00:48:56 local time VIET NAM
* Vinatex to implement cotton growing project in Quang Tri:
00:48:56 local time CAMBODIA
* Factory’s owner in crosshairs:
Hundreds of garment workers demonstrate against Pine Great factory owner and appeal to government officials in front of Phnom Penh’s Social Affairs Ministry yesterday. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post
Some 400 garment workers yesterday gathered outside the Ministry of Social Affairs to plead for government intervention against a factory owner who fled without paying them overdue wages three months ago.
Khem Chamnan, a Free Trade Union representative from the Pine Great (Cambodia) factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, said this was the third gathering in as many months.
“The employer of the factory fled in April without paying wages to the workers . . . but they did not get anything until now,” he said.
“I think the ministry hasn’t intervened soon enough in this case because it did not happen recently, but it was three months ago,” he said.
In early May, more than 700 workers from the shuttered factory were promised their back pay, only to arrive at the factory and find much of its equipment removed and the owner gone. Workers said they believed he fled to China.
* Bandith lead in Mondulkiri: police:
Nearly a week after former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith was found guilty of the unintentional shooting of three garment workers and sentenced to 18 months in prison, police said yesterday that officers had been deployed to Mondulkiri province, where they believed him to be hiding out.
“He has escaped, but we heard he is in Mondulkiri and our officials are now trying to find him there,” National Police spokesperson Kirt Chantharith said.
According to Chantharith, the Ministry of Interior received a tip regarding his whereabouts and yesterday sent a directive to provincial police calling for his arrest.
01:48:56 local time INDONESIA
* City Wants wage rise to reach RP4 million :
A married worker in the city should be paid Rp 4 million (US$400) per month to enable him/her to take part in social security programs, send their children to school and purchase affordable housing, says deputy governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.
“A single worker in the city receives almost Rp 2 million and this excludes social security programs. According to our assessment, the minimum provincial wage in the city is Rp 4 million or more. This is the actual minimum wage for a married worker,” Kompas.com quoted him as saying at City Hall here on Monday.
Ahok considered the remuneration system less fair because only 40 components of commodities were taken to calculate the standard cost of living (KHL) and he would consider around 120 components needed to set a decent wage for workers in general.
He pointed out that the current minimum wage of Rp 2.2 million was set without any consideration toward education and insurance aspects. “By raising the minimum wage to Rp 4 million, married workers will be able to send their children to school and university, take part in social security programs and own a decent home,” he said.
01:48:56 local time MALAYSIA
* Minimum wage: Errant employers told to shift business elsewhere:
The Sarawak Division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said today that any employer who refuse to comply with the National Minimum Wage policy by January next year should consider moving elsewhere outside the country.
“Any employer who cannot comply should close shop and move to North Korea, Zimbabwe or Bangladesh,” its secretary Andrew Lo said when commenting on a statement by Human Resources Minister Datuk Richard Riot that the policy would be fully implemented by Jan 1 next year and that employers have until Dec 31 to give their acceptance.
He said that the ministry should not entertain any more requests from the employers for further extension of the policy.
“(The minister should) give me half good reason (for any more extension).
“The minister should migrate to Timbuktu if there is any more extension. You can quote me on that,” he said in a text message.
Yesterday, Riot told reporters that some 400 companies nationwide had yet to comply with the policy.
23:48:56 local time BANGLADESH
* Bangladesh struggles to hold factory owners accountable:
In Courtroom 21, the two judges peered down from high wooden chairs as lawyers in formal black robes presented their motions.
Activists and victims watched from the back. And a few steps away, a portly man with a thick black beard remained silent. He was the suspect. He did not seem nervous.
Perhaps that is because the man, Delowar Hossain, has not yet been charged with anything – and might never be. He has been a vilified figure since his garment factory, Tazreen Fashions, caught fire in November, killing 112 workers who were making clothes for retailers like Walmart and Sears. A high-level government investigation found fire-safety violations and accused Hossain of “unpardonable negligence.”
“How do you sleep at night?” a woman screamed as Hossain left the courtroom after the hearing June 19. The more pertinent question might be this: In Bangladesh, where the garment industry powers the economy and wields enormous political clout, is it possible to hold factory owners such as Hossain accountable?
The Tazreen Fashions fire was followed by the April collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building, in which 1,129 people were killed in the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry.
A global supply chain that delivers low-cost clothes from Bangladeshi factories to stores in the West was redefined by images of mutilated bodies pulled from the rubble. The Obama administration responded last week by rescinding a special trade privilege for Bangladesh over concerns about safety problems and labor-rights violations in its garment industry.
But Bangladeshi factories have always suffered fires and accidents, usually without attracting attention. One study estimated more than 1,000 workers died in hundreds of factory fires or accidents from 1990 to 2012. Not once was a factory owner charged with any crime, activists say.
“We want to set a legal precedent that factory owners can’t get away with this,” said Saydia Gulrukh, an anthropologist and social activist.
* Fire at Chittagong EPZ shoe factory- Injured Ctg firefighter dies :
Authorities claimed the fire affected the huge stockpile of chemicals kept at the factory
A devastating fire broke out at a shoe factory in the Chittagong Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) on Sunday, which took the fire fighters more than five hours to put out.
The factory authorities claimed that the fire affected the huge stockpile of chemicals kept at the factory, resulting in damages worth more than Tk2bn. However, the fire services and the civil defence sources said they were yet to estimate the losses.
According to fire service officials, the fire started due to an electrical short circuit at the Pappela Shoe Limited, owned by MA Kalam on Road 4 of CEPZ at around 3:20am. 18 fire engines rushed to the spot soon after receiving the information.
Ruhul Amin, deputy director of fire service and civil defence in Chittagong, said they could not start their work immediately and they lost an hour as the main gate of the factory was closed. The fact there was no source of water near the factory added to their difficulty.
“Huge consignment of chemicals, stockpiled at the factory was the major hindrance in controlling the fire as it ignited again and again even after it had been put off,” he said.
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* Double jeopardy for BGMEA boss:
At least 350 workers of The Rose Dresses Ltd became sick after drinking water supplied by the authorities
Deliberate or coincidental? The Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) boss finds himself on a slippery slope where any of the two options may seem possible, for the double dose of misfortune that befell his factory’s workers.
At least 350 workers of The Rose Dresses Ltd, owned by BGMEA President Atiqul Islam, became sick after drinking water supplied by the authorities.
It happened around 9am Sunday, two days after 150 workers of the same factory had food poisoning after eating adulterated snacks.
The factory was closed on Saturday following the incident and resumed Sunday – only to set off another round of misfortune, from adulterated water this time.
Sources said, workers felt sick after resuming their work on Sunday morning and drinking the water supplied for them. They showed signs of food-borne illnesses like headache, numbness and vomiting.
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* Avery Dennison announced it has no plan to leave the country:
Amidst a growing debate whether the global manufacturers should pull out of Bangladesh or stay put, Avery Dennison, a big name in apparel and footwear industry solutions, Sunday announced it has no plan to leave the country.
Avery Dennison Retail Branding and Information Solutions (RBIS), which provides labelling and packaging materials and solutions throughout the global retail supply chain, said they were committed to staying in Bangladesh, and would continue to work for workers’ safety and safe working conditions.
The multi-national company that operates in over 50 countries has a manufacturing location in Bangladesh and employs more than a thousand workers in the country.
“We have had a strong presence here for last 10 years and follow safety standards that is often more stringent than local standards, on a par with the global view of safety,” chairman and CEO of Avery Dennison Corporation Dean Scarborough said at a press conference.
* Committee formed to pinpoint loopholes in labour law:
In the wake of suspension of GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) facility by the US government for Bangladesh, the government on Monday formed a high-profile committee to pinpoint loopholes in the existing labour law and put forward recommendations to make it more time befitting one.
* Government to form committee for reviving GSP:
Decision comes as US suspends GSP for Bangladesh
In the wake of the suspension of GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) facility by the US government for Bangladesh, the government on Monday decided to form a high-profile committee to pinpoint loopholes in the existing labour law and put forward recommendations to make it a more time befitting one.
The decision was taken in the regular cabinet meeting held at the Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
As per the decision, Expatriates’ Welfare & Overseas Employment minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, the former labour minister and ex-official of International Labour Organisation (ILO) is expected to lead the committee.
Emerging from the meeting, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told reporters that the issue was not in the regular agenda of the meeting. The prime minister raised the issue aiming to revive the trade facility.
Mosharraf said: “The US authority did not cancel the GSP for Bangladesh. They have suspended it on basis of demands by some international labour organisations. They came up with the move due to the misappropriation of labour laws and labour issues. We are going to amend the law as per the recommendation of those organisations and US administration.”
* EU to help Bangladesh keep GSP intact:
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: EU
The European Union has expressed the opinion that a decision to withdraw the Generalised System of Preferences for Bangladesh should be avoided as such an action could have far-reaching consequences on the country’s economy and employment.
“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.
It said preferential access to the EU market has greatly helped socioeconomic development in Bangladesh over the years, and this should be preserved as the EU wishes to remain engaged on labour rights issues within Bangladesh. The EU will closely follow the ILO’s work in monitoring progress in efforts by stakeholders to improve labour conditions in Bangladesh this year and in 2014.
The EU aims to uphold fundamental human rights, of which adhering to core labour standards is an intrinsic part. “This is why the EU is lending maximum support to theILO process. The EU will also act in full respect of its WTO commitment to avoid discrimination.”
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* RMG not to be hurt by GSP halt:
The apparel industry in general will not be harmed by the recent suspension from the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) imposed by USA, as it has been exporting apparels without any such advantage, according to analysts.
The GSP suspension would however increase US duties on an array of products, including tobacco, sporting equipment, porcelain china, plastic products and a small amount of textile products, which represents only 1% of Bangladesh’s total export to the US, analysts said.
In the wake of the tragic building collapse in Savar on April 24 this year, which killed more than 1100 people, mostly garment workers, the US administration on Thursday suspended trade benefits under the GSP programme for Bangladesh.
* DCCI urges US to revive GSP:
Voicing deep concern over the suspension of the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) facility to Bangladesh, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) has urged the US government to revive the privilege.
In a statement on Monday, the DCCI said the decision is like a bolt from the blue when the Bangladesh government is going to amend the labour law 2006, signed the ILO-led government-employer-worker tripartite agreement to implement time-bound decisions and formed a ministerial committee to ensure compliance in garment factories.
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* Menon blames Khaleda for GSP suspension by US:
Workers Party chief Rashed Khan Menon on Monday blamed opposition leader Khaleda Zia for the suspension of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facilities by the US.
“By requesting USA to withdraw GSP facilities for Bangladesh, Khaleda Zia not only hampered the interest of the country, but also pushed the future of 40 lakhs garments workers into uncertainty,” he said.
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* Washington Times’ write-up not Khaleda’s: BNP:
Opposition BNP on Monday night claimed once again that party chairperson Khaleda Zia did not send any write-up to The Washington Times requesting the USA to suspend its GSP facility for Bangladesh.
“The Prime Minister in parliament harshly criticised our chairperson regarding the suspension of the GSP facility by the USA. The Prime Minister’s remarks were untrue, indecent and unparliamentarily, and part of their campaign to defame the opposition leader,” said BNP joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi. He made the remarks at a press briefing at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office. Rizvi also claimed that BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia has no relation with the much-talked-about article, titled ‘ZIA: The thankless role in saving democracy in Bangladesh’ published in the US-based The Washington Times on January 30 last.
* Reclaiming GSP- US suggests action plan:
The US government has recommended a set of action plans to Bangladesh to reclaim the GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) privileges that the Obama Administration suspended on Thursday over poor labour rights and safety issues.
One suggestion is to implement the commitments Bangladesh made under the National Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire and Structural Integrity.
The recommendations were made in a letter to Bangladesh’s Ambassador to the US, Akramul Qader, who on June 26 forwarded it to the foreign affairs ministry.
The Daily Star has obtained a copy of the letter.
The USA urged the government to achieve the targets negotiated at the hearings at the US Trade Representative (USTR) office since 2007 on a petition asking for the withdrawal of GSP privileges for Bangladeshi products.
Commerce Minister GM Quader said the ministry had already begun assessing the advancements in fire safety, labour rights and working conditions.
“I will send a note on the achievements in those areas to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina very soon.”
Quader said he, if asked, would also submit a report to the cabinet for discussion and that the commerce ministry would send it to the USTR if it got approved by the cabinet.
According to the proclamation of the GSP suspension, the USA will reconsider its decision after six months.
* Restoring the US GSP facility:
Obama government has suspended the GSP (Generalised System of Preference) facility for Bangladesh exports. Bangladesh used to export furniture, toys, ceramic table wares, plastic materials, tents, tobacco products etc., under the GSP facility meant for the least developed and the developing countries.
Bangladesh exported goods valued at USD 35 million to the US under the latter’s GSP facility in 2012 against which the former enjoyed a tariff benefit of USD 2.0 million. Goods exported under GSP enjoys ‘duty-free’ access. On the other hand Bangladesh exported ready-made garments worth USD 4.9 billion to the US retailers which was subjected to 15 per cent tariff. Bangladeshi exporters paid USD 750 million dollars in tariff charges.
However, the concerned stakeholders are apparently a bit panicky about the possible withdrawal of GSP facility by other countries or territories, especially the European Union (EU), where almost all products, most importantly, the ready-made garments enjoy GSP facility. Canada, a very good friend of Bangladesh, will continue with the ‘tax free’ entry of ‘Made in Bangladesh’ garments, while the United Kingdom is also extremely sympathetic to the Bangladesh causes, especially in view of the contribution the apparel industry is making to employment, women empowerment and social transformation.
* Restoring US GSP to Bangladesh:
‘The US has shown sympathy for garment workers in Bangladesh. Although the US has suspended GSP for Bangladesh, it is not asking its buyers to pay little more for our garments. This would have enabled our garment owners to give better wages to the workers and provide other facilities.’
The United States has suspended trade privileges to Bangladesh through its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for the latter’s failure to ensure labour safety and standards.
The decision was not a surprise as this was being discussed for quite sometime. The US was under intense pressure from politicians and labour organisations at home to cut off GSP privileges for Bangladesh. The Tazreen Fashion fire and collapse of the Rana Plaza added fuel to the fire. The Rana Plaza collapse that had claimed more than 1,100 lives made the US decision inevitable. The last-minute lobbying by the government also failed.
The government has criticised the suspension of trade privileges by the US as being harsh and shocking. It insists that it has taken concrete steps to improve workers’ safety and rights. Although the GSP does not cover garments, the loss of preferential treatment came as an embarrassment for the government. Dhaka listed a series of steps it has taken such as labour law reforms, ILO-led tripartite agreement to implement time-bound decisions and formation of a ministerial panel to ensure compliance in garment factories. This shows seriousness of the government. Bangladesh believes that its partnership with the US is founded on certain core values such as democracy, human rights, rule of law, women empowerment, freedom of expression and social justice.
23:18:56 local time INDIA
* Weavers evince interest in solar projects:
Nearly 100 powerloom weavers in Coimbatore District are expected to go in for solar systems to run the powerlooms.
The Coimbatore District Jobworking Powerloom Weavers’ Association organised a meeting on Monday and Canara Bank disbursed Rs. 5.85 lakh loan to one of the weavers who has established a demonstration system. The loan is repayable in eight years.
P. Kumarasamy, secretary of the association, said that the association has appealed to the bank to reduce the interest rate for the loans. Over 100 powerloom weavers in Somanur and Karumathampatti areas have evinced interest in the project. They are expected to submit applications for loan in a couple of days. They will go in for five kw solar systems. More than 500 weavers attended the meeting.
* Streamline purchase and sale of cotton: SIHMA:
Hosiery manufacturers in Tirupur cluster have urged the Union Government to streamline the purchase and sale of cotton that could benefit growers, sellers and users of cotton within the country.
South India Hosiery Manufacturers Association (SIHMA) president A.C. Eswaran, in a representation to the Union Textiles Minister, K.S. Rao, had highlighted the difficulties faced by the apparel industry in the last two years due to the fluctuating prices of cotton.
“Sudden variation in the cotton prices has made the prices of yarn volatile,” the association president said.
Some of the suggestions put forward by the SIHMA, before the Textiles Minister, were fixation of reasonable rates for cotton growers and banning of any online sale of cotton sourced by Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) to the private traders.
* NMCC meet on Tuesday to discuss textile and fibre policy:
The removal of 10% excise duty on branded readymade garments has provided a much-needed fillip to the industry
The National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC) chaired by Ajay Shankar, a retired IAS officer, has convened its maiden meeting on July 2 to review the Textile Policy and discuss the roadmap of the final report on the National Fibre Policy.
“The Council is set to discuss a roadmap to achieve the textile export target of $50 billion by FY 2015 as set by the ministry.”
22:48:56 local time PAKISTAN
* ‘Textile city to be established in Karachi’:
Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Kamran Michael has said that a plan is being prepared to establish a textile city in Karachi area to boost business activity and economy.
He said a piece of land had been acquired to set up the textile city in Karachi a business hub of the country. He said ports and shipping were important sectors, which can be improved with better management and efficient staff to generate good revenue.
He said that foreign investors would be called in this region with conducive-environment facility.
He said that all important steps would be taken to revive the economy under the dynamic leadership and great vision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
He said that Nawaz wanted to bring improvement in all fields of life and make this country an ‘Asian Tiger’ during his period of tenure. He said that Pakistan is rich in natural resources, which can be utilised in a proper manner to achieve progress and prosperity for the people of the region.
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* Proposal sought on garments industrial estate:
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has sought a proposal from the quarters concerned on a garments industrial estate to be set-up in the vicinity of the provincial capital.
He sought the proposal at a meeting with a delegation of readymade garments manufacturers here on Monday.
“A modern garments industrial estate near Lahore should be considered and all hurdles in the export of garments should be removed,” he said.
The chief minister directed the authorities to formulate a five-year plan to increase export of garments and develop this sector.
He formed a core group headed by adviser Dr Ijaz Nabi to submit recommendations for the promotion of export of garments in one month in consultation with stakeholders.
* CM forms core group to increase garments exports:
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that manufacturing sector is of key importance in exports and its growth can increase national exports and strengthen economy. He said there was vast export potential in garments industry which could help enhance investment and generate job opportunities.
He was presiding over a meeting on the promotion of garments industry and increasing textile exports at Model Town on Monday. The meeting considered matters related to promotion of garments industry, its problems, increasing exports, simplifying export policy and setting up of industrial forum.
* Shahbaz discusses matters to promote garment industry:
Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif in a meeting with Central Chairman Pakistan Readymade Garments Association Sajid Saleem Minhas and leading personalities associated with garments industry here on Monday considered in detail matters pertaining to promotion of garments industry, its problems, increasing exports, simplifying export policy and setting up of industrial forum.
Addressing the meeting, Shahbaz Sharif said Pakistan was the biggest producer of cotton but it was lagging far behind the neighbouring countries with regard to export of textile and garments which was a matter of concern. He said Pakistan should lead the world in export of textile and garments and it was essential to accelerate manufacturing activities for that purpose. He said solid measures would have to be taken for the development of textile and garments industry.
* Power loadshedding in Punjab: textile industry may get relief anytime soon:
Electricity loadshedding for textile industry in Punjab is likely to be reduced to four hours a day in much-awaited energy policy of the federal government, reliable sources informed Business Recorder.
According to these sources, the federal government is mulling over reducing power shortage for textile in Punjab to four hours a day from present level of 10-12 hours a day. It had been conveyed to the textile industry leadership accordingly, the sources added.
Further, the sources added that the government was also ready to supply gas to the Captive Power Plants of the textile industry provided that the industry was ready to pay high price. The industry is reluctant to accept the proposal, fearing that this would make them uncompetitive in the world market.
* ‘Pakistan has potential to get better share in leather market’:
Pakistan is among the top five best leather producers in the world and possesses potential to get more shares in the world market by focusing on marketing strategy.
This was stated by Abrar Ahmed, Chief Executive Shafi Reso Chemical while speaking at a ceremony held in connection with 10-year celebration of Shafi Reso Chemical in collaboration with Alpa, an Italian chemical company.
He said Pakistan, despite being among the top five best leather producers in the world, has less than one percent share in the global trade of leather and leather made-ups. European leather companies’ charge two-three times more price of leather products than that of Pakistan mainly on account of modern technology.
It may be noted that Shafi Reso Chemical is a part of the Shafi Group, a leading Pakistani producer for the leather and leather article industry. Since its inception in 1994, the company has enjoyed a successful and continuous growth in both domestic and international (South and Middle Eastern) markets.
* Symposium on textile and fashion:
The US-Pakistan Women’s Council in collaboration with Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry and US Embassy organised a symposium at ICCI to discuss “business opportunities for women entrepreneurs in textile and fashion sector” which was attended by women entrepreneurs from around the country.
Addressing the symposium, Ms. Sarah Peck, Executive Director, US-Pakistan Women’s Council, who came straightaway from Washington, said that US-Pakistan Women’s Council was launched in September 2012 by USA to promote economic opportunities for women in Pakistan. We are working in collaboration with Pakistani and US businesses, universities and institutions to link resources and financial support initiatives aimed at helping women entrepreneurs in Pakistan. “If we can help women entrepreneurs succeed, we believe the future of Pakistan will be brighter” she added.
* Cotton sowing in full swing:
Sowing of two Kharif crops — cotton and rice — are in full swing in Sindh. However, farmers fear that they may not only miss the cotton sowing target, the yield may be low as well. More farmers are turning towards rice cultivation.
According to Sindh Agriculture Department officials, 550,001 hectares out of the targeted area of 650,000 hectares for cotton were brought under cultivation till the end of June. The crop is still being sown in upper Sindh due to late availability of irrigation water. Thirty to 35 per cent of paddy nurseries have been prepared in lower Sindh. Last year, 84 per cent of the sowing target of cotton was achieved.
Farmers’ leader Syed Mehmood Nawaz Shah, however, disagrees with the official figure. “According to our assessment we will miss the target by at least 25 per cent”, he predicts, adding that while at one time Sindh looked set to hit five million cotton bales mark, it is now stuck at 3.4 million bales production. “But no one is bothered to at least study factors other than natural disasters which are primarily affecting cotton production”, he complains.
Director General Agriculture Extension Hidayatullah Chajjro concedes cotton production is facing a number of problems especially floods and rain-related. Factors like pest attacks, successive disasters and inadequate price for crop have demoralised farmers and they are rapidly switching over to paddy farming.