17:57:43 local time CHINA
* Industry cuts its cloth to measure up to buyers’ needs:
Top: Workers making clothes at one of Jiangsu Guotai International Group’s factories. Above: An exhibition room showcases apparel produced by Jiangsu Guotai International Group. [Photo / Provided to China Daily]
Change in pattern and mold essential to suit survival and success, says textile boss
Challenges always present opportunities and the impetus for companies to improve or transform, believes Zhang Ziyan, president of Jiangsu Guotai International Group, a major Chinese trading enterprise.
“Currently the Chinese textile industry is facing many challenges, which also means some opportunities for us,” says Zhang. “It is really crucial for textile companies to make changes to combat these challenges.”
Zhang, who has been in the textile trade for about 30 years and joined the group in 1980, started his business career as a salesman.
Speaking at the group’s headquarters in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu province, opposite the five-star Guomao Hotel it owns, Zhang says the outlook for the Chinese textile industry is bleak and it is make-or-break time for many businesses.
However, he believes the problems facing the textile industry are temporary and are mainly the result of the restructuring and consolidation of the industry. He claims 40 percent of textile companies in China are running at a loss, 30 percent are just about making ends meet while, of the rest, the earnings of the top third far outweigh those of the rest combined.
17:57:43 local time PHILIPPINES
* RP garments regaining US buyers:
United States buyers are making a comeback into the Philippines, especially for garments.
“We got a consensus that all of our members are really receiving more purchase orders now from their principals. And those buyers that stopped buying five years ago during the recession have started coming back and inquiring… In fact, their orders have doubled just about two to three months ago,” said Robert Young, president of the Foreign Buyers Association of the Philippines (FOBAP).
Young particularly cited a group representing the various department stores in the US seeing an increase of 65 percent in the apparel volume on higher business placed by its American clients. It is looking for vendors in children knit playwear and women woven sportswear categories.
Young was optimistic that the Philippines will receive more orders due to the increasing labor cost in China. This, as the US also planned to shelve its trade privileges for Bangladesh on concerns over safety problems and labor rights violations in its garment sector.
16:57:43 local time VIET NAM
* Trade Unions’ role in national development encouraged:
Trade Unions need to pay more attention to building and developing the working class into the vanguard force capable of driving Vietnam forward in the new era.
Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong assigned this task to the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) at the opening ceremony of the 11th National Trade Union Congress in Hanoi on July 28.
He said the ongoing process of Doi Moi (Renewal) as well as national industrialisation and modernisation requires the working class to not only grow in both quantity and quality but also improve their professional skills and upgrade knowledge to undertake national key tasks.
The working class should be well aware of their important political role and position to become the mainstay of the nation, said Trong.
In the socialist-oriented market economy, he said Trade Unions need to better perform their role as responsible representatives to protect workers’ legitimate rights and interest, oversee implementation of collective bargaining agreements, and deal with labour disputes reasonably.
read more. & read more.
* Trade union starts 11th congress:
The 11th Congress of the Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) for the 2013-2018 tenure, opened in Ha Noi yesterday, aiming to develop a stronger workforce, more ably equipped to protect their legitimate rights and interests.
The congress was attended by 950 delegates, representing nearly eight million trade union members nationwide as well as delegations from foreign trade union organisations, including the World Federation of Trade Unions. To mark the occasion, 22 international trade union organisations sent their greetings to wish the congress every success.
16:57:43 local time THAILAND
* Govt keen to quickly wrap up FTA with EU, says top negotiator:
Thailand is eager to wrap up a free-trade agreement with the European Union after the bloc began pursuing bilateral deals with many major markets.
16:57:43 local time CAMBODIA
* Cambodia’s textile workers hang by a thread under Chinese bosses:
Western clothing brands profit from lower wages in Cambodia as tensions mount between Chinese factory managers and local garment workers
Pak Kok Heng used to make sweaters for the Pine Great Factory in Phnom Penh. Now, he and his former colleagues spend their days standing outside the Ministry of Social Affairs in the Cambodian capital.
“We’re here because we haven’t been paid for three months. Our manager ran off back to China and our factory is closed,” said the 24-year-old. “We want the ministry to sell off what’s left in the factory and pay us the wages we are owed. But they haven’t even sent out an official to talk to us. We’re very angry with them and that’s why we’re staying here.”
Pak Kok Heng and the 700-odd now unemployed workers at Pine Great, a Shanghai-based company, are not alone in challenging the government of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
For Asia’s millions of garment workers, Cambodia is the new frontline in the battle for better pay and working conditions.
With the country preparing to go to the polls tomorrow for national elections, it’s the more than 300,000 workers in the booming textile industry who are the most visible and militant opposition to Hun Sen and the CPP.
“There are two main issues in Cambodia now: labour rights and land rights,” said David Welsh, the Cambodia country director for the Solidarity Centre, an NGO that monitors global labour movements. “There is a real sense now that there’s much greater awareness among workers of their rights.”
* Bundith Triple Shooting Victims Appeal for More Compensation:
Three factory workers who were shot and injured by Chhouk Bundith, the former Bavet City governor who is now a fugitive from the law, have filed an appeal with the Svay Rieng Provincial Court demanding higher financial compensation to be paid by their attacker, court officials said Thursday.
Provincial Judge Leang Sour said the three victims—Bun Chenda, Keo Nea and Nuth Sokhorn—filed the appeal with the court on Wednesday. “I saw that the victims have appealed to demand additional compensation than before,” Judge Sour said.
In February 2012, Chhouk Bundith opened fire on a crowd of protesting workers in a Bavet City special economic zone, leaving the three women injured.
The provincial court sentenced him to 18 months in prison, and levied a total compensation of $9,500 to be paid to his victims.
20130727 * Opposition Party Looks Set to Clinch Garment Worker Vote:
In the run-up to Sunday’s national election, both the ruling CPP and opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have dug deep in their arsenal of incentives to win over the largest segment of the country’s industrial workforce: garment workers.
On May 1, the government announced an increase to the minimum wage for garment workers from $61 per month to $80. And earlier this month the CPP organized a massive procession of about 500 trucks and 2,000 motorcycles carrying throngs of workers through the streets of Phnom Penh.
The CNRP has promised to increase the minimum wage to $150 per month as well as to improve poor working conditions in factories. As Cambodia’s largest manufacturing industry, with more than half-a-million workers, the garment sector has been a hotbed of profitability and problems, whether it be mass fainting episodes or widespread strike action.
15:57:43 local time BANGLADESH
* 1317 workers killed at work in last 180-day:
At least 1317 workers were killed at their workplaces in the last six months in the country including 1131 garment workers in Rana Plaza collapse.
Safety and Rights Society, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and BRAC jointly disclosed the statistics in a programme titled “Dead Labours’ Statistics on Workplace-2013” at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) on Friday noon.
The statistics was presented after analysing 26 Newspapers (15 National dailies & 11 Local). Unawareness and lack of government supervision have been identified as the key causes of these deaths.
Executive Director of Safety and Rights Society Sikander Ali Mina said, “Our survey shows that 89 percent of accidents in the first six months occurred in Dhaka, 2.7 percent in Chittagong and 0.69 percent in Gazipur.”
* Amendment to labour law inadequate:
As many national and international rights organisations and foreign buyers expressed their serious concern over workers’ rights and safety, especially after the Rana Plaza and Tazreen Garments tragedies, the government took steps to amend the Bangladesh Labour Law-2006 to ensure adequate rights for workers.
The National Parliament recently passed Bangladesh Labour Law (Amendment) bill 2013.
The government, after passing the bill, said that the new law was a major advancement in establishing workers’ rights, and that it would also bring more stability in the industrial sector. Whereas, immediately after passing of the bill, the international human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch, said that the new law will be inadequate for protecting rights of workers.
The Bangladesh committee of World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), in a national seminar on July 12, asked the government and drafting committee to correct mistakes and ambiguity in the law. 30 trade union organisations of the country also submitted their suggestion to the ministry concerned, and after passing of the bill they expressed their frustration over the new labour law.
They said that the amendment to the law was wrongly drafted; it is not equitable and thus it will go against fundamental rights of the workers.
* TUF rejects amended labour law:
The Bangladesh Trade Union Federation (TUF) rejected on Friday the Bangladesh Labour Law as was amended in the parliament recently.
To press home the demand the organisation also called for waging a movement.
The call came at a protest programme in front of the National Press Club in the city.
Speakers at the protest meeting said the amendments to the law were done to protect interests of the factory owners, though the Awami League-led government claimed that it went in favour of workers.
They said they had long been demanding trade union rights to protect interests of workers. But none of the previous government and the incumbent government paid heed to the rightful demand.
* Dhaka criticises ILO statement on labour law amendment:
Labour minister says he wonders how foreigners could comment on labour law as it is not yet available in English
Bangladesh will formally protest a statement by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that described the recently-amended labour law as “not satisfactory.”
At a press briefing at the ministry yesterday Labour Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju said: “Why is this type of statement issued? It is not correct to make such comments.”
He said the government was in touch with the ILO’s local office and would protest with a formal letter to the head office.
However, the minister also said: “We do not disown ILO.”
In mid July, parliament passed the Labour Law (amendment) 2013. A statement issued by ILO headquarters in Geneva on July 22 said: “An initial review suggests that the amendments did address some of the ILO’s specific concerns, while falling short of several important steps called for by the ILO supervisory system to bring the law into conformity with ratified international labour standards.”
read more. & read more. & read more.
* US, BD agree to initiate talks on workers` rights:
The US and Bangladesh have agreed to initiate talks on workers` rights and safety in the South Asian country, weeks after the collapse of a commercial building in Dhaka in April that killed 1,129 people in one of the world`s worst industrial disasters.
An agreement in this regard was reached following the meeting between Trade Representative Michael Froman and Bangladesh Ambassador to the US Akramul Qader.
“No workers should have to sacrifice their safety or their basic rights in order to secure a livelihood for themselves and their families,” Froman said after the meeting.
“We look forward to renewed and sustained engagement with the Government of Bangladesh and other stakeholders to strengthen worker rights and safety through implementation of the Action Plan and through our coordinated efforts with the European Union and the International Labor Organization on the recently announced Sustainability Compact,” Froman said.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
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* Govt takes fresh steps under US action plan to regain GSP:
The government has taken some fresh measures including increasing the number of inspectors, creating a publicly-accessible database and establishing a hotline for the readymade garment (RMG) sector under the latest US action plan for regaining the trade preference in the US market, officials said.
The US spelt out the 16-point action plan on July 19 last and urged the government to engage with it for the sake of reinstatement of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) that the Obama administration suspended earlier on June 27 last over poor labour rights and safety standards.
In line with the action plan, the officials said, the government already instructed the authorities concerned to take necessary steps by December next. The US review of the GSP is scheduled to take place in the month.
* Ticfa may be a vehicle for GSP retention: USTR:
We have done all preparations for singing the Ticfa and it is not tagged with the GSP, says Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed
The United States Trade Representative (USTR) has said the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) could be a vehicle for the retention of the Generalised System of Preferences.
It said the Ticfa would likely be signed in September, either in Washington or in Dhaka.
USTR Ambassador Michael B Froman made these remarks at a meeting with Bangladesh Ambassador to Washington Akramul Qader on July 25.
* 180 RMG units yet to submit factory report to BGMEA:
About 180 garment factories are yet to submit their structural designs, soil test reports and premium of insurance to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association after two months of the expire of deadline.
The factories remained out of BGMEA service due to their failure, association officials said on Saturday.
After the collapse of Rana Plaza on April 24 which killed at least 1,132 people, mostly apparel workers, the BGMEA asked their members to submit structural designs, layouts and soil test reports of the factories by May 30.
read more. & read more.
* Workers’ condition improved but not up to mark:
Md Fazlul Haque, president of Bangladesh Employers’ Federation, talks about the workers’ condition in the country in a recent interview with New Age. Interviewed by Ahmed Shawki and Moinul Haque
New Age: What is the condition of the workers in our country?
Md Fazlul Haque: We have very hardworking and efficient workforce in our country. Workers are the people who actually bring change. If you see the development indicators are moving up, you know that the workers’ condition is improving. The overall situation of the workers improved a lot in the last few decades but, to be honest, not up to the mark.
The problem is that workers don’t get proper training in our country. Most of the labourers who come as fresh hands need training. As they don’t receive formal training, they get partial idea about the whole thing in their workplaces and at the same time they get very low payment.
If we could able to provide proper training to the workers, the situation would have much better. I think the role of the business and factory owners is not worker-friendly enough.
NA: What are the barriers to the development of workers?
* EU retailer team due today to chalk out safety action plan:
A four-member delegation of EU Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh arrives in Dhaka today on a three-day visit to chalk out their action plan for factory inspection and renovation in the readymade garment sector through discussion with the sector people and the government officials.
Seventy retailers and apparel brands from the EU on May 15 formed the AFBSB and announced its plan on July 8 that they would inspect within nine months all Bangladeshi garment factories that supply the retailers and brands.
The four delegates of the European consortium of 70 retailers and apparel brands — all of them are the steering committee members of EU Accord — will sit with the garment sector leaders tomorrow.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association vice-president Shahidullah Azim said the meeting with the delegation of EU Accord would be held at the BGMEA office at 1:00pm.
The EU Accord has already announced its plan and they are coming to discuss with the sector people aimed at setting an action plan to implement their pledge, he said adding that along with the BGMEA leaders, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Employers Federation leaders would attend the meeting.
* European buyers’ team due today to talk safety accord framework:
A team of the European buyers, stakeholders in the fire and building safety accord, is due in Dhaka today (Monday) to work out the detailed framework of the safety programme that seeks to inspect garment factories within nine months.
The five-member delegation includes Philip Chamberlain of C&A, Aleix Gonzalez of Inditex, Christy Hoffman of UNI and Monika Kemperle of IndustriALL will be on a three-day visit, sources said.
Inclusion of Bangladeshi representatives in the steering committee (SC) of the accord, among other issues like unified code of conduct and fair price, will be the priority agenda of the discussion during the team’s visit to Dhaka, garment industry circles said.
* Retailers urged to take it further:
Workers rights groups are calling on retailers to use a legally binding deal to improve safety for clothes factory workers in Bangladesh as a blueprint for tackling similar problems elsewhere.
IndustriALL, the international union group which is backing the deal between textile workers and more than 70 retailers to tackle fire safety and building security in Bangladesh, said it had already begun work to build a similar agreement in Pakistan. It comes amid evidence that workers in Pakistan and China face greater workplace risks than those in Bangladesh.
Retailers including Primark, Marks & Spencer and H&M agreed to independent factory inspections and action to improve manufacturers` buildings in Bangladesh after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building in April killed more than 1,100 people.
Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL, said many of those retailers also produced goods in Pakistan and could sign up to a second deal. “The strategy of working through the global supply chain does work and should be a blueprint for countries beyond Bangladesh,” he said.
* Labour leaders urge factory owners to pay wages before Eid:
Labour leaders yesterday urged garment factory owners to pay out worker salaries and festival bonuses well ahead of the Eid festival to avert any untoward incident.
They also requested the owners not to sack any worker before the Eid because such a step would cause unrest in the sector, Mantu Ghosh, a member of Bangladesh Trade Union Centre, said during a demonstration in front of the National Press Club.
The police intercepted the demonstration.
The labour leaders launched protests against the amended labour law, saying many provision in the law go against workers’ interests, Ghosh said.
The government should raise the minimum monthly pay for garment workers to Tk 8,000 considering the rising prices of essentials, he said.
read more. & read more.
* Garment workers demand wage on August 1, festival allowance by August 6:
Garments Sramik Sangram Parishad, a combine of the seven garment worker organisations, on Sunday asked the government to sure the payment of garment workers’ wage by August 1 and festival allowance by August 6.
Addressing a rally in front of the National Press Club, the combine’s coordinator Rafiqual Islam Pathik said that the government instructed the garment factory owners to pay the wage and festival allowance of the workers by August 7.
* Weavers of Sirajganj frustrated:
The weavers of Sirajganj are frustrated due to low demand of their products. Like the previous years, hundreds of weavers of Sirajganj district are passing busy time this year ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.
The loom-rich villages in Belkuchi, Chowhali, Shahzadpur, Kamarkhanda, Raiganj and Kazipur upazilas of the district are pulsating with the sound of different types of looms. But there is no smile on the faces of weavers due to less demand and low price of their products than the previous times.
Huge rush of Indian clothes, including saris and three pieces, in the Eid markets is the cause of their frustration. Lack of proper vigilance of law enforcers in obstructing the entrance of illegal Indian goods into the country throughout several border routes, is one of the prime reasons behind the fall in handloom business, they claimed.
Sources said that, Belkuchi, Chowhali, Shahzadpur, Kamarkhanda, Raiganj and Kazipur upazilas are famous for handloom products.
Different kinds of productslike sari, lungi and napkin are produced from the looms and are supplied to different places of the country, even abroad. About seven lakh people, including women and children, are directly and indirectly involved in the weaving industry. Of them, about four lakh people depend on handlooms, while the rest maintain their livelihood working at power looms and related works like cotton cutting and dyeing.
* RMG worker loses finger due to boss’s attack:
A female garment worker lost a finger when the boss at the factory allegedly hit her with a scissor for not attending a meeting.
Salma Akhter, 27, was treated at the capital’s Pangu Hospital and quoted her doctor as saying that one of her fingers was completely damaged, while the others were severely injured.
The incident came out of the blue, when the government and global clothing retailers were trying to improve the working conditions in Bangladesh’s RMG industry.
The victim, a mending operator of Versatile Fashions Private Limited, said her boss Md Rafiq, a supervisor of the factory, insulted and humiliated her because she could not attend a meeting due to sickness on July 21.
* BGMEA bldg symbol of power but illegal:
In the honking, congested heart of this overcrowded capital, one glass office tower stands uniquely alone, surrounded by water, accessible by a small bridge.
It is a symbol of the power of Bangladesh’s garment industry, the headquarters of the country’s most powerful association of factory owners. It is also illegal.
So said the Bangladesh High Court, concluding that the land had been illegally obtained, the building had been erected without proper approvals and the location threatened a network of lakes that form the natural drainage system of the capital. The High Court called the building “a scam of abysmal proportions” and ordered it demolished within 90 days, The New York Times said in a recently published report.
That was two years ago. The building still stands. The case is now in a legal limbo – more proof, according to critics, of the power of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). Members control the engine of the national economy – garment exports to the United States and Europe, the report said.
For two decades, as Bangladesh became a garment power, now trailing only China in global clothing exports, the trade group has often seemed more like a government ministry. Known as B.G.M.E.A., the organization helps regulate and administer exports and its leaders sit on high-level government committees on labor and security issues. Industry trade groups in the United States could only
imagine such a role, the report said.
The trade group was formed in 1983 as Bangladesh, then one of the world’s poorest countries, was trying to build its economy by developing a garment industry.
* Sewing machines distributed in Habiganj, Natore:
A total of 56 sewing machines were distributed among poor women for becoming self reliat in Habignja and Hnatore districts on July 25.
Our Correspondent from Habiganj reports: A sewing machine distribution programme under the auspices of Urban Partnership for Poverty Reduction Project (UPPRP) was held in Habiganj on July 25. Presided over by the Town Manager of the Project Md. Nazrul Islam, the distribution meeting was addressed by the Mayor of Habiganj Municipality G.K Gouse as chief guest.
The Mayor said, UPPRP has been working in Municipality area of Habiganj successfully for the reduction of the poverty and women’s empowerment for a long time. The sewing machines are being distributed among the poor women so that they can bring the prosperities for their family, the Mayor added.
* KOIMA leader pledges to up apparel imports from Bangladesh:
Visiting trade and investment promotion delegation of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) held two different business meetings with the Korea Importers Association (KOIMA) and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) in South Korea on Friday, said a press statement.
Vice Chairman of KOIMA Hi-Hyun Kim welcomed the DCCI delegation and said that they will request their 8000 member importers to import more products from Bangladesh specially RMG products.
* Bangladeshi topis being lost to China:
Government’s support sought to regain market by equipping factories with modern machineries
Bangladesh is losing its once shining global market of Muslim topis (caps) to the cheaper and better-looking Chinese products, leading to continuous slowdown in the topi export.
Already, many a factory has closed down due to sluggish business of the product.
The industry data showed the number of Muslim topi factories has shrunk to only 25 from 180 over the years, resulting in thousands losing their jobs.
President of Bangladesh Cap Manufacturers’ Association Mohammad Faruque Ahmad attributed the slowdown in topi exports to the cheaper production by China.
“The prices of Chinese Muslim topi are half of ours,” he said.
* Promoting jute-based handloom stressed:
Speakers at the certificate distribution ceremony of a five-day workshop-cum training course here recently stressed promoting jute-based handloom industries for enhancing exports of the country’s jute products, reports BSS.
Multipurpose Jute Industries Entrepreneurs’ Service Centre of Jute Diversification Promotion Centre (JDPC) under the Ministry of Textiles and Jute organised the programme for unemployed women.
Executive director of JDPC Mokhlesur Rahman attended the ceremony as the chief guest and distributed certificates among 22 trainee women with Rangpur Centre-in-Charge of Multipurpose Jute Industries Entrepreneurs’ Service Centre Meher Hussaine in the chair.
Successful jute-based handloom and cottage industry entrepreneurs MG Sajjad Hossain Swadhin, Mossarraf Hossain Sarker, Shameem Akhter and Farida Yasmin and trainee women Syeda Rezina Zaman and Katharina Minzi addressed among others.
* Garment and globalisation:
It is well-known to economists and the knowledgeable that capital seeks locations where the return on it is the highest.
This happens when other factors of production, particularly labour, get less than their due.
If this condition cannot be satisfied in the country of origin capital takes flight out of it seeking haven in another where the prospects of maximising profit is brighter.
The multi-national corporations (MNCs) became the first example of capitalistic production following this path in a globalised economy.
Though MNCs have been analysed over a long period of time by many in the academe, media and policy making, not much discussion has taken place on the evolution of garment industry as part of capitalist production within the framework of global economy.
It is important to recognise the garment industries as a manifestation of capitalism’s global development to understand the full implications for all the stakeholders involved. It is only when this recognition takes place that garment industry’s problems can be seen in their correct perspective.
Garment industries in developing countries can be said to be MNCs on a small scale. But that is not all that can be said about the sector as there is a twist. Unlike MNCs garment industries don’t depend on capital from metropolitan countries. It comes from local investors in the host country. But raw materials are supplied entirely by global retailers as are the designs for each type of garment.
The retailers as buyers relieve the garment producers from the task of marketing, that is exporting. Garment industries with back to back letters of credit is a hybrid economic enterprise, very much like a joint venture, but not exactly like it. Unlike joint ventures there is no participation in equity by the foreign and local partners.
But overall, there is a common interest for the garment producer and the retailer/buyer. Both the parties make their contribution to realise the common goal. The responsibility for whatever happens during the production process devolve on both the parties, whatever might be written in the contract.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* After Rana Plaza collapse, reckoning looms: WSJ:
Three months after the deadly collapse of the Rana Plaza garment complex, authorities here face a key question—whether to charge anyone with a crime in connection with one of the world’s worst industrial accidents, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Twenty-one people are being held in jail in connection with the April 24 disaster, which killed more than 1,100 people. But no one has been charged.
The police say they hope to file formal charges soon against some of the people detained, possibly as early as July 31, when a court hearing is scheduled for all of them. The range of possible outcomes under Bangladesh law is broad — from no charges at all, to charges of culpable homicide, which carries a potential punishment of life in prison, according to a senior police official and the Bangladesh penal code as described in a report by the Home Ministry.
* Families of Rana Plaza missing get no help:
Though the injured, handicapped, survivors and families of the deceased garment workers of the Rana Plaza collapse are slowly getting compensation, donations and the victims’ arrears, families of the missing are getting none.
Take the case of the family of sewing machine operator Taslima Khatun.
Employed in a garment factory housed on the third floor of the nine-storey Rana Plaza, the 19-year-old went missing following the collapse on April 24, which claimed 1,132 lives.
This caused the world of her dependants living in Rajbari district to come crashing down. Her five family members include a rickshaw-puller father too ill to work regularly, a housewife mother, a fifth-grader brother and a widowed sister-in-law with a three-year-old son.
“She used to send us Tk 3,000, and sometimes a thousand or two more,” the father, Ayub Sheikh, told The Daily Star recently.
* 48 global retailers to meet in Dhaka:
Compensation packages for Rana Plaza and Tazreen victims will be fixed
Forty-eight international clothing retailers and brands will hold meetings in Dhaka next month to fix compensation packages for the victims of Rana Plaza collapse and Tazreen fire incident.
Sixteen retailers and brands will fix such packages for the Tazreen victims on August 11, and 32 will sit for Rana Plaza victims on the following day.
Initiated by IndustriALL Global Union, the meetings will take place in the city’s Sonargaon Hotel.
As per the charter of demand, every victim of the two tragedies will receive Tk 5 lakh, Roy Ramesh Chandra, general secretary of IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, told The Daily Star yesterday.
According to Section 121 of the International Labour Organisation, relatives of a dead worker will receive 50 percent of the salaries, which the worker was drawing at the time of his/her death, for the next 25 years with an annual inflation of 7 percent, Chandra said.
The relatives will also receive 10 percent of the dead worker’s salaries for their children’s education cost, he said.
* FBI to assist in matching DNA with family members:
Unidentified Victims of Rana Plaza Collapse
An FBI team will help identify the 321 unidentified bodies recovered from the Rana Plaza rubble by seeing if their DNA samples match those collected from people claiming to be their relatives, said Prof Sharif Akhteruzzaman yesterday.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) team, scheduled to arrive next month, will provide an advanced software programme, Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), said the national technical adviser of National Forensic DNA Profiling Laboratory (NFDPL).
The FBI team will train local experts on using the software which would help make the comparison process less time consuming and identify the bodies by September, he said.
ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE
* HC asks BGMEA to submit report in Sept:
The High Court (HC) on Sunday expressed discontent at the authorities’ failure to submit reports on DNA test of the relatives of the missing victims of the Tazreen Fashions fire that killed 112 people.
According to the three anthropologists, 37 garment workers have remained
missing since the deadly fire at Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital on November 24 last year.
Naznin Akter Banu, Saydia Gulrukh Kamal and Mahmudul Hasan Sumon filed a writ petition with the HC on April 28 seeking directives to the government to arrest and bring Tazreen owner Md Delwar Hossain to justice.
While passing its order on the petition, the High Court also expressed dismay at the failure of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) to submit reports about compensations given to the fire victims.
The High Court has fixed September 17 the last date of submission of reports.
Home Secretary, Inspector General of Police and BGMEA president have been made respondents to the orders. Delwar Hossain was present at the courtroom.
15:27:43 local time INDIA
* Cotton textile industry gets more competitive: Study:
The increase in competitiveness has been in areas like technology upgradation, manufacturing costs and exports, said the study titled ‘Cost benchmarking in India vis-à-vis Bangladesh, Indonesia, Egypt, China, Pakistan and Turkey’.
India’s global market share has increased to four per cent in 2012 from three per cent in 2002 due to greater competitiveness, the study commissioned by the Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council (Texprocil), a Government-sponsored body promoting textiles exports, highlighted.
It is, however, much below China’s share of over 30 per cent.
India’s exports in 2012-13 were worth $32 billion. A more competitive Indian industry, with adequate Government support, could double exports within three years and create crores of jobs, the report said.
* India pips China, others in cost competitiveness in spinning:
India has pipped China and other major textile suppliers in competitiveness in the capital-intensive spinning segment, a latest study said, further bolstering the notion that enhancing the share of the organised sector in textile manufacturing results in lower costs.
However, senior industry executives said systemic obstacles in the form of archic labour laws, frequent power outages and other infrastructural bottlenecks outweigh the inherent cost competitiveness and prevents growth in the country’s share in the global trade, senior industry executives said.
Based on an assumption that India’s manufacturing cost in the spinning sector was 100 in 2012, China’s was high as 138, followed by Indonesia (110), Bangladesh (104) and Pakistan (101), according to the study commissioned by the state-run Textiles Export promotion Council (TEXPROCIL).
However, in the weaving and processing sector, the manufacturing cost of China stands at 111, followed by Pakistan (110), Bangladesh (87) and Indonesia (99), compared with India’s 100.
* TUs seek better working conditions for contract workers:
Various unions and associations in the city on Saturday asked Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour Chairman Dhara Singh Chouhan and other members to recommend measures for improving working conditions for contract workers and take measures to ensure payment of minimum wages.
The panel members received a plethora of representations during their tour to the city. All India Steel Workers’ Federation (AITUC) additional general secretary D. Adinarayana said a contract worker should get at least Rs.15,000 a month. Contract workers engaged in regular nature of work should be made permanent.
Demanding adoption of better safety mechanism at Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, he said all contract workers should get medical and other benefits. A CPI (M) delegation led by senior leader and former State president of CITU Ch. Narsinga Rao expressed concern at non-implementation of laws for ensuring benefits ensured to the contract workers. The team wanted social security net for contract workers and increase in payment of wages.
* Textile sector fears moratorium on Bt to impact export competitiveness:
The proposed move of Technical Expert Committee (TEC) appointed by the Supreme Court for a 10-year moratorium on field trials of genetically engineered crops will affect cotton productivity in India and significantly erode Indian textile industry’s major competitive strength, fears S V Arumugam, Chairman, the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI).
According to reports, TEC is planning to propose a 10-year moratorium on field trials of genetically engineered crops.
Sustained raw material supply for Indian textiles industry is substantially dependent on Bt cotton already and continued use of advanced technology will be necessary to achieve the much needed improvement in cotton productivity.
* Knitwear exporters finding it difficult to manage currency risks:
Knitwear exporters were finding it more and more difficult to manage currency risks as the recent steps announced by RBI and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to halt the rupee’s slide against dollar did not yield the desired results till now. Currency hedging decisions were going haywire because of the high volatility of rupee.
“We are not sure at what rate the rupee should be hedged against the dollar because of the current volatile situation,” pointed out G.R. Senthivel, garment exporter and secretary of Tirupur Exporters and Manufacturers Association.
* Indian govt to soon unveil modified TUFS: Textile Minister:
15:27:43 local time SRI LANKA
* Exporters still want GSP plus!:
The only mantra for Sri Lankan exports to regain its competitive edge and recover lost grounds in the European market is through reapplying and obtaining the Generalized System of Preference (GSP) plus facility for which the country has been determined eligible, the outgoing Chairperson of the Exporters Association of Sri Lanka (EASL), Dawn Austin, suggested last week.
These comments were made in the wake of Secretary to the Treasury Dr. P.J. Jayasundera recently indicating that the government is not planning to request for the reinstatement of the GSP plus, when it comes for renewal in June next year.
Making her address at the 16th Annual General Meeting of EASL held last week, Austin highlighted that from the exporters’ point of view, the new GSP facility introduced by the government of Norway, which came to effect from January 1, 2013, is a rainbow of opportunities; as it had increased the product coverage, widened the concessions and provided an opening for lower middle income countries to diversify their exports, particularly in the fields of textile and apparel.
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* Three apparel giants to be internationally recognized:
Three apparel industry giants – Brandix, MAS Holdings and Hidramani will be inducted to the American Alumni Association Business Hall of Fame at the association’s Silver Jubilee celebrations which will be held at the Cinnamon Grand on August 9.
This prestigious Hall of Fame recognizes many decades of Business Leaders and organizations which have a positive impact on Sri Lanka American relationships.
14:57:43 local time PAKISTAN
* Pakistan needs to offer diversified products to benefit from GSP plus:
The Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers Association has observed that country needs to offer more diversified products to benefit from the GSP plus and hence the import of raw material specially fabric for re-export must be made easy and bundled with SRO 492 instead of DTRE.
PRGMEA central chairman Sajid Saleem Minhas said that small trims that carry no commercial value should also be made duty-free to avoid delays and problems with customs.
He expected that textile sector exports growth will continue in FY14 on the back of continued textile demand from China and estimated 7% local currency depreciation. He said that Cotton Crop Assessment Committee has estimated that Pakistan’s cotton production stand at 13.25 million bales in FY14, slightly better than 13.0m bales in FY13.
Exports and profits of the sector could also improve due to expected GSP Plus (Generalized System of Preferences) status from EU (European Union) as lower import duties will make our products more competitive. Further operating environment of the sector may get better in low interest rate scenario and if energy situation improves.
* Campaign against power, gas theft hailed by textile exporters:
Textile exporters have hailed the government’s campaign against gas and electricity theft and vowed to fully support its all efforts aimed at nabbing the gas and power theft mafia to control the massive pilferage of natural resources.
It was said by Pakistan Textile Exporters Association Chairman Asghar Ali and Vice-Chairman Muhammad Asif in a statement issued here on Friday. They said that the industrial units operating lawfully and had valid legal gas connections should not be harassed.
* Leather, textile made-ups: five percent reduced rate of ST notified:
The Federal Board of Revenue has announced 5 percent reduced rate of sales tax on local supply of finished leather and textile made-ups with retrospective effect from June 13, 2013.
In this regard, the FBR has issued two notifications here on Friday. The FBR has issued a notification for application of 5 percent reduced rate on domestic supplies of leather and textile products.
Earlier, in budget (2013-14) leather and textile article and made ups were brought into the Third Schedule of the Sales Tax Act 1990, hence 17 percent sales tax on retail price was made applicable. Now this 17 percent sales tax on retail price basis has been brought down to lower rate of 5 percent.
Through the same notification, sales tax rate on supplies of intermediary product/industrial raw material to other then five zero-rated sectors (export oriented industries) has been increased from 5 percent to 17 percent. The FBR is of the view that facility of reduced rate is only applicable to export oriented sector hence if these goods sold outside the five zero rated sector sales tax be levied on standard rate, sources explained.
* Energy crisis: government taking steps on war-footing, chief minister tells APTMA team:
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has assured All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) that the government is taking measures on war-footing for resolving energy crisis and the promise to remove shortage of electricity would be fulfilled at any cost.
He said new power generation projects from hydel, thermal and alternative resources would be set up. The Chief Minister said the government was fully aware of the problems of industrial sector especially textile industry and a comprehensive policy would be devised for the supply of electricity and gas to that sector so that not only industrial sector could resume its activities but job opportunities could also be created.
* Year of the yarn: Nishat Chunian acquires Taj Textile for Rs350 million:
Pakistan’s yarn exports increased by 30% during 2013. Most of the increase was fuelled by China, the world’s largest cotton importer, and to meet China’s requirement Pakistan imported 300,000 spindles last year. PHOTO: FILE
Nishat Chunian Limited (NCL) has acquired Taj Textile Mills Limited (TTML) at a reserve price of Rs350.1 million, according to a notice issued to the Karachi Stock Exchange on Thursday.
The acquisition is likely to add 40,000 spindles to NCL’s existing capacity of 150,000 spindles for the production of yarn. According to investment group JS Global, the new additions will formally come online by early 2014. NCL is expected to spend up to Rs1 billion to refurbish the spindles.
The move comes at a time when demand for yarn has been on the rise. Pakistan’s yarn exports increased by 30% during 2013. Most of the increase was fuelled by China, the world’s largest cotton importer. According to research group Elixir Securities, in 2011 the Chinese government began to support high cotton prices in China to help rural incomes increase, which made it very difficult for the Chinese spinning industry to continue manufacturing yarn. An increase in Chinese yarn imports resulted in a boom in the spinning sector in Pakistan, with profits in the yarn industry increasing by 20% in 2013. “Pakistan imported 300,000 spindles last year in view of China’s yarn demand,” says Ujala Adnan, analyst at Elixir Securities. “We expect Pakistan’s yarn exports to remain strong during 2014.”