17:04:50 local time VIET NAM
* Russia charges 6 Vietnamese factory owners for enslaving compatriots :
Six Vietnamese in Russia have been charged with using slave labor, setting up a criminal gang and abetting illegal immigration, after police found them running illegal garment factories employing 1,200 Vietnamese nationals.
An Itar-Tass report last Thursday quoted a source from the Russian Interior Ministry as saying that the unidentified six “had set up a consolidated group to use slave labor comprising Vietnamese citizens and persons from other states staying in Russia illegally.”
Police said the suspects had set up factories, where the workers also lived, in areas with “minimal and insufficient sanitary norms and labor conditions.”
17:04:50 local time CAMBODIA
* Strikers descend on ministry:
Shouting their demands and trying to force their way through the gate, thousands of striking garment workers rallied in front of the Ministry of Social Affairs to no avail yesterday. The strikes came the morning after management posted a notice saying some 6,000 striking workers were fired unless they returned to work.
More than two weeks after workers first walked off the job at SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd, approximately 4,000 of them yesterday gathered outside the Social Affairs Ministry.
Inside, government officials facilitated another round of unsuccessful talks between company management and the Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), which represents the workers.
“We waited more than two weeks without getting anything,” Hen Sovann, 20, said as he stood in front of the ministry’s gates yesterday. “We cannot wait anymore.”
Workers’ 12 demands include a monthly minimum wage increase to $150 and for the company to cut all ties with shareholder Meas Sotha, who hired military police to stand guard inside the factory.
C.CAWDU vice president Kong Athit said Sotha’s bringing in of military police amounted to intimidation, provoking workers to strike. The company’s subsequent unwillingness to engage in serious negotiations, he added, demonstrates it is simply trying to remove C.CAWDU from the factory. “This is their way to bust the unions,” Athit said.
* Meanwhile At The Factory I told About Before…:
While the negociations between the ruling CPP and the opposition CNRP about the alleged frauds during the 2013 parliamentary elections continue, the workers from the SL factory, on their 10th day of a strike to demand better wages, organised a march towards the Ministry of Social Affairs,
Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation. A timid attempt by the police to block the crowd of some 1200 workers held about 3 minutes before being overrun by the demonstrators.
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* Garment Factory Workers Take To The Streets After Pay Negotiations Collapse:
Garment factory workers from SL Garment marched from the factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchy district to the Ministry of Social Affairs to demanding an increase in wages on August 27, 2013 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
After negotiations failed with factory management, workers of SL Garment who supplies brands like Gap, Levi’s and H&M marched to the Ministry of Social Affairs in central Phnom Penh.
to read & see.
* Still at Large, Chhouk Bundith Has Case Sent to Appeal Court:
The Appeal Court has received the case of former Bavet City governor Chhouk Bundith, who was convicted in June for shooting and injuring three female garment workers but remains at large despite an 18-month sentence, court officials said Monday.
“Chhouk Bundith’s case arrived at the Appeal Court already,” said Appeal Court clerk Sem Sophath, declining to elaborate further on the case.
Although the Svay Rieng Provincial Court announced the ex-governor’s sentence in June and ordered his immediate arrest, he has remained elusive to the authorities. His lawyers filed an appeal in July to the Appeal Court challenging the provincial court’s verdict.
Sun Bunnarith, Chhouk Bundith’s lawyer, claimed that he did not know the whereabouts of his client but was sure he was still in Cambodia.
* Truck Accident Injures Dozens of Svay Rieng Factory Workers:
More than 50 factory workers were injured, one of them seriously, in Svay Rieng province on Monday when a flatbed truck transporting them to an industrial zone overturned, local officials said.
One woman sustained serious chest injuries and was sent immediately to Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh, said Ke Rotha, director of the provincial health department, adding that about 50 others were sent to the provincial referral hospital and three more to a private clinic.
“We are worried about the victim that was brought to the hospital in Phnom Penh because her injury could be life-threatening,” Mr. Rotha said. “The victim had serious chest injuries and fractures.”
Khao Sovuth, 40, a truck driver in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, said he must carry at least 70 people each day in order to make a profit. While he collects about $800 each month from his passengers, he said he spends about $500 on petrol.
