. Legislators want govt to increase minimum wage. Read the full article here.
3. ILO Calls on Government to Stop Child Labor. Read the full article here.
4. Work sharing can save jobs in times of crisis.
Read the full article here.
Download the executive summary here.
5. Sritex in Talks With H&M as it Stands to Benefit From Bangladesh    Disaster. Read the full article here.
6. Activists urge more focus on social welfare. Read the full article here.
7. ASEAN single market behind schedule: Report. Read the full article here.

BetterWork Indonesia Overview here.
BW indonesia

20:16:26 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* Australian retailers linked to worker abuse:

Impoverished Bangladeshi workers claim they have been physically abused and threatened while working in sweatshops used by some of Australia`s best-known retailers.

In one case, they were beaten and their representatives were told they would be killed if they protested against working conditions.
The ABC’s Four Corners program has travelled to the capital Dhaka, where a number of workers revealed big Australian brands including Rivers, Coles, Target and Kmart ordered clothes from factories in Bangladesh that did not meet international standards.
While none of the Australian companies would talk to Four Corners, workers in Dhaka described unacceptable conditions that see them work long hours for little pay, sometimes under the threat of abuse if deadlines are not met.

Shahanas and Salma met the Four Corners crew a safe distance from their homes.
They are paid $3 a day working for Australian brand Rivers, and say they are put under intolerable pressure.
“The system is – how many pieces I have delivered in an hour? If I can’t meet it, the abusive language starts,” Shahanas said.
“They slap us on the face, on the head and on the back.
“Some workers cry at that time. They cry while they`re working,” Salma said.
Workers at the Rosita factory, which made clothes for Coles, paid its workers 22 cents per hour.
read more.

* Police foil human chain of apparel workers:

Police on Friday foiled a human chain of Garments Sramik Sangam Parishad in front of the National Press Club.

The Garments Sramik Sangram Parishad, a combine of seven garment workers rights bodies, formed the human chin to press for its demands including stopping job cuts in the garment industries and giving minimum wage of Tk 8,000 per month for the garment workers.
Police forced the leaders and activists of the garment labour rights body to disperse, but they finally held a rally in front of Dhaka Reporters’ Unity protesting police attacks.
Garment labour leader Mahbubur Rahman Ismail, addressing the rally said that police had foiled their peaceful human chain without any provocation.
Rafiqul Islam Pathik, the coordinator of the combine, said that the garment factory owners were sacking the workers in charge of their involvements with labour rights bodies.
read more.

* SKOP demands labour law amendment:

Leaders of the Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad at a national convention in the capital on Friday called on the Awami League-led government to pass the proposed Labour Law-2013, amending its undemocratic sections.

The cabinet already approved the draft of the Labour Law-2013 amending the Labour Law-2006.
The SKOP, a combine of the 13-labour rights  bodies, held the convention at BCIC-Auditorum to  press for its nine-point demands including modification of labour law according to the International Labour Law convention 87 and 98 for free trade unionism, ensuring safety of the workers in their work places and
announcing national minimum wage at Tk 8,000 per month for the workers.

The SKOP leaders called on the government to pass the draft of the Labour Law-2013 in parliament amending its undemocratic sections, otherwise they warned that they would announce tougher movement programmes including industrial strikes to compel the government to amend the law.
read more.

* Fire burns goods of weaving mill in Jessore:

A devastating fire burnt goods worth about Tk. three crore to ashes at Afil Jute Weaving Mills Ltd. under Sarsha upazila in the district on June 20.

According to eyewitness, welding work of water pump tower was going on and suddenly the fire broke out at about 2.30 pm in the godown of the mills and spread immediately to other parts of the mills.
On being informed, two units of Fire Brigade from Benapole and Jhikorgacha upazilas rushed to the spot and brought the fire under control after fighting for 2 and half hours.
When contracted manager of the mills Tapash Kumar Das told this correspondent that welding of water tower was going on and suddenly a godown of the mill caught fire and the fire immediately spread to another godown of the mills and burn into ashes goods worth about Tk. three crore.
to read.

* Database for garment workers by Aug: BGMEA:

The country will have a biometric database for the Readymade Garment (RMG) workers by August, reports BSS.

The database will contain service records of all apparel workers in 3,600 registered garment factories in Dhaka, Ashulia, Narayanganj and Chittagong.
“Work on the project is going on in full swing. We’re hopeful that the project will come to an end by the set deadline of August 30,” Nasiruddin Ahmed Chowdhury, 1st Vice-President of BGMEA, told BSS Friday.
Chowdhury said the database would maintain history of each and every worker.
Once the worker registers, he/she will be given a unique ID, which will be valid at all BGMEA factories, he said.
According to the BGMEA, the association has already instructed its member factories to prepare the database by the deadline. Otherwise, the BGMEA will not provide any service to factories.
Earlier, BGMEA president M Atiqul Islam said, “At first, we will create a database of workers at factories in Dhaka and it would gradually be extended to the country’s garment areas.
Referring to small and large readymade garment (RMG) units, Atiqul said there was no exact data on how many skilled, semi- skilled and unskilled workers were now employed in the industry.
The BGMEA currently has 5,500 member factories, of which 3,600 are in operation.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more.
newstodayBD BSS   NewNation

* Rajuk identifies 100 risky RMG factories; seeks expert opinions:

Identifying over 100 garment factories as ‘risky’ in Dhaka and its adjoining areas, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartipakkha (Rajuk) are now seeking opinions from the experts of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) to work out strategies for the factories so that no further tragedy takes place.

“We’re inspecting the garment factories. Our inspection team has so far visited 500 garment factories, of which more than 100 are seemed to be risky. So, we’ve sent the list of vulnerable factories to Buet for re-checking,” Abdul Mannan, a member (planning) of Rajuk, told UNB.
Chief inspector of factories (CIF) and establishment Habibur Rahman said they have visited about 2,700 factories since the deadly fire incident at Tazreens Fashions Ltd at Ashulia, an industrial belt on the outskirts of Dhaka city.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
UNB logo  newstodayBD NewNation

* Garment factories show effort, lapses:

The walls of the cavernous AKH clothing factory are covered in red arrows. They point to three wide emergency staircases with evacuation plans posted on every floor.

They point to fire extinguishers attached to the walls and pillars throughout the factory. They point to medical kits located near designated workers with “First Aid” stitched onto their shirts.
It is the type of factory garment manufacturers hope will persuade Western brands to keep making clothes in Bangladesh despite a recent factory fire and a building collapse that killed more than 1,200 people.
But just down the road, the seamier side of the industry lives on in a tiny, stiflingly hot factory. Very young looking seamstresses sew snowsuits for export at cramped work stations. The aisles are blocked by piles of clothing. Power cords hang haphazardly along the walls.
This is the type of factory the government and the major garment manufacturers have decided must reform or die if the nation’s $20 billion-a-year garment export industry is to continue to thrive.
“We have A grade (factories) and we also have D grade,” said Shahidullah Azim, vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association. “Now is the time for survival of the fittest.”
read more.

* One Bangladesh garment factory shows safety efforts; another shows how far industry has to go:

The walls of the cavernous AKH clothing factory are covered in red arrows. They point to three wide emergency staircases with evacuation plans posted on every floor.

They point to fire extinguishers attached to the walls and pillars throughout the factory. They point to medical kits located near designated workers with “First Aid” stitched onto their shirts.
It is the type of factory garment manufacturers hope will persuade Western brands to keep making clothes in Bangladesh despite a recent factory fire and a building collapse that killed more than 1,200 people.
But just down the road, the seamier side of the industry lives on in a tiny, stiflingly hot factory. Very young looking seamstresses sew snowsuits for export at cramped work stations. The aisles are blocked by piles of clothing. Power cords hang haphazardly along the walls.
read more.

* RMG safety- Exporters demand Tk 1000 cr as special fund:

Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) on Saturday demanded an allocation of Tk 1000 crore as special in the budget to help garment manufacturers for up- gradation and rehabilitation of factories.

It suggests that the fund will be used for providing soft loan to garment manufacturers, who wish to rehabilitate their plants.
“We want to relocate, upgrade and retrofit the apparel units so that they become safe and compliant as demanded by the global community,” EAB President Abdus Salam Murshedy told The New Nation yesterday.
He added, “This is a huge task and we cannot  do so without the financial support of the government.”  Murshedy made the proposal that this fund should be disbursed at 5 per cent interest rate among the interested RMG entrepreneurs who want to relocate and rehabilitate their plants to follow the compliance rules.
Stressing the need for relocating the factories outside the capital, the EAB president also requested the government to provide adequate allocation in the next budget for quick and smooth implementation of “Garments Palli” project at Baushia in Munshiganj district.
read more.

* US sends $2.5M for BD factory safety:

The U.S. Department of Labor has earmarked millions of dollars in grants to improve factory conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry, where workers often must deal with shoddy buildings and overcrowded workplaces.

The Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs is granting $2.5 million to “improve fire and general building in Bangladesh,” according to CNS News. The grant announcement was made June 13, and applicants have until Aug. 2 to apply.
The bureau released an announcement that read in part: “Reports have shown that sub-standard buildings, poor emergency procedures, blocked fire exits, overcrowded workplaces, and inadequate inspection practices have resulted in a high death toll.”
read more. & read more.

