14:48:25 local time CHINA
* Guangdong sees fewer migrant workers in first half:
A relatively sluggish economy in the Pearl River Delta region and rapid urbanization in inland areas have led to a decline of migrant workers in Guangdong province in the first half of the year, according to industrial sources.
Cai Yinggen, who runs a small garment factory in Shantou, in eastern Guangdong province, said that the number of migrant workers has gone down a lot in the city, which is one of China’s major garment and toy manufacturing bases.
“The economy was not so good in the first half. Workers were demanding higher salaries, but we could not afford to pay them more,” Cai said.
When the economic activity is unstable, demand for workers will definitely decrease, according to Cai.
“We had to cut some workers to ensure stable business operations,” Cai added.
14:48:25 local time PHILIPPINES
* Footwear industry against wage hike:
Employers and industry associations said the garments and footwear industries would be pushed to the cliff with a new round of wage increases in Metro Manila being pursued by organized labor.
In a joint statement, the groups said that while big establishments may be able to cope with a wage increase, certain industries like footwear and garment, among others, will be pushed to the limit and may have no other recourse but to close shop.
Edgardo Lacson, president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, called on the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in the National Capital Region (RTWPB-NCR) to “level the playing field” by strictly adhering to the criteria on minimum wage-fixing under Article 124 of the Labor Code and enforcing the policy on the two-tiered wage system.
13:48:25 local time VIET NAM
* Firefighters tackle textile factory blaze:
A large fire at a factory in HCM City’s Tan Tao Industrial Park has been successfully stamped out after firefighters spent five hours tackling the blaze.
The fire, at a property in Binh Tan District belonging to the Pou Yuen Viet Nam Company, has caused significant damage, leaving the textile firm’s employees fearing for their jobs.
Workers on a night shift discovered the fire on the fourth and fifth floors of the building’s A4 block at 4am today. The flames then spread rapidly to next block.
The district’s Firefighting Police Division joined colleagues from the park’s division without delay. Forces were also mobilized from neighbouring districts, including Tan Phu, Hoc Mon and Cu Chi.
* 5-hour fire at Pou Yuen Industrial Park stamped out:
After five hours of raging, a large fire that broke out at 4 am this morning at the Pou Yuen Industrial Park in Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City has been put out by 500 firefighters.
The first first occurred on the 4th and 5th floors of a building in the park and spread rapidly.
Hundreds of firefighters, thirty fire engines and two ladder trucks have been sent to the scent to extinguish the fire, which was still spreading at 8 am.
Thousands of workers of many companies in the park, located in Tan Tao Ward on National Highway 1A, could not work due to the fire. At 8:30 am, as the fire continued to spread, the HCMC Fire Prevention and Control Department mobilized 10 more fire engines and three more ladder trucks to the park.
The department later said it has mobilized all possible forces to the scene to extinguish the blaze.
At 8:40 am, the department said the fire has been basically put under control, as firefighters could prevent it from spreading.
About 20 minutes later, the fire was put out totally.
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* A huge fire in HCM City’s industrial park:
The fire started at about 4a.m on August 21 at block A4 of Pou Yuen Vietnam Co, Ltd in Tan Tao industrial park located in HCM City’s Binh Tan district.
Luu Hoang Giang, a worker there said that he had heard an explosion before seeing black smoke and flames. All the workers were quickly evacuated out of the building.
A dozen of fire engines were mobilized to control the fire which was spreading from the fourth and fifth floors of block A4.
Relevant agencies have blockaded all the company to tackle the fire. Thousands of workers gathered outside the company, leading to serious traffic congestion.
This was the third breaking out at the company. Pou Yuen Vietnam is a wholly-foreign invested company which specializes in producing sports shoes for export and garments and textiles and has more than 80,000 workers.
* Footwear sector cashes in on bulk orders:
Local footwear exporters are expected to surpass 2013’s US$9.7 billion export earnings target, as Japanese importers are shifting their orders from China to Vietnam.
According to the Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso), the export earnings from Vietnamese leather and footwear products will increase sharply if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) are signed.
The Association said that TPP and FTA will reduce tax rates to 0%, enabling Vietnamese footwear exports to be more competitive than those produced in China and India.
13:48:25 local time THAILAND
* Pan Asia Footwear to end foreign brand output:
Pan Asia Footwear has decided to end its contract manufacturing of shoes for foreign brands at the end of this month, which will affect 2,000 workers. They will receive layoff compensation.
The company will downsize its business to only three or four locations and will focus on the domestic market, supplying ICC International, said Sommart Kunset, director and general manager of Pan Asia Footwear.
He said Pan Asia Footwear was forced to downsize to curb operational losses it has endured for several years as production costs are not competitive with China and Vietnam. Should the company wish to continue making shoes, it will have to produce value-added products with higher quality and prices than its main low-cost, low-price rivals.
13:48:25 local time CAMBODIA
* Court draws more into Sabrina case:
Eight people allegedly involved in a worker demonstration that devolved into a violent clash with authorities at a Kampong Speu-based Nike supplier have been summonsed to court. Another eight arrested at the scene already await trial.
Some of the summonses ordered the workers, who allegedly participated in melees that occurred on May 27 and June 3 at the Sabrina garment factory, to appear before a judge as soon as next week, the provincial judge in charge of the case, Cheum Rithy, said.
Workers called in include Chi Sakla, Sun Vanny, Say Sambo, Say Bros and Seang Hem. Free Trade Union representatives include Srey Mom, Yann Roth Keopisey and Thorn Thol.
These eight are the latest to face charges after demonstrators exchanged a volley of sticks and rocks with police and employees who remained at work while protesting the Sabrina Garment factory.
The clash resulted in significant property damage and left at least 23 people, including one police officer, injured.
14:48:25 local time INDONESIA
* Jakarta Unions Want ‘At Least’ 50% Wage Hike:
Trade unions have seized on Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama’s stated figure of Rp 4 million ($376) a month for a decent standard of living in the capital to demand a minimum wage next year of Rp 3.7 million.
The Jakarta Wage Council, comprising employers’ associations, trade unions and the city administration, will discuss the 2014 provincial minimum wage before the end of the year.
“We would like an increase to about Rp 3.7 million,” Muhammad Toha, the secretary general of the Jakarta Workers Forum, said on Tuesday during a press conference held by the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Unions (KSPI).
In response to the demand, Basuki said he doubted that companies in Jakarta would be able to afford to pay such a high minimum wage, and warned that pushing for this increase would only result in layoffs across the city.
“The possibility of the minimum wage being increased at the moment is tough,” he said, adding t he city was looking into the possibility of relocating factories to areas with a lower minimum wage.
Said added that Indonesia’s position as a new global economic power and its annual economic growth of 6 percent should be able to see the workers’ minimum wage increased, although in reality it still paled in comparison with other countries in the Southeast Asian region.
“Indonesia’s minimum wage is far lower than that in Thailand or the Philippines, even though Indonesia’s economy is bigger,” he said.
13:18:25 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* 90 % of female workers employed in garment industry:
Myanmar’s garment industry employs 90 percent of female workers, according to Dr. Khine Khine Nwe, Secretary of Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) who was speaking at the Myanmar Women Dialogue held on Saturday.
Myanmar has 3.6 million workers and 40 percent of them are female workers.
“The garment industry used human resources and can create more job opportunities for female workers. After September 2012, numbers of foreign companies rose to 56. Among them, 44 are in the garment industry. That’s why the working force of female workers is very important for the garment industry,” said Dr. Khine Khine Nwe.
The basic salary of a worker in the garment industry is around 50,000 Kyats (about US$50). If the government give electricity regularly, the employers can increase wages to 10 percent of current salary, she added.
* Myanmar’s garment exports make record earnings:
Myanmar’s garment exports made record earnings in the first quarter of this year, according to official data from Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA).
The exports have made over $300 million in the period from January to March, almost a double from the same period last year, according to the data.
“Generally most orders came during the first three months of a year averagely. This year we [manufacturers] have earned more than previous years. Our factory earned nearly US$ 200,000 a month these last few months. We got only around US$30,000 a month last year,” said Dr. Khin Maung Aye, managing director of Letwyar Factory in Yangon’s Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone.
The garment orders used to go down between April and June, according to industry sources. Japan and South Korea have made most orders from garment factories in the country. The US and European countries are also increasing garment orders after Myanmar was allowed into a trade preferences scheme by the European Union.
12:33:25 local time NEPAL
* All industries in Birgunj-Pathalaiya corridor reopen:
All industries in the Birgunj-Pathlaiya corridor, which were closed since August 4 due to workers’ strike, have reopened.
According to the President of Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ashok Baidya, workers’ strike had come to an end following an agreement between the agitating and industry management sides. Similarly, the Labour Court termed the strike ‘non-legal’, he added.
Although other industries were already open from the second week of August, Triveni ‘A’ Group and Hulas Steel Industries Pvt Ltd resumed the operation from today. Operation of around two dozen big industries in the corridor was halted for around ten days.
Industrialists here suffered a huge loss due to closure of their businesses. The corridor workers were on an agitation, demanding pay hike as fixed by the government.
12:48:25 local time BANGLADESH
* Factory closed following RMG unrest in Gazipur:
The SK Crystal Celsius garments factory at Telipara area under Gazipur sader upazila was closed for indefinite period on Tuesday following continuous demonstrations by its workers to press for various demands, including resignation of an official.
Mosharaf Hossain, assistant police super of Gazipur Industrial Police informed, “The workers of the factory, instead of joining work, started staging demonstration at about 8:00 am in the morning. They protested at the random sacking of their fellow workers. Their prime demand had been the removal of administrative officer Raisul Alam from job as he was thought to be the plotter of sacking of the workers.”
“At one point, when the agitated workers started taking position on Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway, near the factory and tried to blockade it. Police tried to disperse the crowd sparking off chase and counter-chase between police and workers on the streets,” he said.
* Bangladesh’s workers deserve better:
Four months after a building collapse killed more than 1,100 factory workers in Bangladesh, their families are still waiting for adequate—and in some cases, any—compensation. This is a shocking lapse by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government.
After the disaster at Rana Plaza, a poorly constructed eight-storey building outside Dhaka, the capital, Hasina promised to give the relatives of those who died about $1,250 in cash and $19,000 in savings certificates—amounts that far exceed the roughly $1,250 that factory owners are legally required to pay per victim, but far from sufficient, considering that many victims were young women and men who had a whole lifetime ahead of them. The money was supposed to come from the government and from private donations by, among others, the factory owners.
* Quader urges RMG owners to arrange Eid holidays in phases:
Communicaions Minister Obaidul Quader has requested the readymade garment owners to arrange their Eid holidays in phases to reduce pressure of garment workers on highways.
“We could manage traffic jam and passengers during the Eid holidays if holidays of readymade garments during the Eid are given in two to three phases,” he said addressing a press conference at his ministry conference room on Tuesday.
The minister said several lakh garment workers could not join work in time as they were stranded in the long queue in Tangail failing to come back from villages due to two-day hartal on August 12 and 13.
* FY13 BEPZA exports rise 15% despite adversities:
The export earnings by the enterprises under Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) recorded over 15% growth in the fiscal 2012-13 despite having adverse situation in country’s industrial sector. Employment grew by about 6%.
The contribution from the EPZs to the total national exports rose to US$4.9bn in 2012-13, which is 18% higher as compared to the previous year. Export earnings by the enterprises outperformed the period’s target of $4.5bn. The export earnings were $4.2bn in 2011-12.
“Despite of various adverse situations in country’s industrial sector, the export, investment and employment scenario is shining in the operating industrial units of EPZs,” said the authority in a statement issued yesterday.
* RMG makers will invest Tk 50b to fulfil compliances to boost export:
Country’s readymade garment (RMG) industry is going to invest Tk 50 billion for fulfilling the compliances in the factories to boost export, sector insiders said.
They also said the sector is now under pressure from international buyers and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) who are closely monitoring the working conditions in RMG units.
For fulfilling the buyers’ requirement, nearly 500 garment owners have agreed to invest the amount.
“We have no alternative but to improve the compliance and for that reason new investment is needed,” President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Atiqul Islam told the FE.
* $500m export proceeds swindled out of country:
Export proceeds to the tune of about US$500 million have been swindled out of the country through fake declaration and wrong delivery of readymade garments to the buyers abroad in violation of foreign exchange transaction rules, exporters said.
On the strength of ocean carriers’ bill of lading (B/L) without bank endorsement (Master B/L) the freight forwarders become holders of title to the goods which enable them to give delivery of the same at the port of destination circumventing the requirement of L/C (letter of credit) opening bank’s delivery endorsement.
As per utilisation document (UD) of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, only 2,158 out of 5,625 factories have survived while the rest have either been closed or are continuing their business in sub-contracting orders of other factories as some shipping companies and freight forwarders resort to the ill practice of documentation of export consignments.
* Tapping potential of larger home-textile export:
The statistics of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), showing a fall in export earnings from home textiles, should draw attention of the country’s policy-planners.
The EPB’s data showed Bangladesh fetched $791.52 million in the last fiscal year (FY) 2012-13, which was 12.64 per cent down from the previous fiscal’s value. Market watchers attribute this to global economic slowdown.
The sector, which had once seen an impressive growth in global markets, could still be revamped with well-thought-out policies and expansion of market outlets through extensive exploration as home textile products are usually used in cold seasons. Once a land of famous Muslins, adored across the world, Bangladesh still has the potential for exporting its quality textile products that are of common use abroad. Locally produced ‘lungi’ and indigenous towel, called ‘gamcha’, could even earn a sizeable amount of foreign currencies through exports to countries in the Middle East and India. Nearly six million Bangladeshis are working alone in the Middle East. Towels are in great demand in the vast markets of Europe, the USA and Canada.
* US retailers to implement Bangladesh factory plan:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Gap Inc. and other major U.S. retailers plan to meet Tuesday in Chicago to start implementing a Bangladesh factory-safety plan announced last month amid criticism it lacks teeth to enforce company promises, The World Street Journal reported Tuesday.
The group, made up of 20 companies known as the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, will also announce its board of directors, reveal new signatories like Costco Wholesale Corp., and finalize common fire-and building-safety standards it pledged to put in place by September 10, the report said.
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* US clothing retailers’ alliance appoints chair:
The North American Alliance, a platform of US-based clothing retailers for Bangladesh worker safety, has appointed former under-secretary of state Ellen O’Kane Tauscher as the independent chair of its board of directors.
The coalition of North American apparel companies and retailers, industry associations and non-government organisations was established last month to improve worker safety at Bangladeshi garment factories.
As the chair, Tauscher will serve a three-year term in the board, according to a statement.
“The respect Ellen has earned in Congress, the State Department, and the private sector will serve her well in the role as an independent leader and convener,” said James F Moriarty, an Alliance board member and former US ambassador to Bangladesh.
She will work with the Alliance members and governments to pursue the critical safety mission and aggressive implementation schedule, Moriarty said in the statement.
Tauscher said, “I am excited to be part of this unique public/private partnership between companies and stakeholders who want to materially change the safety and work conditions of tens of thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers.”
* GSP suspension not US stand against Bangladesh: Levin:
Visiting US Congressman Sander Levin today said, the suspension of the GSP facilities for Bangladesh by the USA is not a stand by the US government against the country.
The US Congressman said this in a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office here today, PM’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad said after the meeting.
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* Unemployed women achieving self-reliance sewing handloom garment:
Hundreds of the unemployed, poor and distressed women have been achieving economic self- reliance and changing fates through sewing readymade handloom garments in the northern region in recent years.
They are gradually becoming self-reliant with own initiatives and assistances from different government and non- government organizations, which are extending necessary supports, trainings and inputs with creating marketing facilities for their products.
Head of Programme Coordination of RDRS Bangladesh and noted women activist Monjusree Saha said many distressed women, divorcees and young girls have already become self-reliant to make laudable financial contributions to their families.
The Women Affairs Department, Department of Social Service, Youth Development Department and dozens of NGOs are playing vital role in encouraging the women by providing trainings, sewing machines, credits and input supports, she said.
According to official and NGO sources, production of readymade garments has been growing fast as more women, widows, divorcees and girls are becoming interested in adopting sewing as a prospective profession following the success of the others.
The distressed women and unemployed young girls are showing more interests in sewing profession as they are hopeful that this profession will bring further success and help empowerment of grassroots’ women.
12:18:25 local time INDIA
* 2 tannery workers die of asphyxiation:
Two workers of a tannery in the SIPCOT industrial estate in Ranipet were asphyxiated on inhaling toxic gas while cleaning an effluent tank in the tannery on Sunday night.
According to sources in the SIPCOT police station, A. Gajendran (35), N. Mani (30) and V. Balasundaram (30), all locals, descended into the effluent tank and were engaged in cleaning it, when they suddenly fainted on inhaling toxic gas emanating from the effluents.
They were rescued and rushed to hospital. Gajendran and Mani died on the way to the hospital while Balasundaram is undergoing treatment in the CMC Hospital, Vellore.
* Apparel industry seeks integration with NREGA:
In the wake of continual manpower shortage and increased competition from Bangladesh, the Indian apparel industry has sought from the Ministry of Textiles to be integrated with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA) scheme.
In recent representations being made with the government, the Indian apparel industry has asked the ministry to integrate MGNREGA benefits with that of garmenting units in order to arrest decline in manpower.
“We have been finding it hard not only to attract manpower but also to retain the existing ones, thanks to certain labour law issues and government schemes like MGNREGA. We have made representations to the Ministry of Textiles in this regard which has already begun talks with the respective ministries to work out the same,” said Sanjay Jain, president of Kolkata Association of Garment as well as joint managing director TT Limited, an apparel manufacturing company.
* 12 weavers commit suicide in Krishna dt.:
Twelve weavers committed suicide in two villages of Krishna District in a span of three years since 2010 and the living conditions of the community members is no better even today.
Unable to feed the five-member family, 36-year-old Perisetti Dattatreya and his wife Nagalaxmi gave their elder daughter, Lalitha, to one of their childless relative couples and were never able to get her back.
On April 5, Dattatreya, who owed about Rs.1 lakh to his Master Weaver and others, committed suicide by slitting his throat with a knife on his bed at the Government Hospital, Machilipatnam. “Left with no option to run his home amid debt-ridden conditions, he was in severe depression and took alcohol continuously for the three days before resorting to the extreme step. He just transferred the burden on to me,” said Dattatreya’s wife Nagalaxmi in Kappaladoddi village of Guduru.
With the suicide of another handloom weaver Metla Rama Rao on July 15, when he failed to repay a debt of Rs.50,000, raised to meet medical expenses of his mentally unsound son, the number of weavers’ suicides shot up to 12 since 2010 including four this calendar year alone in two areas – Kappaladoddi in Guduru mandal and Pedana town.
Andhra Pradesh Weavers’ Workers’ Union State Vice-President Katta Hemasundar Rao and Kappladoddi Weavers’ Cooperative Society member Ekkala Kotaiah have listed 18 suicides in Pedana and Kappaladoddi.
* Collector urges power loom weavers to keep faith:
In the wake of a significant rise in suicides by power loom weavers, Collector M. Veerabrahmaiah visited Sircilla textile town on Tuesday and consoled the bereaved family members.
He visited the families of weavers Gundeti Ranjith and A. Bhanuchander, who ended their lives unable to clear debts caused by severe crisis in the power loom industry. On this occasion, Mr. Veerabrahmaiah urged the power loom weavers to not get disheartened and face the problems bravely. He said that a person’s death would cause untold misery to the family members.
He promised to grant compensation to the family members within a few days.
Later, he inspected the power looms and interacted with the weavers. He convened a meeting of power loom weavers, owners and other officials and inquired about the present situation in Sircilla town.
Expressing concern over 12-hour work schedule of the weavers, he instructed the authorities to take measures to ensure that the weavers worked for only eight hours in a shift.
* African textile makers pin hopes on government policies:
The textile sector in Africa is one of the ancient textile industries in the world with highly skilled workers but the industry lost its pride due to several reasons and currently it is faced with several challenges.
The textile and apparel manufacturers in Kenya and Nigeria are pinning hopes on several government policies and incentives for the revival of the industry.
In a conversation with fibre2fashion, Mr. Anthony Mureithi, CEO of Cotton Development Authority (CODA) of Kenya, said, “Reduction of import duty to zero percent on all synthetic yarns, acrylic yarn, polyester yarn and high ferocity yarn from a rate of 10 percent in 2010-11 is one of the initiative by the Kenya Government to create more employment and improve export earnings.”
However, Mr. JP Olarewaju, director general of Nigerian Textile and Garment and Tailoring Employers Association (NUTGTWN), says, “At present, the Nigerian textile industry receives no subsidy in any form from the Government, except those involved in exports have some Export Expansion Grant (EEG).”
“Meanwhile, the Government has promised it would revive the ailing Nigerian textile industry. It is envisaged that Nigerian Government will impose higher tariff on imported fabrics to discourage importation and it will also come out with package of incentives for local manufacturers,” he mentions.
According to Mr. Mureithi, employment in the textile cluster of Kenya is estimated at 50,000 people and it includes those employed in cotton and other textiles including spinning, weaving, finishing, knitting, non apparel manufacturing, whole sale and retail trade.
Mr. Olarewaju says, “Nigeria has the largest textile industry in the Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa. The sector directly employed 250,000-300,000 people and was also a source of livelihood to backward and forward linkages and other supporting services. It was capable of producing over 1.5 billion linear meters of fabrics.”