06:08:37 local time CHINA
* Where’s China’s Growth? Textile Industry Is Weaving Expansion:
The summer of 2013 has brought a feast of downbeat data for skeptics about China’s economic prospects. GDP and profit growth in the world’s number two economy have slowed.
Orders for manufactured goods have been weak. Worries about bad credit amid surplus capacity have been rife. And China’s main stock market indexes have trawled four-year lows, a bad omen for the future.
Such a slowdown has contributed to gathering gloom in other emerging economies in Asia and elsewhere, as easy financing that helped fuel their boom begins to tighten.
But in fact the China growth story remains strong in industries that have gotten relatively less government attention, where private entities have gained significant footholds. (Stock exchange indexes that disproportionately reflect doings at state-owned companies can be misleading.) The textile-and-apparel trade, long a Chinese mainstay but fragmented among many producers, is indicative. After initial gains from an end to quotas following China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, the industry slipped during the global financial crisis (when China also lost some wage-cost advantages), but now it has clawed its way back.
Production at Chinese textile companies “of scale” (meaning with sales in excess of $3.3 million) rose by 13.3% in the first six months of 2013 from a year earlier, to $488 billion, according to a national trade group. China’s exports of textiles and garments grew by 12% in the first half of the year to $127 billion, despite rising domestic wages and tepid global consumption.
* ‘CSR is core element of comprehensive competitiveness’:
* China prepares to ditch cotton stockpiling, wider reform looms:
China is preparing the ground to scrap a controversial scheme to stockpile cotton in favour of subsidising farmers, a move that could slash imports by the world’s top buyer of the fibre and herald a broad shakeup of Beijing’s sensitive farm policies.
Abandoning stockpiling would mark the end of a system that has distorted the market to such a degree that it has been cheaper for Chinese mills to import cotton grown abroad than to buy domestic produce.
* Most opposed to increasing retirement age:
An overwhelming majority of those questioned in an online survey expressed opposition to a proposal pushing back the retirement age.
Nearly 95 percent of some 25,300 polled netizens said they were against the prospect of the retirement age being increased, according to the survey jointly conducted by the Beijing-based China Youth Daily and Sohu, a leading news portal.
The retirement age in China is 60 for male employees, 55 for female officials and 50 for female workers. Retirees can claim a pension immediately.
05:08:37 local time VIET NAM
* Added value for garment industry required:
Reporter Viet Nga interviewed former Deputy Head of the Industry Policy and Strategy Research Institute under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) Pham Van Liem about the development planning of Vietnam’s textile and garment industry by 2020 with vision until 2030.
* China’s Texhong signs investment deal with Quang Ninh:
05:08:37 local time THAILAND
* Seamless synergy:
Some of the world’s best known textile designers and artists showcase their works in a new exhibition at Jim Thompson Art Centre
A new exhibition at Jim Thompson Art Centre demonstrates that textile art goes far beyond dyeing, weaving or stitching. Rather it is a discipline that explores the limitless possibilities of technological innovation and craftsmanship and reflects both personal emotion and social awareness.
Continuing until February next year, the exhibition “Mnemonikos: Art of Memory in Contemporary Textiles”, which features 29 international artists from 11 countries, takes viewers down to the molecular level of textiles. Curated by Japanese textile expert Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada, the works achieve a perfect integration between traditional crafts and modern chemistry.
This is more than just knitting cotton and wool into a dangling lamp: here, complex manufacturing techniques are employed for such stunning innovations as a dress made from the nano fibre fabric obtained from gram-negative bacteria cellulose, metallic yarns with computer jacquard weaving and a sculpture-like cooper in a swirly fabric pattern that was achieved though electroplating.
Kim has worked with Indian weavers of the fine cotton muslin known as jamdani to turn the life cycle of 100 saris, whose produces leaves behind an enormous quantity of scraps, into recycled fabrics and reduce waste to just one per cent.
“The 100 saris, woven from looms with 11 metre warps, each warp yielding two saris, 5.5 metres in length, can produce 200 garments with 11 kilograms of scraps. She turns these scraps into 90-metre recycled yardage, which can later produce 48 garments with 4.8 kilograms of scraps. These leftovers are then recycled into handmade paper and talismans and just one per-cent of scraps is left,” explains Wada.
read & see more.
05:08:37 local time CAMBODIA
* A lesson in caution:
After nearly 50 garment workers were killed last year while travelling to or from their respective factories, the Ministry of Labour has urged truck drivers who cram dozens into the back of vehicles each day to take more care on the roads.
In an information session in the capital’s Dangkor district on Saturday, officials from the ministry’s National Social Security Fund spoke to some 200 private drivers about the importance of having a licence and the huge responsibility they have when transporting so many workers.
“Sometimes there are 30 to 50 workers in a truck, so if a driver is not careful, he could kill or injure them all,” said Cheav Bunrith, the NSSF’s policy office chief.
Rather than place the burden of responsibility solely on truck drivers, though, Bunrith said the NSSF had also appealed to factory owners to only allow licensed drivers with a strong knowledge of traffic laws to transport their workers.
