22:35:19 local time VIET NAM
* Vietnam’s labor union reform debate bubbling to the surface :
Critics say unions lack autonomy and the ball is now in the court of Nguyen Thien Nhan, a familiar face in the West and the new president of the Vietnam Fatherland Front
Nhung immediately shook her head when asked about the efficiency of the labor union at her workplace, a Taiwanese-owned factory that employs around 10,000 workers in Dong Nai Province, some 35 kilometers northeast of Ho Chi Minh City.
“It seems to me that the labor union was set up only for the sake of abiding by the law,” Nhung told Vietweek, declining to reveal her full name due to the “sensitivity” of the issue. “It should be playing a much more proactive role in advocating for better meals and wage policies for us.”
The only legal trade union for Vietnamese workers, the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, and its local chapters and corporate affiliates have been lambasted for failing to take on the challenge of representing workers who have been wrestling to obtain better wages and get better treatment, fueling wildcat strikes across the country over the past several years.
* Textile and garment materials to develop domestically:
The textile and garment industry will be investing in material production, said Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (VINATEX) Deputy General Director Hoang Ve Dung at a Ministry of industry and Trade’s regular online meeting reviewing activities in September and the first nine months of this year.
The ministry’s statistics show that in the first nine months of 2013, the textile and garment industry exported products worth US$13.154 billion, up 18 percent from the same time last year.
The US, the EU, Japan and the Republic of Korea (RoK) were the biggest importers of Vietnamese textiles and garments, with exports to these markets accounted for 49, 15, 12 and 9 percent of the industry’s export revenue, respectively.
However, businesses said that they had to compete with rivals from other textile producing countries in buying materials, and that material suppliers took the advantage of material shortages to increase material prices by 10-15 percent. These problems affected the accomplishment of orders, they added.
Dung said that the textile and garment industry is relying considerably on imported materials and that the sector has satisfied only two percent of its demand for cotton and one eighth of its fabric demand and made 140,000 tonnes of low and normal quality fiber each year.
Although it made strenuous efforts, the textile and garment sector could find only 48 percent of all materials it needed in 2013 domestically. The rate for VINATEX alone is 54 percent.
22:35:19 local time CAMBODIA
* Sar Kheng orders the arrest of former Bavet governor:
Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng on Wednesday said that he has just issued an order to arrest former Bavet governor, Chhouk Bandith.
“I have recently issued an order to the General Commissariat of National Police to arrest Chhouk Bandith,” Sar Kheng told reporters after delivering certificates to 3,000 police officers at the Ministry of Interior.
He said that we follow the verdict of court and the law so we are not in the wrong. Sar Kheng, who is also the Interior minister, hasn’t told reporters where Chhouk Bandith is hiding, and the reason why police could not arrest him before
Chhouk Bandith has been sentenced in absentia by Svay Rieng Provincial Court in June of this year to 18 months in prison for seriously injuring three women after he opened fire to protesting workers last year in the Mahattan Special Economic Zone of Svay Rieng province.
A day after his sentence, Svay Rieng prosecutor Hing Bunchea issued an arrest warrant to capture him, but police haven’t yet discovered his place.
* Cambodia’s Manufacturers Shift to Higher-Value Clothing:
Cambodia’s factories are moving away from producing the most basic clothing items and diversifying to manufacture more intricate products for international buyers.
As the garment sector has grown over the past decade, most garment factories have stuck to producing items such as T-shirts and jeans due to the poor skill level among workers. But factories are now starting to produce items with more complex designs and stitching techniques.
“They are moving away from basic items,” said Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia. “In the past, the value creation is lower because it was just a simple transformation of fabric—cutting the dimensions. But now we do something to the fabric.”
Mr. Loo added that Cambodia still has a long way to go before it could produce items that appear in chic boutiques in the West due to the lack of skilled workers.
“That’s why we need a good vocational training institute. A lot of it also comes from on-the-job training. It is still a question of do we have the ability to do it here,” he said.
