18:15:25 local time CHINA
* China to relocate industries:
Increased Chinese interest in relocating their industries in neighboring countries, including Pakistan is because of labour shortages that the Chinese are experiencing after decades of rapid industrialisation; reaching the “Lewis turning point” that depicts acute shortage of labour, experts said.
Development experts point out that when a society moves from an agricultural to an industrial economy, the balance of labour demand and supply shifts, as well. In the initial stage of development, they said, most people remain in rural areas, engaged in agricultural production. When this concentration of workers leads to underemployment in the rural areas, the industrial sector can expand and increase its labour force with no pressure to raise wages, they added.
Thus, there may follow a period of industrial growth with no rise in real wages. However, as the industrial sector develops to the point where the supply of labour from the agricultural sector becomes limited, industrial wages begin to rise quickly. Based on the historical experience of developed countries, Lewis in 1954 first conceptualised this process of economic transformation.
17:15:25 local time VIET NAM
* Vietnam police probe huge blaze at Taiwanese shoe factory :
More than 500 Ho Chi Minh City firefighters Wednesday spent nearly five hours putting out a fire that destroyed 4,000 square meters of the factory and warehouse of a Taiwanese shoe company.
No casualties were reported and an investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the blaze and estimate the cost of the damages.
Cu Phat Nghiep, labor union chairman of Pou Yuen Vietnam, said the damage “must be vast as the warehouse of finished products was almost burned to ashes.”
Buu said the fire started on the fourth floor of the production area of the 42,000-square-meter factory in the outlying Binh Tan District, and then spread, fueled by flammable products such as styrofoam, rubber and chemicals.
Nghiep the labor union chairman said if the fire happened during the day, around 12,000 workers would have been there.
He said the company, which is among the biggest employers in the city, will try to make sure to keep all of its more than 82,500 workers employed despite the incident.
17:15:25 local time LAOS
* Labour shortage a major challenge for investors:
Both local and foreign investors operating businesses in Laos have been encountering problems stemming from the chronic labour shortage.
“We are experiencing an annual shortfall of labourers in excess of 31,000 people,” said a senior advisor to the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Mr Onesy Boudsivongsakd made the observation at the 8th Lao Business Forum held in Vientiane on Tuesday, aiming to highlight the labour problems to the government and find appropriate solutions.
The 31,000 workers in question are required for the garment industry, processing industry, tourism, steel rod production, furniture production association, construction groups, KP industry group, and the Nikon and Essiloz companies in the Savannakhet economic zone.
* Govt asked to resolve labour shortage:
Lao businesspeople hav e asked the government to resolve a shortage in the labour force among the garment and furniture industries and at factories and hydropower projects.
The request was made at the 8th Lao Business Forum in Vientiane on 20 August at which the private sector and public sector came together for discussions.
* Labour in short supply:
Both domestic and foreign investors have stated that manpower is still in short supply while hundreds of thousand workers continue to work illegally in neighbouring countries.
There are around 157,000 labourers currently working in the garment, processing industry, tourism, steel production, furniture and construction industries but as many as 30,000 workers are still needed to fill gaps in these areas, according to a senior official.
17:15:25 local time THAILAND
* Study highlights factors behind labour woes:
The Thai economy is on the rise and the labour market is getting more competitive, partly because of the government’s policy of raising the minimum wage, according to a recent survey.
17:15:25 local time CAMBODIA
* Strike after pair fired for aiding other strikers:
A thousand employees walked off the job at Nex-t Apparel (Cambodia) Co Ltd in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district yesterday after two workers were fired for collecting money to buy water for strikers at a neighbouring factory.
“The company officer saw a piece of paper that I wrote to every worker to donate some money to help protesters at SL,” said Yin Phanna, 21, who was fired along with Chan Srey Mom, 23. “Three company officials . . . forced us to sign a termination letter.”
Management yesterday agreed to rehire the fired employees, but would not meet the 12 additional demands workers formulated.
Demonstrations at Nex-t are set to continue today.
* Cambodia Imports Over 400 tons of Raw Silk Each Year:
Cambodia imports over 400 tons of raw silk at a cost of some US$25 million every year to meet the demand for silk handmade products in the country.
The import coincides with an increase of more and more foreign tourists visiting the country in the last recent years leading to the re-appearing of the silk products for satisfying the domestic and foreign markets.
* BetterFactories – Media updates 20-23 August 2013, Garment sector stable despite workers leaving jobs:
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2013-08-20 Strike grows as another factory walks
2013-08-21 Garment sector drives insurance premium revenue of $22 million
2013-08-22 Another construction worker killed
2013-08-22 SL, strike first meeting fails
2013-08-23 Strike after pair fired for aiding other strikers
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2013-08-20 Garment sector stable despite workers leaving jobs
2013-08-21 Rosalia Mera, world’s richest self-mad woman, dead at 69
2013-08-22 Despite advancements for women, men still own Bangladesh
2013-08-23 New tastes, nimble fashion rivals squeeze US Teen Chains
16:15:25 local time BANGLADESH
* Three Months Since Rana Plaza, 200 Orphans Call for Compensation and Safe Jobs:
An investigative reporter working with Aljazeera has exposed that children are sewing Old Navy clothing in a deathtrap factory in Bangladesh. Here’s the three-minute video clip.
The full “Made In Bangladesh” video (25 min), premiered Tuesday, August 20, 2013. It will air again on Sunday, August 25, 2013 at 7p and 10p ET.
“Made In Bangladesh” shows children as young as twelve inserting waistbands into jeans sporting Old Navy labels at Samie’s Finishing House in Dhaka. Gap Inc, which owns Old Navy, has responded to the child labor allegations by denying any relationship with Samie’s Finishing House, asserting a commitment to ensure safe and legal working conditions, and claiming that the clothing shown must be “either counterfeit or improperly acquired by the facility.” One must wonder, however, why a counterfeit clothing operation would have sales-tags with barcodes that perfectly matched those on garments sold at Old Navy stores in the US. Gap Inc’s defensive claims, while highly suspect, are not entirely surprising.
* Factories Close Down To Wage Protest In Narayanganj:
Factories close down in Narayanganj as workers stage protests for higher wages.
Sources report that workers of a factory belonging to Opex-Sinha Group in Narayanganj staged protests on low wages which turned violent as security forces came into the scene trying to crush the unrest with force.
Soon afterwards, the unrest spread across the area and factories had to end up being closed.
Minimum wage in Bangladesh remains the lowest in Asia at $38 per month (approximately).
Worker rights abuses are still noticed with lack of adequate weekends for most of the factories. Among these concerns, the building and fire safety concerns have come up as a strong threat to regional stability in terms of its trade which accounts to a huge chunk into the national economy.
Currently Bangladesh also prides itself to be the 2nd largest garment exporter in the world.
* Trade unions vital for the safety accord to succeed:
Scott Nova of Workers Rights Consortium says
The accord for fire and safety signed by around 80 clothing retailers can only work if trade unions are given a prominent role in the proceedings, a global pro-worker activist said recently.
“Local unions can play a critical role. They can convey the workers’ concerns about the dangers lurking in factories and ensure that the owners undertake the necessary repairs and renovations,” Scott Nova, executive director of Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), said in an interview on August 18.
WRC, which has been vocal since the twin disasters of Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza collapse, is a US-based independent labour rights organisation that monitors the working conditions in factories globally.
Nova was in Dhaka to meet with a number of labour organisations to find ways for a quick and effective implementation of the five-year programme under the safety accord, which he states is different from the courses taken to date to inspect factories.
* RMG sector sub-contracting system launch at snail’s pace:
EPB yet to submit drafts in five months
The government’s initiative to introduce a transparent and accountable sub-contracting system in the readymade garment sector has made little headway in the last five months as the Export Promotion Bureau is yet to submit its draft proposals despite repeated reminders.
After the Tazreen Fashions fire in November 24 last year which killed 112 workers, the government, garment owners and workers signed a tripartite agreement to improve the working condition in the RMG sector.
There was an allegation that big garment factories were receiving huge orders from buyers and giving sub-contract to non-complaint factories and Tazreen Fashions Ltd was one of the non-complaint factories which was working on sub-contract for producing products for Walmart.
After the fire incident, Walmart had said that the Tazreen factory was no longer authorised to produce merchandise for them.
A supplier subcontracted work to the factory without authorisation and in direct violation of Walmart’s policies, it had said.
Under the national tripartite plan of action, the labour ministry and the commerce ministry on April 5 decided to introduce a transparent and accountable sub-contracting system to ensure safe and secured sub-contracting environment.
* Factory survey starts on Sept 15:
2,000 garment buildings to be inspected in three months
Activists and the relatives of missing garment workers gather on August 2 in front of a sculpture made by members of labour organisations at the site of collapsed Rana Plaza in Savar. Scarred by the biggest industrial disaster, Bangladesh will start a survey into garment factory buildings in September. Photo: REUTERS/FILE
Thirty expert panels led by Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology will start inspection of garment factories from September 15 to check structural flaws and ensure worker safety, a government official said yesterday.
The teams will inspect around 2,000 garment factory buildings in three months under a tripartite agreement between the government, trade unions and the International Labour Organisation, Labour and Employment Secretary Mikail Shipar said.
The inspection teams have already been formed with experts from other universities, the ILO, donor agencies, trade unions, Bangladesh Employers’ Federation, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
The tripartite agreement was signed in two phases on February 20 and July 25 after two deadly factory accidents — Tazreen Fashions fire on November 24 last year and Rana Plaza collapse on April 24.
“We will inspect the buildings, which were not included on the lists of IndustriALL and North American Alliance, to avoid repetition,” Shipar said.
IndustriALL — a global trade union, and North American Alliance — a platform of 20 US-based retailers and brands for worker safety in Bangladesh, will separately inspect 800 and 1,200 factories.
* 50% open space must on RMG factory roof top:
Every garments factory, intened to go on operation, must have 50% open space on the roof to get license.
In default, the fire services will not provide licnese.
According to existing laws every garment industry have to keep 25% open space on the roof.
“The fire deparment has informed us that they will not provide license to oprate garment factory if the building does not have 50% open space on the roof, said BGMEA Vice Presidet Shahidullah Azim. He said the apex apparel trade body agreed with it.
* RELOCATING RMG FACTORIES – BGMEA seeks Tk 720cr BB loan at low interest rate:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association on Thursday urged the Bangladesh Bank to grant garment owners loans worth Tk 720 crore at a low interest rate so that they could relocate their factories at the garment economic zone at Gazaria in Munshiganj.
The call came when a BGMEA delegation led by its president Atiqul Islam met BB governor Atiur Rahman at the BB head office.
‘We urged the governor to provide the loan at a low interest rate as it is very much difficult for the entrepreneurs to relocate their factories to the garment industrial zone with a loan that has an interest rate of 18-20 per cent,’ the BGMEA president told New Age.
* Export earnings from leather up by 21% :
Export earnings from leather industry have moved up by 21.07 per cent in the just concluded fiscal year 2012-13 compared to the export earnings of 2011-12 despite an economic meltdown across the world.
The country has been able to attain the export target for leather in 2012-13 by overcoming the severe negative effects of the world recession with quality leather export, tanners said.
Now, the tanners of the country are in a cheerful mood over the last financial year’s export performance of the sector. And they are also very much confident over the fulfilment of export target of the current fiscal year set by the government.
According to the monthly data released by state-owned Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the export earnings of crust and finished leather was recorded at US$ 399.73 million in FY 2012-13 against the export targets of $ 400 million for that period, recording only 0.07 per cent lower growth over the target.
* Jute’s genome sequencing unlocks door to limitless possibilities:
Internationally famed geneticist Dr Maqsudul Alam and his team have rewritten the country’s research history by successfully decoding the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) of the traditional variety of jute.
Called genome sequencing, because the molecule encodes instructions for development and functioning of all forms of life, the arduous process has been completed by the team of scientists under Dr Alam’s guidance for the third time after they had made the first breakthrough with ‘Tosha’ jute’s gene three years ago in 2010. This was followed by unravelling of the building blocks of a fungus called ‘macrophomina phaseolina’ — one that is responsible for reducing production of about 500 crops including jute and cotton by its attack.
* Rupee fall boon for India readymade garment sector:
Record slump in Indian rupee, according to a report by an on-line Indian news service, Daily News Analysis (DNA), from Indore in India, might be giving nightmares to many but it has certainly offered new lease of life to beleaguered readymade garments sector of the city as falling rupee has made Bangladesh apparels costlier sharply.
The report said Thursday the turnaround in currency exchange rate has helped Indore garment traders see a rise of 20% in fresh orders in the last two month or so.
Continuing its downslide, the Indian rupee tumbled to an all-time low of 64.54 against the US dollar during intraday trading last Wednesday, the report said.
The report added: “Ashish Nigam, secretary MP Readymade Garments’ Manufacturers Association, said that imported garments from Bangladesh are normally 10% cheaper than local apparels. However, these import orders have turned dearer sharply with the fading rupee.
15:45:25 local time INDIA
* Rupee fall, boon for readymade garment sector:
Record slump in Indian rupee might be giving nightmares to many but it has certainly offered new lease of life to beleaguered readymade garments sector of the city as falling rupee has made Bangladesh apparels costlier sharply.
The turnaround in currency exchange rate has helped Indore garment traders see a rise of 20% in fresh orders in the last two month or so.
Continuing its downslide, the Indian rupee tumbled to an all-time low of 64.54 against the US dollar during intraday trading on Wednesday.
Ashish Nigam, secretary MP Readymade Garments’ Manufacturers Association, said that imported garments from Bangladesh are normally 10% cheaper than local apparels. However, these import orders have turned dearer sharply with the fading rupee.
* Garment exports ride on rupee skid:
A mid-sized garment export house in Tirupur, which took orders when the dollar was quoting at 58 about a month and a half ago, has earned a conversion rate of 63 for new bookings. For every Re 1 decline against the dollar, sales realizations would increase by about 1.5%-1.75% for garment makers.
The sharp fall in the rupee has brought cheer to garment exporters and improved their profit margins by 3%-4%. Most exporters are using spot rates for their order bookings providing them an opportunity to get higher realizations in rupee terms. They are not opting for forward covers as a hedge following the steep fall in the rupee.
* Rupee supports exporters to benefit cotton industry:
Depreciation of rupee against the dollar is expected to benefit several industries in this region though it will have an impact on investments in imported machinery for capacity addition or expansion.
Coimbatore region has several industries that are into exports – textile mills, garment units, foundries, coir and tea sectors. These exporters are able to quote competitive prices to the international buyers because of the rupee depreciation.
* Cotton yarn export registration increases on Chinese demand:
The registration for cotton yarn exports has jumped 55 per cent in the first four months of the current financial year due to a resurgence in Chinese demand. If the trend continues, cotton yarn export will likely hit a new record this year.
Data compiled by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade showed traders and exporters had registered for a shipment of 488.15 million kg between April and July 2013, compared with 314.19 million kg in the corresponding period last year. Export registration for cotton yarn almost doubled from 245.84 million kg in the April-July 2011 period.
* Tailoring unit workers cheated:
The Valliyoor police are on the lookout for two women, who had allegedly cheated the tailoring workers to the tune of over Rs. 79 lakh.
Police said Special Officer of Valliyoor Union Tailoring Cooperative Society Gandhimathi and the cooperative society’s accountant Amali had withdrawn Rs. 79 lakh from the bank for paying wages to the workers, who had stitched uniforms’ meant for free distribution.
As the duo did not pay the wages they had withdrawn from the bank to 863 workers for a few months, the affected workers forwarded a complaint to the District Social Welfare Officer Poongothai, who, in turn, filed a complaint with Valliyoor police. A case has been registered. Further investigation is on, police added.
* Roll back price increase: exporters:
Knitwear exporters in Tirupur cluster have expressed shock over the decision by spinning mills to raise the prices of all counts of cotton yarn by Rs. 7 for a kilogram with immediate effect.
“The spinning mills should immediately roll back the hike made in the prices considering the difficulties faced by the apparel production industry owing to various adverse market-driven factors. Already, the price of yarn has been increased twice in July,” A. Sakthivel, president of Tirupur Exporters Association, pointed out.
* Textile exports seen rising:
15:45:25 local time SRI LANKA
* Hutch joins JAAF to support apparel sector employees:
Sri Lanka Apparel is a hi-net worth industry which plays several major roles, as a significant contributor to the national economy. A sector that has brought international recognition to the country next to Ceylon Tea and also as one of the biggest employers of manpower and skilled labour.
In recognition of the services rendered by the apparel sector workforce, Hutch would join a major island-wide awareness program to assist the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to promote the apparel industry as the rapidly growing sector which offers, besides jobs, substantial economic relief through welfare measures, opportunity to find home-based employment and various incentives.
* Demo against UDA court case:
Nearly 700 Ampara Daya Apparel Exports (PVT) Ltd employees and their parents staged a demonstration near the Ampara Magistrate’s Court today against a case filled by the Urban Development Authority (UDA).
The UDA had filed the case against the company under the category of unauthorized constructions and the court order is to be delivered today.
* Sri Lanka’s textiles & garment exports soar 15% in June’13:
15:15:25 local time PAKISTAN
* Punjab offers special incentives for garment investors:
Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has said that there is a vast scope of development of garments industry in Punjab and uplift of this sector can help earn huge foreign exchange as well as generate thousands of job opportunities.
He said that Punjab government has adopted a comprehensive strategy for development of garments industry in the province and an agreement has been signed with China to set up Punjab China Garments Industrial Zone.
He said that special incentives will be given to local and foreign investors in the garments industrial zone. Issuing instructions for setting up a committee for identifying the site for the establishment of Punjab China Industrial Zone, the Chief Minister directed that the committee should present its report within seven days after consulting all stakeholders so that the project could be initiated without any delay.
* Local business: Industrial zone to be established for garments sector:
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday said an efficient garments sector could earn huge foreign exchange and generate thousands of jobs.
He said the government had signed an agreement with China to set up a Punjab-China Garments Industrial Zone. He said special facilities would be given to investors in the zone.
He issued instructions for setting up a committee for identifying a site for the industrial zone. He said the committee should present its report within seven days after consulting stakeholders.
* CM woos garments industry investors with special incentives:
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that there is a vast scope of development of garments industry in Punjab and uplift of this sector can help earn huge foreign exchange as well as generate thousands of job opportunities.
He said that Punjab government has adopted a comprehensive strategy for development of garments industry in the province and an agreement has been signed with China to set up Punjab-China Garments Industrial Zone.
He said that special incentives will be given to local and foreign investors in the garments industrial zone. Issuing instructions for setting up a committee for identifying the site for the establishment of Punjab-China Industrial Zone, the chief minister directed that the committee should present its report within seven days after consulting all stakeholders so that the project could be initiated without any delay. The committee will comprise senior member board of revenue, secretary industries and representatives of Punjab Industrial Estate Development and Management Company.
* PCGA chief fears new power tariff to jam industrial wheel:
Chairman of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) Mahesh Kumar has warned that new power tariff would jam the wheel of industrial sector and thousands of people may become jobless while production cost may increase by 40 percent.
In a press statement issued here on Thursday, Hamesh Kumar said cotton industry could not afford an increase of Rs 6 per unit, because after calculating the taxes and duty it would reach at Rs 8 per unit.
He said that an increase in sales tax and petroleum products had already broken the back of traders, manufacturers and consumers, adding recent increase in power tariff would ruin the process of industrialisation in the country.
* Heavy rains batter cotton crop:
Recent flash floods due to heavy rains have destroyed the cotton belts of southern Punjab and Sindh, increasing the prospects of a shortage of the commodity and escalation in its prices in addition to hurting cotton-based exports.
Within days of floods destroying the crops, the price of cotton has jumped by 13% to Rs7,000 per 40 kilogrammes against the previous rates of Rs6,200, according to market sources. Due to floods the targets for main Kharif crops might not be achieved this year, which will also affect agriculture output that contributes about 23% in the total national output.
* BD: textile, social accountability:
Pakistani entrepreneurs have been looking very closely at the recent developments in Bangladesh.
With the Western customers now visibly concerned about the dismal condition of the Bangladeshi workers, the very low factory payouts to its mostly ‘piecemeal’ labour, and the sub-human work environment (per se) in the Bangladeshi garment factories, not only have their orders with Bangladesh slowed down, but they are also now seeking improvements in the safety and pays of the workers before engaging with the country again.
This, of course, means cost of production going up and (at least, on the face of it) Bangladesh’s traditional competitive edge of cheap labour somewhat being compromised.
There are mixed reactions on this amongst our own textile players. While some are viewing it as an opportunity or an opening to capture a good part of the global markets moving away from Bangladesh, the other (more serious minded) players are wanting to assess (more deeply) the real nature of woes facing Bangladesh, in order to ensure that tomorrow they do not end up falling in the same trap.
“Wages below a certain point in fact become counterproductive for a firm” (Schumpeter).
When assessing garment manufacturing in Bangladesh, one realises that the Bangladeshi garment workers, who make clothes for Western brands, such as H&M, GAP and Marks and Spencer, are literally the lowest-paid garment workers in the world. In fact, the wages are so low that an increase of 80 percent only a year back was greeted by the workers by rampaging angrily through the capital Dhaka burning cars and looting shops. In real terms, this increase in their minimum wage only took their pay from $23 to $43 per month.