* Small units’ relocation to ‘garment palli’ uncertain:

Uncertainty looms large over relocation of small-sized apparel units to the proposed ‘garment palli’ at Bausia in Munshiganj, primarily due to lack of funding support. However, medium and large-sized units have showed positive response in this regard, sources said.

Early this month, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) invited expression of interest (IoE) from apparel makers to know about their willingness in shifting factories to the palli.

According to the BGMEA officials, the association has, so far, got about 450 applications. The number of applications for five-bigha plot is 125, three-bigha plot is 225 and one-bigha plot is only 45. Seven applied for seven-bigha plot, which would not be allocated.
read more.

* Don’t abandon Bangladesh:

Bangladesh’s poorest garment workers have pleaded with Australian companies to remain in the country, as retailers consider pulling orders from the beleaguered garment industry in the wake of the country’s worst-ever industrial accident.

Following the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in April, in which at least 1127 people died, international retailers have been belatedly assessing the safety of the factories they have contracted to make their brand-name clothes.
Kmart has already pulled orders from two factories in Dhaka, citing one factory`s unsafe location above a marketplace and improper outsourcing at another.
Big W has cancelled orders with a factory it says is unsafe, while Target plans to pull out of some of its 60 contracted factories, though it will remain in the country.
Global giants Tesco, Wal-Mart and Disney have withdrawn orders.
read more.

* RMG owners getting 35pc less orders this season:

Buyers moving to China, India, Vietnam

Apparel manufacturers are receiving about 30 to 35 per cent less orders than that of the previous year during the present spring summer season from both the USA and the European markets as fallout of Rana Plaza catastrophe.Industry insiders said many of the buyers are shifting their orders to China, India and Vietnam although they continue placing orders to Bangladesh’s readymade garment (RMG) factory owners in lower volume than that of the previous year.”The orders for spring summer season have been reduced significantly. The buyers were in a shock after the Rana Plaza collapse but now the situation is improving,” Nasiruddin Ahmed Chowdhury, First Vice President, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Director and Co-Chairman, Frank Apparels Limited told the FE.
He said the garment makers have received about 30 to 35 per cent less orders for spring summer season that have been mainly shifted to India and Vietnam.
read more.

* Global retailers plan to source more items including RMG from B’desh:

Global chain shop retailers are now planning to source many traditional and non-traditional items from Bangladesh along with garment in a bid to diversify their sourcing base, industry insiders said.

The retail chains such as JC Penny, Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Wal-Mart, which mostly buy clothes from Bangladesh, are contacting leading footwear, ceramic, jute goods, bicycle and handicrafts exporter to widen sourcing along with garments, they added.
Exporters said the interest of these buyers has opened up an opportunity for some traditional and non-traditional sectors to help boost exports by increasing volumes and reaching new markets.
read more.

* B’desh factory deaths spark action among high-street clothing chains:

Western clothing retailers were inevitably going to face questions over the link between cheap fashion and worker safety in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza disaster, which killed 1,129 people in Bangladesh.

In a stark reminder of the human cost behind the plentiful supply of affordable goods on Britain’s high streets, shoddy construction turned a building in Dhaka into a death trap when a garment manufacturing complex collapsed in April. It also threatened to damage the reputation of Primark, which got some of its cheap chic from the building.
As the retailer’s head of ethical trading, Katherine Kirk has spent four years overhauling how Primark finds its clothes and denies a causal link between discount goods, tight profit margins and perilous working conditions in the developing world.
read more. & read more. & read more.

Walmart still accepting garments from blacklisted factories as Bangladesh struggles to change:

Almost two months after a building collapse in Bangladesh killed 1,127 garment workers, reports have surfaced that claim Walmart has continued to accept shipments from garment factories supposedly on its blacklist over safety and quality concerns, according to ProPublica.

The largest retailer in the world, which was one of several major Western brands that refused to sign on to the Accord on Bangladesh Safety, released a list of rejected garment factories in May that the company says it refuses to do business with due to repeated safety and labor violations. However, according to import and export data, Walmart has been receiving product shipments from two of the factories on the list, Mars Apparels and Simco Dresses.
read more.

* Primark may quit BD if drive fails- Primark warns Bangladesh:

Primark has warned that it could pull its clothes manufacturing operations out of Bangladesh, if the drive, taken in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster in April, fails to improve safety standards of the local RMG units, said the British daily The Guardian Saturday.

