16:21:11 local time CHINA
* ‘Chinese textile industry needs to upgrade completely’:
16:21:11 local time PHILIPPINES
* NCR wage-hike amount known in August:
The regional wage board for the National Capital Region (NCR) meets on August 8 to decide how much wage increase could be given to workers that is affordable to employers and acceptable to workers who had petitioned for an P85 salary raise.
“There are signals that employers are open to the salary increase for minimum-wage workers [in Metro Manila]. But as to the amount, the board would have to deliberate on that,” said Director Alan Macaraya of the NCR regional wage board in an interview with reporters after more than two hours of wage consultations at the Occupational Safety and Health Center in Quezon City.
“The board is aware of the urgency of an increase in the salary of minimum-wage workers,” he said.
15:21:11 local time THAILAND
* Thailand’s BoI urges textile companies to invest abroad:
15:21:11 local time CAMBODIA
* Conditions declining: report:
Conditions relating to worker safety in Cambodia’s garment factories have worsened since 2011, according to the latest semi-annual assessment from the International Labour Organisation’s Better Factories Cambodia (BFC).
The report is composed of data taken from factory monitoring between November 1, 2012, and April 30. One hundred and fifty-two garment factories were assessed during this period, of which 51 per cent had been examined five or more times. For 26 per cent it was a first time visit, and the remaining 23 per cent had been visited between two and four times.
While BFC noted some improvements to entitlement payments from the previous reporting period, of concern to the factory monitors is ongoing noncompliance in areas of worker health and safety, fire safety, and child-labour laws.
“Significant numbers of factories are failing to comply with the law,” the report said, with reference to worker health and fire safety.
* Cambodia garment worker conditions worsening: ILO:
Cambodia is backsliding in efforts to improve working conditions in its garment industry, the International Labour Organisation said today, following a series of strikes at factories producing western-brand clothing, reports AFP.
The kingdom is failing to make progress in key areas such as worker and fire safety and the use of child labour, the ILO said in a report.
“Our data shows that following steady improvement in working conditions from 2005 to 2011, conditions are now declining,” said Jill Tucker, chief technical adviser to the ILO’s Better Factories Cambodia programme.
Action is needed to reverse the deterioration, or “Cambodia runs the risk of forfeiting the advantages that accrue to a reputation for decent working conditions”, Tucker said.
The ILO said some factories kept emergency doors locked during working hours while others failed to conduct emergency fire drills every six months.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
14:51:11 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Getting Ready: Workers unionize in Myanmar:
Kyu Kyu Win was fired after organizing for better working conditions at Esquire Shoe Factory, even though citizens have legally been allowed to organize since October 2011.
Myanmar is changing. In June, the International Labor Organization lifted all restrictions on trade and investment in the country.
The Myanmar Investment Commission says foreign investment in the country is five times greater than what it was last year. As the demand for labor increases, workers are beginning to organize for better working conditions.
|Citizens were granted this right to organize in October 2011, when the government passed the Labor Organization Law. This law legalizes the formation of labor unions in the country for the first time since 1962, when a military coup left many Burmese citizens without basic democratic rights.
Kyu Kyu Win is a union leader who has been organizing for better working conditions at Esquire Shoe Factory since August 2012.
In May 2013, Kyu Kyu Win was fired from her job, along with four other union organizers.
She says she was fired for leaving work without permission to deliver surveys about working conditions to the Ministry of Labor.
She also thinks she was fired for her union organizing activity.
read more & see viedeo report.
* EU formally reopens market to Myanmar:
The European Union formally reinstates preferential trade terms for Myanmar on Friday following the country’s efforts to improve the political situation as well as its labor and social systems.
“Trade is fundamental to supporting political stability and the EU’s trade preferences mean we will give this reform-minded country priority access to the world’s largest market,” said the EU’s trade commissioner Karel De Gucht.
Exports from Myanmar to the 28-nation bloc last year totaled a mere 164 million euros ($214.93 million), largely made up of clothing.
The EU will also help firms to make use of the new opportunities, De Gucht said.