“Maybe 40 to 50 people would be safer, but I carry about 70 to 80 people,” Mr. Sovuth said, while about as many workers crowded into the back of his open-top truck, clutching the railings. “I do worry about accidents but I am always very careful with my truck.”
“The workers, they want to get the cheapest price for their commute and the truck companies also want to keep the price low, so they need to accommodate as many people as they can so they can get a higher profit,” Mr. Chariya said, adding that the government should push harder to create a public transportation system that workers can use.
18:04:50 local time MALAYSIA
* Human Resources Ministry Rejects Hundreds Of Applications To Put Off Minimum Pay Implementation:
The human resources ministry has rejected the request of hundreds of local employers to postpone the minimum wage requirement which comes into effect on Jan 1.
Its minister, Datuk Richard Riot, said the highest applications were from companies involved in small and medium industries (SMI) and large firms with millions of ringgit in profits a year.
“We still received applications for postponement last week. Many have been rejected. We are firm on this and employers must abide by the regulation by Jan 1, 2014,” he told reporters after opening a two-day forum, `Leadership for Entrepreneurs’ which was attended by 100 SMI entreprenuers here Tuesday.
18:04:50 local time INDONESIA
* Boediono Warns Local Leaders Against Minimum Wage Hikes:
ice President Boediono urged local leaders on Tuesday to resist pressure to raise minimum wage in the run up to the 2014 election.
“We all support the welfare of workers — we don’t want to be a country whose economy excels by selling cheap labor,” Boediono said at a meeting in Yogyakarta, according to his website. “If we force minimum wage increases, what will follow is the exit [of businesses] and we will have to suffer the loss. That is the role of the regional administration.”
Indonesian minimum wage is set at the provincial and district level. Low minimum wage maintains inflation and prevents job termination, according to Boediono. Rising commodity prices and increasing production costs have put burdens on Indonesian businesses that could lead to eventual layoffs.
16:04:50 local time BANGLADESH
* The right to form trade union? Not in RMG:
Garment workers are facing the axe for attempted unionisation
Garment workers are losing jobs instantly after the factory owners getting noticed there is an effort to form a trade union a right assured by the law.
Leaders of different labour organisations alleged individual factories were taking such actions against the workers, who are making the efforts.
“Dozens of workers have already lost their jobs or faced suspension as they tried to form trade union,” Sirajul Islam Rony, president of Bangladesh National Garment Workers Employees League, told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.
“Today (Monday) at Star Garments Private Ltd, eight workers have been suspended soon after taking initiative to form a trade union and at Weltex garments 12-13 workers have been forced to resign,” he said
The incidents are taking place in many factories like Gazipur Eagle Eyes Design Ltd and Rumana Fashion Ltd, according to Rashidul Islam Raju, acting General Secretary of Bangladesh Mukto Sramik Federation.
“During the registration time for forming trade union, many workers have faced harassment, which is a clear violation of the newly amended labour law,” he said.
* Garment workers are not slaves, they deserve a better deal:
There was a time, not long ago, when domestic aides were treated like slaves in Bangladesh.
Their working time was twenty four hours a day, seven days a week and thirty days a month. Most of them received no fixed salary and were given a very meager amount while going home on leave.
Some were lucky to get monthly salary, but that never crossed single digit in euro. They received inhuman treatment, and hardly had any place to register their grievance. The master used to go free-hand, considering it his right to treat his servant any way he likes. The domestic aides were not given the same type of food the masters had, rather leftovers were their due at the end of meals. Attired in shabby clothes, they had no wishes of their own; if fallen sick, they had to wait for natural cures in most cases.
They were abundant in number, and remained scary of losing their place of shelter, the master’s home, since they had little or no scope of alternative employment. Such was the condition of domestic servants from time immemorial. Even media and social leaders were inattentive to look into the grievances of these creatures. Any injustices, tortures or repression on them went unnoticed, unattended and unaddressed.
The ready-made garment (RMG) sector has experienced an exponential growth in Bangladesh since the 1980s. Apart from making significant contributions to the GDP, RMG now provides employment to around 4.2 million Bangladeshis, mainly women from poor families who either remained jobless or worked as domestic aides in urban households.
In recent years, the RMG sector with its 4500 manufacturing units has emerged as the biggest earner of foreign currency. Following the proliferation of the garments industries in the country, a number of export processing zones have been set up to facilitate the sector that contributes around 76 per cent to the total export earnings, and around 13 per cent to the GDP. Most of the workers employed in this sector are women from rural areas.
The huge employment opportunities for the unskilled and uneducated workers in the RMG industries all on a sudden provided jobs to the unemployed rural women as well as those working as domestic aides in urban households.
This way the domestic workers stepped into a life of freedom from the shakles of slavery. The city streets started witnessing the procession of garment-girls hurrying to their workplace with a lunch-box in their hands. This ultimately resulted in a crisis of domestic aides in the urban households.
* Unrest forces RMG unit closure in Gazipur:
Production at a garment factory at Bymile in the city was suspended on Tuesday following demonstrations by its workers over the retrenchment of some their fellows.
Police said workers of ‘JL Fashion’ abstained from the work in the morning and took to the street to press home their demands that also include the removal of four officials, including the general manager of the factory.
At one stage, they blocked Dhaka-Mymensingh highway and staged demonstrations there.
On information, police rushed in and brought the situation under control.
Later, the authorities declared the factory closed for two days following the worker unrest.
Earlier, on Sunday the authorities retrenched five workers for not maintaining discipline.
* Foreign liaison offices promote substandard RMG : NSI report:
The National Security Intelligence (NSI) has found a major role of foreign liaison offices in Bangladesh in expansion of production of sub-standard readymade garments (RMG) by sub-contracting companies.
In an investigation report, the agency identified the intention of maximisation of profit by liaison offices as one of the major causes of collapse of the Rana Plaza and fire incident of the Tazreen Fashions.
Brigadier General TM Jubair, Director of the NSI Director General’s (DG’s) office, sent the report to the ministries of commerce, industry, home affairs, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) and the Board of Investment (BoI).
* Textile companies up on corporate declarations:
The market closed flat following the previous session’s profit booking with turnover rose slightly as investors continued to pocket short-term profit.
Meanwhile, trading on the bourses will remain closed today (Wednesday) on the occasion of Janmashtami.
The DSE benchmark index, DSEX ended at 4,132.13 points, losing 1.98 points or 0.04 per cent. The blue chip DS30 index declined sharply 14.95 points or 0.96 per cent to close at 1,529.94 points.
Slightly higher trading activities were observed on DSE as the total turnover value stood at Tk 6.90 billion, which was 14.6 per cent higher than that of the previous session’s value.
However, textile sector companies rose riding on upcoming corporate declarations as investors are expecting handsome dividend, brokers said.
* Govt, BGMEA seek to be part of factory inspection team:
The government and garment exporters have expressed disappointment as IndustriALL — a global trade union — has excluded them from a core committee that will inspect Bangladeshi factories under an accord signed by 85 global retailers and brands.
The Bangladesh sides were barred from the panel as IndustriALL fears they could influence the inspection, an official of the trade union said.
Also, the 85 retailers and brands will pay $12.5 million each in the next five years for the inspection and as compensation to workers, but the Bangladesh government and the garment manufacturers will have no such contribution, the official said.
Now the government and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association seek membership of the steering committee of the building and fire safety accord. However, IndustriALL, the initiator of the agreement, wants to keep them in the advisory council.
In the six-member steering committee, Monica Campbell from IndustriALL, John Hoffman from UNI Global Union, and Roy Ramesh Chandra, general secretary of IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, have been named under the unions category.
* Ticfa Signing: Quader writes Dipu to take steps:
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.
“There’s no update yet. A mystery has been created, apparently,” Commerce Minister GM Quader told UNB.
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.
* Apparel export to India rises on tariff concession:
Bangladesh’s export of apparel products to India rose by about 37% to US$75m in the fiscal year 2012-13 thanks to duty-free and quota-free access of some textile products into Indian market.
The earnings increased from $55m in the fiscal 2011-12, after India offered the tariff concession to 46 textile products of greatest sensitivity from September 2011.
In the last fiscal year, Bangladesh exported knitwear worth over $14m, an increase of about 12% compared to the previous fiscal year’s value of about $13m.
* Gap Denies Using Child Workers:
Faced with footage of Bangladeshi girls as young as 12 working on jeans with “Old Navy” labels, Old Navy`s parent company, Gap Inc., says it believes one of its contractors may have improperly sold its product to a wholesaler without its knowledge.
The disturbing footage of child labor was part of an in-depth investigative report by Al Jazeera on working conditions in Bangladesh`s garment industry.
The 25-minute “Fault Lines” segment focused primarily on the contracting practices of Walmart, whose clothing turned up in the deadly Tazreen factory fire that claimed at least 117 lives in 2012.
But the program`s most provocative scene involved clothes marked “Old Navy.”
Al Jazeera reporter Anjali Kamat gained entry to a Bangladesh “finishing house” by pretending to be an interested buyer.
Finishing houses are where workers put the final touches on garments, affixing buttons and tags and the like. While inside the facility, Al Jazeera`s crew captured footage of a 12-year-old girl putting elastic into a pair of jeans with an Old Navy label. They also found bar-coded store tags bearing the retailer`s name.
In the report, which was produced by Laila Al-Arian, Kamat said that roughly half of the 20 girls inside the facility were under the age of 14.
15:34:50 local time INDIA
The meeting, slated to take place from August 27-29, will be attended by CITU leaders from across the nation. “Adverse impact of neo-liberal economic policies followed by the UPA government, rising unnecessary intervention of police and administration in labour agitations, violation of labour laws and other serious issues will be discussed in the meeting,” Ravindra Shukla, CITU state president told reporters today.
Shukla informed that senior leaders of the CITU, the trade union wing of CPI(M), will address sessions of the meeting. Among other issues to be discussed in the meeting are social security to all labours of organised and unorganised sectors including pension benefits, no disinvestment of profitable public sector units and no privatisation of financial institutions, ban on FDI, control on skyrocketing inflation and rising unemployment, he added.
* Textiles sector to employ up to 62 million people by 2022:
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 on Monday.
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.”
* NTC’s 15 mills make profits in 2012-13:
Of the total 23 working units of National Textiles Corporation (NTC), 15 have generated cash profits in 2012-13, Parliament was informed on Monday.
“Out of 23 working units, 15 units (of NTC) have generated cash profits during 2012-13,” Minister of State for Textiles Panabaaka Lakshmi said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.
Among the mills which have witnessed profits, Finlay (Achalpur, Maharashtra) registered a maximum profit of Rs 10.40 crore, followed by Madhya Pradesh-based Burhanpur Tapti Rs 4.51 crore and Kerala-based Vijay Mohini Rs 2.61 crore, she added.
Asked if there output of various NTC mills have declined in the last three years, she said, “There is no reduction in the overall production in NTC mills during the last three years except for minor variations due to power cut and labour shortages in certain mills.
* Floods to put farmers off cotton, hit diversification drive:
Floods this year might put off farmers from diversifying into crops other than paddy.
Standing cotton crop on the majority of 17,000 hectares has been destroyed this year due to the record rains and farmers are unlikely to find it worthwhile to take a risk on the crop again and paddy would be back, claim agriculture scientist and observers. Basmati could an option, depending on the market this year.
“Heavy rainfall has led to the loss of cotton crops. The crop has ben badly damaged in the blocks of Faridkot,” said Sukhwant Singh Sran, Faridkot chief agriculture officer.
“Most farmers are regretting growing cotton. Diversification will be hit. Farmers are unlikely to take a bet on cotton, maize or guar for some time,” said Kaur Singh Dhillon, former agriculture officer Faridkot, who is now the district training officer.
15:04:50 local time PAKISTAN
* PCSI staff without salaries:
Through these columns I would like to appeal to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take some action as the employees of the Pakistan Cotton Standards Institute (PCSI), an autonomous body under the ministry of textile industry, have not been paid their salaries for the past six months.
In spite our repeated requests, no action has been taken to resolve our problem.
We are facing very serious financial problems due to the non-payment of our salaries. We are unable to buy foods, pay utilities’ bills and education fees of our children.
The PCSI employees are not able to initiate costly litigation. We hope the Chief Justice will intervene in order to resolve the problem.
* Better cotton output to help textile export:
It is fortunate recent monsoon did a little damage to the standing cotton crop in Sindh and Punjab, experts said on Tuesday.
Pakistan is expected to produce around 14.50 million bales of cotton during crop season 2013-14 by the end of season in April 2014.
The better cotton output would help textile export value addition exports to greater extent as country would get Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) plus status of exports to European Union (EU) nations by 40 percent and would generate significant economic activity in the country, said Ghulam Rabbani senior member of Pakistan Yarn Merchant Association.
* GSP-plus status will help increase exports to EU: PTEA:
Textile exporters hoped that GSP plus status will help to increase textile exports to EU by 30 to 40 per cent and will generate significant economic activity in the country.
Pakistan is in dire need of enhancing exports to provide some cushion to its sagging economy, said Asghar Ali, chairman and Muhammad Asif, Vice Chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA).
Talking to news persons, they said that grant of GSP Plus status is expected to provide strong impetus to the value-added exports, which has a 50 to 55 per cent share in the total value of textile exports. Pakistan’s exports to the European Union can surge by at least 30 to 40 per cent annually if we fully utilise our existing potential.
GSP plus status would help Pakistan to build up its capacity to become a more effective and competitive actor in international economic relations, they said and added that this would create more opportunities in domestic industry, resulting not only in competitiveness, jobs growth, exchange of technological know how and development of skills but also lead to the empowerment of people to meet present and future challenges.
* Aptma, China to form joint working group on textiles:
The All-Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) and leading members of Chinese textile and clothing industry associations have agreed to form a joint working group for providing match-making services to prospective investors for starting joint ventures.
The high-powered Chinese delegation includes Gao Yong, president and secretary general of CNTAC; Yang Shibin, assistant president of CNTAC and chairman of the China Knitting Industrial Association; Yuan Hongping, deputy secretary general of CNTAC; Zhu Beina, chairman of the China Cotton Textile Association; Feng Dehu, vice chairman of the China National Garment Association; and Chen Jing, general manager of CTMTC.
* Prgmea slams 74pc increase in power tariff:
The Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (Prgmea) has criticised the abrupt increase of 74 percent in the electricity tariff by the government and urged the authorities to withdraw it as it will render local value-added textile industry uncompetitive in the international market, a statement said on Friday.
Sajid Saleem Minhas, central president of Prgmea, said that it is understandable if the tariff is raised by five to 10 percent but the drastic jump of 74 percent is totally illogical.
The hike in the electricity tariff will make garment exports costlier and render Pakistani exports uncompetitive in the international market, he said. Subsequently, India, China and Bangladesh will capture the markets presently dominated by the Pakistani exporters, he said, and suggested the government that before making any dramatic changes in the electricity prices, the stakeholders of the industry should have been taken into confidence and engaged to workout the electricity tariff.
* NEQ standards: minister assures help to Punjab’s tanners:
Punjab Minister for Environment Protection Colonel Shuja Khanzada (Retd) on Tuesday said the government would get rid of terrorism, extremism and energy issue within next three year.
While talking to Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA) members at the Association office on Tuesday, the Minister assured the tanners that the government would resolve environmental issue rather creating harassment among the industrialists. “Both Prime Minister and the Punjab Chief Minister are also businessmen and they know the problems faced by the business community,” he added.
* SACTWU edges closer to wage settlement in clothing sector:
The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) is edging closer to a settlement of its national wage dispute in the clothing sector.
This is after the union issued an ultimatum to employers last week, following the successful conclusion of its voluntary strike ballot of over 40 000 clothing workers, 86% of whom voted in favour of protected strike action.
The ultimatum required clothing employers to settle the wage dispute on the union’s terms by today, or face national strike action by 50 000 clothing workers.
4 out of the 6 employer associations with whom SACTWU negotiated, have provided the union with firm commitments to settle on its terms. The remaining two employer associations have requested more time to seek a revised mandate.
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