06:08:37 local time MALAYSIA
* MTUC Rejects TPPA:
The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has urged the government not to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), claiming that it would be detrimental to the well-being of 12.5 million Malaysian workers.
Its president, Khalid Atan said the feedback it had received from friendly labour organisations in other countries, including the United States, showed that workers would be at the losing end as big corporations’ priority was dividends for shareholders.
He told Bernama that the agreement would also sideline many International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) conventions on workers rights, thus exposing Malaysian workers to exploitation.
06:08:37 local time INDONESIA
* Workers reject limit on minimum wage rise:
The Jakarta Workers Forum on Friday urged the central government to cancel the presidential instruction (Inpres) that regulates wage rises, saying that if passed, workers would take to the streets and hold a national protest in October.
Forum secretary general Muhammad Toha said that workers in the capital would continue to fight for a 68 percent wage increase next year, to Rp 3.7 million (US$350) from the current Rp 2.2 million.
“We are speaking in line with what the Deputy Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama said, that a decent wage in Jakarta is Rp 4 million,” Toha said in a press conference on Friday. “We will support him in not following the [presidential] instruction,” he added.
Toha said that the instruction was merely a result of the government’s fear that factories would shut down if wage rises continued. “We have conducted research on this. We believe that no company will close because of the increase. It’s reasonable for them as well as for us,” he said.
* SBY signs instruction on minimum wage:
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as part of the government’s efforts to avert further massive layoffs amid the current economic slowdown, signed on Thursday a presidential instruction that set a new structure for labor-intensive minimum wages.
The move was revealed by Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar after the signing. Muhaimin said that the new formula, as regulated in the instruction, could be used at the end of the year to determine next year’s wage increase.
“As instructed by the President, the increase [of the labor-intensive minimum regional wage] must not exceed the current inflation rate plus 10 percent,” Muhaimin said.
“This is to prevent companies from suffering further losses that could result in more layoffs,” he said.
* BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates:
1. SBY signs instruction on minimum wage. Read the full article here.
2. Five Labor-Intensive Industries to Enjoy Tax Relief. Read the full article here.
3. Boediono Warns Local Leaders Against Minimum Wage. Read the full article here .
4. BPS Targeted to finish Minimum Wage Survey before 2014.
Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here.
5. Govt Unveils New Fiscal Policies. Read the full article here.
6. Uncertainty in Wage Policy makes Labor Intensive Industry Investors Hesitate. Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia).
7. BD: textile, social accountability. Read the full article here.
04:08:37 local time BANGLADESH
20130830-0901 * Leaders demand Tk 8,000 minimum wage for RMG workers:
Bangladesh Garment Sramik Trade Union Centre on Friday at a rally in the capital demanded basic minimum wage at Tk 8,000 for garment workers.
The centre leaders at a rally in front of the National Press Club said that it was impossible for garment workers to run their families at a gross minimum wage of Tk 3,000 per month facing the price hike of essential commodities.
Mantu Ghosh, the president of the organization, said that the Awami League-led alliance government had formed a minimum wage board to revise the wages of garment workers.
The garment workers will not accept the minimum wage at anything less than Tk 8,000 as basic salary, Mantu Ghosh said.
He called on the government to ensure safety of garment workers in their work places and sufficient compensation for the affected workers of the Rana Plaza.
read more. & read more.
20130831 * Keep garment workers’ wages out of any price negotiation : Yunus:
They should accept it as part of production cost and ensure that price negotiation does not impact on wages in any country.Professor Yunus’s proposal came at a preparatory conference at the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance in Berlin on August 29 while addressing the issues raised in Bangladesh after Rana Plaza tragedy.The conference was convened by Yunus Centre and Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance to organise a global conference to launch Garment Industry Transparency Initiative (GITI) at the suggestion of Professor Yunus in the backdrop of the tragedy.International minimum wage for garment workers should be worked out for each country separately.
This wage, Professor Yunus proposed, should be accepted as a compliance issue and not be a subject of any price negotiation.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Body formed to initiate global move over RMG safety:
The committee is headed by Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus
In the wake of the deadly Rana Plaza collapse at Savar in April, a global conference is set to be held on October 14 to formally launch the Garment Industry Transparency Initiative (GITI) to address the issues in Bangladesh’s garments sector.
A six-strong steering committee was formed at a preparatory conference on Thursday in Berlin to consult over the issues and arrange the launching of the initiative. The committee is headed by Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus, while founder of Transparency International, Prof Peter Eigen, was made co-chair.
The preparatory conference was held at Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance, convened by the Yunus Centre and the school while a total of 135 representatives from government, NGOs, garments companies, labour associations, academia and others participated in the conference.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20130901 * RMG workers’ wages to be raised again: PM:
Hostels for garment workers to be built across country, she says
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said the present government has taken steps to further increase the wages of garment workers and she had directed the factory owners to raise their salaries rationally.
“The wages of garment factory workers must be increased rationally keeping pace with time, and I’ve already asked those concerned to raise salaries to this end,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said it is often seen whenever the wages of workers are raised, the house owners also increase their rents where the workers live.
She said loan would be provided at a rate of 1 percent service charge to the interested factory owners to construct hostels and dormitories for their workers.
read more. & read more.& read more. & read more. & read more.
* PM asks RMG owners to raise wages ‘rationally’:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Sunday said the present government has taken steps to further increase the wages of garment workers, and she had directed the factory owners to raise their salaries rationally, reports UNB.
“The wages of garment factory workers must be increased rationally keeping pace with time, and I’ve already asked those concerned to raise wages to this end,” she said.
The Prime Minister was addressing a function at Ashulia School and College Ground in Savar, after unveiling the plaques of the foundation stone of the country’s first hostel for female garment workers. The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs organised the function.
The 12-storey hostel will be built on one acre of land at Ashulia at a cost of Tk 269.8 million.
20130901 * PM for decent living of seamstresses:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Sunday assured the garment workers of all measures for a better life and urged them not to do anything detrimental to the garment industry.
The Prime Minister said the preparatory works for formation of a wage board to write recommendations to increase wages and allowances of the garment workers are progressing fast.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20130902 * BGMEA wage proposal today:
Leaders of the industry indicated that the proposal for the minimum wage would not be more than Tk5,000 per month as there is a pressure from the factory owners to keep it within Tk4,000
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) is scheduled to submit their proposal on minimum wage for garments workers to the wage board on Monday.
“We will submit the proposal to the chairman of the wage board,” Arshad Jamil Dipu, a member of the wage board committee of BGMEA told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.
Leaders of the industry indicated that the proposal for the minimum wage would not be more than Tk5,000 per month as there is a pressure from the factory owners to keep it within Tk4,000. Earlier, a BGMEA leader had told Dhaka Tribune that the proposal would be of Tk4,500, which is 50% higher than the existing minimum wage of Tk3,000 per month.
“The minimum wage for the garment workers would not be more than Tk5,000,” said a senior BGMEA executive, wishing anonymity. The minimum wage should be practical and it should not cross the limit of Tk5,000, he said, quoting a leader of IndustriAll, a global trade union.
20130831 * Poor Working Conditions: RMG workers tell of horrors:
Another worker, Aklima, said, “Workers cannot leave the factory until they are too sick to move.”
A quality inspector, Bilkis, said she has to stand for hours on end and was reprimanded if she tries to sit.
She disclosed that workers are not allowed to carry cellphones, making it very difficult to reach anyone in case of emergencies.
“I could not reach my husband, who is also a garment worker, when my son died in a train accident. I let the administration know and they did not notify him until hours later,” she said.
Another worker, Dipti Akter, said her supervisors verbally abused her even if she tried to pass instructions to the helper assigned to her.
She also revealed that there are only four toilets for 250 people at the factory where she works.
“We require a special card to enter the toilets. Obtaining that and then waiting in line takes up a lot of time, after which we are reprimanded for wasting time. All that for a toilet which is too dirty to use,” she said.
20130901 * RMG workers demonstrate for pending arrears:
About eight thousand Workers of Machihata Sweater Factory at Panishail area under Gazipur City Corporation staged demonstration and vandalised the factory demanding arrears on Saturday.
The angry workers had also beaten and injured the production manager Aminul Islam during the demonstration which lasted from 8.00 am to 2.00 pm. Factory workers said the authority has been paying their salary by the 20th day of every month. But the authorities did not yet pay their arrears which were promised to be paid by August. As a result, they had been abstaining from work since August 29.
Witnesses said, on August 31, the workers tried to block the Jirani-Kashimpur road , but they withdrew their programme after industrial police requested them to free the road.
Assistant superintendent of Gazipur industrial police Mossaraf Hossain said the workers locked into altercation with the production manager of the factory Aminul Islam while they were observing work abstention.
20130830 * Fire at RMG factory in Savar:
A fire broke out at the third floor of a six-stored readymade garment factory of Chaurangi supermarket in Savar bazar bus stand area on Friday morning.
On information, two fire fighting unit from Savar fire service station rushed to the spot and doused the fire after two hours effort.
Witnesses said a high voltage electric transmitter of Palli Bidyut Samity was burst around 07:50am near the factory and within ten minutes the fire spread out the factory.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* 2 plans for BD RMG factory safety:
North American and European-led retailers and apparel brands created separate plans to try to inspect and improve workplace conditions in Bangladesh, with significant differences, as these comparison shows–
The North American Pact
Companies plan to develop a common safety standard for inspection by October to determine which factories will be approved and which need upgrades.
Official name—‘The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety’.
About 20 retailers and brands from either the United States or Canada, including the Children`s Place, Costco, Gap, Hudson Bay, J.C. Penney, Macy`s, Nordstrom, Target and Walmart.
Within a year, inspections will be done in the roughly 500 factories used by the retailers, which have pledged to pursue plans that would correct major safety issues.
The retailers will pay $42 million for inspections and worker safety and are offering $100 million in loans. But they have not pledged to cover all improvements.
Little of the pact is legally binding, beyond the initial financial pledges. Companies may opt out at any time.
The European-Led Pact
Companies agreed to a legally binding plan to inspect and upgrade factories where serious safety problems are found.
Official name- ‘The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh’.
More than 70 retailers and brands from 15 countries including Britain, France, Italy and Japan. The brands include Abercrombie & Fitch, Benetton, H&M, Inditex, Marks & Spencer and PVH. Labor federations and nongovernmental organizations joined the initiative.
Within 9 months, inspections will be done in the 1,200 factories used by participating companies, which have agreed to develop plans to fix hazardous problems.
20130831 * Factory disaster set to spawn knitwear sector consolidation:
An estimated one million workers, mostly women, have moved from the rural hinterland to the cities for a fortune in the nation’s $10 billion knitwear industry. But insiders and industry watchers predict a Darwinian struggle for orders from western brands seeking Âcheap chic’ in the post-Rana scenario. Â FE photo by Shafiqul Alam
A spate of industrial accidents that has dented the image of the nation’s knitwear manufacturing industry has piled the pressure on the small firms in the sector to merge so they can improve investment in equipment and premises.
Last year’s Tazreen Fashions fire and the Rana Plaza complex collapse in April have prompted questions in the global knitwear sector about its “race to the bottom” low cost gambit, stoking public outrage and calls for improved factory conditions and better safety regulations.
But this will require financial firepower. “Consolidation is inevitable. ‘Survival of the fittest’ will define our future,” said Mahiuddin Faruqui, vice president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), the trade group.
Of the country’s roughly 1,900 knitwear firms, Mr Faruqui pointed out only 700 to 800 are compliant with fire safety and workers’ welfare in an industry that pulled in export proceeds amounting to $10 billion in 2013 financial year, generating 37 per cent of Bangladesh’s annual merchandise shipment by value. A new rash of concern amongst international buyers has choked off export orders to these poorer performers.
20130831 * Govt plans to apply labour law in EPZs on a limited scale:
The government has moved forward to apply labour law in the export processing zones (EPZs) on a limited scale as part of its steps to make country’s merchandising sector labour friendly.
As part of the initiative to get the generalised system of preferences (GSP) facilities revived by the US government will examine application of which sections of the Bangladesh Labour Law 2006 will help protect foreign investments and make export oriented industries further vibrant alongside strengthening labour welfare.
The EPZs are being governed under the BEPZA Act 1980. These special economic zones have been kept out of the purview of the Employment of Labour (Standing Order) Act 1965, The Industrial Relations Ordinance-1969, and The Factories Act-1965 under section 8 of General Clauses Act 1987.
20130831 * SKOP asks govt to review, recast new Labour Law:
Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad (SKOP) on Friday observed that the newly enacted Bangladesh Labour Act 2013 will benefit the owners instead of workers and demanded its early review by the government, reports UNB.
The law has disappointed the workers by not allowing them to form trade unions without any restriction, SKOP leaders said at a press conference at the Col Taher auditorium in city’s Bangabandhu Avenue.
The provisions of the ILO (International Labour Organisations) conventions 87 and 98 have not been incorporated in the new labour law, although it was an election pledge of the present government, they added.
SKOP has submitted a memorandum in this regard to the Prime Minister’s Office and expressed the hope that the government would take quick action to recast the law.
SKOP leaders Mujibur Rahman Bhuiyan, Shahidullah Chowdhury and Wajedul Islam Khan were, among others, present at the press conference.
20130831 * SKOP demands labour law change:
Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad on Friday gave the government till September 15 to amend the Bangladesh Labour Law 2013 and theatened a movement, otherwise.
The leaders at a press conference at Taher Auditorium at Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal central office said that the 2013 law that amended the Labour Law 2006 would not be worker-friendly and would serve the interests of mills and factory owners.
Mohammad Zafrul Hasan, the general secretary of Jatiyatabadi Sramik Dal, also leader of the combine, said that the AL-led government was committed to formulate a democratic and worker- friendly labour law dropping undemocratic sections.
But the new law would not be worker-friendly and would serve the purpose of owners, Zafrul said.
The new law would not ensure the implementation of trade union in mills and factories.
SKOP already handed over a memorandum to the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, seeking changes in the new law, Zafrul said.
He gave the government till September 15 to amend the law. Otherwise, the combine would launch a movement to press for the demands, SKOP leaders said.
20130901 * Govt to appoint 37 inspectors to visit RMG units:
The government has decided to appoint 37 inspectors to visit garment factories in the capital in efforts to regain the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) privileges to the US market.
“The Ministry of Labour will appoint the inspectors to check the fire safety measures and structural designs of the factory buildings,” Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar said.
He was addressing a press briefing after a meeting of a cabinet committee on garments industry at secretariat in the afternoon.
“The factory inspection will start by September 15,” the secretary said.
On June 27, the US suspended the country’s trade benefits under the GSP due to Bangladesh’s “insufficient” progress in affording internationally recognised labour rights to the workers.
20130902 * 60 inspectors to be recruited by Oct to inspect RMG units:
The government will recruit additional 60 factory inspectors by October in line with its efforts to regain the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in the US market.
Four inspectors have already been appointed while advertisement has been published for recruitment of 23 and process to recruit 37 more is going on, Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar said Sunday.
“The Labour Ministry will recruit these inspectors by October to inspect readymade garment (RMG) factories while recruitment of 10 more is in the process initiated by the Public Service Commission in its efforts to regain the GSP privileges in the US market,” he said.
20130902 * Implementation of GSP action plan makes little progress:
GSP suspension comes into effect from tomorrow
Implementation of the action plan taken for retaining GSP status in the US market has made little progress despite the fact that the time of review hearing on reinstatement of the benefits for the Bangladeshi products is nearing.
The suspension of the generalised system of preferences benefits will come into effect from tomorrow. US president Barak Obama announced the suspension on June 27.
The office of the United States Trade Representative will arrange a review hearing on retention of GSP status for Bangladesh in December.
‘The government is implementing the action plan to retain GSP status, but it is not possible to say about the rate of its progress before November,’ labour secretary Mikail Shipar told reporters on Sunday after the meeting of the cabinet committee on the readymade garment sector.
‘But, we hope that we will be able to implement the action plan by December when the US government will arrange a hearing on the reinstatement of the GSP benefits for the Bangladeshi products,’ he said.
* GSP comeback unlikely through December review:
Bangladesh may miss the opportunity to regain a US trade benefit through a review in December as the country is going slow on an action plan prescribed by the Obama administration.
“I can’t exactly say how much of the work has been done so far to get the GSP back in December. I may say this in November,” Labour and Employment Secretary Mikail Shipar said yesterday.
The US suspended the GSP (generalised system of preferences) for Bangladesh on June 27 citing poor labour rights and working conditions in its factories.
Bangladesh will have to recruit 200 factory inspectors by December, a major requirement in the action plan.
“We might not be able to complete the process by the deadline, but we can start the process [by then],” Shipar told reporters after the fourth meeting of a ministerial committee on the garment sector, at the secretariat.
He said his ministry is going to appoint 23 inspectors soon and the appointment of 37 more are under process.
30130831 * Wal-Mart to give $50m loan to BD RMG units:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Thursday announced that it would provide up to $50 million loan to Bangladeshi factory owners, who would be joining global retailers in the drive for improving safety standards in the country’s disaster-prone garment industry, according to some news agencies.
Global retailers in Europe and North America, including the United States, have taken separate initiatives to improve workplace safety of Bangladeshi RMG units, following the Rana Plaza collapse that killed 1,129 workers and maimed many in April.
The incident occurred after a fire incident that perished another 112 workers at Tazreen Fashion in November last year.
The factory was making Wal-Mart’s Faded Glory clothing without the retailer’s consent. Since then, Wal-Mart’s efforts included a zero-tolerance policy for unauthorised sourcing.
The Wal-Mart loan will carry low interest rate and will be disbursed following the Bangladesh Bank’s approval.
According to the foreign exchange policy, the central bank needs to approve disbursement of any foreign currency loan. Details about lending rates also need to be finalised.
The company has become more vocal about its allies’ activities in Bangladesh over the past several months, including posting a list of banned factories online in May. It banned more than 250 local factories for not having adequate safety compliance.
Wal-Mart is considering several options, like paying factories for orders more promptly; paying for orders even before products are delivered, either through loan or payment; or having a bank issue loan with the retailer standing behind it as a credit guarantor in order to keep the interest rate lower, Jorgensen said.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20130831 * Overcoming image crisis of apparel sector:
Wal-Mart has eventually joined the global retailers in their drive to improve safety standards in Bangladesh’s disaster-prone garment industry.
It announced late last week that it would provide up to $50 million loan to the country’s factory owners to help improve the safety standards.
Following the Rana Plaza collapse that killed 1,129 workers in April, global retailers in Europe and North America, including the United States, have taken separate initiatives to improve workplace safety of Bangladeshi RMG units. The Rana Plaza tragedy followed a deadly fire incident that perished another 112 workers at Tazreen Fashions in November last year. The factory was making Wal-Mart’s Faded Glory clothing without the retailer’s consent.
The Wal-Mart loan will reportedly carry low interest rate and will be disbursed following the Bangladesh Bank’s approval. The company is now in talks with the country’s central bank, as it is trying to figure out the best way to fund the steps for improving factory safety.
However, the fact remains that the country’s apparel sector is making a desperate effort to keep the wheels of export moving by recovering from the worst shocks the industry suffered. The sector is striving to overcome the image crisis it has been facing after the industrial disasters. As part of its effort to improve safety at the factories, BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) recently suspended the utilisation declaration (UD) certificates, a mandatory export documents for the apparel makers, of 160 of its members for not sparing adequate space on rooftops of the factories. It is also persuading the owners to establish compliance at all the garment factories to ensure proper security and safety for the workers.
In order to rejuvenate the apparel sector, the government needs to create an industry village in each and every district and relocate the scattered industry including RMG factories from residential areas to these villages.
The Department of Inspectors of Factories and Establishments needs to be upgraded. It is still understaffed and requires honest and efficient officials to be appointed at all levels. The Fire Service and Civil Defence should also be upgraded with proper equipment and manpower in all districts. The activities of the labour ministry and labour courts need also to be strengthened.
* New Canadian tariff won’t affect Bangladesh RMG exporters:
Dhaka still eligible for duty-free access, says Canadian envoy
Bangladesh as a least developed country (LDC) would not be affected following imposition of general preferential tariff (GPT) by Canada, said Canadian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Heather Crudden.
“The GPT would be modernised by graduating 72 higher-income and trade competitive countries as of January 01, 2015. As an LDC, Bangladesh is unaffected by these changes since it is eligible for duty-free access under the LDC tariff,” she said Saturday.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20130830 * Bumper jute production, lower price frustrates farmers:
The farmers have become frustrated following lower market price despite getting bumper jute yield exceeding its production target in Rangpur Agriculture Zone this season, farmers and official sources said.
According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) sources, farmers have already completed jute harvest and producd 11,79,054 bales of the fibre exceeding the fixed production target by 8.23 percent in the region this time.
2030902 * Jute takes a hit from Middle-East crisis, rupee slide:
Owners of nearly half a dozen jute mills suspended production as export demand plummeted following the depreciation of the Indian rupee and a crisis across the Middle East, industry insiders said yesterday.
To stay afloat, many others had to cut down production, they said.
“We had to shelve production as it became tough to continue in the backdrop of deepening crises in Libya, Egypt and Syria, which led the prices to drop substantially over the past one year,” said Kashif Mushtaque Wazid, managing director of Fatima-Alyaf Tala-e Jute Industries Ltd.
Mahmudul Huq, deputy managing director of Janata Jute Mills Ltd, one of the leading exporters of jute products, said the entire Middle East market will be blocked if the US attacks Syria.
The company had to pull back 11 containers of shipment to Syria following advice from buyers—a development which comes at a time when exports to another major market, India, is facing a cut-back due to the falling value of rupee against the dollar.
* HTE to help textile mills to compete in global market:
Huntsman Textile Effects (HTE) is leading the way by proactively engaging textile mills and brands in Bangladesh to reduce environmental footprint and to drive sustainable excellence to compete in the global market, says a press release.
Raking in $20 billion annually, the Bangladesh’s textile industry is the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China. The industry also accounts for 17 per cent of Bangladesh’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with more than three-quarters of its total exports heading to Europe and the US.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Dear Friends of the NGWF:
Four months after the collapse of Rana Plaza, the children and family members of workers who lost their lives or were injured during the tragedy gathered to form a human to chain. They demanded immediate compensation, support for the families of workers who died or were injured at Rana Plaza, and the creation of safe workplaces.
The NGWF has demanded that immediate compensation be paid to the families of the injured and deceased, the provision of proper medical treatment for injured garment workers, compensation for the children of dead garment workers, and the creation of safe workplaces within Bangladesh’s garment industry.
In a human chain formed with NGWF President Amirul Haque Amin in front of the National Press Club on August, 24th 2013 at 11 am, speakers repeated these demands. The speakers included NGWF General Secretary Ms. Safia Pervin & central leaders Nurun Nahar, Dr. Faruque Khan, Ms. Sultana Akter, Dr. Kabir Hossain, Dr. Rafiq and Ms. Arifa Akter. More than 100 orphans and other members of the families of injured and deceased workers participated in the human chain.
Speakers announced that the 24th of August marked the passing of four months since the Rana Plaza Tragedy. On 24 April, 2013, 1133 garment workers died and more than 1500 garments workers were seriously injured when the Rana Plaza building collapsed. Today, more than 100 injured workers are still under medical treatment in the different hospitals in Dhaka. Some lost their hands, legs and other parts of their bodies.
The government and other relevant quarters committed to pay compensation within 3 months and to supply emergency support and rehabilitation to injured workers and the families of deceased injured workers, but they have yet to follow through on those commitments. Even the victims did not receive emergency help from the government and other relevant organizations like the BGMEA & BKMEA.
20130831 * Children of victims want education:
The school-going children of the victims of Rana Plaza collapse yesterday demanded that the government ensure education opportunities for them.
They said they will most likely have to stop going to school as their families cannot bear their education expenses.
The children were speaking at a programme organised by Socialist Students Front (SSF), student wing of Socialist Party of Bangladesh, at Savar Girls School yesterday.
Sagorica Akter Toma, a class II student of Emandipur Government Primary School, said her mother, Zahanara Begum, went missing in the collapse of nine-storey Rana Plaza. She said her mother used to work at New Wave Style Ltd, one of the garment factories housed in Rana Plaza.
“My mother used to pay my school fees. I will probably have to stop going to school now, she said.
She said her father Dukhu Miah is a rickshaw puller and earns only Tk 5,000 to Tk 5,500 monthly, which is not enough to maintain their household costs and education costs.
“I also have a younger brother who is a class one student of Emandipur Brac School,” she said.
20130831 * Yunus discusses Rana plaza with GITI in Berlin:
As a follow up of Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus a preparatory conference was held in Berlin on August 29, 2013 at the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance on addressing the issues raised in Bangladesh after the Rana Plaza tragedy.
Conference was convened by Yunus Centre and the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance to organize a global conference to launch Garment Industry Transparency Initiative (GITI) at the suggestion of Professor Yunus in the backdrop of Rana Plaza tragedy. Professor Peter Eigen, founder of transparency international, responded positively to the suggestion made by Professor Yunus and took steps to create GITI, following the example of Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI).
This approach is set out as a joint approach of Governments, factory owners, labor, and the retailing companies, and the civil society in both producing and consuming countries. It will find an agreement among the involved parties with regard to comprehensive standards on labor conditions. GITI does not intend want to compete with other initiatives, but rather support these and complement their actions. Founding of GITI is being carried out jointly by Yunus Centre in Dhaka, and the Humboldt-VIADRINA School of Governance in Berlin.
Preparatory conference in Berlin was attended by 135 representatives from Government, NGOs, garment industries, labor associations, academics, and other.
* 261 persons confirmed missing in Rana Plaza devastation: Army:
The Bangladesh Army, who led the Rana Plaza rescue operation, on Sunday said they have confirmed a list of 261 missing persons in the country’s worst industrial disaster, on the outskirt of the capital, this April.
to read. & read more.
* Sub-committees formed to fix compensation:
A committee to set compensation rate for Rana Plaza collapse victims on Thursday formed two sub-committees asking them to submit their reports by September 20.
A sub-committee, headed by economist Prof MM Akash, will formulate a draft for providing financial benefits, while another sub-committee, headed by Dr ABM Abdul Hannan, director (hospital service) of the Directorate General of Health Services, will examine the health condition of the victims.
After scrutinising the two reports, the main committee will hold its next meeting by the last week of September, said an ISPR press release yesterday.
Following High Court directives, the committee comprising of general officer commanding (GOC) of Nine Infantry Division and officials of other related organisation was formed on May 6.
Besides, a list of 261 missing persons will be sent to the Prime Minister’s Office for further steps.
At least 1,133 people were killed and over 2,000 others injured in the collapse on April 24 in Savar.
03:38:37 local time INDIA
* Doomed by definition:
“Any loom, other than powerloom; and includes any hybrid loom on which, at least one process for weaving requires manual intervention or human energy for production.”
(The new definition of handloom proposed by Ministry of Textiles)
The textile industry in India comprises three sectors — the mill, the powerloom and the handloom. Of the total textile production in the country, powerlooms contribute 61.32 per cent, the mills 3.34 per cent and handlooms 11.28 per cent.
The recent proposal for the change of definition of handlooms offers different things to these different sectors.
The powerloom industry, for instance, can now claim the status of handloom, as including one manual process in production is not a difficult proposition. With this small revision, the benefits and budgets allocated for handlooms can be accessed legitimately by the powerloom sector.
It might as well be a quiet end for the handloom sector as far as state support is concerned. It is being done in a subtle manner and has been justified by the Textile Ministry as stated in this press report: “Experience over the years has shown that the numbers of handlooms as well as handloom weavers are declining sharply, and especially the younger generation is not willing to continue or enter into this profession owing to low generation of income and hard labour required to operate looms, a ministry official said (…) A substantial population of handloom weavers are still living in poor conditions” ( Indian Express, May 27, 2013).
* Government plans to raise outlay by Rs 700 crore for technical textile sector:
To promote technical textile sector, the government plans to increase fund outlay for various schemes to over Rs 700-crore during the 12th Five-Year Plan, a central minister said today.
“The market size of technical textilesBSE -4.38 % in India is estimated to have grown to Rs 91,236 crore in 2013-14 from about Rs 42,000 crore in 2007-08, with a annual growth rate of 11 per cent,” Minister of State for for Textiles Panabaka Lakshmi told reporters at a function here.
“In order to continue building on this success, we are looking to increase the fund outlay for various schemes for the promotion of technical textiles to over Rs 700 crore during the 12th Five Year Plan period,” Lakshmi said.
* Textile bodies welcome extension of tech upgradation fund scheme:
Textile industry associations have hailed the clearance of the new Technology Upgradation Fund (TUF) Scheme for the entire 12th Plan period.
Welcoming the decision, the Southern India Mills Association Chairman S. Dinakaran said that this scheme of the Textiles Ministry had attracted over Rs 2.53 lakh cr of investments since its introduction in 1999.
Though the investments have been substantial so far, in recent months, they had almost come to a standstill in the absence of a new scheme.
read more. & read more.
* Power loom units down shutter:
Over 1,000 power loom units across the district closed down operations on Friday in protest against what they termed the insistence of the Tangedco on installation of digital meters.
The grouse of the owners who say they have established ISI certified 10 HP motors is that the electricity department refuses to factor in the motor efficiency loss. They have been angered by the persisting insistence over the past six months by the electricity department to install the digital meters.
* Powerloom sector upbeat over continuation of TUFS:
Modernization in powerloom units in the city is set to get a boost with the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs giving its approval for continuing the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) during the 12th Plan period with a major focus on powerloom sector.
The total budget outlay for continuation of the TUFS will be about Rs 11,900 crore, out of which Rs 2,400 crore has been allocated for the financial year 2013-14.
Sources said that the overall incremental target in 12th Plan is about 16 per cent in weaving sector. While it was only 9 per cent in the 11th Five Year Plan. However, there will be more development in the weaving sector during the 12th Five Year Plan period.
* TUFS included in 12th five-year Plan:
The Cabinet on Saturday gave its nod to including the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme in the 12th five-year Plan and has allocated Rs 11,900 crore for the scheme. The focus of the scheme is the powerloom sector.
