17:36:41 local time CHINA
* Railway construction to boost China’s geotextile industry:
17:36:41 local time PHILIPPINES
* Wage-hike impasse needs win-win solution:
Workers belonging to the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines have petitioned the government to increase the daily minimum wage in the National Capital Region by P85 and from P80 to P88 in other regions.
For its part, the militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno wants a P125 across-the-board increase and even the abolition of regional wage boards.
The workers’ groups contend that the P456 daily minimum wage in Metro Manila has significantly eroded and is way below the living wage needed to survive in the highly urbanized region.
Local and foreign businessmen, however, oppose the wage increase.
* Natl day of protest vs. SSS premium hike held:
In time for the Social Security System’s quarterly public consultation, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno held a national day of action against the 0.6 per cent hike in premium contributions being proposed by the management of the government-run security system.
Workers in Metro Manila picketed the SSS’s main office along East Avenue in Quezon City to show opposition to the premium hike, which Pres. Noynoy Aquino also pitched for in his fourth State of the Nation Address. Workers from various regions in the country also held protests in front of the security system’s regional offices.
KMU rejected plans to increase premium contributions, by more than P30 a month for minimum-wage earners in Metro Manila, and to change the employer-employee sharing scheme from the current 70-30 to 50-50.
* SSS should increase benefits, not employee contributions – KMU:
The Social Security System is profitable. President Aquino even offered a “salute” to it for having increased its membership, its collections and its profitability. Why, workers ask, should it increase workers’ contributions?
If the Social Security System (SSS) administration and President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III would have their way and the SSS contributions are to be increased this year by 0.6 percent to become 11 percent, the contribution for each employee earning P10,000 (US$229) a month would rise by P60 to P1,100 (US$25.15). Employers had reportedly refused to agree to the increase. They softened only when the SSS floated the idea of a 50-50 sharing scheme in the proposed premium increase, as Susie Bugante, SSS vice president for corporate affairs and communications, said in a radio interview last month.
This Wednesday August 14, in time for the Social Security System’s quarterly public consultation, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno held a national day of action against the proposed hike in premium contributions.
16:36:41 local time CAMBODIA
* Workers claim intimidation:
About 4,000 employees at one of Asia’s largest garment-processing factories have stopped work, as union workers demand the company sever ties with a shareholder who ordered a military police presence there.
Workers at SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd began demonstrating on Monday, about two weeks after shareholder Meas Sotha ordered military police to stand guard inside the factory, said Kong Athit, vice-president of the Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), which represents employees at SL.
“[Sotha] guaranteed the owner that he can destroy C.CAWDU,” Athit, who insisted the military police presence was an effort to intimidate union workers, said.
16:06:41 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
*Myanmar’s garment industry receives growing foreign investment:
Myanmar’s garment industry has received the most foreign investment over the last six months according to recent data from the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC).
Along with the rise of foreign investments, the employment rate in the industry has also increased.
“MIC has noticed that the garment sector received most of foreign investments in the last six months. Another sector which enjoyed growth during the period was manufacturing,” said Khine Khine Nwe, a n MIC member at a recent forum organised by Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA).
Industry sources say Japan and South Korea have made most orders from garment factories in the country. The US and European countries also increasing garment orders after Myanmar was allowed into a trade preferences scheme by the European Union.
15:36:41 local time BANGLADESH
* Workers’ safety policy for industrial sectors in the offing:
The government has initiated a move to formulate a national occupational health and safety policy for industrial sectors aiming to ensure workers’ safety in the face of frequent disasters in the country’s billion-dollar garment sector, officials said.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) has already prepared a draft on the proposed policy, which is expected to get the government’s nod within a month, they added.
The Tazreen and Rana Plaza disasters that claimed more than 1200 workers and injured several others highly forced to press the demand for a national occupational and health safety policy for all the industrial sectors, they mentioned.
“The main purpose of the safety policy is to ensure workplace and occupational health safety in all formal and informal sectors to gradually reduce the death, injury and other causalities,” MoLE Secretary Mikail Shipar told the FE.
Earlier, there was no such policy which is now a must for the industries, he said adding it is also necessary to formulate national standards on safety.
* Shortage of skilled manpower causing production disruption in RMG sector:
Shortage of skilled manpower has been causing severe production disruption in the country’s readymade garment (RMG) sector, industry insiders said.
They also said due to the shortfall, around 25 per cent machinery of the garment factories is lying unutilised.
“Most of the garment factories are facing a critical situation due to shortage of skilled manpower which has been causing the RMG sector to be volatile in terms of production and shipment,” President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Atiqul Islam told the FE.
* No impact on prices of fire fighting tools:
The withdrawal of duty on import of fire fighting equipment has not left any visible impact on reduction of their prices mainly because of an unholy alliance formed by big players to dominate the market, industry insiders said.
According to the sources, the importers and big local traders are capitalising on the sudden rise in demand for such equipment across the country after the Tazreen Fashion fire and the Rana Plaza tragedy.
According to them, prices of almost all kinds of fire fighting equipment increased by more than 20 per cent even after withdrawal of the duty by the government.
* Tannery zone development in Savar to cost Tk 10.78b:
The government has decided to invest almost double the amount than its earlier estimation for developing the struggling tannery zone in Savar as it has raised the cost to Tk 10.78 billion for its upgradation works.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) revised the Tannery Industrial Estate, Dhaka project at a cost of Tk 10.79 billion Tuesday with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
The ECNEC also approved eight other projects at a total cost of Tk98.11 billion in its meeting in Dhaka, Planning Secretary Bhuiyan Shafiqul Islam said.
The government earlier set aside Tk 5.45 billion funds for the tannery zone development project in Savar where the leather industries of Hazaribagh areas in Dhaka city will be relocated.
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* Apparel exports may see Rana Plaza impact late this year:
US retailers and brands have increasingly continued sourcing apparel items from Bangladesh as Dhaka’s export to Washington, the single biggest export destination for the country, increased by 4% or $120m during the December-June period of the last fiscal year.
The exports, in the backdrop of the consistent pressure from the North American country to improve labour rights situation in Bangladesh, were more than $3bn in the period while US export to Bangladesh increased by 22% to $389m, according US official figure.
However, the picture may not be that much rosy this year as the impact of Tazreen Fashions fire and collapse of Rana Plaza is likely to be felt with most of the international buyers taking a cautious strategy of placing orders.
The readymade garment sector did not feel much of the impact of the Tazreen Fashions fire and received almost smooth flow of orders even after the incident, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association Atiqul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune.
”We did not hear about the EU Accord or the North American Alliance asking improvement in the labour conditions after the Tazreen disaster, but after the Rana Plaza collapse the whole scenario has changed,” he said.
The impact of Rana Plaza disaster would be felt in the November-December shipments as most of the buyers have taken cautious strategy on placing orders to Bangladesh, he added. Usually a manufactur-er gets 120 days or four months lead time to ship goods.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Army seeks more information on Rana Plaza tragedy:
Bangladesh Army in a letter sought more information from Dhaka District Administration on Rana Plaza tragedy which had killed more than 1,133 people, mainly poor ready-made garment workers.
According to the official sources, Major Saidur Rahman, on behalf of Bangladesh Army, on July 31 wrote a letter to the Dhaka District Administrator seeking the death list, list of missing people, list of the patients who were under long-term physical treatment and names of the patients who left hospitals after getting treatment along with the total numbers of physically disable victims. Bangladesh Army also requested the local civil administration to provide the accurate numbers of the victimised shop keepers and the total figures of damaged vehicles at the destroyed Rana Plaza, where there were five garments factories, a shopping mall and a private bank in the nine storied building.
The office of Savar Upazila Nirbahi Officer received the letter at 11:49 AM on August 13 over the official fax, the Independent correspondent confirmed.
Meanwhile, in wake of allegation of lack of coordination among different government authorities over rehabilitation process, the International Labour Organization (ILO) is planning to set up a local coordination office at Savar very soon.
About the probable date of opening the ILO coordination office in Savar, UNO Kamrul Hasan Mollah said, ‘‘Still it is under consideration of the government.”
15:06:41 local time INDIA
* Centre to hike minimum wages:
A head of the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, the Centre has began work on raising the national floor level minimum wages from the existing Rs 115 to Rs 135 per day.
The decision is likely to benefit scores of factory workers, who have been demanding the revision of wages.
The proposal of minimum wage hike was already vetted by the Ministry of Law and it will be placed before the Union Cabinet soon, a senior official from the Labour Ministry told Deccan Herald. The NFLMW (national floor level minimum wages) was last revised in 2001 and it was hiked to Rs 115 from Rs 100. The Ministry revises the wages time to time on the basis of increase in the Consumer Price Index (Industrial Worker).
Though small and medium scale enterprises might oppose the hike as it might increase production cost at the time of economic downturn, an official at the labour ministry argues that revision will prevent migration of labourers from industries to agriculture sector.
Many industries including textile have been complaining of shortage of labourers due to exodus of workers to National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) or agriculture due to peak season.
Interestingly, the centre’s latest proposal to revise minimum wages is much less than the labour unions’ demand of Rs 10,000 per month (Rs 333.33 a day) from the present figures of Rs 3,500 per month.
* Govt sets textiles exports target at $43 bn for FY’14:
The US and Europe account for over 65% of India’s total textiles exports
The targets of apparel exports for 2013-14 has been fixed at $17 billion from the 2012-13 actual performance of $12.39 billion, Lakshmi said.
15:06:41 local time SRI LANKA
* Water samples in the vicinity of Sri Lanka’s glove manufacturer tested acidic:
Sri Lanka Industrial Technical Institute (ITI) says that the water samples in the vicinity of a glove making factory in the Rathupaswala area of Weliweriya tested high in acidity.
The pH value of the water samples taken within one kilometer radius of the factory was reported to be as low as 3.1, the Chairman of ITI Prof. Wimaladarma Abeyewickreme told Sinhala daily Lankadeepa.
He further said that additional tests would be needed to ascertain if the waste of the factory caused the drop in the pH of water.
The tests have been started on the other components of water and the report is expected within a week, said the ITI chairman.
* Rathupaswala shooters identified:
Police sources say that the police investigation units have discovered some of the soldiers who open fired at the civilians in Weleriya protest and the officers who commanded it.
It is said that the police officers who were conducting the investigations have already produced an initial report about its progress to the authorities.
A senior police officer said that the police investigations are still being conducted.
Meanwhile police chiefs in Gampaha had told that they do not know who called the army to suppress the protest in Weliweriya.
14:36:41 local time PAKISTAN
* Aptma rejects power tariff hike:
The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) has rejected up to 70 per cent increase in power tariff and demanded of the government to withdraw the decision.
In a statement issued on Monday, Aptma said that the power tariff hike would render the country’s exports uncompetitive on the world markets.
“As a result of this, India, China and Bangladesh would capture global markets presently dominated by Pakistani exporters.
“This increase will mostly benefit Indian textile industry at the cost of Pakistani industry as their products would become more attractive on the world market,” the Aptma release said.