Primark is one of the 50 brands, including Next and Zara, that have agreed to contribute up to $500,000 (£324,000) a year for rigorous independent factory inspections and installation of fire-safety measures under a five-year plan, said The Guardian.
The plan will be implemented along with the government programmes to improve safety standards in the country’s garment sector.
“By signing up to the accord, we are all committing to at least maintaining the level of business we have in Bangladesh for five years.
After that period, we will have to re-evaluate our position. We don’t want to be in unsafe factories,” The Guardian quoted Primark’s Ethical Trading Director Katherine Kirk as saying.
read more. & read more.
  daily star bd

* Tesco to send official to sort Bangladesh issues:

A top official of the British retailer Tesco is due in the country on June 29 to resolve its issues with Liberty Fashions.

Tesco recently cancelled an order worth $2 crore with the Savar-based Liberty Fashions after its surveyor team found problems with the building’s “beams, slabs and columns”, a decision which Mozammel Huq, the company’s managing director, claims has left him losing Tk 50 lakh a day.
To find a solution suitable for both parties, Christophe Roussel, Tesco’s international sourcing director, is calling in Dhaka, Huq told The Daily Star.
He also said that Tesco informed him that it would re-consider its decision should the test results from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology’s (BUET) inspection team come in favour of Liberty Fashions.
The expert panel have already examined the three-and-half storey building and will submit the test result by Wednesday, Sekender Ali, coordinator of the team, said.
Meanwhile, Primark, another British retailer, has decided on June 17 to terminate its relationship with Liberty Fashions with immediate effect, following feedback from its own inspection team that the supplier is “housed in an unsafe building”.
read more.
daily star bd

* Russia advises Bangladesh to prepare product list for Eurasian Union:

Russia has advised Bangladesh to prepare a list of products for seeking GSP facility in the markets of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, commerce ministry officials said.

Responding to a proposal of providing GSP facility to the Bangladeshi products including readymade garments, Russia informed that the country alone could not provide generalised system of preferences to its market to any country as it is a member of the same customs union along with Belarus and Kazakhstan, the officials said.
At the end 2012, Bangladesh sought GSP facility from Russia for 57 products, mostly RMG items, in a bid to enter the big Russian market and boost overall export to the country.
‘But in April, Russia advised us to prepare a list of products and submit the list seeking GSP facility to the three countries,’ a high commerce ministry official told New Age last week.
read more.

* B’desh engages firm to lobby with US on GSP:

Bangladesh engaged a lobbyist firm, Foley Hoag, in Washington in a bid to retain the trade facilities the country has long been enjoying in the United States (US) market for a number of non-traditional export items, said a social media report.

Bangladesh engaged the lobbyist firm as the US government was going to decide soon on the trade benefits for Bangladesh in the wake of the deadly Rana Plaza collapse near Dhaka in April last, reported the Blog of Legal Times (BLT) Friday.
read more. & read more.

* Decision on GSP for Bangladesh in coming week:

The United States decision about retaining or suspending preferential trade benefits for Bangladesh is expected to come within a weak, a senior official of the US administration hinted Friday.

Michael Froman, new Trade Representative of US, said that he expected a decision on whether to suspend GSP trade benefits for Bangladesh by the end of June.
He however, made a halfhearted response to the question of retaining GSP for India when facing media shortly after being sworn into office.
Some lawmakers have suggested removing India from the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) program in retaliation for the country’s trade policy moves.
Froman treaded carefully on that question, noting that many US companies benefit from GSP, since it lowers their production costs by waiving duties on imports.
“So we need to take a careful look at that … This is something we want to work with Congress on,” Froman said.
The new US Trade Representative said that he expected growing trade problems with India to be a major early focus of his tenure, but stopped short of saying the United States should cut off benefits for that country.
read more.

* Govt to assess possible impact on BD exports:

EU’s GSP plus changes

The government has decided to assess the possible impact of the new Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), more specifically the GSP Plus, on Bangladesh’s exports to the European Union (EU).

The new GSP will come into effect on January 1 next.
The ministry of commerce (MoC) in a letter last week asked the Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) to conduct an in-depth study on the proposed changes in EU GSP provisions and their possible impact on trade relations between Bangladesh and the bloc, sources said.
read more.

* Terry towel exporters receiving huge response from non-traditional mkts:

Country’s terry towel exporters have got a huge response from non-traditional markets due to better quality and competitive price range, industry insiders said.

They also said now they are trying to reduce dependency on some traditional markets like the European Union (EU) countries and the US following economic meltdown there.
“Country’s terry towel is getting a good response from new markets,” Chairman of Anaa Textiles Ltd Eshaque Mazumder told the FE.
He said the EU and US have been the traditional markets for Bangladeshi terry towel. Apart from those markets, orders in big numbers are coming from non-traditional markets.
read more.

