19:18:54 local time CHINA
* Premier promotes creation of FTA with EU:
China would “welcome” the creation of a free trade agreement with the European Union, its largest trading partner, but it could “take time” to be established, Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday.
As the two sides remain entangled in escalating trade frictions, led by the EU’s probe into and punitive tariffs on China’s solar panel goods, the premier called on both parties to consider establishing a regional trade arrangement.
“If China and the EU could set up a regional FTA, the impact on both sides and worldwide would be far-reaching and profound,” said Li, during a meeting with delegates at the Third Global Think Tank Summit in Beijing.
But as China and the EU remain at different stages of their development, it could take a while for them to put such a FTA in place,” said Li.
* Haining’s green industries surging ahead:
When people speak of Haining, a third-tier city in Zhejiang Province, 120 kilometers from Shanghai, many first think of the leather, warp-knitting and textile industries for which the city is best-known.
However, Haining has been working hard to make a switch in its economy to develop eco-friendly businesses, instead of traditional high polluting industries.
Visitors to the Zhejiang Wankai New Materials Co Ltd, a leading eco-friendly business supported by the city government, are confronted by various types of plastic bottles.
While they look the same as those on countless shop shelves, the difference is that they can be wholly recycled and used to make other products, such as carpets.
“The recycled bottles featuring a material called PET can be used for polyester staple fiber. And this, for example can be used in making carpet,” said Yang Zheng, an R&D manager with Zhejiang Wankai New Materials.
19:18:54 local time PHILIPPINES
* Unionized workers cry discrimination in Clark:
Several companies wary of organized labor here have blacklisted more than 2,000 workers, mostly women, who have been temporarily laid off after a fire gutted their garments factory on May 31, a union officer told a labor official in Central Luzon.
“Blacklisting workers because of their union affiliation is a violation not only of our laws but also of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said Ludynela Hamor, president of Smart Shirts Phils. Inc. Workers Union (SSPIWU), in a letter last week to Raymundo Agravante, regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
“Our government has extended a friendly gesture to these companies, and these companies are under obligation to respect our laws,” Hamor said.
Franco Madlangbayan, vice president of the state-owned Clark Development Corp. (CDC), said he was not aware that garments companies at the free port had enforced a policy against the hiring of workers associated with labor groups.
* Philippines wins some, Loses others under US GSP preferential tariff:
The United States has granted preferential tariff eligibility on four Philippine export products but denied the redesignation on four others and placed the country’s worker rights practice on continuing review under its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program.
The US Trade Representative (USTR) released yesterday the results of the 2012 Annual Review of US GSP, a 37-year-old trade preference program under which the United States provides duty-free treatment to many imports from 127 beneficiary developing countries, including the Philippines.
Based on the annual review results, the USTR has decided to grant Philippine products eligibility for de minimis waivers on exposure meters, wine, cordage, rope and cables of abaca or other hard (leaf) fibers, other than stranded construction or stranded n/o 1.88 cm in diameter.
* DTI seeks more EU-GSP products:
The Department of Trade and Industry is seeking duty-free treatment for more export products including garments, travel goods and tuna under the EU-GSP Plus program to be able to compete with other exporters and improve its share of exports in the 28-EU member trade bloc.
DTI Undersecretary for industry and policy group Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. said there are already over 5,000 Philippine products eligible under the EU-GSP program but there are new product lines being identified by the government and industries that are not eligible for preferential duty under the current EU-GSP program but could be included under the more preferential EU-GSP plus program.
“We have steep competition with other countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh which are enjoying EU-GSP privilege,” he said. There are specific product categories under garments and travel goods that could be eligible under the EU-GSP Plus,
18:18:54 local time VIET NAM
* Minimum salary increases since July 1:
A new minimum wage band which will be up to VND100,000 (US$4.6) more than the current rate per month, will be applied from July 1, 2013, according to the government’s decision No. 66/2013/ND-CP.
This means their salary will be from VND1,050,000 ($50) per month at present to VND1,150,000 ($54.7) a month. The wage is applicable to officers of state-run companies and those working in army forces.
The country now has different wage brackets covering four regional zones, ranked according to the level of socio-economic development in each zone.
* Vietnam to raise minimum wage 10 pct; still not enough to live on :
The Vietnamese government has estimated that raising the minimum wage by around 10 percent for state and office workers starting July 1 will cost the budget VND21,700 trillion (more than US$1 billion).
The minimum wage is set to be raised to VND1.15 million from VND1.05 million a month. It is used to set the salaries and official bonuses for employees of government offices and state-owned agencies including the military.
* Russian police arrest 200 Vietnamese for making fake sports garments :
Russian police arrested some 200 Vietnamese workers making knockoff sports garments following a raid on an illegal factory outside Moscow Wednesday , Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.
The Vietnamese were working and living at the factory in the town of Noginsk, east of Moscow, making fake brand-name sportswear, the police said.
The workers were taken to a police station. An investigation has been launched to identify the building’s owner and tenant.
* Vinatex plans to plant 10,000ha of cotton in Quang Tri by 2015:
The Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) has set a target of planting 10,000ha of cotton in the central province of Quang Tri by 2015.
To realise this target, the group plans to implement a 2,000ha project in Trieu Phong District in the 2013-14 period.
The provincial Department of Planning and Investment and relevant departments have been asked to help Vinatex carry out a feasibility study on the project. The district People’s Committee will work with the Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Natural Resources and Environment to allocate land to Vinatex for a trial plantation.
* Garments and textiles to enjoy zero percent tariffs:
Vietnamese garment and textile businesses are expecting Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) signatories to offer their products.
Preferential zero percent tariffs when entering foreign markets. This stage of the international integration process creates a huge opportunity for the Vietnamese garment and textile industry.
In order to receive these preferential import tariffs, garment and textile manufacturers must make use of materials originating in TPP member nations. Businesses are therefore striving to accelerate their rates of localization in the hopes of avoiding squandering such a valuable advantage.
The Government has approved a development strategy for the garment and textile sector until 2020, with a focus one establishing a supply chain that efficiently links businesses.
* HCM City outlines garment ambition:
Authorities in HCM City plan to double the garment and textile industry’s export turnover by 2015 over the 2010 figure of US$3.3 billion.
The city, which sees the industry as one of its five key exports from 2011 to 2015, has asked manufacturers to expand production, improve product quality and find new markets.
In a report released on Tuesday, the Thoi Bao Kinh Te (Viet Nam Economic Times) said that most garment and textile factories had moved to rural areas, which there is a rich source of manual labourers.
In recent years, garment companies in HCM City have improved product quality and design by investing in advanced technologies.
As a result, many companies such as Anh Phuoc, Thai Tuan, Viet Thy, Viet Thang and Phong Phu have increased their market share in the country.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 1/7.
18:18:54 local time THAILAND
* 20 minutes behind the iron bars:
The campaign has been quietly going on with Somyot, Joop and their legal team preparing for the next stage of his legal case including the next round of applying for bail.
Here is Joop’s report of 20 minutes with Somyot
20 minutes between the iron bars
Prison visit to Somyot on 27 June 2013
It was Thursday morning at 08.30 AM when Somyot and I have regular visit every week. Iron bars and secure windows divided us apart but couldn’t separate our souls. I was given the room no. 1 which was the last meeting room in the row in Bangkok Remand Prison. Without hesitation, Somyot walked fast and looked straight at me and smiled, his smile made the world so bright and full of hope and peace. I was so relieved to meet him in that morning.
18:18:54 local time CAMBODIA
* Map connects factories and buyers:
In light of ongoing disputes over working conditions in the garment sector, the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) released yesterday details on hundreds of factories it believes will offer greater transparency along the garment supply chain – from producers to buyers – and shine a light on those responsible for rights violations within Cambodia’s largest export industry.
Posted on the CCHR website, the “Garment Factory Map” details 559 factory locations, the nationality of owners, the number of employees and, where information is available, the international brands that the local producers supply.
To scroll through the report is to see the endless variety of products made by Cambodians and worn abroad, from the normal – underwear and footwear – to the unexpected – hospital gowns and ballet shoes.
CCHR president Ou Virak said by allowing consumers, workers, unions, investors, governments and buyers greater insight into an often complex supply chain, all players can be held to greater account, ultimately highlighting and applying greater pressure on the factories where violations occur.
* CCHR publishes the map of Garment Factory in Cambodia:
The map details a total of at least 558 garment factories operating in Cambodia; some factories do not have sufficiently required information to be included in this research.
The owners of these factories are based in Cambodia as well as from a number of foreign countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Macau, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, the Netherlands, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Turkey.
Of these 558 factories, 394 are located in the capital city of Phnom Penh, 82 in Kandal province, 28 in Kampong Speu province and 16 in Sihanoukville province. The other 38 are located in Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, Kampot, Koh Kong, Siem Reap, Svay Rieng and Takeo provinces. These 558 factories employ at least 475,107 workers; some of the factories do not report the number of employees.
read more. & read more.
19:18:54 local time MALAYSIA
* Minimum Wage: 400 Macro Companies Given Leeway – Riot:
Hoteliers and security service providers are among the 400 macro companies with six or more workers nationwide that have been given leeway to defer the implementation of the minimum wage until Dec 31 this year, Human Resource Minister Datuk Richard Riot said today.
He said after January 1 next year, his ministry would not give anymore exemption to any company that is required to pay the minimum wage of RM800 a month in Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan and RM900 in the peninsula under the Minimum Wages Order 2012 for the private sector.
19:18:54 local time INDONESIA
* Jokowi plays down union demands:
Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo played down demands by an alliance of labor unions and non-government organizations for him to change his decision to allow seven Korean companies to suspend the minimum wage increase.
Lawyer Bayu Mahendra representing the governor told the State Administrative Court in East Jakarta on Wednesday that the demands were groundless and not representative of workers in the companies, 70 percent of whom have been employed for less than one year.
* BetterWork Indonesia Media updates:
1. Apindo won’t increase wage this year. Read the full article here.
2. RI labor movement quite dynamic. Read the full article here.
3. Jokowi plays down union demands. Read the full article here.
4. Uncertain laws make employers to be restless: Association.
Read the full article here.
5. Industries Ready for ASEAN Economic Community. Read the full article here.
6. ASEAN to have 320 million Labor Force. Read the full article here.
7. No Nursing room available, Companies’ permit have to be revoked.
Read the full article here
Read the Google Translate English Version here
17:03:54 local time NEPAL
* Jute mill on the verge of closure:
Proprietors of CM Jute Mill have started the process of closing down the factory, citing losses due to irregular energy supply, expensive electricity demand charge and the lack of incentives from the government.
The factory employs 500 individuals and produces 22 tonnes of jute every day. “Due to the government’s apathy, we are not in a position to operate the factory,” said Nandu Rathi, proprietor of the factory. “We found it worthwhile to shutter it down instead of incurring millions of rupees of losses.”
He said energy problems and increased labour costs have been a big burden for the factory, which has been incurring losses for the last five years.
* ‘Bring Social Security‚ Labour Acts simultaneously’:
The private sector has asked the government to introduce the Social Security Act and Labour Act simultaneously through an ordinance for effective implementation.
“They are related to each other and in the absence of the Labour Act, the Social Security Act may not be effective,” said chairperson of Employers’ Council and vice president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) Pashupati Murarka, at an interaction on Social Security Fund, organised by Nepal Business Forum — a public private dialogue forum promoted by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) — here, today.
A draft of the Social Security Act is ready but the draft of the Labour Act needs more amendments and could be delayed, according to the Ministry of Labour.
“If the government cannot bring both the Acts simultaneously through an ordinance, then the Labour Act must be brought before the employers start contributing to the Social Security Fund,” said Murarka, adding that the two Acts complement each other.
“Social Security Act will not only help increase productivity of employees and mitigate disputes among employers and employees, but also help attract investment, as employees will feel secure,” Murarka added. “Smooth relations between employees and employers will send a positive message to investors who are interested in investing in Nepal.”
* Trade unions‚ civil society plan to forge alliance for workers’ rights:
Trade unions and non-governmental organisations have decided to build a greater alliance to promote decent work at home and abroad.
Three major trade unions — Nepal Trade Union Congress-Independent, All Nepal Trade Union Federation, and General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions — and over a dozen civil society organisations have shown their commitment to work together by forging an alliance.
“We believe that there is an absolute need for a greater alliance to promote decent work in all labour sectors,” said executive director at Youth Action Nepal Bishnu Khatri. According to him, the greater alliance will facilitate small rights groups to use their rights and enter the informal sector. “Trade unions have access to formal sector but the sector only covers around 10 per cent of the total 1.17 million labour force of the country.”
17:18:54 local time BANGLADESH
* Footwear factory at Ctg EPZ catches fire:
A footwear factory at EPZ here caught fire early Sunday.
Fire service officials said the fire originated from a godown of a two-storey building of ‘Papela Shoe Limited’ around 3.30am and it soon spread to the whole factory.
On information, three firefighting units from Agrabad, EPZ and Chittagong Port rushed in and put out the blaze on the first floor of the building around 8:30 am. But, the flame on the ground floor could not be brought under control till filing of the report at about 9:15 am.
Ruhul Amin, deputy director of fire service (Ctg division), said their 14 vehicles have been engaged in putting out the blaze.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more.
* Factory fire in Chittagong:
A fire swept through a shoe manufacturing factory in Chittagong Export Processing Zone (EPZ) on Sunday.
14 vehicles of 3 fire service units brought the blaze under control, about six hours after the fire began, Chittagong Fire Service and Civil Defence Control Room official said.
The fire broke out around 3:30am at ‘Papella Shoes’ located on road-4 in the EPZ area. It was not clear how the fire broke out and if there were any casualties. Estimate of losses were not also available.
Though Chittagong was experiencing rain in the morning, it had no effect in checking the fire so far.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Probe body formed on CEPZ fire:
Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) formed an investigation committee to look into the Sunday’s fire at Papelo Shoe factory in Chittagong Export Processing Zone (CEPZ).
Confirming the matter to banglanews, BEPZA General Manager SM Abdur Rashid said Superintendent Engineer Nurul Islam would lead the five-member probe body.
The committee has been asked to submit its report within next seven days.
read more. & read more.
* Police foils garment workers’ rally:
Police on Friday foiled a rally of Bangladesh Garment Sramik Sanghati in front of the National Press Club.
They forced the leaders and activists of the organisation to leave the venue, but the workers led a procession that paraded through different city roads.
The garment workers’ rights body organised the protest rally to press for its demands for exemplary punishments to those responsible for the Rana Plaza collapse, passing the proposed Labour Law-2013 bill in the parliament amending its undemocratic sections and giving minimum wage for the garment workers at Tk 8,000 per month.
Taslima Akhter, the central coordinator of the organisation, at a brief at Segunbagicha said that police had foiled their peaceful rally which was a violation of democratic rights of the people.
She urged the government to pass the proposed labour law, dropping its undemocratic sections.
* RMG right groups demand workplace safety:
Garment worker rights bodies on Saturday urged the government to take steps for ensuring safety of the workers at their work places in the garment sector.
National Garment Workers Federation and Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation made the demand at a joint press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity to mark international day of action to end death-traps observed worldwide on the day.
National Garment Workers Federation president Amirul Haque Amin said that safety of the workers at their workplaces was being ignored for a long time.
* Human chain to get Wal-Mart, Gap to sign safety accord:
Workers and activists yesterday formed a human chain in front of Rana Plaza, as part of a worldwide demonstration to urge Wal-Mart and Gap to sign on to the accord on fire and building safety in Bangladesh.
“Foreign buyers buy from Bangladesh to make profits, but, in exchange, they do little to ensure a safe work environment,” said Kalpona Akter, executive director of Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity.
So far, more than 60 noted companies including H&M and Inditex have signed the accord which legally binds the buyers to paying $5 lakh every year for factory maintenance and repair.
Although the two US retail giants finalised an agreement to establish a $50 million five-year fund to improve the safety conditions in Bangladeshi garment factories, activists decried the scheme due to its non-legally binding nature.
* Toronto protesters pressure retailers on Bangladesh safety accord:
Protesters gathered outside GAP and Walmart stores in Toronto on Saturday, calling on the retail giants to sign a safety accord aimed at protecting garment workers in Bangladesh, reports CBC News.
In April more than 1,000 workers died when a building housing a number of factories in Dhaka collapsed.
The scope of the disaster prompted more than 20 companies, including Loblaw and Joe Fresh, to sign the Fire and Building Safety Accord, but Walmart and Gap opted out, saying they intended to work on their own to improve safety in their factories.
* BGMEA seeks ILO support for workers’ skill development:
Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) today sought technical support from the International Labour Organziation (ILO) for enhancing the skill of mid and high level management in garment industry.
“We need industrial and production engineering in the apparel industry. We need technical support from ILO and Poverty Reduction Project (UPPR) to do so,” M Atique Islam, President of BGMEA, told a function at BGMEA Bhaban in the city.
International Project Manager of Urban Partnerships for Poverty Reduction Project (UPPR) Per Olof Bertilsson, International Poverty Reduction Specialist Kishore Kumar Singh and Chief Technical Officer of ILO Arthur Earl Shears spoke on the occasion.
BGMEA 2nd Vice-President SM Mannan Kochim and other office bearers were also present.
The function was organized marking the successful completion of first round of training imparted to 25 Readymade Garment (RMG) workers.
read more. & read more.
* Survival instincts at workplace: Taking the road less travelled:
Coming out of your comfort zone is the latest challenge of the corporate world
With industries growing at lightning fast pace and markets changing rapidly, professionals have to be on their toes at all times.
The amount of work due outnumbers the amount of work done. In these situations, our survival instincts tell us to adopt the traditional way to meet deadlines.
You are more likely to survive, let alone succeed, if you put yourself in danger rather than taking the safe way out. Coming out of your comfort zone is the latest challenge of the corporate world.
Try these nine ways to get out of your comfort zone:
1. Get comfortable with discomfort:
2. Train your brain to deal with pressure:
3. Focus on the small tasks:
4. Diversify your comfort zone:
5. Give your computer a rest:
6. Reserve some “me-time”:
7. Listen carefully:
8. Go deeper into matters:
9. Be positive with negative:
* 2 RMG units shut in Ashulia:
Productions at two readymade garment units in Ashulia remain suspended for Saturday as employees of one factory went on work abstention while another was closed following “mass sickness” of workers.
Workers of “Mscsuoka Apparel Ltd”, a Japan-funded factory, in Kumkumari Bazar of Ashulia have been observing work abstention since the morning protesting termination of some of their fellow workers, reported our correspondent.
The authorities of “The Rose”, a factory owned by Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), in Ashulia Industrial belt, shut its production as over one hundred workers of the factory fell sick after having dinner server by the authority Friday night.
Around 2,000 workers of Mscsuoka went to their work place Saturday morning but did not join their works as the authority terminated 26 workers in the morning and 46 others in the last week.
read more. & read more.
* Ailing RMG workers getting well:
The condition of the garment workers, who fell sick after eating Tiffin given by factory authority on Friday in Ashulia, has improved on Saturday.
One of the workers Rehana told banglanews that she was feeling better like other workers Saturday.
On Friday night, some 500 workers of The Rose Dresses, owned by president of BGMEA, fell sick after eating factory Tiffin.
The workers were rushed to different local hospitals and primarily it was assumed to be food poisoning.
Garment authority declared the factory shut for Saturday soon after the incident.
* Over 100- 300- 400- 500-1000 RMG workers fall sick in Ashulia-Savar:
Over 1000 workers of a garment factory were hospitalized on Sunday morning as they fell sick after drinking contaminated water of the factory at Jamgora in Ashulia upazila.
Factory sources said the workers of ‘ The Rose Limited’, owned by BGMEA president Atiqul Islam, fell sick after drinking water from the tap of the factory during their breakfast around 10am.
The sick workers were admitted to different clinics and hospitals including Savar Anam Medical College Hospital with complaints of frequent vomiting.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* RMG workers fall sick again in Ashulia:
More than hundred workers of JL Sweater Ltd factory became sick after eating Tiffin at Ashulia on Sunday night.
Sick workers were sent to Ashulia Women and Children Hospital Center, Nightingale Medical College Hospital and Enam Medical College Hospital and others adjacent hospitals.
Worker Al-Amin said, “We were served cake, banana and egg at around 07:00pm. And after eating those foods workers started vomiting.”
* BGMEA reluctant to take action against sub-contracting members:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) is not going to take any punitive actions, for now, against 254 factories for being non-compliant, rather it plans to give them more time.
“We cannot cancel membership of a large number of factories, rather we will talk to them
see what can be done and will extend time if needed,” BGMEA president Atiqul Islam told the FE.
Following the Rana Plaza building collapse on April 24, BGMEA asked all its member-factories to comply with a five-point instruction including approval from buyers, and group insurance coverage for workers to ensure fire and building safety.
Until the extended deadline of June 15, some 1822 utilisation declaration (UD) certificate-holding factories submitted required documents, and 254 factories did not submit any.
According to the BGMEA, its listed factories stand at 5,500. Of these, 2,076 factories got UD certificates from the association. The rest of the factories have been surviving on sub-contract work coming from the UD holding export-oriented factories.
* Rajuk seals off 2 RMG factories in city:
The Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha sealed off two garment factories at Malibagh in the capital on Sunday after detecting cracks in the building that housed the factories.
The factories are Al-Hamra and Al-Majed—both owned by Palmal Group, the RAJUK officials said.
RAJUK authorised officer M Afsar Uddin told New Age that RAJUK had sealed off the factories in the eight-storey building at Malibagh after examining by experts of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.
He said that RAJUK sent an inspection team to visit the factories as they were informed that the building had developed cracks on several sides some days ago.
‘After receiving the test report from the BUET experts a team of RAJUK sealed off the factories on Sunday morning… but the factory workers protested against the sealing off,’ he said.
* Cheap, trendy fast fashion in demand, despite factory dangers:
Cathy Anderson likes clothes — trendy, cutting-edge clothes that look as if they’ve come right off the runway. And she wants them now and she wants them at bargain prices.
Anderson, a 28-year-old District resident, could be a poster child for those who graduated in a down economy but still feel the need to look fashionable. Anderson, who worked at Cosmo Girl and People magazine’s StyleWatch, created Poor Little It Girl, a blog that focuses on items that are right on trend and relatively cheap, usually under $100.
Young men and women like Anderson have turned to stores such as H&M, Zara and the Gap. Inexpensive clothing has always existed, but these retailers have racked up huge sales by mastering the art of “fast fashion”: identifying hot designer trends immediately, ordering up inexpensive copies and stocking their stores with the look-alikes, often within weeks of their runway debuts. And they do so at a fraction of the designer price, making them accessible to a broad range of consumers. (These are not knockoffs in the traditional sense because no one is trying to pass them off as designer originals.)
“Fashion used to be . . . really an elite thing to do. Now it’s not,” says Daniel Benkendorf, an assistant professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
* A Tale of Bangladeshi T-Shirts:
Cheap garment-factory labor doesn`t always equal cheap clothes.
The availability of low-cost workers has sent mass-market clothing labels of all stripes–H&M, Gap, Wal-Mart, Zara and others–into Bangladesh`s $20 billion garment industry.
But designer brands including Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss also have outsourced manufacturing to Bangladesh, where worker safety has become a huge issue following several fatal accidents. Indeed, high-end labels often use the same factories as their discount peers.
Giorgio Armani last year received shipment of 21,600 pounds of T-shirts and underwear made in a factory in the port city of Chittagong, according to the shipping records. A nearby factory supplied women`s pants to Michael Kors.
* New markets a new hope for RMG:
The country’s ready-made garments (RMG) exports to non-traditional markets rose significantly during the first 11 months (July-May) of the current financial year, which industry insiders said, an encouraging sign to offset the sock of GSP suspension by the USA.
Exports to the non-traditional market (comprising11 new destinations) stood at $ 1.951 billion during the 11-month of current fiscal as against $ 1.529 billion during the same period in last fiscal registering a growth of 27.55 per cent.
“The RMG export is growing significantly to non-traditional markets,” said former vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Managing Director of Giant Group Faruque Hassan who also stressed the need for continuous strive to improve the labour standard, work place environment and other safety compliances
Hasan, who usually dealt with new markets in the previous committee, expects a more fabulous export to the new destination in coming year which he said, would help offset the shock of the suspension of GSP facilities in the US market.
Garment makers said they started diversifying markets in the face of shrinking demand for apparel items during the global recession in 2007 and 2008.
Their aggressive marketing drive is paying off now, they added.
* GSP facilities in EU till Dec! :
Senior diplomats assured that European Union wouldn’t withdraw or postpone Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for Bangladesh before this December.
Former senior diplomats advised government for taking adequate steps within two months to brought back GSP facilities in US and also keeping strong negotiations to keep it run in European Union.
They also advised to Foreign Ministry and Commerce Ministry to work on the matter.
European Union is likely to enact new rule on GSP after December.
* EU GSP withdrawal for Bangladesh must be avoided: EU:
The European Union (EU) on Sunday said a decision to withdraw the EU GSP for Bangladesh must be avoided, as it would have far-reaching consequences for its jobs and economy.
“The GSP provided by the EU benefits all products from Bangladesh under its Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme. This means that a decision to withdraw the EU GSP for Bangladesh must be avoided, as it would have far-reaching consequences for jobs and for the economy,” said an EU release.
The EU wishes to remain engaged with Bangladesh so that it can preserve the preferential access to the EU market which has greatly helped socioeconomic development over the years, it said.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* EU not to go US way:
Bangladesh’s biggest trading partner, the European Union, which absorbs most of the readymade garment exports, has vowed to provide ‘the best possible’ market access in its effort to improve labour standards.
The EU delegation in Bangladesh in a statement on Sunday said, “The GSP provided by the EU benefits all products from Bangladesh under its Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme.”
“This means that a decision to withdraw the EU GSP for Bangladesh must be avoided, as it could have far-reaching consequences for jobs and for the economy,” it said.
* EU seeks to read new labour law:
Trade commissioner hosts meeting in Geneva next week
The European Union yesterday said it wants to look into Bangladesh’s amended labour law as EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht is set to host a meeting in Geneva next week to discuss trade privileges.
“A decision to withdraw the EU GSP for Bangladesh must be avoided, as it would have far-reaching consequences for jobs and for the economy,” the EU said in a statement.
At a meeting of the Local Consultative Group in Dhaka, European ambassadors urged the government to share the draft of the amended labour law with them so they could suggest corrective measures.
“The EU ambassadors clearly said they do not want to revoke the GSP facility. However, they urged the government to share the proposed labour law with them so that no such situation is created in future,” a finance ministry official said.
The EU ambassadors said their main concern was how to ensure better working environment for garments factory workers in Bangladesh.
* EU to continue GSP for Bangladesh:
Disapproving fear and speculation about European Union’s suspension of GSP benefit for Bangladesh, the EU on Sunday said it wished to remain engaged with Bangladesh so that it can preserve the preferential access to the EU market.
‘The GSP provided by the EU benefits all products from Bangladesh under its Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme. This means that a decision to withdraw the EU GSP for Bangladesh must be avoided, as it would have far-reaching consequences for jobs and for the economy,’ a statement by the European Union said.
The EU statement came two days after the US decision to suspend Bangladesh’s GSP facility to put pressure on the country to improve working conditions and safety in the garment industry following killing of more than 1,200 workers in factory disasters in the last one year.
The readymade garment, a major export product of Bangladesh, had not enjoyed the GSP facility in the United States when it took the decision to suspend GSP for a few products, but Bangladesh gets GSP facility for RMG products in the EU market.
* BD may have a short pause in RMG growth for GSP suspension:
Bangladesh may have a short pause in the growth of its readymade garment (RMG) industry because of the suspension of the GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) by the United States but it will ultimately grow, said the chairman of a global packaging retailer Sunday.
“I believe recent tragedies and some of the US government position on the GSP facilities could potentially cause short-term pause in some of the growths. But our feeling is Bangladesh has better managed production requirements to the rest of the world,” said Dean Scarborough, chairman, president and CEO of Avery Dennison, a retail branding and information solution company of the US.
“Over time the market will continue to grow and that’s why we are continuing our investment in the market. This shows our confidence in Bangladeshi suppliers of the garments industry,” he said.
* Govt yet to decide on TU activities in EPZs:
The government is yet to decide whether it would allow trade union (TU) activities in the Export Processing Zones (EPZs) of the country in line with the suggestion made by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) office, a secretary to the government said.
“The existing laws related to BEPZA (Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority) will expire at the end of this year and the government is yet to decide whether the EPZs would be brought under the purview of the labour law,” said labour secretary Mikail Shipar after an inter-ministerial meeting on issues concerning the GSP cancellation by the US and updating the labour and safety standards in the country’s apparel sector.
* Punishing the workers:
We abhor the greed and apathy that led to the Rana Plaza disaster, but we think that taking away GSP privileges will be counter-productive
The recent move made by the US administration to revoke GSP privileges for Bangladesh strikes us as hypocritical and extremely unlikely to have any positive impact on workers in our nation.
We would argue that this decision by the US administration is not reacting to the Rana Plaza tragedy, but rather giving in to pressure from AFL-CIO, the powerful American labour lobby, which has been petitioning for such a move since 2007 – leading to the logical inference that the AFL-CIO has cynically taken advantage of the tragedy in Savar to push through its agenda, which has nothing to do with protecting Bangladeshi workers.
It is also a touch absurd to see the US championing unions and unionisation in Bangladesh, given their own long-standing efforts to roll back unions in their own country. Indeed, its largest employer, Walmart, does not have a unionised work-force, and the country’s hostility to unions has been a cornerstone of its economic model for the past 30 years.
We abhor the greed and apathy that led to the Rana Plaza disaster, but we think that taking away GSP privileges will be counter-productive.
As GSP benefits did not extend to the garment industry, there is no impetus for garment factory owners to do anything differently, they have also taken away the leverage they would have had through the promise of the extension of benefits if the garment industry was able to meet international labour standards.
* GSP suspension a wake-up call:
The United States, which has become one of the main destinations of export of garment products from Bangladesh, a least developed country, has suspended the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) until and unless there is an improvement in factories in terms of building codes, workers’ rights, formation of trade unions in industrial sectors, working conditions and appropriate wages.
As of now, 0.54 per cent of Bangladesh’s total exports enjoy duty-free status, but US realises $720 million as duty on garments. The GSP rule requires a country to demonstrate that it has taken steps to ensure internationally-recognised human rights for workers in the factories. Absence of the GSP facility will cost Bangladesh millions of dollars in duties to be paid to the US.US
Trade Representative Michael Froman said, the goal, of course, is not only to see Bangladesh restore its eligibility for benefits, but to see its workers in safe and appropriate work situation.
* B’desh to miss opportunity unless it signs TICFA:
Bangladesh will lose the opportunity of trade negotiations with the USA if it does not sign the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA), Commerce Minister GM Quader told Parliament on Saturday.
“Bangladesh’s interests won’t be protected without this agreement (TICFA), and the country will be deprived of economic and commercial privileges”, he said, answering a tabled scripted question of Nurul Islam BSc (Awami League-Chittagong).
GM Quader informed the House that if the TICFA is signed with the USA, Bangladesh will get the chance of at least one discussion on trade and investment every year.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Ticfa an innocent proposal: BoI chief:
Executive chairman of the Board of Investment (BoI) SA Samad on Sunday said the government’s move to sign Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (Ticfa) with the United States is an ‘innocent’ matter.
Addressing a discussion on the budget bill for fiscal 2013-14 organised by the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) at its office, he said, “Ticfa is an innocent proposal to set up a forum.”
“Ticfa, some people say, is another intervention of the US authorities to strangulate Bangladesh. In reality, it’s an agreement to take up a forum to discuss trade and investment,” he added.
The cabinet at a regular meeting on June 17 last approved a proposal to sign Ticfa with the USA.
* WP protests against TICFA:
The Workers Party of Bangladesh, an ally of the ruling Awami League-led alliance, on Saturday called on the government to refrain from signing proposed Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement with the United States.
At rally in front of the National Press Club, the party general secretary Anisur Rahman Mollick said that Bangladesh would not be benefited from the deal, rather the national economy would be hampered.
The cabinet on June 17 had approved the draft of the deal that would only serve the interests of the imperialist America, Anisur said.
‘The US would establish its control over the economy of Bangladesh and our economic developments would be hampered,’ he said.
* Dhaka wants Ticfa before GSP appeal:
Bangladesh prefers to sign the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) with the US before appealing for the reinstatement of GSP, Commerce Minister GM Quader said yesterday.
Usually, there is no system for appealing to the US for a reinstatement of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), a trade benefits facility suspended on Thursday over “serious shortcomings” in safety and labour standards.
The US itself will review the decision after six months of the suspension to evaluate the progress over commitments made at the consecutive hearings at the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in Washington, Quader said.
The minister added he had started preparing the progress report yesterday on actions over the promises made to the USTR, the minister told The Daily Star over the phone.
“I ordered the officials to make the report within two days, but it might not be possible. It may take a few more days,” he said. “On completion of the progress report, I will place it before the cabinet. If the cabinet allows me to send it to the US government, I will do so.
“But the chances of the GSP restoration will be brighter if Bangladesh can sign the Ticfa as the country could appeal via this trade dialogue platform,” the minister said.
* Local apparel makers now eyeing global market with own brands:
The country’s apparel manufacturers have now set their eyes on the global market with their own brands of clothing aiming to explore a new horizon of business alongside their usual exports, insiders said.
Around 15 leading apparel exporters including East West Industrial Park Ltd, Bevelon Group, Millon Clothings Ltd, Beximco and Giant Group of Companies have either set up clothing stores in various cities abroad or making plans to do the same soon keeping their routine export activities intact.
The entrepreneurs, having long experience of clothing business in the domestic market along with export, are mainly venturing to make their clothes of international standard to create new brands.
ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* CID yet to complete Tazreen fire probe:
Seven months have passed since a deadly fire at Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia killed 112 people in November last year, but Criminal Investigation Department is yet to complete the investigation into a criminal case filed after the blaze.
Investigators have so far arrested the factory owner among 12 people in the case.
‘Our investigation is yet to be completed…We cannot say exactly when it will be completed,’ the CID’s senior assistant superintendent Mansur Ali Mandal, also the case investigator, told New Age.
Police sources said that the investigation officer was busy attending trainings rather than making time for the investigation.
‘Recently I attended a training on arson investigation,’ he Mansur said.
Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure stated that every investigation should be completed without unnecessary delay.
When asked about the delay, he claimed, ‘We are taking expert opinions on the technical issues relating to the structural design of the building.’
16:48:54 local time INDIA
* Industry feels heat of power cuts:
Though imposed a bit late this summer compared to last year, the scheduled power cuts coupled with the unscheduled ones, besides breakdowns, have returned, affecting the industry adversely.
Even as the steel industry, the major consumer of power, is already facing market slowdown and being further hampered by the power cuts, the knitwear industry involved in manufacturing for the upcoming winter is also facing production issues in absence of adequate power.
Also, the industry that is already reeling under shortage of labourers, rued that two- to three-day power cuts had started making migratory labourers flee to their native states.The good power scenario earlier this month due to decrease in power consumption owing to heavy pre-monsoon rains had raised the hopes of city-based industry of a good summer this year.
* Exporters to contribute to cotton price stabilisation fund:
Cotton exporters may have to soon contribute a pinch of their profits as cess towards a proposed new fund, price stabilisation fund, which would be managed by the Cotton Corporation of India.
The Union Textile Ministry has put forward a proposal to create this new fund to be used at times when cotton prices undergo drastic fluctuations. Money from the fund would be used to build up a suitable inventory to bring about stabilisation in cotton prices and ensure that neither the exporters nor the farmers became a victim of a price slide.
* My home, my industry:
Home-based women workers constitute a massive workforce, but they often toil under inhuman conditions.
Farida sits in a dimly-lit corner of her small two-room house in an East Delhi slum, doing embroidery for one of the largest retailers in the world.
She gets a fraction of the final price at which the product is sold, but her earnings help sustain her family of four children and a plumber husband, whose monthly income is irregular. Her cramped home doubles as her workplace: She embroiders in the outer room while the inner space makes for the kitchen-cum-family room. Nearly eight to 10 hours of fine-embroidery work every day has taken a toll on her health — her eyes water due to the strain and her back pains from sitting crouched for long hours.
The country has countless home-based women workers in activities ranging from carpet weaving, food processing and garment stitching to assembling micro-electronics and automobile parts. In fact, 25 per cent of female urban workers and 12 per cent of all urban workers are home-based. In some industries such as beedi- and agarbatti-rolling, 60-90 per cent is home-based, and largely made up of women.
These women usually have meagre earnings, and little or no legal and social protection, or worker benefits. Moreover, working in isolation they are vulnerable to exploitation by contractors and sub-contractors.
16:48:54 local time SRI LANKA
* Brandix pledges carbon reduction:
After achieving its 2012 eco targets Sri Lanka’s top apparel exporter Brandix has pledged a further reduction of its carbon footprint by 2020.
The head of environment and energy management of Brandix group, Iresha Somarathna told a media briefing that using 2013 as the base year, Brandix will make further investments in processes and innovations that progressively reduce the impact of its operations on the environment, aiming at a further 20 percent reduction of the Brandix Eco Index over the next seven years.
* Sri Lanka aims to supply higher-end apparel to China: JAAF:
16:18:54 local time PAKISTAN
* Minimum wage: Workers to protest if demands aren’t met:
The power loom workers’ unions have decided to launch a protest from July 4 following the failure of parleys with power loom owners for raise in wages.
Power Loom Workers Union district president Nadeem Ahmad Bawa told media persons on Sunday that the Power Looms Workers’ Union will launch a protest and that the Labour Qaumi Movement, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Labour Wing and the National Labour Federation (Power Looms Wing) would join them.
He said, “We have given the power loom owners till July 3 to raise our wages. Otherwise, protest rallies and processions would be taken out on July 4.”
Also on July 4, a sit-in would be staged in front of the Faisalabad Press Club and future strategy announced, he said.
“If the power loom owners do not respond, we will lock out the factories and broaden the scope of our protest”, he warned.
On Saturday, negotiations for a raise in wages between power loom owners and workers ended unsuccessfully, as the factory owners refused to budge.
* Textile entrepreneurs seek US market access:
Textile entrepreneurs have urged businessmen and officials of the United States to grant the same market access to them as was provided to other countries.
“We do not want any aid or monetary assistance but simply a fair market access to the US market,” said Ahsan Bashir, chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, on the second day of a presentation reserved for textiles at the Pakistan-US conference in Dubai last week.
The US government has granted preferential market access to 360 Pakistani items in the US market.
* Workers minimum wages to Rs10,000 in Sindh:
Chief Minster Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah has announced that it was raising the workers’ minimum wages to Rs10, 000. During the budget debate in the Sindh Assembly, held under Speaker Agha Siraj Khan Durrani, he expressed the fear that the province might lose its capacity to raise finances and said that the Federal Excise Duty (FED) engrafted in the Federal Finance Bill 2013-14 “will hit Sindh’s collection as far as General Sales Tax on services, adding that the province was aiming to collect Rs42 billion during the next fiscal year.
Terming the FED in the Federal Finance Bill against provincial autonomy, which provinces had attained through the 18th Amendment, he said that the imposition of excise duty amounted to sabotaging the National Finance Commission Award. He said that FED had been proposed to be imposed on all taxes on services which Sindh is collecting via GST, adding that ultimately, it would affect the province’s annual revenue targets.
* APTMA rejects PEW report on CPPs:
The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) spokesman has rebuffed the report of Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW), appeared in a section of press which carrying a false and baseless impression that influential lobby of the owners of Captive Power Plants (CPPs) is one of the biggest hurdle in resolving energy crisis in the country.
He said the report released by the PEW is entirely baseless. The fact of the matter is that most of the CPPs were installed under the Energy Policy 2005, to avoid energy shortage and to ensure a interruption free electricity supply in order to save the installed machinery and continue with production activities. Also, he said, the priority list is duly approved by the Economic Co-ordination Committee (ECC) of the federal government, a fact blatantly concealed by the PEW.
* APBUMA, TDAP organise seminar on textile sector:
Textile sector complied with different international obligations, like ISO Certifications, produce and export quality product and ensure timely exports, consequently the exports of all other textile materials increased from $158.251 million to $248.144 million, showing surge of 58.8 percent, said Muhammad Anees Khawaja President of DGCCI while delivering his speech at a seminar on ‘WTO regime and its effects on textile sector’ jointly organised by All Pakistan Bedsheet and Upholstry Manufacturers Association (APBUMA) and TDAP here today.
He said textile exports from the country increased by 8.39 percent during July to January 2013 of the current fiscal year as compared to the same period of last fiscal by improving the quality and standard of the products.
* Call to save cotton from pest attacks:
Former Speaker of National Assembly and a leader of PML-N Syed Fakhar Imam stressed upon the Federal as well as Provincial Governments to hold a National Conference to evolve a strategy to save the cotton from the ravages of pest attacks and diseases which may cause loss of billions of dollars.
In a press statement issued here today Syed Fakhar Imam said Agricultural Scientists, researchers, cotton growers, ginners, spinners, representatives of pest warning and chemical/pesticides/insecticides companies be invited to frame a policy to protect the cotton crop on permanent basis.
Fakhar Imam said American Boll worm attacked the cotton crop in this zone and this crop is under severe threat. Since the introduction of BT cotton varieties a few years back, it was assumed that these varieties, on account of BT gene factor would be immune or resistant to attack of American Boll worm pest. In effect, for the past few years this has been the case as these BT varieties have shown resistance to American Boll worm pest.
* PTEA voices concern over sudden gas suspension by SNGPL: