12:08:10 local time PHILIPPINES
* What the P10 wage hike can buy (or not):
What can P10 buy today? Not a lot.
By Oct. 4, minimum wage earners in Metro Manila will receive an additional P10 in their daily earnings. This brings the new daily minimum wage rate to P466 for workers in the non-agricultural sector, and P429 in private hospitals with 100-bed capacity, retail and service companies with 15 or less employees, and manufacturing with 10 or fewer workers.
Ten pesos can buy one McDonalds’ Vanilla Sundae Cone or five pieces of pandesal. But in reality, labor groups see the P10 pay raise as too little, too late.
A look at the latest suggested retail prices (SRPs) for selected basic necessities and prime commodities as collated by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as of July 11, 2013, revealed that the P10 wage hike won’t buy Filipinos a lot of daily food and household items. In fact, only instant noodles were priced below P10, as everything else from sardines to bath soap cost a bit more. (See Price Table).
11:08:10 local time CAMBODIA
* Strike at SL eats into profits:
Because of ongoing strikes and an inability to fill orders, SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) says it is shedding cash flow as buyers shift away from one of Asia’s largest producers, factory management confirmed yesterday.
International brands H&M and Gap reduced their orders, while Levi’s ceased buying from SL in August, said an SL representative who declined to be named because of heightened tensions over the strike. Neither SL nor brands would disclose the value of orders.
“Because of C.CAWDU’s [Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union’s] endless strike at SL, we are unable to keep the shipment date. How can we process the order for the buyers?” the representative said.
The company said it has lost more than $1 million since the strike began on August 12.
Kong Athit, vice-president of C.CAWDU, said the onus is on factory management to meet demands so operations can resume again.
“The responsibility is on them, not on the worker; the worker does not want anything extra, they just want normal work,” said Athit, referring to the slowdown in SL’s business.
12:08:10 local time INDONESIA
* Hike in labor wage no higher than 20 percent:
After some inconsistencies, the government made it clear on Thursday that it will not cap minimum wage increase in the presidential instruction that will serve as a reference for local administrations.
Industry Ministry MS Hidayat said even though there is no limitation, the government will ensure the wage increase next year will be no higher than 20 percent.
In the presidential instruction draft, the minimum wage will be based on the basic cost of living (KHL) and economic growth, plus an additional element — the labor productivity.
“Ideally, the wage increase should be followed by a boost in productivity. To measure this, we will engage the Central Statistics Agency [BPS] to carry out a survey,” Hidayat said during a hearing at the House of Representatives on Wednesday evening.
10:38:10 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Myanmar’s RMG export success a threat to Bangladesh:
If EU continues to offer the same preferences, Myanmar will emerge as a strong competitor in two-three years
If Myanmar continues to enjoy duty and quota-free access to Europe’s market, Bangladesh’s emergence as a major exporting nation may come under serious threat, a commerce ministry official has said.
He said the faculty could transform the “once outsider” nation into a magnet for labour intensive factories.
According to the European Commission website, as a least developed country, Myanmar benefits from the most favorable regime available under the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), namely the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme.
09:53:10 local time NEPAL
* Fire guts property worth Rs 4mln:
A fire that broke out at a garment factory in Namgel-7 of the Capital, has gutted property worth Rs 4 million on Wednesday.
According to police, the cause of fire has been identified as electric short circuit. The fire had erupted at around 2 am in the tin-roofed factory owned by Bhagwati Dubey of Attarkhel. Among the property destroyed are 12 tons wool and four wool-processing machines. Investigations are underway, police said.
10:08:10 local time BANGLADESH
* RMG workers clash with cops over minimum wage:
Over 50 garment workers were injured in an hour-long clash with industrial police while the workers were demonstrating at Monipur in Sadar upazila of Gazipur yesterday demanding Tk 8,000 as their minimum monthly wage.
Mosharaf Hossain, assistant superintendent of Gazipur Industrial Police, said the clash erupted around 11:00am as the workers of Kasopia Fashions Ltd tried to block Dhaka-Mymensingh highway.
Later, the workers of two other factories–Jahin Tex Ltd and Givency Fashions Ltd–joined the agitations, he said.
Workers said police fired tear and charged them with batons.
* 9 organisations won’t join Sept 21 rally:
Nine garment workers’ organisations on Thursday announced that they had left the Garment Workers Coordination Council, a platform of 51 organisations, alleging that the platform was trying to serve the interests the RMG owners and the ‘political purposes’ of the ruling party.
Garment Workers Coordination Council was launched recently with shipping minister Shajahan Khan as its convener. The council announced a ‘grand rally’ at Suhrawardy Udyan in the city for September 21 to press the demands for wage hike of garment workers, ensuring workplace safety and protecting the industry from the conspiracies of Islamist militants.
The nine organisations which have left the platform are Bangladesh Garments Textiles and Leather Workers’ Federation, Swadhin Bangla Garment Sramik Karmachari Federation, Jago Bangladesh Garments Sramik Federation, Jatiya Garments and Textiles Sramik Federation, Federation of Garments Workers, Jatiya Garments Sramik Jote, Bangladesh, SK Garments Sramik Federation and Garments Sramik Kalyan Federation.
Jatiya Garments and Textiles Federation general secretary Mohammad Golam Kadir said that they had taken the decision to leave the platform as they thought it was trying to serve the purposes of the garment factory owners and political interests of the ruling party in the name of the rights of workers.
He said that the nine organizations would not join the September 21 rally. He cited that the organisers of the rally at a meeting with the BGMEA leaders at its office earlier had invited the factory owners to attend the rally.
* How much is enough for garments workers? :
Garments manufacturers and exporters have offered a wage raise of 20 per cent on the minimum slab.
This essentially means that a garments worker’s minimum wage will be Tk 3,600 with a break-up of Tk 2,400 as basic pay and Tk 960 as house rent and Tk 240 as medical allowance in place of the existing Tk 3,000.
A proposal for increase of just Tk 600 has been advanced. Placed at the fifth meeting of the Wage Board, formed for the apparel workers earlier, the proposal has deeply frustrated readymade garments (RMG) workers because they consider it ‘illogical and inhuman’.
The country’s RMG workers have every reason to be disappointed with the offer. They have asked for a minimum wage of Tk 8,114.
Clearly, there is a wide gap between the demand of the workers and the offer made by the representative of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (BGMEA) at the wage board meeting.
Against the background of the haunting memory of the Rana Plaza disaster, expectation for a rational wage increase for workers was raised.
But the wage offer is a clear indication that the jaded mindset of garments leaders has not changed at all.
The owners of garments factories here want to stay competitive by virtue of exploiting their poor workers.
Or, else they could not make such an outrageous offer. Granted that garments workers at the entry level are not productive enough, nor do most of them have an alternative income source in the market, but this should not be reason enough for factory owners to make such an offer.
Even a domestic help with no prior experience in the job is given a higher wage.
If food, lodging, clothes and other essentials of daily use are taken into consideration, a domestic help earns at least double the amount a garments girl does.
A basic payment of just Tk 2,400 means less than Tk 100 a day. What can be bought by this meagre wage?
Then what about the house rent of Tk 960? Even in a slum this amount proves insufficient for renting a room. In this context, the offer of the proposal to set the minimum wage (inclusive of all financial benefits) at Tk 3,600 per month smacks of a situation in which the garments workers will be subject to a sub-human life – one that is marked by ill health, intake of low-calorie and substandard foods, in addition to a deplorable living condition fraught with insecurity and risks.
Several incidents of garments fire and the nightmarish disaster at Rana Plaza have exposed many weaknesses of the garments industry.
At a time when the need for the garments owners is to go for a thorough soul-searching, they must not prove their incapacity to fathom the depth of the problem.
* RMG inspection report submitted:
11 recommendations made to ensure structural safety, workplace safety and worker welfare
The high-powered special inspection committee that oversees the building structure and environment of readymade garment factories on Thursday submitted its inspection report to the cabinet committee on RMGs, citing three major findings and 11 specific recommendations in the report.
The report was prepared based on random inspections of 227 readymade garments factories across the country by 11 sub committees led by joint secretaries from different ministries.
Jute Minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui, chief of the inspection committee, handed the report to Labour Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju, chief of the cabinet committee on RMG, at a meeting of the committee held at the labour ministry conference room on Thursday.
Latif Siddiqui told reporters that the inspection committee completed its random inspections and prepared individual reports that were later compiled by the inspection committee.
However, Latif Siddiqui would not disclose the report’s findings and recommendations. He said the committee had done its work and submitted the report, which would now be analysed and finalised by the cabinet committee on RMG. They will announce the recommendations after their analysis.
* Ministry for quick appointment of labour inspectors:
Commerce ministry on Thursday stressed on going faster in appointment of at least 200 labour inspectors by December for retaining GSP status for Bangladeshi products in the U.S. market, officials said.
The ministry at a meeting on the day reviewed the implementation progress of actions taken by the government based on the action plan set by U.S. in order to restore generalised system of preferences facility in its market and found slow headway in appointment of labour inspectors, they said.
Commerce secretary Mahbub Ahmed, however, expressed satisfaction over the progress made by the government agencies in implementation of action plan and hoped that the government would be able to make substantial progress in this regard by December.
‘We have reviewed the progress and found remarkable development,’ he said after the meeting held at his office.
The U.S. government has set a time-limit of December for implementation of some actions and some do not have such time-limit, he said adding that everything is going on the track.
‘We are not lagging behind in execution of any actions and hopeful for retention of GSP facility in the U.S. market,’ he said.
* Workplace safety: Call for greater coordination among stakeholders:
National and international stakeholders have been urged to forge a greater coordination among them to ensure sustainable improvement in workplace safety in Bangladesh.
The call emerged from a discussion in New York on Tuesday, according to a message received here Wednesday.
The NYU Stern Center on Business and Human Rights brought together senior government officials from Bangladesh, local manufacturers, senior officials from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Export Association (BGMEA), and representatives of Bangladesh civil society and workers’ organisations to discuss workplace safety and the future of the garment industry in Bangladesh.
Participants were joined by major US and European retailers, several Western governments, key intergovernmental organisations, and outside experts. NYU Stern Dean Peter Henry, Chair of Stern’s Board of Overseers William R. Berkley and NYU Stern Professor Michael Posner opened the meeting.
* Cabinet body irked over delay in picking 200 RMG inspectors:
The cabinet committee on ready-made garment (RMG) industry expressed its dissatisfaction Thursday over a delay in the process of appointing 200 additional industrial inspectors.
It, however, asked the authorities to complete the appointment process within December 2013 deadline in order to meet the commitment made earlier by the government to the US and European Union in this regard.
The dissatisfaction and directive came at a meeting of the 11-member committee that also discussed issues relating to building and fire safety, and working environment in the country’s garment industry.
* Probe spots massive lapses:
RMG FACTORY WORKPLACE SAFETY
A government committee has found ‘massive lapses’ in most building structures and workers’ safety in the export-oriented apparel industry that was facing challenges after the deadly collapse of the eight-storey Rana Plaza at Savar, said an official.
The committee led by jute minister Abdul Latif Siddique on Thursday handed over the report to labour minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju, who is also head of the cabinet committee on RMG, at his office at the secretariat.
The committee made recommendations for raising safety standards and ensuring workers’ welfare in the garment sector.
‘We have prepared the report compiling recommendations of 11 sub-committees. The cabinet committee on readymade garment factories will now work on the next course of action,’ Latif Siddique told reporters.
He said the committee had also recommended reducing disparities in salary structures of the employees and workers in the RMG sector. There are 4,000 garment factories in the country that employ around four million workers, 80 per cent of them women.
The committee inspected 227 factories mostly in Dhaka and Chittagong to prepare the report on conditions of the factory buildings and working environment.
Rajiuddin declined to disclose the committee’s findings and its recommendations. read more.
* Government inspection finds most RMG factories in sorry state:
Most factories lack medical centres and rest rooms for garment workers, walking space and complaint centres
The special inspection committee to oversee building structure and environment of the readymade garment factories has found that the apparel industries are beset with a wide range of irregularities.
The committee came up with its findings after a thorough inspection of RMG factories in Dhaka, Chittagong and on the outskirts of these two cities and submitted the report to the cabinet committee on Thursday. In the report, it cited three major findings, plus 11 specific recommendations.
The anomalies the investigation team found included shaky building structures, faulty wiring, absence of emergency exits, water reservoirs, fire extinguishers and effluent treatment plants.
* BD now ready to sign Ticfa with US:
Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni said on Thursday the country is ready to sign the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) with the US.
“We attach the highest importance on signing Ticfa with the US. We finalised the deal by preserving our national interests.
* Bleak hopes for winning back GSP in Dec:
The government will not be able to appoint 200 factory inspectors within December — a key requirement in an action plan prescribed by the US to help Bangladesh regain a trade benefit.
The labour and employment ministry so far appointed only four inspectors and a process is underway to hire 70 more, according to a progress report on the action plan prepared by the commerce ministry.
Bangladesh may fail to regain the trade benefit — generalised system of preferences (GSP) — through a review in December if the country misses the deadline.
The US suspended the GSP for Bangladesh on June 27 citing poor labour rights and working conditions in its factories.
* Dipu Moni refutes allegations of dithering over Ticfa:
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni yesterday denied allegations of dithering by her ministry over the signing of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) with the US.
“We believe we need Ticfa as a platform to discuss trade and investment issues with the US. We have considered Ticfa with high importance from the very beginning.”
Asked about the commerce minister’s claim that Ticfa is not being signed due to the reluctance of the foreign ministry, Dipu Moni said: “There is no objection from our part—we just want it in such a way that our interests are protected.”
She said that when the cabinet gives approval, there is no scope for anybody to oppose and give objection. The cabinet approved the draft of Ticfa on June 17.
“Though it took time, we have been able to bring it to the final stage,” she said, adding that the foreign ministry has finalised the deal ensuring the country’s best interests.
Dipu Moni, however, did not specify when and where the deal would be inked.
* Doing Business in Bangladesh:
The owner of a clothing factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, was at New York University last week to meet with clothing industry executives, labor activists and American and European government officials to talk about the Bangladeshi garment industry, the world’s second-biggest exporter of clothes after China.
The workplace disasters in this business have grabbed the world’s attention, and for the past year, Western retailers that outsource their clothing production to Bangladesh have tried to come up with reforms. But there are big obstacles to improving safety in an industry driven by low profits and constant upheaval.
* New reforms for Bangladesh garment industry:
Less than a year before a tragic garment factory collapse in April killed over 1,000 people in Bangladesh, a World Bank study laid out many logistical reforms to improve the country’s garment industry.
An international outcry is now prompting some of those reforms, and could begin to change the logistics of the international clothing trade.
In Bangladesh, the first step for the garment industry – which accounts for three-fourths of the country’s exports – is to improve worker safety, said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium.
read more. & read more.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Update on the Bangladesh Injured Worker Relief Fund:
We are delighted to share with you that, thanks to your generous support, we have raised over $25,000 for the Bangladesh Injured Worker Relief Fund.
In Savar, Bangladesh in April 2013, over 1,129 workers were killed and approximately 2,500 injured in the collapse of the Rana Plaza building, with five garment factories on its upper floors.
In early May, the Institute established the Bangladesh Injured Worker Relief Fund to raise emergency support to assist victims and their families in getting through this tragedy – especially since any possible compensation would be months in coming, if it came at all.
To date, $20,000 has been disbursed to 396 workers and their families by the Institute’s Bangladesh team, mostly in collaboration with the Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, whose office is just behind the Rana Plaza collapse site.
The distribution work is painstaking, since much of it has had to be done by going to the homes of workers, many of whom are still too ill to come to a central meeting place.
* Rana Plaza victims still wait for compensation:
The victims of Rana Plaza tragedy are yet to get the full compensation they were promised to be given.
The victims have suffered financially and psychologically. It is also creating despair in their lives. If they get all the compensation at a time, they can make their future safe and financially secure.
* Body to propose Tk 23 lakh in damages for each dead worker:
A committee on the compensation for Rana Plaza victims is likely to propose today that each of the apparel workers who died or went missing in the building collapse should get about Tk 23 lakh in damages and one member from each of the families should get a job.
The committee will also propose that each of the workers who lost a limb should get about Tk 10 lakh
and each of the workers who lost two limbs should get about Tk 20 lakh in damages. The compensation for the loss of each additional limb should be Tk 5 lakh.
The committee that Dhaka University economics teacher MM Akash heads will today submit its report to a high-powered committee, headed by the ninth infantry division general officer commanding, Major General Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy, that the High Court set up in May to prepare compensation packages for the victims.
The high-powered committed set up the sub-committee, headed by the university teacher, to finalise the compensation for Rana Plaza victims after the main committee had proposed Tk 20 lakh in compensation for each of the people who died or went missing.
The committee will propose that the earning of lost work years for each worker will be 30 years.
* Clothing corporations need to step up for BD factory collapse victims:
There was a meeting that took place last week in Geneva. A big meeting. An important one. It was one that had nothing at all to do with the situation in Syria. Did you hear about this meeting in Geneva? Chances are, you didn’t. To say it was an under-reported story would be generous.
It was a meeting to work out compensation for the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster: the garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh that collapsed last April leaving over 1,100 dead, and another 2,000 injured.
You may remember the feelings of helplessness, of anger and, above all, of outrage that many of us in the global community felt as a reaction to the tragedy in Bangladesh at the time. Over 1,000 dead, with western manufacturers complicit.
Many questions were asked in its aftermath. How could the garment trade allow such an enormous industrial accident to happen in this day and age? How could we, the consumers who buy what the garment industry is selling to the tune of billions of dollars a year, allow this to happen with our sanction?
read more. & read more.
09:38:10 local time INDIA
* Draft of new textile policy ready:
The State government will shortly unveil a new Textile Policy for 2013-2018. A draft of the new policy is ready and will be placed before the Cabinet soon, said Minister for Textiles Baburao Chinchanasur.
Speaking to presspersons in the city, the Minister said the draft textile policy has been prepared after studying the textile policies of States such as Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.
“We have also looked at the growth prospects of the textile sector in the State. The new policy is aimed at creating employment opportunities to nearly five lakh people in the next five years. It will also enable the grant of various incentives to textile entrepreneurs,” he said.
He said the State government was expecting investments of Rs. 10,000 crore after the policy is implemented.
The old Textile Policy 2008-2013 had attracted investments of about Rs. 5,000 crore and generated employment opportunities to 2.5 lakh people, he said.
* Indian apparel exports to touch $17 billion: AEPC:
The Indian apparel industry is witnessing an upswing and the exports are likely to go up from $13 billion last year to $17 billion in the next two years on the back of economic recovery in the US and Europe, according to Apparel Export Promotion Council.
“Indian apparel exports have picked up in the last six months compared to negative growth in the previous two years,” A Sakthivel, Chairman of Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), told PTI on the sidelines of the Buyer-Seller meet inaugurated by Indian Consul General in New York Dnyaneshwar Mulay at Penn Plaza Pavilion in Manhattan.
read more. & read more.
* Cotton arrival starts, price zooms by 25%:
Cotton crop has started arriving in the markets of Punjab and Haryana, and growers can hope for a remunerative price this season. Already, it is so much better than last season.
The price is between `5,000 and `5,400 per quintal against between `4,000 and `4,200 per quintal last season, traders have said. “The new cotton season has opened on a high note, with 20 to 25% appreciation in the price of new stock,” North India Cotton Association president Mahesh Sharda told the PTI on Wednesday.
* Indian Textiles Ministry plans Cotton Distribution Policy:
* Class War at The Capital:
Karl Marx, I am often told, is out of date. But the conditions of work that prevail at this very moment in industrial establishments within barely a dozen kilometres of New Delhi are reminiscent, if anything, of a period that even pre-dates what Marx was writing about.
The level of regimentation is such that workers are not allowed more than five minutes during the entire working day for visiting the toilet.
And this is true not just of garment workers whose employment habitats are widely recognized as being notoriously akin to sweat-shops; it is also true, as a recent public hearing revealed, of workers in one of modern India’s show-case factories, the Maruti-Suzuki plant near Gurgaon. Indeed, it is a common practice among workers near India’s capital to cut drastically their intake of fluids, so that they do not violate their quota of five minutes of toilet visit per working day.
Since the garment factories around Gurgaon have to sell their products to big multinational companies like Gap and H&M, the public relations staff of which project them as having “corporate social responsibility”, an impression has to be created that the conditions of work where the garments are produced are decent.
Towards this end, inspection mechanisms have been put in place to keep the multinational company’s image among its customers intact.
According to garment workers’ testimony however, the days of inspection are known to the factory management well in advance; and on those days several temporary toilets are put up in the factories, so that inspectors go back satisfied with the facilities enjoyed by the workers.
But the moment their backs are turned, the temporary toilets are promptly removed, since too many toilets are obviously not necessary if each worker is allowed a five-minute visit per day.
09:08:10 local time PAKISTAN
* ‘Rupee fall to improve earnings of textile exporters’:
Higher volatility in the currency market has lately dampened investors’ sentiment at the local stock markets. However, recent depreciation in the rupee bodes well for the country’s export-oriented sectors such as textiles, a brokerage house reported on Thursday.
With the threats emerging on the external front, the rupee has so far depreciated by around seven percent in the ongoing year, while in the last two months, it has depreciated by around four percent, Sabir Mohiuddin of Shajar Capital Pakistan, said.
09:08:10 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Cotton pickers in Angren – on the fields with a badge:
Residents of Angren who are forced to pick cotton are required to provide their personal data and submit a photo of themselves in order to receive an official ID badge.
“I was hired by a school to pick cotton as a replacement for one of their employees,” says Angren resident Olga.
A teacher paid her 500,000 soms (185 USD) so that she would spend 25 days picking cotton instead of her.
Olga was required to come to the school and provide her personal details, a copy of her passport, and a photo.
“My personal data was immediately entered into a computer,” she says.
Medical workers and manufacturing sector employees have had similar experiences.
The collected information includes their passport number, official residence registration details, home and cellphone numbers, and a photograph.
* Uzbekistan poised to pull wool over the eyes of the UN:
Uzbekistan is expected to deliver a human rights progress report (Universal Periodic Review) to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. It is also expected to pull the wool over everybody’s eyes.
The 24th Universal Periodic Review – taking place at the Human Rights Council on September 9-27 – aims to review the situation with regard to fundamental freedoms and human rights in a number of countries, including Uzbekistan. Based on its findings the council will adopt detailed country-specific recommendations.
Another recommendation given to the country earlier this year concerns the use of child labor.
Regarding this the Uzbek report states: “the government is using all available means to curb the use of child labor in agricultural works, including during the cotton harvest.”
Apparently, a monitoring process established by the country’s parliament is taking place, alongside training sessions and meetings with farm administrators and parents in which they are educated on the wrongfulness of the use of child labor.
The punishment for the use of child labor has also been strengthened and is more stringently applied.
Germany’s recommendation that International Labor Organization experts be invited to observe conditions within the country elicited an angry reaction:
“The country rejects the artificially inflated accusation about the “alleged mass and prolonged used of child labor in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan”, states the report.