21:35:19 local time BANGLADESH
* Fire at ASHULIA garments, 20 hurt:
At least 20 workers were injured as fire broke out at A & Z Limited of Ashulia, outskirts of the capital, on Wednesday afternoon.
Sources said the fire originated from dying section of the five-storey of the factory building in the noon.
Hearing fire alarm, workers tried to come out from the factory in a hurry that left 20 workers hurt.
On information, two fire fighting units from Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) rushed to the spot and doused the blaze after one-hour efforts.
After the incident, the authorities concerned declared the factory closed.
The injured workers were rushed to various hospitals and clinics in Savar.
* RMG workers’ protest in Ashulia:
To press the demand for due salaries, RMG workers of Liberty Fashion staged protest in Ashulia, outskirt of Dhaka, on Thursday morning.
Witnesses said that the agitated workers started protest at around 9:00am at the factory premises demanding to payment of their due salaries and Eid bonus. At one stage the factory workers vandalized and torched vehicles, and blocked Zirani-Shimulia Highway.
The workers and law enforcers locked into a clash, police charged baton and opened fire to take the situation under control, leaving at least seven workers injured.
Additional law enforcers were deployed in the area to avoid unwanted situations.
Director of Industrial Police Mostafijur Rahman confirmed the matter to banglanews.
Gazipur Garment factory Fire
* Gazipur factory fire: 7 bodies recovered:
A total of seven charred bodies were recovered from the fire-ravaged readymade garment (RMG) factory in Beraida Chala area of Sreepur upazila till Wednesday afternoon.
Akhter Hossain, deputy assistant director of Fire Service and Civil Defence, confirmed UNB about the recovery. The search operation was abandoned at about 2 pm after the recovery of seven bodies, he said.
The deceased were identified as Rasheduzzaman Mondol, 33, assistant general manager (AGM) of the garment unit, ‘Aswad Composite Factory’, owned by Palmal Group, his nephew Naimur Rahman,26, knitting operator Khalilur Rahman,26, hailing from Pirganj upazila of Rangpur, Rubel Miah,23, of Mithapuker upazila of Rangpur, Bulbul Islam of Dinajpur, Minhajul Haq,23, of Fulbari of Dinajpur and Raju Miah, 21, of Kurigram.
Rasheduzzaman and Naimur were identified on Tuesday night while the identities of the rest victims were confirmed on Wednesday morning by their relatives at Sreepur Hospital.
All the seven bodies were handed over to the families.
Meanwhile, the factory authorities announced to give Tk 5 lakh to the families of each deceased. Besides, Deputy Commissioner Md Nurul Islam announced to provide Tk 20,000 to the families of each deceased.
Local MP Adv Rahamat Ali, DIG Mahfuzul Haq Nuruzzaman and senior officials of district administration, police administration and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (BGMEA) visited the spot on Wednesday morning.
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* Fire rages for 20 hours in Gazipur factory:
The fire that broke out in Aswad Composite Mills Ltd at Sreepur in Gazipur about 5:45pm on Tuesday continued till 2:00pm on Wednesday although fire fighters contained the flames about 4:00am.
Fire official on Wednesday afternoon said that they had found at least seven people dead. On Tuesday night, they, however, suspected that nine people were killed in the fire although they could recover only two bodies at night.
The superintendent of police, Abdul Baten, on Tuesday night also told reporters that the death figure could rise to nine. A labour group called Garments Workers’ Solidarity Forum, however on Wednesday, put the figure at 11.
Faruk, 30, who was injured in the fire, is admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. He said that the had been injured when he tried to put out the flames. No other injured was found to be taking treatment either in Dhaka or in Gazipur.
The labour ministry, the district administration and the Fire Service and Civil Defence set up three committees to investigate the incident
Fire officials and witnesses said that the fire had originated on the first floor of the factory where cloths were left to dry up.
The people who died in the fire had bee trapped in the place when they were trying to put out the flames, deputy assistant director of fire service Md Abdul Halim said. The factory had many workers trained in fire extinguishing.
* Death in desperate fight against fire:
7, not 9, killed in garment factory blaze
Now, all that is left of him is the metal buckle of the belt he had on that fateful night, which glistened feverishly amidst the soot and char, as if to draw attention to the burnt remains of its owner.
Heroically, he came forward to douse the fire when it broke on Tuesday night on the ground floor of Aswad Composite Mills’ dyeing unit and in the process, was engulfed by it.
“Suddenly we saw fire coming through a pipe. It spread like a streak of lightning once it came into contact with yarns and fabrics,” said Ansar Ali, one of the 230 night-shift workers on duty at that time of blaze.
The situation went out of control within 2-3 minutes. “I went for the exit and instructed everyone to do the same. And thanks to reasonable fire safety measures, most of us could escape the inferno.”
“Some of us who had fire-fighting training, however, stayed back to contain the fire.”
Unfortunately, the flame was so ferocious that the fire extinguishers were of no use, said Mahmudul Karim, a floor in-charge of the factory’s garment section. “We did our best for one and a half hours to control with those hose reels but it was not enough.”
* Gazipur RMG unit fire kills 7:
Gazipur district administration formed a seven-member body Wednesday to probe into the fire that broke into Aswad Composite Mills of Palmal Group Tuesday night, killing at least seven people at Sreepur in Gazipur, police said.
The probe team, led by Assistant Deputy Commissioner (General) of Gazipur, Shahnewaz Dilruba Khan, was also asked to submit its findings within the next seven working days, Officer-in-Charge of Sreepur Police Station, Amir Hossain said.
He said they recovered seven bodies and all of them have been identified. “Some of the remains of the victims were also handed over to their families,” the local police chief said.
Talking to the FE, a senior fire service official said the fire originated at about 5:45pm on Tuesday at dying section of the factory and spread to nearby chemical store on the first floor.
* Yet another pointer to lack of RMG workplace safety:
The fire at Aswad Composite Mills Limited at Sripur in Gazipur, which began Tuesday evening, took ten fire engines nearly 18 hours to douse and left at least seven persons dead, brings to the fore, yet again, the issue of workplace safety in the apparel sector.
According to media reports, the fire began on the first floor of the four-storey factory building about 5:45pm and soon engulfed the entire structure. Fortunately, most of the workers were outside the building for a break between two shifts; the casualty could have been colossal otherwise.
The extent and intensity of the fire, highlighted by the fact that it raged on in full force till early Wednesday morning and was completely put off around midday, and that smoke spread to areas within a one-kilometre radius of the factory, tends to provide a poignant pointer to the abysmally inadequate fire safety at the factory.
Most importantly, it tends to indicate that the factory owners in general and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association in particular may not be adequately sincere and serious about containing industrial accidents in the apparel sector.
* It’s an accident, Aswad owner says:
The company to give Tk 5 lakh to each of the dead as compensation
The fire at Aswad Composite Mills in Gazipur was an accident, not an act of sabotage, the owner of the factory said yesterday.
The fire originated in the chimney of a heating machine, said Nafis Sikder, managing director of Palmal Group, the owning company of the factory.
“However, the way the fire spread across the entire factory was mysterious. It spread in only 15 minutes,” Nafis said at a press conference at BGMEA office in Dhaka.
Separate probe teams of the government and the garment makers’ trade body are working to find out the cause of the fire that claimed seven lives on Tuesday night.
Nafis said they are yet to assess the losses and will try to reopen the factory as soon as possible.
The buyers have expressed condolence but did not make any negative gesture after the fire, he said.
Each of the deceased will get Tk 5 lakh as compensation from the company and another Tk 2 lakh will come from an insurance scheme of the BGMEA, Nafis said.
* Aswad Mills fire ‘industrial accident’: BGMEA :
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) termed Wednesday the fire incident at Aswad Composite Mills an ‘industrial accident’.
“It is an industrial accidentÂ And such a fire incident in a compliant factory carries a message for the country’s apparel sector just before the beginning of an annual event – BATEXPO 2013,” BGMEA president Atiqul Islam told a press briefing at its headquarters in the city.
Senior BGMEA leaders were also present at the press conference.
He, however, said the BGMEA will separately probe the Tuesday’s fire incident that left at least seven workers dead and 50 others injured.
The BGMEA leader informed the newsmen that the factory owner will provide compensation amounting to Tk 0.5 million to each deceased worker’s family, and also bear the entire treatment cost of the insured workers.
* Deadly factory fire again underlines importance of Bangladesh Accord:
Last night, 8 October, at least 9 people were killed in a factory fire at Aswad Composite Mills of the Palmal Group in the Gazipur district near Dhaka.
IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union confirm their commitment to the comprehensive 5-year plan of the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
The IndustriALL Bangladesh Council of trade union affiliates is working to assist the humanitarian relief effort following the fire that also injured a reported 50. The joint IBC team is working with both the families of the victims and the injured workers. This effort will coordinate with the labour ministry and the employer associations BGMEA and BKMEA.
135 workers of the factory complex’s 2,000 strong workforce were inside the two-story building when the blaze took hold around 5.30pm.
Investigations are ongoing and we must wait to learn the causes of the fire. The Gazipur factory fire is shocking, but not surprising. The Bangladesh government has estimated that at least 50% of the country’s garment factories are dangerous.
* Not enough being done, ILO says:
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) yesterday expressed dismay over the death of seven workers from a fire at Aswad Composite Mills on Tuesday night.
“This latest fire to affect the readymade garment sector in Bangladesh reflects the sad and shocking truth that not enough is being done to address the safety and health of garment factory workers,” Guy Ryder, director-general of the ILO, said in a statement.
He said workers are “still dying for reasons that could well be avoided if decent working conditions were in place” following the “staggering” loss of lives over the past year.
The ILO director-general, however, went on to acknowledge that the government and its social partners have been collaborating to improve working conditions, strengthen labour inspections and upgrade building and fire safety in RMG factories, following the Rana Plaza collapse in April.
“But all efforts and commitments will be in vain until they translate into concrete actions to avoid further loss of life or injury to workers. The ILO, as always, stands ready to assist the social partners.”
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* Latest Bangladesh RMG fire must be the last: ILO DG:
International Labour Organisation (ILO) Director General Guy Ryder has said Tuesday’s fire incident at Aswad Composite Mills in Gazipur must be the last.
“The fire at Aswad Composite Mills should not be just the latest tragedy to beset the industry. It must be the last,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
The ILO chief also expressed shock at the loss of life at the garment factory fire and conveyed his sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families.
“The ILO is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life…This latest fire to affect the readymade garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh reflects the sad and shocking truth that not enough is being done to address the safety and health of garment factory workers,” Guy Ryder said.
* Discord over checklist delays factory safety inspection:
The prevailing disagreement among the stakeholders over some fire and electrical safety-related issues is causing delay in formulating a common checklist for inspection of apparel factories, thus keeping the sector’s overall safety as vulnerable as ever, sources said.
They said such delay in conducting the proposed factory inspection programme has caused yet another devastating fire incident that took place at Aswad Composite Mills in Gazipur, leaving at least seven workers dead and several others injured.
The stakeholders including the government, manufacturers, signatories of the Accord on fire and building safety in Bangladesh, the North American Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and International Labour Organisation (ILO) in a meeting held on September 7 last agreed on setting common fire, electrical and building safety assessment standards.
But they are yet to devise a common checklist for fire related issues for launching factory inspection even after passing of one month of their announcement, which people involved with the process held responsible for differences among the parties relating to it.
The sources said all the parties sat several times but they are yet to reach a consensus over the fire safety related issues though they have prepared the standards relating to building and structural safety standards.
Due to the absence of a common checklist, inspection of apparel units by the government, that announced to start it from September 15 last, Accord and Alliance also becomes uncertain, they further noted.
* Int’l brands have links to Aswad factory:
Primark scraps contract over ‘safety concerns’
Many high street brands, including Next, Primark, George, Gap, H&M and Morrisons, used Aswad Composite Mills in Gazipur where nine garment workers were killed in a fire on Wednesday, the deputy manager of the factory told ITV News.
AFP adds that a correspondent of the agency who picked through the still smouldering wreckage found work order books containing names of
clients in September, including Australia’s Target and French supermarket Carrefour besides those retailers mentioned above.
Meanwhile, Primark in a statement said it had cancelled its factory contract over ‘safety concerns’.
‘Primark is deeply saddened by the loss of life at Aswad Composite Mills, owned by Palmal Group,’ said the statement.
* RMG factory fire : Victims tried to douse flames:
They sacrificed their lives to save dozens of colleagues from the devastating fire
The six workers and one official of Aswad Composite Mills Limited, who lost their lives in Tuesday’s devastating fire, could not get away from the burning factory building in time because they were trying to fight the flames.
Several surviving workers said they had enough time to leave the building by the eight spacious staircases after the fire broke out and most of them did so, except some brave ones. Among them seven could not come out in the end from the second floor of the two-storey building.
Aswad Composite Mills is a sister concern of Palmal Group at Beraiderchala in Sreepur, Gazipur.
An official, who witnessed the incident, told the Dhaka Tribune that the factory’s Assistant General Manager Rasheduzzaman Mandol was in a meeting with Director Emdad Khan and other high officials in the afternoon in the conference room.
“I was standing in front of a row of workstations. Suddenly around 5:45pm someone from the knitting section shouted that he had seen sparks from a chimney of a Standard Machine. The machine was on the ground floor but its chimney came out on the second floor,” the official said.
* Families left without support:
The seven workers who died at the devastating fire were the only earning members of their families
They sacrificed their lives to save dozens of colleagues from a devastating fire at their work place, but left behind families with no one to support them.
The seven workers who died at the devastating fire that broke out at the Aswad Composite Mills on Tuesday night, managed to save the lives of at least 170 fellow workers at the factory in Shreepur, Gazipur.
According to relatives, they were the only earning members of their families, and their sudden deaths have left elderly parents and younger siblings desperate, with little hope for the future.
Victim Mohammad Khalilur Rahman, 26, was a senior machine operator at factory. As the eldest son of the family, he was the sole provider for his elderly parents and schoolgoing younger brother, said his cousin, Ashraful, who came to Gazipur to take Khalilur’s body home to Rangpur.
Ashraful said his cousin was supposed to return home next Tuesday, with money and clothes for Eid.
* Deadly Garment Fire Kills and Injures:
Just six months after Rana Plaza building collapse and less than a year after the Tazreen factory fire, at least ten workers were killed Tuesday evening when a fire broke out at the Aswad Composite Mills garment factory in Gazipur, near Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka.
The fire started at about 6:00 p.m. in the dyeing section of a two-story clothing factory, owned by Palmal Group, large exporter which owns 27 garment factories. Approximately 170 workers were in the building. The flames spread to two nearby factory buildings that are also owned by the Palmal Group.
Buyers of clothing made in Aswad include Wal-Mart (“George” clothing line,) UK’s Primark, and two Canadian companies ── Hudson’s Bay Co. and Loblaws Inc., owner of Joe Fresh.
Aswad Composite Mills is listed among the nearly 1,600 garments factories that are used by more than 90 major fashion brands and retailers that are signatories of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which Loblaw Inc. is a party to. Wal-Mart and Hudson’s Bay are signatories of an alternate factory safety pact, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, led by a number of North American retailers.
* Walmart and Gap: End Deathtraps Now! :
The latest in a series of preventable factory disasters in the Bangladesh garment industry occurred on October 8, 2013. Yet again, Walmart and Gap are responsible and must be held accountable.
Hundreds of workers were inside the Aswad Composite Mills factory when the fire broke out. Eight workers were killed and 50 were injured, some critically.
Aswad is one of 23 factories owned by the Palmal Group, which Walmart and Gap have praised as a top supplier. According to the Worker Rights Consortium, workers and management at the factory said that Walmart was the largest customer of the factory at the time of the fire – they had been producing for the company’s George brand. Reporters onsite uncovered documents of Gap, Walmart and other brands.
Walmart now owes compensation to the victims of three major factory catastrophes that have taken place in the Bangladesh garment industry within the past year. This is no coincidence. Walmart’s “always low prices” approach has helped create a garment industry of low wages and low safety standards in Bangladesh. As the second largest buyer of clothing from Bangladesh, Walmart bears a major responsibility to clean up the industry from which it has greatly profited.
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MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Sept exports soar 36% on garment sales:
Bangladesh’s exports rose 36.26 percent in September from a year earlier to $2.59 billion, boosted by stronger clothing sales, an export body said on Thursday, despite a spate of deadly accidents which have hit the country’s multi-billion textile industry.
In the first quarter of the current financial year exports rose 21 percent to $7.63 billion from a year earlier, the Export Promotion Bureau said. Garments exports surged 24 percent to $6.2 billion in July-September.
Garment exports totalled $21.5 billion for the financial year that ended in June 2013, up 13 percent from a year earlier when total exports rose 11 percent to more than $27 billion.
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* BB to launch project to revitalise jute sector:
Bangladesh Bank has decided to launch a Tk 100 crore refinancing scheme to distribute soft loan among jute buyers, mill owners and processors to ensure its fair price at the farmers’ level.
BB deputy governor SK Sur made the announcement at a press briefing at the central bank head office on Wednesday.
He said the Ministry of Textiles and Jute asked the central bank to announce a policy support to ensure fair price of jute at farmers’ level as there is an allegation jute farmers are not getting its fair price.
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21:05:19 local time INDIA
* Textiles — the war within:
Understanding the textile value chain is critical to put an end to the periodic sectoral conflicts that erupt in the industry. To ensure growth, it is important to create a level playing field for all sections of the industry — cotton, yarn, fabrics, and garments and home textiles.
For this, we need to learn lessons from the huge mistakes made in banning the export of raw cotton in 2010 and yarn in 2011. These had a chain repercussion, eventually affecting the cut and sewn products sector (garments and home textiles) as well and causing losses to the tune of $4 billion to the industry as a whole.
The importance of a synergised and coordinated sectoral strategy is explicitly recognised by the Cotton Textile Promotion Council of India (TEXPROCIL), a non-profit body that promotes the exports of everything from raw cotton to garments. After considerable thought, it has put together a clearly articulated policy to ensure: (a) all sectors of the value chain have ‘quantity restrictions-free’ access to international markets and prices; (b) all sectors have access to domestic raw material at below the international price; (c) value addition is rewarded through focus product schemes and duty-free import schemes.
The textile industry must realise that sectoral disputes only serve to undermine those making a living from it.
* Cotton field child labour employers may face action:
In a move that would discourage employment of child workers in cross-pollination work in BT cotton fields in Salem district, officials of the Integrated Child Protection Programme (ICPP) and UNICEF are considering initiating legal action against the employer and the middlemen for employing them.
Despite strict monitoring, engaging child workers from nearby districts continues in interior villages in Thalaivasal blocks here as 10 children of less than 14 years of age were rescued by officials recently. Officials said that as per law, trafficking in children for economic exploitation, bonded labour and forced labour is a crime and hence action can be taken.
The ICPP officials told The Hindu that legal experts, child welfare and protection officials and the police were being consulted on the course of action to be initiated.
The Village Administrative Officers of Veeraganur and Thalaivasal, from where four and six child workers were rescued respectively, would be lodging a complaint in the police stations in the respective areas soon, they added.
* Textiles Ministry for restoring incentives for cotton,cotton yarn exports:
The Union Textiles Minister, K. S. Rao, on Wednesday, said he would soon take up with the Commerce Ministry the issue of restoration of export incentives under the Focus Market Scheme (FMS) given to cotton and cotton yarn exporters.
“I will be writing to the Commerce Ministry in this regard. It withdrew FMS, which was given to cotton and cotton yarn exporters, and it was based on the belief that we have already got surplus production in this country. So, they must have thought that it is not necessary,’’ Mr. Rao told reporters at the end of the meeting of State Ministers of Textiles.
* Apparel exports up 14.9% in Sep:
Apparel exports grew 14.9 per cent in September, with $1.1 billion of export due to good demand from the US and euro zone.
This is the sixth consecutive month where apparel exports have grown, at an average of 13 per cent. Export-led employment grew by 6.5 per cent in April-June.
21:05:19 local time SRI LANKA
* 19 hospitalized following food poisoning at garment factory:
A group of garment workers at a factory in Medawachchiya have been admitted to hospital due to food poisoning. According to reports, 19 workers had fallen ill after consuming lunch provided to them at the factory yesterday.
Four of the workers have been discharged from hospital but 15 others are still receiving treatment. Medawachchiya police are investigating.
* Trade unions demand decent work & wages:
The Trade Union Co-ordinating Centre (TUCC), comprising 15 trade unions, has placed four demands before the government, including decent working conditions and wages.
Anton Marcus of the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZ & GSEU) told The Island Financial Review that the demands included that the government drop all plans to enact laws and regulations legalizing manpower agencies, stop employing temporary workers in all state corporations and state institutions and instead provide permanent employment in filling all vacancies.
20:35:19 local time PAKISTAN
* ‘Trained work force must for garment industry growth’ :
“Trained work force is critical for improving productivity and efficiency in the garment industry, for survival and growth in the competitive international market. Prioritizing capacity building of garment industry workers, in lieu of extreme paucity of skilled and trained human resource in the apparel industry, is simple answer to our economic revival and employment generation,” speakers at the closing ceremony of 2nd round of Training of Trainers (ToT) on ‘Apparel manufacturing and management’ said.
The views were expressed by the senior industry experts, and garment industry representatives from Artistic Apparels Pvt. Ltd., Galaxy Knitwear Company Pvt. Ltd., Motif Tex Style, Soorty Enterprises Pvt.Ltd., and Synthetic Fiber Development and Textile Institute (SFDAC) at the event held at Pak-Korean Garment Technology Institute, Karachi.
“We shall not consider training as a burden, but as a sustainable investment for growth. Need is for promoting culture of learning in this ever changing and ever improving technological era, for improvement at all levels. We have survived, and can survive and compete in the international market, amid challenges, through an efficient work force and integrated systems.
* Increase in minimum age for employment to 14 years:
Participants of an award ceremony for the National Photo Competition on Child Labour has demanded the government to increase the minimum age for employment to 14 years as this is in compliance with the ILO Convention number 138 on ‘minimum age in employment’.
The demand was presented in a ceremony organised by Combating Abusive Child Labour project, a European Union funded and ILO implemented project on Combating Abusive Child Labour (CACL-II). The photo competition was organised to highlight the fight against child labour in which professionals, students and the general public submitted photographs. An exhibition of the photos will also be held at the PNCA from the October 11-14.
* Major shake-up: Textile lobby loses control of cotton committee:
The government has restructured the Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC) and ended the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma)’s control of the committee.
In a meeting held on October 2, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of cabinet expressed surprise that Aptma, a lobby of textile manufacturers, had complete control of the PCCC despite the committee being primarily a scientific research organisation for introducing new seed varieties and giving suggestions for protecting cotton crop from viruses, say sources.
The ECC, the apex economic decision-making body, was of the view that Aptma’s influence over the PCCC did not seem appropriate in view of “non-technical nature” of nominees of the textile body. Moreover, there was already over-representation of Aptma in the cotton committee.
* Punjab-based textile mills seek gas supply to CPPs in winter:
The Federal government’s decision of suspending gas supply to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations in Punjab from November 2013 to January 2014 has worried the textile sector, waiting with crossed fingers about the fate of gas supply to Captive Power Plants (CPPs) during the aforesaid period.
The Punjab-based textile leadership has therefore sought appointment from the ministries concerned but received no response till date. However, the industry leadership is looking fast for early response, as they have planned to engage the government before the Eid holidays, starting from 15th of this month.
It may be noted that the previous government had suspended electricity supply to textile industry altogether for about 10 days when Nargis Sethi was holding the portfolio of Secretary Ministry for Water & Power. The industry has serious concerns that reoccurrence of any such situation may prove fatal to viability of textile industry in energy-starved Punjab.