In order to reduce imports of second hand shuttleless looms, the interest reimbursement has been reduced to two per cent from five per cent.
The capital subsidy on new shuttleless looms has been raised to 15 percent from 10 per cent, interest reimbursement has been raised to six per cent from five per cent, and margin money subsidy to 30 per cent with an increase in subsidy cap from Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.5 crore.
* Centre plans to raise outlay on technical textiles sector:
To promote the technical textile sector, the government plans to increase the fund outlay for various schemes to over Rs.700 crore during the XII Plan, Minister of State for for Textiles Panabaka Lakshmi said here on Saturday.
“The market size of technical textiles in India is estimated to have grown to Rs.91,236 crore in 2013-14 from about Rs.42,000 crore in 2007-08, with a annual growth rate of 11 per cent,” she said on the sidelines of a function.
“In order to continue building on this success, we are looking to increase the fund outlay for various schemes for the promotion of technical textiles to over Rs.700 crore during the XII Plan,” Ms. Lakshmi said.
03:08:37 local time PAKISTAN
* Sindh increases minimum wages, starting September 1:
The Secretary Minimum Wages Board has announced that Sindh Minimum Wages Board proposes to increase minimum rates of wages from Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 per month, with effect from September 1, 2013.
This announcement has been made in respect of adult unskilled and juvenile workers in industrial and commercial undertakings in the Province of Sindh. In an official handout issued on Thursday, he advised that the objections and suggestions, if any, may be sent to the department latest by September 27, 2013, from concerned quarters.
* Gas prices to make textile a sick industry IPPs being patronized at the cost of industry: APTMA:
The hike in gas tariff to the tune of Rs85 per mmbtu (million British thermal units) on Captive Power Plants (CPPs) would turn the most efficient and export-earning industry into a sick industry.
This was stated by the Zonal Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Yasin Siddik.
He said that country’s most efficient industry which is termed as milking cow for the national exchequer is being hit to encourage inefficient and most expensive Independent Power Plants (IPPs).
“To raise gas tariff on CPPs is meant to purchase expensive electricity from IPP’s and sell it to the industry on even higher rates which is generating its own electricity and surviving and earning precious foreign exchange and helping the government to secure its economic sovereignty as against IPP’s that are selling world’s most expensive electricity to the nation and have threatened country’s economic sovereignty by incurring huge debts running into billions of rupees every year. He said that CPPs are not getting any subsidy from the government nor have any burden on the taxpayers or national exchequer.
read more. & read more.
* PRGMEA seeks fabric import under SRO 492:
PRGMEA Central Chairman Sajid Saleem Minhas urged the government to allow the apparel industry to import fabric under SRO 492 scheme, as the weaving industry of Pakistan is unable to fulfil domestic demand for fashion wear.
Stressing on consistency in export-related policies, Minhas said the government should simplify Duty Tax Remission for Exports (DTRE) and Sales Tax Refund system.
He lamented that DTRE scheme has been complicated to the extent that only a few out of thousands of value-added units in Pakistan are benefiting. “Exports of value-added sector may increase manifold if the government removes bureaucratic bottlenecks from the scheme and make it practical and simple,” he added. He said the import and audit under the DTRE scheme takes 26 weeks at least in Pakistan against merely two hours in Bangladesh where textile export has reached to $26 billion.
* Pakistan imports fabric in 26 weeks, BD in just 2 hours:
The whole process of import as well as audit under DTRE system takes at least 26 weeks in Pakistan while in Bangladesh the entire procedure is completed in just in two hours.
As a result, Bangladesh textile exports have surged to $26 billion without producing a single bale of cotton while Pakistan has never crossed the figure of $16 billion despite producing its own raw material. “Procedure of Duty Tax Remission for Exports (DTRE) scheme has been designed in such a manner that just few companies out of thousands of value-added textile sector units in Pakistan were
benefiting from the scheme to increase the country’s export volumes.” Exporters are of the view that that apparel industry should be allowed to import fabric under the SRO 492 scheme, as the weaving industry of Pakistan is not efficient enough to fulfill the domestic apparel demand for fashion wear.
Stressing the need for consistency in export-related policies, they urged the government to simplify the complex nature of several segments of its policy, including DTRE and Sales Tax Refund system.
* PCGA urges government to thwart efforts aimed at hedge trading:
Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) Muzaffargarh Chapter has urged the government to turn down all efforts of some ‘vested interests’ who want to reopen hedge trading in cotton market of the country.
All members of this district have unanimously decided not to take part in future trading because hedge trading was abandoned 40 years ago in the region because it was detrimental to all stakeholders of cotton.
It was decided at a meeting chaired by Chairman of Ginners Group Haji Muhammad Akram and attended by FPCCI’s standing committee
They claimed that hedge in cotton trading would adversely affect all the three major partners-growers, ginners and textile millers of cotton business in the country. They said more than 90 percent of the farmers in the country had landholdings as small as under the subsistence level of 12.5 acres.
They said neither the small growers nor the ginners could afford market fluctuations as the result of speculative buying. “Hedge trading will increase financial woes of both farmers and ginners besides affecting the overall productivity in the cotton sector,” they asserted.