* B’desh among other countries to enjoy cotton bonanza in FY `14:

Consumption of cotton in Bangladesh, the second largest exporter of ready-made garments (RMG) in the world, is likely to increase by 2.0 per cent to 3.8 million bales in the fiscal year (FY) 2013-14 against the preceding FY, said a forecast of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Vietnam, an immediate competitor of Bangladesh in the RMG trade in the world, is also likely to have a surge in cotton consumption by 11 per cent to 2.5 million bales in the said FY.

Similarly, use of cotton across the world will increase by 2.0 per cent to 110.2 million bales in the FY 2013-14 as cotton consumption in India and Pakistan is poised to rise by 2.0 per cent and 4.0 per cent to 23.3 million bales and 12 million bales respectively, says the forecast.
read more.

* Dhaka-Ctg highway robbery at its peak:

Robbery and looting of cargo, abduction and killing of drivers and helpers have gone up to an alarming stage in the highway between Chittagong Port and the capital city of Dhaka over the recent times.

More than a dozen of trucks and covered vans with cotton, steel and export goods, mainly readymade garments (RMG), have been hijacked by the highway robbers at Daudkandi, Chouddagram and Chandina.

Highway robbery is not limited in the Dhaka-Chittagong route alone; it is occurring in other inter-district roads of the country as well.

A senior highway police officer admitted to this correspondent that the robbers engaged in hijacking loaded trucks and covered vans maintain direct links with a section of traders and industrialists of the related sectors.

“The buyers of looted cotton and steel rods are members of higher stages of our society. It is astonishing as well that they make advance payments to those culprits for looting goods laden in trucks and covered vans,” said Additional SP (Superintendent of Police) of Comilla (South) Asraf Bhuiyan.
read more.

* IDLC Investments – Company Insight:

Saiham cotton Mills Limited (SAIHAMCOT) was incorporated as a private limited company in May 2002.

Later on, in 2010, the company was converted to a public limited company. The company was listed in DSE in 2012. 50.46% of total shares of SAIHAMCOT are held by its sponsors. The company produces 100% export oriented cotton yarn, serving as a backward linkage to booming Ready-Made Garments industry.
read more.

* Youngone chief targets $1b exports from Bangladesh:

Kihak Sung, chairman of Youngone Corporation, plans to export $1 billion of products from Bangladesh in future.

“My business growth here is 10 percent year-on-year, but it should be 20 percent. So, my targets are realistic,” Sung told The Daily Star in an interview.
At present, his 17 production units in Bangladesh export $600 million worth of products a year. Of the amount, $500 million alone comes from garment items, and the rest from footwear.
“But I do not want to compete with the local garment exporters. They are doing fantastically themselves, and some even have the potential to hit the $1 billion-mark.”
Sung, however, is positive about the future of the country’s garment industry despite the Tazreen fire and the Rana Plaza collapse.
“First of all, we can overcome the setbacks. We should not be pessimistic. We just need to work harder, and come up with a positive brand new image.”
Youngone has so far invested $400 million in Bangladesh and plans to invest $200-$300 million a year if the KEPZ takes off in full-swing.
read more.
daily star bd

* The over-competitive RMG market:

Why do we perpetuate the idea that we are the ‘cheapest producer’?

In the early 1980s, when the barely decade old Bangladesh was looking to announce its arrival as a country willing to industrialise and unleash its private sector, the garment manufacturing industry was the sector which provided the much needed platform.

Since its inception, the RMG sector has made an unparalleled contribution to our economy and enhanced our image as a global producer.
However, despite being in this trade for more than three decades if one is asked to carry out a SWOT analysis of the garments industry of Bangladesh, “cheapest labour” will be outlined as the key strength and the prime reason for its very existence.

That begs the question, how can an industry that has sustained over 30 years still keep producing the cheapest garments, enabled by the cheapest labour, whereas other countries have moved up the ladder?

Not only just cheap labour, Bangladesh is also known to be one of the key global hubs of basic garment production, which does not account for much value addition in general.
Countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and China now have higher wages than Bangladesh and visibly seem to have moved up the product ladder as well. Compared to China, where the minimum wage for garment workers ranges from $154 to $230 per month, and in Cambodia, where the monthly base is $80, Bangladesh stands at a meagre $38.50.
read more.


* Many workers yet to get compensation:

Several hundred workers injured in the Rana Plaza collapse and relatives of those feared missing are passing days in miseries as they have not been given any compensation by any quarters concerned in last two months.

The maimed workers said they were enlisted by many quarters concerned but were not given any compensation. They also do not know what steps have been taken for their rehabilitation. They want their immediate rehabilitation.
While talking with New Age on Sunday the injured workers said they were suffering severe hardship without job.
The eight-storey Rana Plaza, which housed five clothing factories, a shopping mall and a bank, collapsed on the morning of April 24, killing 1,131 people.
The maimed workers said after the collapse nobody came to enquire about their condition.
‘Our situation is terrible. We have no earning, no money to buy food. No one came to us with any financial help,’ said one of the workers.
read more.

* Rana Plaza collapse victim Manowar still in coma:

Manowar, 18, who sustained brain injury in Rana Plaza collapse, has been in a coma for the last two months. 

He was admitted to the intensive care unit of Enam Medical College at Savar on April 24 after the tragic incident.
The hospital management said he had remained in his unconscious
Sudip Shaha, the doctor on duty, said Manowar had a very critical injury in the brain and it was very difficult to say whether he would recover from this
The victim had many other complications — bones of his both legs were broken and at least four surgeries were carried out in his body.
Eight-storey Rana Plaza collapsed, leaving at least 1,131 people dead so far.
Manowar turned into a subject of discussion because of confusion over his identity after he was rescued.
Manowar’s father Abul Hosen said he had rushed to the spot after hearing the news of factory collapse and found Manowar a day later.
Manowar worked in New Wave Bottoms Ltd and lived with his uncle Atiar Rahman at Savar, he further added.
to read.

19:46:26 local time map of india INDIA

* CITU criticises AEPC chairman’s data on workers’ salary:

The CITU-affiliated Baniyan and General Workers Union, in a statement issued here, has termed the data released by Apparel Export Promotion Council chairman A. Sakthivel on the salary scales given to textile workers, as incorrect and misleading.

C. Moorthy, general secretary of the Baniyan and General Workers Union and also district assistant secretary of CITU, said the workers did not have any objection to the statements regarding the export enhancement figures but was surprised over AEPC chairman’s attribution of success story to, among other things, better welfare given to workers in the apparel sector which include increased salary and skill development given under a particular project
“The AEPC chairman has projected the average monthly salary of a worker in the apparel sector at US $ 170. It means that a worker is drawing around Rs. 10,000.
read more.
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* As debt mounts, weavers worry over children’s future:

Families involved in handloom silk weaving are worried over the mounting debts as the money borrowed to meet expenses during strike and non-productive days could turn out to be a burden on their children and affect their future.

Silk weaving is mainly carried out in Kondalampatti, Neikkaraptti, Elampillai, Vanavasi and Mecheri in the district. About 14,000 families are involved in master weaving while another 10,000 families were working in ancillary units in twisting, dyeing, warping and designing. They were affected by the week-long strike that began on June 19. They were seeking reduction of import duty on silk from the current 15 per cent to 5 per cent that was increased in the Union Budget earlier.

Raja Bommanan and his wife Devika, who were involved in warping for the past five years, had already borrowed Rs. 20,000 at higher interest rate to run the family. “Escalating cost of essential commodities, reduction in income level and increase in expenses of two children have forced me to borrow,” Mr. Raja said. He added that with his poor earnings he could pay only the interest for the borrowed money and feared that his children could be vested with the responsibility of settling the principal amount later. “Their education needs were taken care of by grandmothers and I can only feed them with my earnings,” he added.
read more.
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* Praj recives repeat orders for textile wastewater treatment in Tirupur:

Praj Industries, a global process engineering solutions provider, has won a repeat order after successful operation of its first zero liquid discharge (ZLD) system at the Veerapandi common effluent treatment plant (CETP) in Tirupur.

Garment units in Tirupur went through a crisis following the discharge of coloured effluents from bleaching and dyeing units that resulted in severe pollution of water bodies. Following the orders of the Madras High Court, more than 600 bleaching and dyeing units remained closed for almost two years for want of a reliable solution.
Though various technologies were implemented, none could solve the groundwater pollution problem effectively. This extended the closure of textile dyeing clusters till the installation of ZLD units, which has helped in building confidence for reopening them in compliance with the pollution control norms.
read more.

* Depreciation of local currencies posing threat to profitability of apparel exporters:

When all focus is on plummeting rupee against dollar, another major threat is looming large over apparel exporters here that in the form of heavy depreciation in the local currencies of certain foreign countries in emerging market that source apparels from India in ‘US dollars’.

This monetary scenario’s cascading effect is that the profitability of apparel exports from India had started affecting severely as the overseas buyers from such countries, where local currencies are falling, demand heavy reduction in garment prices to offset the shelling of more local currencies to buy dollars for purchasing garments from India.

“Already, apparel importers from countries like South Africa, where the local currency Rand has depreciated sharply against US dollar, have carried out heavy negotiations with few exporters here and managed to get discounts up to six per cent even on the ‘orders under process/execution’ leave alone fresh orders,” R. Girish, an apparel exporter and founder-member of Tirupur Exporters and Manufacturers Association, pointed out.
read more.
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* Yadgir to get textile park:

The backward district of Yadgir will get a textile park of international standards. The district, which is recognized as one among the backward districts by Nanjundappa Commission High Power Committee for Redressal of Regional Imbalances in Karnataka, is ideal for the purpose, minister for textiles Baburao Chinchanasur has said.

Baburao is MLA from Gurmitkal that is part of erstwhile Gulbarga from which Yadgir was carved out.

Stating that he had elaborate discussion with chief minister Siddaramaiah with regard to the textile park as part of the pre-budget meeting in Bangalore on Friday, Baburao told reporters here that it will entail an investment of around Rs 10,000 crore. “Nearly 3,300 acres of land has been set aside for development of Yadgir district out of which 1,000 acres will be used for the textile park,” he said, adding that the project is envisaged as per the commission’s recommendations.
read more. & read more.
TOInew decanherald

* Gurgaon boy spins a yarn of ethnic clothing:

Hailing from Sirhaul village in Gurgaon, being a designer was not an easy road to take for Kanishk Bhardwaj.

From family to relatives and friends, opposition came through every door. ‘A well-educated tailor’ and ‘man in women’s profession’ were some of the taunts he faced as he geared up to join a design school at the age of 18, right after his class 12 exams.
The 21-year-old today has launched his own brand of clothing and is known for his unique designs in ethnic wear. “My parents had also opposed my decision earlier. However, after getting good grades in class 12 exams, I argued my way to the design school. Now, they are proud to see my work,” says Kanishk.

Coming from a family of IAS and IPS officers, Kanishk, since childhood, was attracted towards fashion week programs and sophisticatedly-dressed people. This motivated him towards the profession, which is rather unconventional in his family.
At college, his teachers became his inspiration and guide. “My instructor Archana Ranjan guided and helped me giving shape to my imagination. She taught me various techniques and finishes which would distinguish my style from others”, says Kanish, a final year student at Institute of Apparel Management.
read more.

* Indian textile & apparel exporters rejoice over rupee fall:

The fall of the Indian rupee against the US dollar and other major currencies has brought smiles on the faces of Indian textile and apparel exporters and why not?The Indian currency has tanked and lost nearly 10% in value against the dollar since May 6.  The rupee hit an all time low of Rs 59.93 against the US greenback on June 20.
Bloomberg data reveals that between March 28, 2012 and June 20, 2013, the rupee also depreciated against the Euro by 13.21 percent and against the British Pound by 12.23 percent. In the same period the rupee plunged 17.10 percent against the UAE Dirham.
read more.

* Garment machinery manufacturers facing imported challenge:

The manufacturers of garment machinery in the city are losing out to better quality and cost-effective machinery imported from South-east Asian and European countries.

Once the backbone of the local garments and knitwear industry, garment machinery manufactures are finding it hard to
continue. They also blame the government for not providing enough support to them to upgrade technology.

President of the Garments Machinery Manufacturers’ and Suppliers’ Association, Ram Krishan, said: “There was a time when business was booming. But for some years, the industry has been facing tough times. The local garments industry now prefers machines imported from countries like China, Taiwan, Germany and Japan.”
The imported machines are much better in quality and also increase production manifold. “Machines imported from China are cost effective and give an advantage to the garments manufacturing industry,” he added.
read more.

* Textile industry to collect 50,000 saris for tragedy-hit people of Uttarakhand:

Trade and business organizations of Surat have decided to lend a helping hand to the tragedy-hit people of Uttarakhand.

South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industries (SGwith the help of Federation of Surat Textile Traders Association (FOSTTA) and Textile Processors Association (TPS) will send 50,000 saris to help local women who have lost everything in the nature’s fury in the hill state.

“We had a call from textile secretary Sunaina Tomar asking Surat to contribute with 50,000 saris for the local population of the state,” SGCCI president Kamlesh Yagnik said.

Locals have lost everything, including their houses, in the floods that followed the cloud burst of June 16 and 17. They should be provided with at least the basic items so that they can start their lives anew, Yagnik added. FOSTTA president Sanjay Jagnanai said, “In our board meeting to be held on Monday, a committee for collection of materials will be formed. The collection work will begin from Tuesday.” There are more than 400 process houses and one lakh textile traders in the city. Thus, it will not be difficult to collect 50,000 saris for the locals of Uttarakhand.
to read.

19:16:26 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Pakistan’s textile exports grow 5.3% in May’13:

Riding on the back of marginal rise in demand from the US and European markets, textile and clothing exports from Pakistan grew by 5.3 percent to US$ 1.187 million in May this year, as compared to US$ 1.128 million in May 2012, statistics released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) show.
The items that positively contributed to the export growth during the period include, cotton yarn whose exports grew by 11.89 percent year-on-year, cotton cloth by 5.8 percent, cotton carded or combed by 177.27 percent, yarn other than cotton yarn by 46.44 percent, knitwear by 2.07 percent, bedwear by 14.04 percent, towels by 7.95 percent, readymade garments by 22.67 percent and other textile material by 6.48 percent.
read more. 

19:16:26 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* Uzbekistan falls under US sanctions on human trafficking:

The US State Department has given the lowest possible grade to Uzbekistan on the trafficking of people in its latest Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report. The current ranking allows the US to introduce certain sanctions against Uzbekistan.

For the first time in six years, the US government has downgraded Uzbekistan to the lowest possible grade when it comes to human trafficking.
In 2008, the State Department raised Uzbekistan’s ranking from Tier 3 to Tier 2 Watch List, but the 2013 Report downgrades the country back to Tier 3.
The Trafficking in Persons report outlines that internal labor trafficking remains prevalent during the annual cotton harvest, in which children and adults are victims of government-organized forced labor. read more.

* Chinese firms invest in six Uzbek textile plants:

Chinese companies are investing in six textile projects in Uzbekistan’s Jizzak special industrial zone.

The six projects would together cost US$ 56 million and would become operational by the end of 2015, according to Uzbekistan’s state joint stock company Uzbekyenglisanoat.
The Chinese firms that are investing in the textile projects are Nang Yang Mulanhu, Henan Sine, Pinmian Co. Ltd., and Hebey An Feng Da Group, UzDaily reported.
The six textile mills would together have an annual capacity to produce up to 30 million sq m of cotton fabric, 13,000 tons of knitted fabric, and 15 million pieces of readymade garments.
About 80 percent of the goods produced at the new textile and apparel factories are likely to be exported.
read more.
map of Asia


* Businesses worried sick about minimum wages
* Promoting textile/garment exports to the EU
* Hong Kong Group invests US$200 million in garment project
* Garment sector dressed for success

* Hourly wage proposal shelved

* Nike asks gov’t for Sabrina inquiry
* Nike seeks probe on Cambodia factory raid
* BetterFactories Media updates 12-21 June 2013, Justice for workers in Bandith’s hearing

* Workers Walk Out as Govt Prepares for Fuel-Price Protesters
* BetterWork Indonesia Media update

* Australian retailers linked to worker abuse
* Police foil human chain of apparel workers
* SKOP demands labour law amendment
* Fire burns goods of weaving mill in Jessore
* Database for garment workers by Aug: BGMEA
* Rajuk identifies 100 risky RMG factories; seeks expert opinions
* Garment factories show effort, lapses
* One Bangladesh garment factory shows safety efforts; another shows how far industry has to go
* RMG safety- Exporters demand Tk 1000 cr as special fund
* US sends $2.5M for BD factory safety
* Small units’ relocation to ‘garment palli’ uncertain
* Don’t abandon Bangladesh
* RMG owners getting 35pc less orders this season
* Global retailers plan to source more items including RMG from B’desh
* B’desh factory deaths spark action among high-street clothing chains
* Walmart still accepting garments from blacklisted factories as Bangladesh struggles to change
* Primark may quit BD if drive fails- Primark warns Bangladesh
* Tesco to send official to sort Bangladesh issues
* Russia advises Bangladesh to prepare product list for Eurasian Union
* B’desh engages firm to lobby with US on GSP
* Decision on GSP for Bangladesh in coming week
* Govt to assess possible impact on BD exports
* Terry towel exporters receiving huge response from non-traditional mkts
* B’desh among other countries to enjoy cotton bonanza in FY `14
* Dhaka-Ctg highway robbery at its peak
* IDLC Investments – Company Insight
* Youngone chief targets $1b exports from Bangladesh
* The over-competitive RMG market
* Many workers yet to get compensation
* Rana Plaza collapse victim Manowar still in coma

* CITU criticises AEPC chairman’s data on workers’ salary
* As debt mounts, weavers worry over children’s future
* Praj recives repeat orders for textile wastewater treatment in Tirupur
* Depreciation of local currencies posing threat to profitability of apparel exporters:
* Yadgir to get textile park
* Gurgaon boy spins a yarn of ethnic clothing
* Indian textile & apparel exporters rejoice over rupee fall
* Garment machinery manufacturers facing imported challenge
* Textile industry to collect 50,000 saris for tragedy-hit people of Uttarakhand

* Pakistan’s textile exports grow 5.3% in May’13

* Uzbekistan falls under US sanctions on human trafficking
* Chinese firms invest in six Uzbek textile plants

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2