Myanmar’s membership of the EU’s preferential scheme was withdrawn in 1997 due to concerns over the use of forced labor.
14:06:11 local time NEPAL
* CVD on garments deals another blow to troubled industry:
The 12 percent countervailing duty (CVD) imposed by India on Nepali garme nts has come like a kick to an industry that is flat on its back.
The southern neighbour started charging 12 percent CVD on all types of garments two weeks ago.
Earlier, the tax was only applied to clothes made of polyester while a 6 percent CVD was levied on cotton apparels. India has informed the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS) about the hike in the CVD.
Life has been hard for Nepali garment manufacturers after the US ended the quota system in 2005 and the export market dissipated. Since then, the garment industry has depended on exports to India to sustain itself.
However, garment exports to India plunged 63.2 percent in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year. Nepal exported readymade garments worth Rs 336 million as of mid-June this year, down from Rs 383 billion during the same period last year. Garment exports to India peaked in the fiscal year 2008-09, reaching Rs 1.71 billion.
14:21:11 local time BANGLADESH
* Garment factory catches fire in Gazipur- The fire is now under control-no workers inside the factory:
A fire broke out at a garment factory on the Konabari Ambagh Road in the Gazipur Industrial belt early Friday.
Fire service sources said the fire broke out on the seventh floor of the MM Knitwear Factory housed in a 9-storey building at about 6:30 am and spread around in no time.
The cause of the fire could not be known immediately.
The blaze burnt valuables, including readymade garments and cartons.
Being informed, six firefighting units from Gazipur and Kaliakoir rushed in and extinguished the blaze after two hours of frantic efforts.
The extent of loss caused by the fire could not be estimated yet.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Raise real wages, raise productivity:
The living wage that is paid in the country now must be restructured so that it can keep up with the rate of inflation
While it is certainly a good sign that Bangladesh’s RMG exports have grown in the past year despite the Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza incidents, it certainly brings up other issues that still need to be addressed.
Unfortunately, our retained competitiveness is simply a result of the fact that most of our workers are paid such a meagre sum. A recent study done by the Center for American Progress/Workers Rights Consortium shows that workers pay in Bangladesh, has decreased in real terms.
As we push through reforms, this is an issue that cannot be left by the wayside.
If the country’s development is to continue apace, we must ensure that we are actually allowing a working, middle-class to arise. As things stand, at least when it comes to labour wages in the garment sector – this is clearly not the case.
* Halfhearted labor reform in BD:
Under increasing international pressure to address problems in its clothing industry, legislators in Bangladesh this week changed the country’s labor law to make it easier for workers to form unions.
But the changes fall far short of what is needed and are unlikely to do much to prevent the fires, building collapses and other tragedies that have claimed hundreds of lives in recent years.
Since the collapse of a factory building killed more than 1,100 workers in April, the Bangladeshi government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been trying to show that it is cracking down on lax safety standards that plague its garment industry, which is a major supplier to Western retailers like Wal-Mart, Gap and H&M. More unionized workers can bring greater pressure on factory owners to improve safety.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Analysis of the Fire and Building Safety Accord Being Implemented in Bangladesh:
A unique aspect of the Accord of Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is its legal enforcement. Section 5 of the Accord explicitly outlines the process of dispute resolution, in which the outcomes can be reinforced in the court of law.
This feature is unique because previously established initiatives involving corporate accountability and labour rights are basically voluntary commitments. Many US companies refuse to sign the Accord based on this legal enforceability, fearing lawsuits. However, in essence the Accord’s legal obligations do not differ much from other business contracts companies routinely close.
- a single aggregated list of all factories in Bangladesh under the Accord
- written inspection reports and if applicable remediation plans
- quarterly aggregated reports summarizing industry compliance and review of findings.
- protocol to be decided with the local authorities to ensure participating factories are not
- penalized as a result of the transparency
We feel that the Accord is a great step forward in bringing Brands and Trade Unions in Bangladesh together with Global Unions and International NGOs on the same table to help the working conditions in Bangladesh which have been discussed so much internationally for its local importance and responsibility.
The need for the worker’s to have their own voice and participate in collective bargain with the factory owners or even the Brands, to express their perspective on their rights and conditions, and to associate, gave rise to Trade Unions which would represent the common workers and will be constituted of them. However, after decades of operation, the Trade Unions are yet to claim even more than 1% of the workers as being unionized under their umbrella.
Valid questions loom around the representative capacity of Trade Unions in Bangladesh with less than 1% Garment Workers with them. The transparency maintained by such representative bodies throughout this time with compensation processes, training processes etc have not been very efficient, and thus have lacked effectiveness to meet their objectives. The Accord consist of International NGOs as the witnesses.
* Most apparel factories to be left uncovered by overseas buyers’ safety inspection:
The proposed safety initiative for Bangladesh’s apparel industry by top European and American buyers will lead to the exclusion of a majority of factories, leaving their compliance issues uncovered and keeping them as ‘questionable’ as ever, experts and the industry insiders said.
Some 70 European buyers will inspect about 1,000 apparel factories of Bangladesh, especially those having direct business relations with the buyers, according to the recent announcement on the safety-related accord.
The alliance of about 17 American buyers has also announced that they would inspect 500 garment units in Bangladesh.
Such decisions by European and American buyers’ groups will mean that at least 50 per cent of the country’s apparel units would remain outside the proposed inspection programme. The situation will stand as such, even though the apparel units, to be left uncovered, have been engaged in manufacturing and exporting activities, either in the form of direct shipment or through sub-contracting.
The number of running manufacturing units, according to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), is 3,500, though the Association has about 5,500 listed factories.
* 400 RMG factories outside safety pact:
BGMEA says these units may be financed by donor agencies to improve working conditions
American and European Union retailers will help only their suppliers in Bangladesh to improve safety standards, leaving over 400 factories without any support.
Out of a total of 2,425 active factories, the EU retailers will cover around 1,200 factories and the US more than 800 factories for drawing up safety standards, according to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
The factories not covered by the retailer inspections might create future unrest in the industry, and adversely affect the economy as well, analysts say. Authorities need to devise a mechanism to come out of the woods, they said.
* The power of organising:
Two separate agreements by European and American retailers around fire safety in Bangladesh mark an important step forward in protecting the lives of Bangladeshi garment factory workers.
Because they were signed months after the Rana Plaza collapse, in which 1,127 workers died, it’s tempting to link the two events: a horrifying tragedy, followed by policy change.
But that thinking misses a critical fact about garment manufacturing in Bangladesh, where for decades factory workers — often without formalised power — put themselves at great risk by speaking out against abuses, building worker solidarity, and educating the public. It’s this worker-led organising that has set the stage for real political and legislative change, and made a final massive tragedy impossible to ignore.
The clear — almost eerie — American parallel is the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, which also generated new labour laws and corporate accountability. In 1911, 146 mostly young Jewish and Italian immigrant women were asphyxiated or jumped to their deaths to escape a fire at the Triangle factory. They had been locked in the factory so that they wouldn’t steal clothes, working 60-hour weeks in sweatshop conditions.
* US Retailers Launch Lobby Blitz to Sell Weak Bangladesh Safety Plan:
The gruesome garment factory disasters in Bangladesh, including a fire that claimed the lives of more than 112 in Tazreen and a building collapse that killed over 1,100 in Dhaka while maiming countless more, has brought international pressure on Western retailers and their partners in Bangladesh’s $20 billion garment industry.
While more than seventy European and North American companies have signed onto a strong agreement with local Bangladesh and international labor NGOs for sweeping new safety standards (known as the Accord on Fire and Building Safety), many large US-based retailers have refused to play ball, preferring instead to rollout their own, competing agreement.
Yesterday morning, the competing agreement—sponsored by Walmart, Target, Kohls’s Corp, L.L. Bean, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney, Gap, Sears and other companies—was unveiled at the Bipartisan Policy Center by former Senators Olympia Snowe and George Mitchell. A joint statement from the AFL-CIO and Change to Win swiftly condemned the rival agreement as “yet another ‘voluntary’ scheme with no meaningful enforcement mechanisms” and a “product of a closed process and has been signed only by the same corporations that produced it.” The union says labor was not involved in the Walmart- and Gap-led agreement.
The rival plan, called the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, according to a blueprint released on Wednesday, provides retailers with less responsibility for fixing factory safety violations. Unlikely the European-based Accord, which stipulates that retailers provide direct funds for safety improvements, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s plan “would work closely with the factory owners, the government of Bangladesh and various governments and aid agencies to figure out ways to finance safety improvements,” according to The New York Times. The Walmart- and Gap-led plan would pay for upgrades largely through a voluntary low-interest loan program, and retailers have the option of dropping out of the agreement at any time.
* EU remains top apparel importer:
The European Union (EU) remained the largest export market for local readymade garments (RMG) in the immediate past fiscal, exporters said on Thursday.
Bangladesh, the world’s second largest RMG exporter after China, is enjoying duty-free access of its apparels to the EU under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
Exporters said, the country’s apparel export to the 27 nation European block rose 10.41 per cent last fiscal (2012-13) despite an international backlash over the recent deaths of more than 1,100 garments workers in a tragic building collapse, which housed five apparel units.
“The EU is a key export market for local apparels and our export to this market is keep on rising despite challenges prevailing home and abroad,” Abdus Salam Murshedy, one of the leading apparel exporters of the country, told The New Nation yesterday.
He added, “Among the EU countries, Germany alone has become largest market for local garments and it has imported record quantity of RMG products from us last fiscal.”
* BGMEA wants to work together for RMG sector’s survival:
BGMEA President M Atiqul Islam on Thursday said they want to work together for the survival of the country’s RMG sector instead of blaming each other.
“We don’t want to blame each other for the recent disaster (Rana Plaza collapse). We want to work together. If the RMG industry survives, everybody will survive,” he said.
The BGMEA president was addressing a press conference at a city hotel organised by Grameenphone to announce its support to 300 victims of Savar Rana Plaza building collapse.
Atiqul Islam said, “I must appreciate the initiative. What I understand it’s done as part of CSR activities.
He said if the injured workers want to do job in the RMG factories apart from doing this business, they will welcome them.
* GP provides support to Savar building collapse victims:
Grameenphone, the leading telecommunication service provider in the country, extended its support to the 300 victims of Savar Rana Plaza building collapse
through setting up Flexiloads business facilities for them.
Under the scheme, Grameenphone provided Flexiload SIM, two mobile phone handsets and set up attractively designed kiosk for each of the 300 victims to start the Flexiload business.
Grameenphone distributors will provide training on operational issues to support their business to grow.
Grameenphone today handed over its assistance at a ceremony in a city hotel.
Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and Employment Mikail Shipar, and Chief Human Resource OfficerQuazi Mohammad Shahed Handed over the Flexiload SIM and Mobile sets to the victims.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* 10- 50 injured in RMG clash in Ashulia:
At least 50 persons were injured in a clash between workers of two garment factories and police centering a rumor of death of a female worker in Dorin Garments of Ashulia Industrial area on Thursday.
Sources said in a stage of altercation supervisor of Dorin Garments Joynal hit on the face of a female worker and she fainted. The factory workers alleged that she died and her body was carried off.
Learning this, other workers of the factory went berserk and threw brickbats to neighboring factories.
As a result, workers from a neighboring factory Sathi Fashion and Dorin Garments locked into a chase and counter chase.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
ASHULIA TAZREEN FACTORY FIRE
* Court asks for Ashulia police report on Tazreen fire:
A judicial magistrate in Dhaka on Thursday asked the Ashulia police to submit investigate and submit a report on September 9 in a case the brother of an apparel worker filed in May against the Tazreen Fashions owner and 30 other executives.
Senior judicial magistrate Toyebul Hasan, on May 29 when the brother of the worker, who went missing in the fire that killed 112 people in November 2012, filed the murder case against the factory management, asked the Ashulia police to submit the investigation report in the case on July 18.
The May 29 court order was caught in a ‘bureaucratic process’ as the order was sent to the Ashulia police in the name of the then inspector (investigation) Mustafa Kamal, who was transferred to the Savar police on June 3.
The Ashulia police officer-in-charge, SM Badrul Alam, told New Age that they were yet to investigate the matter as the order was meant for the then inspector (investigation).
13:51:11 local time INDIA
* We will use MGNREGA for the textile sector:
The new textiles minister KS Rao is a busy man. With less than a year at hand, he wants to do his bit to resolve a host of long-standing issues plaguing the industry, one of the most employment-intensive ones and a major forex earner.
In an interview with Banikinkar Pattanayak and KG Narendranath, he outlines his bold plans: A proposal for tweaking the labour rules exclusively for the garment segment would be placed before the Cabinet soon; the import tariffs on polyester and viscose might be in for a review. Rao, one of the senior-most Congress leaders from Andhra Pradesh, also has an innovative idea to use the employment guarantee scheme for the benefit of both the textile industry and workers. Excerpts:
The Indian synthetic raw materials are highly priced, thanks to various (customs and anti-dumping) duties on imports, resulting in an over-reliance on cotton fibre. Are you planning to revisit the duty structure for man-made fibres?
I am told that more than 75% of textiles produced in this country are cotton-based and synthetics account for 12-13%, while it is the other way round globally. Now, the problem is we can’t decide for the consumer what he likes. But if we find that the consumer is more interested in synthetics, we will promote it aggressively and review all the tariffs preventing growth in the segment. We’re planning a R1,000-crore to provide synthetic dhoti saree to people below the poverty line at half the prices and this would help improve demand for synthetics in a modest way.
* ‘Indian govt working on work spaces for garment sector’:
* Indian textile & garment makers eye 15-20% growth in FY’14:
The textile and garment makers of India are eyeing 15-20 percent growth in exports this year as the Textiles Minister K Sambasiva Rao has assured full support to the industry and the Indian Government is planning to implement some new measures to boost exports.
13:51:11 local time SRI LANKA
* Sri Lanka not seeking EU GSP concessions as macro challenges have changed:
Dismissing the speculations that Sri Lankan government is preparing to re-apply for the European Union’s trade concession Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a senior government official said Sri Lanka has no plans to reapply for trade concessions from the European Union.
Addressing a Forum on ‘Government Strategy for Industrial Development of Sri Lanka’ on Tuesday (July 16) at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Sri Lanka’s Secretary of Ministry of Finance and Planning Dr, P.B. Jayasundara said Sri Lanka’s macro challenges have changed and asking for export concessions only leaves the country as a subsistence economy.
“We will not ask for GSP. We should not grow markets on the basis of subsidies. Then the country will become vulnerable,” he told 95 leading exporters, businessmen and industrialists, attending the forum.
read more. & read more. & read more.
13:21:11 local time PAKISTAN
* Energy supply to textile industry reduced:
Energy supply to the textile industry in Punjab has been reduced heavily both by the Pepco and the SNGPL since January 2013, bringing down the growth of textile exports to 4.6 percent against 30.6 percent in India, 19.2 percent in China and 12.0 percent in Bangladesh on an average per year for the period 2005-11.
Electricity loadshedding has increased to 10 hours a day in July 2013 with power generation of 15000MW against 6 hours a day in July 2012 with power generation of 13500MW and 4 hours a day in July 2011 with power generation of 12700MW.
Similarly, gas supply to the Captive Power Plants (CPPs) of textile industry has been decreased to 2.5 days a week in July 2013 against 5 days a week each in July 2012 and 2011 and 6 days a week in July 2010.
* Textile traders stage protest demo:
Anumber of office-bearers of Textile Traders Association staged a protest demonstration against the PML-N government for increasing GST and unscheduled loadshedding of gas and electricity at Brandreth Road on Thursday.
According to a press release, Textile Traders Association Chairman Amir Butt, addressing the protesters, said the traders were already suffering a huge financial losses due to shortage of electricity and gas and the new government (PML-N) had added to their problems by increasing GST to 17 percent from previous 16.