* Fast and Flawed Inspections of Factories Abroad:
Inspectors came and went from a-certified factory in Guangdong Province in China, approving its production of more than $2 million in specialty items that would land on Walmart’s shelves in time for Christmas.
But unknown to the inspectors, none of the playful items, including reindeer suits and Mrs. Claus dresses for dogs, that were supplied to Walmart had been manufactured at the factory. Instead, Chinese workers sewed the goods — which had been ordered by the Quaker Pet Group, a company based in New Jersey — at a rogue factory that had not gone through the certification process set by Walmart for labor, worker safety or quality, according to documents and interviews with officials involved.
To receive approval for shipment to Walmart, a Quaker subcontractor just moved the items over to the approved factory, where they were presented to inspectors as though they had been stitched together there and never left the premises.
Soon after the merchandise reached Walmart stores, it began falling apart.
Fifteen hundred miles to the west, the Rosita Knitwear factory in northwestern Bangladesh — which made sweaters for companies across Europe — passed an inspection audit with high grades. A team of four monitors gave the factory hundreds of approving check marks. In all 12 major categories, including working hours, compensation, management practices and health and safety, the factory received the top grade of “good.” “Working Conditions — No complaints from the workers,” the auditors wrote.
12:48:56 local time CHINA
* Why do foreign firms stay in China amid rising labor costs?:
China is now moving toward a new growth model that relies more on domestic consumption. The country’s successful transition to a consumption-led economy is certainly good news for foreign businesses, since the hidden potential of the 1.3 billion Chinese consumers, once unleashed, will make China the largest consumer market in the world.
And in the eyes of Doug Guthrie, professor of International Business at The George Washington University (GWU), some foreign companies have already seen the potential of the Chinese market, despite China’s rising labor costs.
“I’ve already seen that in some ways,” Guthrie told me when referring to the opportunities China’s consumption transition brings to global businesses.
“If you look at companies like Walmart, people think Walmart is just here because of cheap labor and the cheap labor it gets for exporting back to the United State, but Walmart is in China because it wants to capture the Chinese market.”
“And for most American or Western companies you see very clearly that the reason why they are here, even as labor costs rise and as labor markets become tighter, they want to stay here because they need to access the internal markets,” Guthrie added.
* China’s Xinjiang to build cotton trading center:
Cotton processors in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region are planning to build a cotton trading center in the country’s largest cotton planting area.
The center will be located in the Xinjiang Huijin Logistics Garden, Korla City, in southern Xinjiang. It will be jointly supported by 17 cotton purchase and processing enterprises with a total investment of 1.5 billion yuan (242 million U.S. dollars).
The first phase of the project, with an investment of nearly 300 million yuan, will have a storage capacity of 600,000 tons, while the second-phase project will bring that capacity to 3.6 million tons.
Besides storage, the center will cooperate with other cotton future centers in the country to make it a complex platform for cotton logistics, trade and transaction.
Xinjiang is China’s most important cotton planting area, with its output accounting for more than half of the national total.
11:48:56 local time CAMBODIA
* Garment grievances to be aired:
Calls for big-name apparel brands to take more responsibility for working conditions in Cambodian garment factories are growing louder as representatives of retail companies ranging from H&M to Wal-Mart arrive in Phnom Penh for a semi-annual buyers’ forum this week.
In a year marked by a fatal building collapse at the Wing Star Shoes factory in Kampong Speu, mass demonstrations and bankruptcies, brands operating in Cambodia find themselves under an increasing amount of scrutiny in the international media, Dave Welsh, country director of the Solidarity Centre/ACILS, said.
“Unlike other years, there are more people watching,” said Welsh, one of several stakeholders speaking at the forum of about 25 international brands tomorrow. “Generally, Western media paying attention to working conditions puts the pressure on them.”
Since it began three years ago, the forum has presented a unique opportunity for brands, government officials and workers’ rights advocates to gather together to discuss industry issues, said Jill Tucker, chief technical adviser for the International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia (BFC), which began organising the conference three years ago.
* Unionists’ jailing compared with Bandith:
Since her husband was arrested in June and thrown in provincial prison to await trial, Soam Chantha, 32, has given birth to a baby boy.
“My husband hasn’t been able to hold his son yet because prison officials have not allowed him to,” the garment worker said yesterday as she fought back tears at her home in Kampong Speu’s Samrong Torng district.
Three months ago today, Chantha’s husband, Sem Sopheak, 32, was one of eight members of the Free Trade Union arrested over a violent incident at the Sabrina Garment factory, a supplier to sportswear giant Nike.
The men, who claim they are innocent, have spent every day since in pre-trial detention in the provincial prison, which does not segregate its convicted criminals from those awaiting trial.
“It’s so difficult without him,” continued Chantha, a Sabrina employee herself who now provides for her family using maternity-leave payments.
“My husband is innocent and should be released so he can support his family.”
* BetterFactories Media updates 24 August- 2 September 2013:
To read in the printed edition of The Phnom Penh Post:
2013-08-26 Further wage increases eyed
2013-08-26 SL Garment workers to protest at City Hall
2013-08-27 Union reps claim factory beatdown
2013-08-28 Strikers descend on ministry
2013-08-29 Wal-Mart, Same-sex benefits
2013-08-30 SL strikers go back to work today
2013-08-30 Unionists remain in hospital
2013-09-02 A lesson in caution
To read in the printed edition of The Cambodia Daily:
2013-08-27 Still at large, Chhouk Bandith has case sent to appeal court
2013-08-27 Truck accident injures dozens of Svay Rieng factory workers
2013-08-28 Garment workers break through police barrier
2013-08-29 Garment workers given 48 hours to stop strike
2013-08-29 Wal-Mart’s health cover extended to gay partners
2013-08-30 Thailand faces labour shortage as Asian neighbors grow
To read in the printed edition of Koh Santepheap Daily:
2013-08-24 Minister of Labour and Vocational Training visits and monitors situation of factory after election
2013-08-27 Fighting between unin and factory causes 10 people minor injures
2013-08-28 Garment workers from three factories demonstrate in front of Ministry of Social Affairs veteran and youth rehabilitation
2013-09-02 Wal-Mart America pays health insurance for same sex couples
To read in the printed edition of Rasmei Kampuchea Daily:
12:48:56 local time INDONESIA
* Indonesian workers to rally on Tuesday for wage hike:
Members of the Confederation of Indonesian Labor Unions (KSPI) and the Jakarta Workers Forum will stage a rally on Tuesday to demand higher wages.
With the objective of putting pressure on Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama to fulfill his promise to raise the provincial minimum wage to Rp4 million, the rally will be held in two different places in the capital, said Jakarta Workers Forum chief Winarso, who also heads the Jakarta chapter of KSPI, in a press statement released on Monday.
“A wage hike which only takes into account the inflation rate and is less than 20 percent will send Indonesia back to the low-wage regime,” he stated.
10:48:56 local time BANGLADESH
* RMG owners fail to submit proposal for minimum wages:
Factory owners failed to submit their proposal of minimum wages for apparel workers to the wage board at its fourth meeting on Monday.
Worker leader Sirajul Islam Rony, also a minimum wage board member, told New Age that the factory owners’ representative Arshad Jamal Dipu did not place the proposal at the meeting.
He said BGMEA director Arshad Jamal Dipu said that he would submit the proposal in the next meeting of the board on September 17.
The apparel factory owners held several meetings in a couple of days preparing the proposal on workers’ wages but failed to reach a consensus on some issues, said BGMEA officials.
On August 24, the owners gave their opinions at a meeting on increasing minimum wage of the workers to more than Tk 4,500 from the existing Tk 3,000.
* RMG owners fail to submit proposal on wage hike, want more time:
Garment factory owners on Monday failed to submit their proposal on wage hike to the Wage Board as promised by them earlier. The failure has raised fear among the labour representatives about a fresh bout of workers’ unrest in the industry.
The representatives of the readymade garment (RMG) factories took two weeks’ time from the Wage Board for submitting their proposal.
Labour leaders expressed their fear of unrest if the owners take too much time in placing their proposals with regard to forming fresh wage structure for the country’s three million plus apparel workers.
They alleged that it was a plot to lingering the process beyond the Eid-ul-Azha.
“We expected that they (the owners’ representative) would place their proposal in Monday’s meeting of the Wage Board. Rather they sought time extension,” Sirajul Islam Rony, who is representing the workers at the Board, said.
“They are now trying to delay the process and I did mention it in the meeting,” he told the FE after the meeting.
read more. & read more.
* BGMEA wage proposal delayed:
The body seeks 15 days more to announce
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) sought 15 more days to submit the proposal on minimum wage for garments workers to the wage board.
The BGMEA committee formed to set the minimum wage was supposed to place the proposal yesterday.
BGMEA will hold views exchange meeting with the garment factory owners in Chittagong and Dhaka on September 10 and 12 respectively, seeking their opinion based on which the committee would finalise the wage proposal, said BGMEA Vice President Reaz Bin Mahmood.
“We feel insecure to propose the minimum wage as a section of so called trade union leaders are showing muscles,” he told the Dhaka Tribune. “Before fixing the wage, we have to be more confirm about the owners’ consent.”
In the last meeting of the wage board, Mahmood said a group of labour leaders tried to assault the wage board members.
Earlier, the leaders of garments workers placed their proposals to the chairman of minimum wage board, formed to fix a fresh minimum wage level for garment workers, proposing a minimum of Tk8,114 as monthly wages for the workers.
* Owners yet to send proposal:
Representatives of the apparel factory owners to the minimum wage board did not submit their proposal for minimum wages for workers at the fourth meeting of the wage board on Monday.
Garment workers’ leader Sirajul Islam Rony, also a representative of workers in the minimum wage board, told New Age that the factory owners’ representative Arshad Jamal Dipu did not place their proposal at the meeting.
He said BGMEA director Arshad Jamal Dipu had told the meeting that he would submit the proposal in the next meeting of the board on September 17.
Factory owners are considering a 50 per cent increase, on an average, in wages for apparel workers.
The apparel factory owners held several meetings in the last few days preparing their proposal on workers’ wage but could not reach a consensus on some issues.
A leader of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association said that the sector leaders had held a meeting at Sepal Garments on Saturday night to finalise the proposal.
* Garment factory checks slow:
The government has said it will not be able to inspect all the readymade garment factories for building and fire safety measures before the end of this year.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment is also not sure how long it would take to finish the exercise. It blamed manpower shortage for the delay, citing advertisements in newspapers offering new appointments.
Labour and Manpower Secretary Mikail Shipar told reporters about the development after a Cabinet meeting on the garment industry on Sunday.
“It is not possible to inspect all the 4,500 garment factories within December. But we are about to start the inspection.”
He said advertisements were issued for only 37 factory Inspectors, though the ministry was supposed to hire 200.
read more. & read more.
* US won’t buy BD workers’ bloodstained shirts: Mozena:
US Ambassador Dan Mozena on Monday expressed his hope that all the stakeholders in Bangladesh’s apparel sector will choose the path that makes Brand Bangladesh a mighty global brand, reminding that America will not buy shirts stained with the blood of Bangladeshi workers.
“I’m confident the stakeholders will choose the path that makes Brand Bangladesh a mighty global brand, the best brand, the biggest brand, indeed, the brand of the world’s largest exporter of apparel… that is what I believe,” he told a function in the city.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Threat to BD textile export:
The ongoing slide of the Indian currency is poised to cause some major dents to Bangladesh’s garment exports, as the two neighbouring countries compete in the same segments globally.
The rupee slumped to a record low last week amid growing concerns over the health of the Indian economy.
Although both the Bangladeshi taka and the Indian rupee now have more or less the same denomination value against the dollar, the rupee’s downtrend suggests it is bound to get cheaper in the near future and in the process, divert Bangladesh’s orders to India.
Particularly affected will be Bangladesh’s exports to the US, where the South Asian neighbours enjoy a level-playing field but India has an edge due to its own cotton production.
read more. & read more.
* DoE fines 6 factories Tk 45 lakh:
Department of Environment (DoE) on Monday realised Tk 45 lakh in fine from six washing and dyeing factories in Narayanganj and Gazipur on charge of polluting environment.
DoE fined five Narayanganj factories-Fakir Apparels, Abanti Colour Textiles Mill Ltd, MS Dyeing, Martin Knitwear Ltd, Ribline Fashions Ltd Tk 5 lakh, 15 lakh, 18 lakh, two lakh and Tk 50,000 respectively for polluting environment through using faulty effluent treatment plant (ETP).
It also fined Crystal Industries Bangladesh (Pvt) Ltd in Sreepur upazila in Gazipur Tk 2 lakh for discharging its liquid wastages into Turag river.
to read. & to read. & read more.
* Implement Jute Packaging Act to offset sluggish exports:
The government should implement the Jute Packaging Act immediately to create internal demand for jute products, analysts said.
“Export demand for jute goods has plummeted following the depreciation of the Indian rupee and a crisis across the Middle East,” said Kamran T Rahman, former chairman of Bangladesh Jute Mills Association (BJMA).
Last week, the rupee slumped to a record low of 68.75 to the dollar to cap a 25 percent fall in value since the start of the year, while taka has appreciated around 15-20 percent over the last one year, he said.
“We are losing the competitiveness over the India exporters, so to offset the sluggish demand we need to urgently implement the law,” he said at a discussion styled “Revisit the Roadmap for Jute”, organised by International Jute Study Group at its office in Dhaka.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* PM receives more donations for Rana Plaza victims:
Officials and employees of the Health and Family Welfare Ministry and other organisations under it on Monday donated their one day’s salary to the Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund for the Savar Rana Plaza collapse victims.
PM’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad said they handed over a cheque of Tk 1. 54 crore to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her Secretariat office.
Health Minister Dr AFM Ruhal Haque and senior officials of the ministry were present on the occasion.
to read. & read more.
10:18:56 local time INDIA
* Power, labour, equipment have made textile industry competitive:
The Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council (Texprocil) has recently released “A Benchmarking Study of Production Costs in India vis-à-vis Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey”. Texprocil chairman and a textile industry veteran, Manickam Ramaswami discusses the implication of the report’s findings with Sushila Ravindranath.
How has Indian textile industry emerged so competitive?
The industry operates under extremely low overheads, which are a tiny fraction of the overheads of similar size companies in any other industry. Our operating machine speed in spinning and weaving is 30 per cent higher when compared to China. Most Indian mills follow ‘lean manufacturing’, even if they are not familiar with the concept. Surprisingly, power, labour and equipment are key factors that have made the Indian textile industry intrinsically competitive.
Hasn’t the power shortage, especially the south, been a major problem?
We have been constantly working on reducing specific energy consumption although we have gone in for higher level of automation and mechanisation which actually adds to energy consumption. The exporting mills of power starved south get 50 per cent of their power needs from their own wind mills which is about 3000 MW. The sector has learnt to optimise production by increasing the capacity of low-cost machines and running as much of the facility possible only during nights and those infrequent power available moments.
Our labour productivity is said to be quite low.
A false impression has been created that our labour productivity is lower than Bangladesh. Our workers are actually as good as the best. Almost all exporting companies across sectors have in house training facilities capable of converting unskilled and uneducated workers into world class operatives who can operate highly sophisticated state-of-the-art machines, that too within three months.
What about equipment?
Our industry was pretty outdated till the late 1990s. Now it has rapidly transformed itself into a very modern one with a fair degree of automation and mechanisation because of Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme. Many global machinery manufacturers have set up shop in India and are offering world class machines at Indian prices to the spinning sector. However, this has not happened in weaving, knitting and home textile manufacturing. We fall behind in processing as well.
to read. & to read.
* Panel proposes Rs.1.5 lakh for kin of victims:
The three-member committee constituted by the State Government on weavers’ suicides here in Guduru mandal in Krishna District on Monday recommended a compensation of Rs.1.5 lakh for the victims’ families.
The Committee Convener and Machilipatnam Revenue Divisional Officer P. Saibabu told The Hindu that the compensation would be released to the eligible families under G.O. 140/2012.
Responding to a news item in the columns of The Hindu on weavers’ suicides on August 21, the committee comprising Handlooms and Textiles Department Assistant Director Shaik Jilani and Machilipatnam DSP K. Srinivasa Rao completed their study on the suicides and other related issues of the crisis.
Thirteen debt-ridden weavers committed suicide since 2010 at Kappaladoddi village and of them three had taken their lives in 2013.
* Falling Indian rupee lifts fortunes at textile, garment cos:
A weak Indian rupee, may not be bad for everyone. Indeed, it has proved to be a boon for the country’s textile sector.
After a 5% drop in the last fiscal through March to $31.7 billion, India’s textile exports are expected to grow 15% in 2013-14 on a pick-up in orders, senior industry executives said. Apart from the Indian rupee’s depreciation against US dollar of over 21% since April, economic recovery in the US — India’s biggest textile and garment export destination — safety issues at Bangladeshi mills and soaring costs in China are aiding the rise in outbound shipments, they said. Textile and garment shipments accounted for 10.54% of India’s overall exports in 2012-13.
10:18:56 local time SRI LANKA
* Rathupaswala simmers as factory opens for maintenance:
The tense situation that arose once again at Rathupaswala in Weliweriya eased by last evening, as hundreds workers who had been trapped inside the factory, accused of being responsible for groundwater pollution, finally left under police protection after an agreement was reached not to recommence production activities.
The tense situation arose on Friday (30) after nearly 300 workers moved back into the latex glove manufacturing factory owned Dipped Products PLC. Area residents strongly objected to the controversial factory, which they accuse of being responsible for groundwater pollution in the area, resuming operations. The factory had been temporarily shut down following the violent confrontation between the army and protestors on August 1, which left three people dead and many others injured.
* Dhammika’s “killer factory” removed from Rathupaswala:
Minister of Investment promotions Lakshman Yapa Abeywardhana states that the Govt has decided to remove the controversial Venigross hand glows factory belonging to Casino businessman Dhammika Perera, from Rathupaswala area.
Minister said that the Govt has already informed the administration of the factory to relocate its machinery in another place and the Govt has decided to allocate lands in two suitable areas for the factory.
Minister further stated that a land of 8 acres inside the Investment promotions zone has been suggested for the factory and that it already contains a terminal for waste water refining.
* Another effluent discharging factory in Kurunegala:
In the wake of the Rathupaswala incident, where a factory was alleged to have polluted ground water, another such claim is being raised about a factory in Kobeigane in Kurunegala District.
Residents of the area say that a company named Jiffy Products Sri Lanka is using a chemical, calcium nitrate, to treat their coconut fiber products. It is alleged that this chemical is affecting ground water in the area.
Jiffy Products Sri Lanka (JPSL) is a Bord of Investment (BoI) approved subsidy of the Jiffy Products, a multinational company based in Norway. Its products include grow bags, coco blocks and coco dip which are plant propagation substrates used in greenhouses in Western countries. Coconut fiber is the raw material that is being used in this production process.
Kobeigane Pradeshiya Sabha former Chairman Subasingha Jayasundara told ‘The Nation’ that he was alarmed when the water in the Deduru Oya turned black some months ago. Thereafter, some cattle had died under suspicious circumstances which had raised the concerns. He added that the company was dumping the waste water to some pits near the river, which might have contaminated ground water. Furthermore, during the periodic floods, the contaminated water was released to the surface water in the area.
09:48:56 local time PAKISTAN
* ‘Textile stakeholders making efforts to benefit from GSP Plus status’:
With GSP Plus status from the European Union (EU) on the cards, all textile stakeholders, including government are making hectic efforts to benefit from this opportunity that placed even non-cotton producing country such as Bangladesh ahead of Pakistan, experts said.
Now all the stakeholders, including textile tycoons sitting at the All Pakistan Textile Manufacturers Association (Aptma) admit that the failure of the textile industry to add value to its yarn and fabrics has placed Pakistan at a disadvantage.
“We export quality fabric to Bangladesh from which they make garments, which we could have easily stitched in Pakistan,” Aptma Chairman Ahsan Bashir said, adding: “After obtaining GSP Plus status, we will export more garments instead of fabric.”
* Textilers assured of least load shedding:
Federal government has assured Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) that load shedding of electricity would be minimized within 48 hours.
This was disclosed by Rana Arif Tauseef, chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) while addressing a press conference here on Thursday.
Rana Arif Tauseef said that these meeting proved very successful as federal minister has given a categorical assurance to reduce load shedding from all industrial feeders within in next 48 hours.
Similarly, a summery to review the 4 % equalization surcharge in Punjab was also forwarded to NEPRA.
He hoped that it would be reduced to 2% as it is levied in other provinces. The MDI charges were also discussed and federal minister has issued directions to NEPRA to charge it on actual basis. (APP).
* Pakistan’s DTRE scheme affects apparel and textile exports:
* SACTWU settles clothing industry national wage dispute:
A major national strike of over 50 000 clothing workers has been averted at the last minute today.
The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) has today settled its national wage dispute in the clothing industry, after a majority of employer associations with whom we negotiate have conceded to all of the union’s final demands.
The agreement was ratified and signed at a Special Council meeting of the clothing industry bargaining council this morning. Five out of the six employer associations endorsed the agreement. In terms of the clothing bargaining council’s constitutional provisions, the wage agreement is legitimately ratified if a simple majority of employer representatives and a similar simple majority of trade union representatives vote in favour of adoption of the agreement.
The required majority vote was achieved this morning. The settlement gives labour cost certainty which will help to promote industrial stability in the industry.
The union called for this Special Council meeting held today, with only two items on the agenda: (a) settlement of the national wage dispute or (b) union notice of national strike action should there be no settlement.
The settlement is achieved on the back of the union having strike-balloted over
40 000 clothing workers, 86% of whom who voted in favour of industrial action.
In terms of the settlement, the following will apply: