20:09:31 local time VIET NAM
* ILO warns of future financial woes of social security fund:
The International Labor Organization Vietnam suggested the country gradually increase the retirement age to 65 for both men and women to prevent the social security fund from running into heavy deficit, something which is “dangerously close.”
A report released on Thursday by ILO suggests that the Vietnam Social Security Fund could start having deficits by 2021 and experience a depletion by 2034 if no reforms were made.
The report, titled “Actuarial valuation of the public pension scheme of the Vietnam Social Security Fund,” was presented to the Government at a workshop co-organized by the ILO and the Ministry of Labor in Hanoi on Thursday.
It provides financial projection of the present public scheme of the fund and analyzes possible reforms that could increase the fund’s sustainability.
20:09:31 local time LAOS
* Germany supports capacity building in Lao garment industry:
The Garment Skills Development Training Centre of the Association of the Lao Garment Industry (ALGI) has received additional industrial sewing machines, technical equipment and vehicles, allowing management to visit the 110 garment factories.
The handover ceremony of the assistance package took place at the Garment Skills Development Training Centre on 22 August, between the President of the Association of the Lao Garment Industry, Mr. Onesy Bouksivongsak, and Charge d’Affaires of the German Embassy, Mr. Michael Zinn. Relevant officials of both sides witnessed the handover.
Mr. Michael Zinn thanked all participants for making a success story of the garment Skills Development Centre. Founded in 2010, the centre is the first garment training centre in Laos funded by the Trade Development Facility, a multi-donor trust fund financed by Australia, the European Union, Germany, Ireland and the World Bank.
20:09:31 local time CAMBODIA
* Union reps claim factory beatdown:
Union representatives who claim they were beaten to within an inch of their lives yesterday after they handed out pro-union leaflets in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district have vowed to take legal action.
The 10 union members, who represent four different unions – the Union Federation for Labour Rights (UFLR), Cambodian Federation of Labour Unions, Khmer Workers Union Federation and Union Federation Peace for Workers – stood in front of Dayup Global Co Ltd passing out literature with information detailing the Labour Law and workers rights yesterday morning, San Lay, secretary-general of the UFLR, said.
“After we gave out all the leaflets, we went to have breakfast,” Lay said. “Then a group of people came out of the factory carrying stones, sticks and cleavers to attack us.”
Outnumbering the union representatives four to one, the armed men pummelled the latter group, leaving two unconscious and vomiting blood, and the others with less severe injuries, Sam Soeun, president of the UFLR, said.
21:09:31 local time INDONESIA
* Entrepreneurs Urge Government to Elaborate Incentive:
Industry players particularly labor-intensive industry urge the government to soon elaborate incentive policy for industry since they want to have exact calculation and how many tax incentives that they can obtain to boost companies’ performance.
Head of Indonesia Textile Association (API), Ade Sudrajat, said until now he still awaits the detail of incentive policy. After that, he can analyze whether it bring positive or negative result for the industry.
“We are waiting for the technical guide because it contains criteria and limitation to obtain incentive, but the impact can be beneficial or not at all,” said Ade to Bisnis on Sunday (8/25).
19:09:31 local time BANGLADESH
* Made in Bangladesh:
After deadly factory disasters,we investigate if retailers like Walmart and GAP know where their clothes are being made.
In November 2012, a fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Bangladesh killed at least 112 people.
Walmart’s Faded Glory brand shorts were among the clothing found in the charred remains.
The retailer blamed its supplier, saying the order had been sub-contracted to Tazreen without its authorisation.
Fault Lines obtained documents related to the order and investigates whether Walmart has lost control of its supply chain in Bangladesh.
We speak to the owner of the factory at the centre of the Faded Glory order that ended up in Tazreen, as well as other players directly involved in the order.
We also interview an auditor who gives us an insider’s perspective on the way Walmart gets its clothing manufactured.
And we visit factories where clothing items are being worked on by children as young as 12.
read more. & see video report.
* JS body wants realistic wage board for ready made garment workers:
The AL government in June formed a wage board for RMG workers who clashed with law enforcers over pay hike in different industrial areas
A parliamentary panel on labour and employment ministry on Sunday suggested the government should not come up with a wage structure as it might result in violent street protest by garment workers ahead of the national polls.
The Awami League government in June formed a wage board for ready-made garment (RMG) workers who clashed with law enforcers over pay hike in different industrial areas.
In 2010 the government raised the minimum wages to over Tk3, 000 from the previous Tk1, 650 a month.
The parliamentary standing committee suggested the ministry create 200 more posts of factory inspectors for better supervisions of the working conditions in all industrial units to stop human tragedies on the scale of the Rana Plaza disaster.
“We have advised the ministry to come up with a realistic wage board award as soon as possible, but it must not be unacceptable,” Shahiduzzaman Sarker, a committee member, told Dhaka Tribune after the meeting at the parliament building.
“If the RMG workers pour on to the street in protest, it will be very difficult for us to handle it ahead of the elections,” he said.
* Minimum wage for RMG workers:
Bangladesh country manager of a global apparel sourcing company wanted to know my reaction over the proposal to fix the minimum wage for the workers in Ready-made Garment (RMG) industries at Tk 8000 per month.
Though I knew, the minimum wage is being reviewed by a recently formed wage board for the RMG workers and the workers, media and civil society were asking for a massive hike in the minimum wage in view of large rise in the ‘cost of living’, I was not quite sure at what level it was being fixed. I rather sought opinion of the gentleman on the issue. He thought without fixing issues like infrastructure, energy supply, building safety, workers’ safety and, more importantly, labour productivity, this might be a counter-productive exercise for the Bangladesh RMG industry.
Optimum pricing in the marketing or management world has always been a challenge. While ‘low pricing’ may affect the productivity and overall image or acceptability of the product, out of the market pricing or non-sustainable pricing may seriously impact the core competitiveness of the product or the industry segment as a whole.
While our workers in the RMG industry do deserve a respectable minimum wage, preliminary studies suggest that present condition of the industries may not be supportive of a minimum wage hike at more than USD 100 per month. With less than 2700 units out of around 5500 woven and knitting factories doing direct contracts, it may have devastating impact on the factories doing sub-contracts for little known or not known apparel brands or retailers including ‘mom and pop shops’.
* Database creation for RMG workers at snail’s pace:
Preparation of biometric database for the garment workers at Ashulia is progressing at snail’s pace as the factory owners are showing little interest to the direction of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
A total of 132 factories, out of around 300 located at Ashulia, have so far deposited money to the BGMEA for the creation of database and 80 factories have progressed in integrating 80 per cent workers in the database, said BGMEA leaders.
On May 20, the country’s apex trade body for garment manufacturers had instructed its member factories at the area to prepare a biometric database of their workers by August 30.
BGMEA leaders, however, said that it was a difficult task to incorporate all the workers under a database and so it would take time.
* Factory shut over cracks in building:
An apparel factory was shut Monday due to workers’ unrest as cracks were discovered in the building in Gazipur district.
According to industrial police sources, workers of SQ Crystal garments factory Sunday found cracks had developed on the sixth and tenth floor of the 10-storey building located at Telipara area of the city. Some parts of the partition of tenth floor broke down during construction on Sunday.
Panic spread among workers and on Monday the workers gathered in front of the main gate of the factory where they enforced a strike.
The authorities declared the factory shut for Monday and Tuesday to avert any untoward incidents.
Assistant Superintendent of Gazipur industrial police Mosaraf Hossain confirmed the incident.
SQ Crystal garments factory will examine the matter and will resume operations from Wednesday if the engineer gives a green signal, he said.
* RMG workers protest building cracks, sacking in Gazipur:
Workers of a garment factory yesterday observed work abstention after they discovered cracks on two floors of the factory building in Gazipur.
Workers of SQ Crystal Garment Factory in Telipara area found cracks on the sixth and 10th floor of the 10-storied building on Sunday.
The workers yesterday demonstrated before the factory gate, said police.
The authorities closed the factory for two days — yesterday and today.
Meanwhile, workers of GL Fashion Limited demonstrated protesting the sacking of five of their co-workers.
* RMG factory declares holidays as cracks found in building:
The authorities of a garment factory in Gazipur declared holiday on Monday and Tuesday as cracks were found in the building.
According to industrial police, panic spread among workers of SQ Crystal garments factory at Telipara of the city after cracks were detected on 6th and 10th floors of factory.
Workers gathered in front of factory and shouted slogans, saying that some parts of the 10th floor collapsed during construction on Sunday.
* Bangladesh Factory Inspections to Start in September:
Inspections are due to begin next month on at least 2,000 garment factories in Bangladesh that are not already part of two separate initiatives by retailers and brands in Europe and North America to audit all their supplier factories in the country.
The government-led National Tripartite Action Plan on Building and Fire Safety, which is working with employer and worker groups and the International Labor Organization (ILO), says teams led by the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) will undertake the assessments.
There are also plans to set out a national standard for fire safety and structural assessments as a benchmark for all audits to meet.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has pledged to share documents related to factory design and layout with the Committee — which will also share the national standards with all relevant stakeholders at a workshop on September 7.
* BGMEA listing inactive RMG factories:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association is preparing a list of garment factories that are non-operational and existing only on paper as international buyers have been putting pressure to ensure an effective inspection system.
Following the tragic blaze in Tazreen Fashions on November 24 last year and the Rana Plaza collapse on April 24 that killed more than 1,200 garment workers, the pressure from international buyers have increased.
Recently North American and European retailers have taken initiatives to ensure safety standards in the readymade garment sector, suggesting the Bangladesh government should recruit 200 more factory inspectors.
BGMEA vice-president Shahidullah Azim told New Age that they had been assessing the number of non-operational factories as the ministerial committee on social compliance had been repeatedly asking them to submit the list of operational factories.
read more. & read more.
* BD to buy more cotton from Uzbek:
* ‘Mystery shrouds over signing of Ticfa’:
The is no progress over signing of the much-talked-about Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (Ticfa) that the cabinet approved on June 17 last as the Commerce Ministry says ‘a mystery’ has shrouded the issue, reports UNB.
“There’s no update yet. A mystery has been created, apparently,” Commerce Minister GM Quader told UNB at his office on Monday.
He said Bangladesh could have been benefited much had Ticfa been signed and in their (US) views, they just wanted to help Bangladesh through signing the deal.
Meanwhile, a senior official at the Commerce Ministry said the Commerce Minister wrote a letter to Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni requesting her to take necessary steps for signing the proposed Ticfa.
* Foreign ministry urged to take steps to sign TICFA :
The commerce ministry has requested the foreign ministry to take steps to sign the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) with the United States soon, sources said.
Recently, Commerce Minister Ghulam Muhammad Quader sent a letter to Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni, to take necessary steps for signing the much-talked-about trade and investment deal as early as possible.
read more. & read more.
* US wants to sign Ticfa next month:
The US government wants to sign the proposed Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (Ticfa) with Bangladesh next month for ‘expanding trade and investment’ through enhanced cooperation and more comprehensive agreements, reports UNB.
US Ambassador in Dhaka has already written to Commerce Minister GM Quader proposing him to sign the deal next month during Quader’s US visit.
A copy of the letter obtained by this correspondent reads: “If you’re able to attend, I would suggest that you add a stop in Washington to sign the Ticfa, which thanks to your tenacious support, is now ready for signature.”
read more. & read more.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Workers Voice Discontent After 4 Months Of The Rana Plaza Tragedy:
4 months have passed after the tragic Rana Plaza Collapse at Savar, Bangladesh. Victims and families of the deceased still mourn their helplessness at the tragedy site everyday, while come together in protest when the pain grows unbearable.
On 24 August, as the 4th month of Rana Plaza passed away, victims-rights activists-families of victims came together in protest infront of the BGMEA Headquarters demanding compensation for the surviving victims and a full report on the identification of missing victims.
Later on Sunday morning, 25 August 2013, apparel workers blocked New Airport Road in Joar Sahara area of the capital demanding a hike in their salaries and other benefits including attendance bonus and lunch allowances.
The demonstration that started around 8:00am caused huge traffic congestion on the road in the morning rush hours.
18:39:31 local time INDIA
* Employment in textiles sector would rise up to 62 mn by 2022:
To fulfil the needs of skilled manpower in the sector, the ministry launched Integrated Skill Development Sector in 2010 on a pilot basis for two years
Employment in the textiles and clothing sector would rise to 60-62 million by 2022 from about 35 million in 2008 as per the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) report, Parliament was informed today.
Referring to the NSDC report on ‘Human Resource and Skill Requirements in Textiles Sector (2022), Textiles Minister K Sambasiva Rao said: “The overall employment in the textiles sector would increase from 33-35 million in 2008 to about 60-62 million by 2022.”
This would translate into an incremental human resource requirement of about 25 million people, he said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.
* Embracing GM crops:
India has enjoyed signal successes with genetic engineering in agriculture, but its relationship with this environmentally friendly, wealth-enhancing technology may be coming to an end. At the very least, it is in disarray, the victim of activists’ scaremongering and government pandering.
The recommendations of a technical expert committee (TEC) forwarded recently to the Supreme Court are absurd. The TEC has called for an indefinite moratorium on field trials of genetically engineered (“genetically modified” or “GM”) crops until alleged deficiencies in the government’s regulatory and safety systems have been addressed.
The truth is that the cultivation of these plants in 2012 on a record 170.3 million hectares worldwide (by more than 17 million farmers) caused not a single mishap — not an ecosystem disrupted or a person given a tummy ache.
During the past decade, widespread adoption of an insect-resistant, genetically engineered crop called Bt-cotton, which contains a bacterial protein toxic to pests, has drastically reduced the use of chemical pesticides in cotton fields, enhanced food security and improved farmers’ bottom line. It took 15 years (1982-97) for cotton yields in India to increase from 200 to 300 kg/hectare, but the availability of Bt-cotton boosted yields from 300 kg/hectare to over 500 kg/hectare during just 2002-08.
18:09:31 local time PAKISTAN
* Govt urged to protect working women’s rights:
The Women Workers Union on Friday urged the Punjab government to protect the rights of working women in accordance with the ILO Charter and labour laws in the country.
The government must also evolve a comprehensive policy for working women at the earliest and ensure its effective implementation.
The demands were made at a national conference of women workers held by the WWU in collaboration with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. It was attended by MPAs Dr Noshin Hamid, Faiza Malik, Lubna Rehan, Shameela Aslam, and Tehseen Fawad, members of civil society organisations, women labour leaders from Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.
* PIEDMC to establish ‘garment city’;
Punjab Industrial Estates Development and Management Company (PIEDMC) will develop a ‘garment city’ in order to revitalise the garment industry in Punjab province. PIEDMC Chairman S M Tanveer revealed this in a meeting with the industrialists belonging to garment sector.
While giving details about the proposed industrial estates, he said, this would be established in accordance with the vision of Punjab Chief Minister who wanted to make the province an industrial hub of the country. The garment city will be established at about 400 to 500 acres of land in close proximity of Lahore. This proposed industrial estate would provide modern infrastructure, he added.
read more. & read more.
18:09:31 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Andijan residents expedite weddings as cotton season approaches:
Residents of Andijan province in Uzbekistan are being advised to hold weddings no later than September 10 – the beginning of the cotton-picking season.
Managers of most organizations in Andijan province have been instructed to not let their employees take holidays during cotton picking season.
At the same time makhalla committee managers are recommending that residents planning to get married do so before September 10.
This year’s cotton picking season is set to start later than last year. However, preparatory meetings to work out strategies and goals for this year’s harvest are already taking place in the region between farm managers, makhalla chairs, universities employees, as well as other regional and local community representatives.
* Bangladeh to buy more cotton from Uzbek:
Bangladesh plans to import 200,000 tons of cotton a year from Uzbekistan in a new deal to be finalized soon.
Negotiations are underway to set its terms in a Memorandum of Understanding between the two governments, the Financial Express quotes Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association President Atiqul Islam as saying.
Bangladesh’s industry is heavily dependent on imported cotton yarn and fabric.
The proposed deal will “ensure a steady supply of cotton to the country`s textile industry”, said Islam.
The garment and textile industry of Bangladesh uses about 800,000 tons of cotton annually and the bulk of it is imported from India, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Africa, Brazil, and the US.
The deal comes at a time of mounting criticism of Uzbekistan`s cotton industry over its use of child labor. The Cotton Campaign has, for instance, alleged that the Uzbek government forces “children as young as 10 to pick cotton under appalling conditions each harvest season”.
More than 120 international apparel brands and retailers have already banned the use of cotton from Uzbekistan as part of efforts to stop the country using forced and child labor to harvest its cotton.
* Next stop for textile industry? :
Swedish clothing retailer H&M wants to set up shop in Ethiopia, since production costs there are cheaper than in the Far East. Other clothing manufacturers are hesitating. Could Ethiopia become the next Bangladesh?
Ethiopia’s economy just keeps growing – since 2007 at times with double-digit leaps and bounds. “The Economist” projects that the country will experience annual growth of 7 to 8 percent through 2016.
Ethiopia’s government is apparently placing special emphasis on the textile industry – by 2016, the country aims to export more than a billion dollars worth of apparel. Factories established by the likes of H&M are more than welcome.
According to a supplier, the Swedish chain wants to produce more than a million items of clothing per month in the East African nation. A company spokesperson confirmed that test runs have already been ordered from Ethiopian producers.
Cheaper than China
Many producers have in the past relocated production to countries that offered cheap labor, like Bangladesh or China. But in such countries, social standards have risen along with wages – while the world seems to be examining production conditions increasingly critically. So producers have started considering new options for cheap labor.
On the African continent, Morocco and Tunisia are known as clothing production countries, mostly for discount apparel. Other African countries, like Ghana or Kenya, don’t play much of a role in the fashion industry, according to GermanFashion, a German industry association.
read more. & read more.