18:48:51 local time PHILIPPINES
* Workers call for Oct. 21 protests vs. SSS board bonus, premium hike:
Disgusted by Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s defense of the P10-million bonus pocketed by the board of the Social Security System and the 0.6 per cent hike in SSS members’ premium contributions, labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno called for a national day of protest against the bonus and the hike on Oct. 21.
KMU called on the public to join its chapters nationwide who will storm SSS offices across the country to call for the return of the bonuses to the workers’ fund and for the junking of the hike in members’ premium contributions.
“By defending the SSS board’s bonus and the premium hike, Aquino is leaving SSS members nationwide with no choice but to intensify our protests. It is clear that only members’ protests have the chance of making our demands heard,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
17:48:51 local time CAMBODIA
* Brands tell GMAC to dial it down:
Some of the world’s largest clothing brands have warned the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia of possible business ramifications should the factory representative continue with plans to impede labour monitoring.
Thirteen major buyers, including Gap, H&M, Levi’s, Nike and Puma, have signed a letter to GMAC expressing “concern” over its recent directive advising factory owners to “exercise discretion” before admitting monitors unaccompanied by government officials.
“The undersigned brands therefore respectfully request that GMAC withdraw its 30 September notice to its members and make no further effort to undermine BFC’s operations,” the October 15 letter reads, referring to monitor Better Factories Cambodia.
All of the brands “further encourage GMAC to take a broader and longer term view of the implications of GMAC’s recent members’ directive and consider its potential negative implications on trade with Cambodia”.
18:48:51 local time INDONESIA
* Labour protests to test investor sentiment in Indonesia:
Thousands of Indonesian workers took to the streets of the capital on Thursday, demanding the government raise wages and adding to fears that labour costs in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy are becoming uncompetitive.
About 7,000 members of the country’s largest labour unions marched through the centre of Jakarta to the presidential palace to press their case for a 50 percent increase in the minimum wages and improved social welfare.
The demands add to pressure on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to improve the lot of low income workers ahead of next year’s parliamentary and presidential elections.
His government has said it would announce an inflation-linked basket to set minimum wages but manufacturers worry that rising costs are already threatening to make Indonesian products less competitive.
read more. & to read.
* Workers protest at SBY minimum wage instruction:
Thousands of workers from Jakarta and its surrounding areas have marched to the presidential palace to ask President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to cancel President Instruction (Inpres) No.9/2013 regarding minimum wages.
The workers grouped under the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Union (KSPI) had earlier departed from their meeting point at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle.
“We demand the President cancel President Instruction No.9/2013 immediately. We need an immediate salary adjustment,” rally coordinator Ferry said as quoted by tribunnews.com on Thursday.
He claimed the spirit of the instruction contradicted Law No.13/2013 on the labor force.
Approximately 5,000 officers from the Jakarta Police were deployed to safeguard the rally. Traffic was also diverted to avoid the rally.
* Pan Brothers to launch own brand of apparel:
PT Pan Brothers (PRBX), the garment manufacturer for global brands like Calvin Klein and The North Face, said on Wednesday that they planned to launch their own brand of apparel by the second quarter of next year.
Anne Patricia Sutanto, the vice president director of PT Pan Brothers, said that the company would focus on the Indonesian as well as Southeast Asian markets for the distribution of their house brand.
“We have the capability to manufacture sportswear, formal wear and clothes that are more about lifestyle,” she said, adding that the emphasis would be on lifestyle apparel.
* Sritex Set to Buy Sinar Pantja:
Indonesian textile and garment producer Sri Rejeki Isman, plans to buy control of Sinar Pantja Djaja, another textile manufacturer, for Rp 723 billion ($64 million), in a move to improve business operations.
Sritex, as the company is also known, made the announcement in a brief prospectus published in Investor Daily on Wednesday.
The deal is considered an “affiliated transaction” as Sinar Pantja is controlled by Kapas Agung Abadi, which is owned by Iwan Kurniawan Lukminto, the president director at Sritex and a son of Sritex founder H.M. Lukminto.
16:48:51 local time BANGLADESH
* Bangladesh garment industry to take safety lesson from Cambodia:
After each of the fatal accidents to hit the garment industry supply chain over the past 11 months, Western brands caught up in the aftermath have given the same answer in response to public outrage: we didn’t know.
In the case of the Rana Plaza disaster, which saw 1,129 Bangladeshi workers crushed to death in April when eight floors of factories collapsed, that appears to have been the case. Brands like Joe Fresh – which sent its orders to the factory via two intermediary companies – knew that the building was certified as safe by Bangladeshi inspectors. Industry insiders, and the Bangladeshi government, now admit that corruption made those certificates undependable.
But groups involved in improving safety conditions say that there are programs in place to better provide accurate information to retailers about the safety records of the factories producing the products they sell at home.
Cambodia, another major producer of apparel that ends up on North American store shelves, has a program designed to keep an eye on worker rights and safety conditions on the factory floor.
Most of the big Canadian brands that source some of their clothing in Cambodia don’t buy its reports directly, but two have contracts with middlemen that do so.
Better Factories Cambodia (BFC), a partnership between the International Labour Organization and the International Finance Corporation, makes unannounced visits at least once a year to all clothing factories that have export permits.
BFC hasn’t had the power to publicly embarrass factories that violated labour and safety standards, and has been criticized by many in the industry for making its reports on pay and working conditions available only to paying members.
But that is about to change: in January, it will start publicly naming and shaming delinquent factories it has visited.
The Cambodia program was the model for a similar Better Work Bangladesh program that is meant to send impartial monitors to inspect an industry 10 times the size of Cambodia’s. But Canadian companies have been slow to sign on to these initiatives. Vancouver-based Lululemon Athletica Inc. is the only Canadian company on the list of paying members with BFC.
* Boycott GAP, Old Navy, Banana Republic:
TheContributor.com, The Other 98% and Indigenous Designs, in a press release on October 16, announced the launch of Shop Your Values, a human rights campaign that encourages shoppers to boycott GAP, Old Navy and Banana Republic stores for their refusal to sign the Bangladesh Worker Safety Accord.
Over 90 brands and retailers throughout the US and Europe have signed the accord, which will require companies that source their products in Bangladesh to help pay for factory renovations and more rigorous inspections to ensure safe working conditions. Bangladesh is the world`s second largest garment exporter.
Publisher of TheContributor.com Chris Dykstra, a co-sponsor of the Shop Your Values campaign said, “GAP, Inc. puts people in harm`s way at its factories in order to boost profits. This business practice should not be accepted by consumers or the business community at large.
Those who practice it do not deserve to be rewarded in the market. This tragic story must be told and the business community must focus on solving this issue, not perpetrating it. We welcome other like-minded organizations to participate.”
read more. & to read.
* Aussie clothes importers urged to join BD accord:
Critics describe it as industrial homicide, and some of the world’s leading multi-national retailers are accused of being complicit.
This is because they’re sourcing clothes made by garment workers in Bangladesh who are sometimes paying with their lives so Westerners can buy cheap clothing.
Over the past 12 months, more than a thousand workers have perished in clothing factory accidents in a country that’s become the second largest exporter of garments after China.
The clothing export industry is worth $20 billion to Bangladesh, by far the country’s biggest source of export income.
In recent years, big brand Western retailers have turned to Bangladesh for raw materials and finished clothing because the cost of production is now cheaper than China’s.
But critics say it’s a lethal trade, where workers are exploited and corruption is rife.
Undercover investigations by journalists have found some factories forcing workers to do 19 hour shifts.
They’re locked inside the buildings which have become deathtraps when a fire breaks out.
In April, more than 11 hundred people died in the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka – the country’s worst industrial accident.
Many other clothing workers have died in fires and other accidents.
Western clothing retailers are now being put under pressure by activists and trade unions to do more to prevent such deaths.
Michele O’Neil is the National Secretary of the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia.
“Bangladesh has grown because it’s so much cheaper than China, as has Cambodia, as has Sri Lanka, as has India so those four countries are all significantly cheaper to manufacture garments in now than China but we still have a problem across the globe so it is important to not just think this is a Bangladesh issue, it’s an issue about trying to lift the standards of the workers that make our clothes around the world.”
Michele O’Neil’s union is encouraging Australians to put pressure on retailers to get them to sign what’s known as the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.
* Bangladesh Accord appoints its leadership team:
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh today announced appointments to key roles that will allow the Accord to make significant steps and progress in its aims of delivering safer working environments for garment workers in Bangladesh.
Sean Ansett, the Accord’s Interim Executive Director, announced the appointments of Brad Loewen as Chief Safety Inspector, Alan Roberts as Executive Director of International Operations and Rob Wayss as Executive Director of Bangladesh Operations. All three appointees will start work within the next seven weeks.
Of the new appointments, Mr. Ansett said:
“The quality of candidates has meant that we have been able to bring an incredible depth of experience to these key roles. The appointments provide the Accord with strong leadership to move forward quickly on the vital work of factory inspections and remediation.”
Monika Kemperle of IndustriALL Global Union spoke of the major development of appointing a Chief Safety Inspector:
“Brad Loewen’s task is central to all that we want to achieve. Under his experienced leadership, the Accord will establish and apply safety standards to all factories that supply to Accord member brands. It is a mammoth task but one in which Brad will have the capacity and authority to make decisions that will make direct, positive impacts upon the safety of Bangladeshi garment workers.”
Lisa Fairclough of Debenhams welcomed the new Directors, citing the drive and vision that they will lend to the Accord’s goal of improving worker safety in Bangladesh:
“Given the scale and breadth of the Accord’s aims, we are pleased to be able to appoint two Executive Directors. Alan Roberts will take up an international role, setting up our head office, raising funds and enlisting new signatories and will be the first point of contact for the Accord. Rob Wayss will be in Bangladesh, where he will liaise closely with local actors, including the government and employers’ organisations, whose cooperation is essential to the Accord achieving its aims. Rob will train the Accord’s local teams, work closely with the Chief Safety Inspector and be a link to garment workers. Both of these executive directors will be instrumental in implementing the work of the Accord on the ground in Bangladesh and in raising the profile of the Accord and its work, to stakeholders and the public.”
* Bangladesh safety accord welcomes 100 brand milestone:
More than 100 global brands have now signed the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, driven by UNI and IndustriALL in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza building collapse six months ago.
Woolworths Australia, GEBRA, Wünsche Group of Germany, became the latest brands to sign the Accord, which aims to make the garment industry safe and sustainable for years to come.
The signatory brands have committed to making the changes garment workers need to improve factory safety. The Accord, a broad coalition of industry-leading brands with UNI Global Union and IndustriALL, covers more than 1,600 factories and over 2 million workers in Bangladesh.
UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings said, “We are delighted to reach this landmark figure. With this support we can make a difference on the ground. We are sending a strong message to all the companies that stand outside of the Accord: sign up and get engaged.”
* Updated list of companies signed on to Bangladesh Safety Deal:
* Human Rights Expert Jeffrey Krilla Named President of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety:
Krilla Joins Organization As September Milestones Are Achieved
The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety today announced that human rights expert and attorney Jeffrey Krilla has been named President of the coalition representing 20 North American apparel companies, retailers and brands.
Krilla brings extensive foreign policy experience to the position, having spent most of his career working around the globe on trade, development and human rights issues.
While a lawyer at Dentons US LLP, Krilla co-chaired the firm’s Africa Committee and was the member of its Public Policy and Regulation practice. Prior, Krilla served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. There he created the Department’s first-ever Office of International Labor Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility.
“Jeffrey’s experience championing the rights of workers around the globe makes him the ideal person to lead the Alliance as it seeks to rapidly improve the lives of workers in Bangladesh,” said Ellen O’Kane Tauscher, Alliance Chair. “His extensive foreign policy experience and his deep understanding of this issue will guide the organization as it strives toward its goal of inspecting all Alliance factories by next summer.”
16:18:51 local time INDIA
* Labour shortage gives cotton growers the jitters:
Nalgonda farmers travel 30-40 km daily in search of daily labourers
The acute shortage of farm labourers owing to the coincidence of paddy and cotton harvest seasons coupled with increasing migration is giving Nalgonda cotton growers the jitters.
With the cotton picking having started, the farmers here are forced to travel the areas within the 30-40 km radius of their localities in search of farm labourers.
The shortage of labourers has been multiplied with the increase in cotton and paddy acreage in the district of late and the coincidence of picking of cotton and harvesting of Kharif paddy. The farmers also blame the increasing migration of the daily wagers to the urban areas for the dearth of farm hands.
Passenger autos carrying loads of labourers in the mornings and evenings have become a regular sight on the district roads. Being hired by the farmers for cotton picking, labourers from Gundlapalli and Lakinenigudem villages of handur mandal are travelling about 30 km daily to reach either Regatta village in Kanagal mandal or Lenkalapalli village in Marriguda mandal, the areas where cotton have been cultivated extensively.
* Research centre planned for value-added garments:
In a move that could help enhance the market share of Tirupur knitwear products in the global apparel market, the Central Silk Board (CSB) is to collaborate with NIFT-TEA College of Knitwear Fashion in setting up a ‘Research and Development Centre’ (RDC) in Tirupur shortly.
The proposed RDC, to come up on the NIFT-TEA Institute premises at TEKIC Industrial Estate here, will be the first of the full-fledged such initiatives in Tirupur knitwear cluster in the area of research and development (R & D), focusing on the development of value-added garments for niche-markets on a continuous basis.
* Cabinet clears new IT, textile policies:
The State Cabinet on Thursday cleared a new information technology policy to attract investment from Fortune list of companies and exploit the job potential in the IT sector.
Addressing presspersons here after a Cabinet meeting, Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs T.B. Jayachandra said that the new policy set the target to make Bangalore the largest exporter of IT services in the world in the next seven years.
The Cabinet has approved a new textile policy (2013-18) envisaging an investment of Rs. 1,000 crore in the next five years.
The 2008-2013 policy of the BJP government envisaged investment of Rs. 500 crore but that government spent only Rs. 145 crore, Mr. Jayachandra said.
The new policy would provide more employment in the garment sector. The policy would give a boost to spinning mills and would provide a package to reviving them, the Minister said.
16:18:51 local time SRI LANKA
* A large number of employees of Anesell Lanka Apparels ….:
A large number of employees of Anesell Lanka Apparels in the Biyagama Free Trade Zone staged a demonstration in front of the Fort Railway Station accusing the new management of dismissing trade union leaders who fought against the unjust administrative methods.
15:48:51 local time PAKISTAN
* Fire breaks out in Karachi cloth market:
KARACHI: A fire broke out in a cloth factory located in F B Industrial area of the metropolis on Thursday morning, Geo news reported.
According to the sources, the officials declared the fire as third-degree inferno after which fire brigades were called out at the spot.
The fire fighters managed to overcome fire after some time.
It is pertinent to mention here that the same factory caught fire earlier this year in the month of April.
* APTMA forms committees to address textile industry issues:
* Pakistan garment sector unhappy with high raw material tax:
15:48:51 local time UZBEKISTAN
* $1 trillion against cotton slavery in Uzbekistan:
36 companies, with a combined market value of more than $1 trillion, spoke out against cotton slavery in Uzbekistan ahead of the opening of the cotton fair in Tashkent.
The ninth international cotton fair – which will be held in Tashkent on October 16-17 – gives the Uzbek government a platform to sell the country’s main export.
136 world producers of clothes, furniture and other consumer goods believe the use of Uzbek cotton to be shameful.
Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN) – a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together investors, companies and human rights activists to create sustainable supply chains – timed the release of its cotton pledge with the opening of the annual fair in Tashkent.
* IX International Uzbek Cotton and Textile Fair opens in Tashkent:
The IX International Uzbek Cotton and Textile Fair, organized at the initiative of President Islam Karimov opened in Tashkent on October 16.
According to UzA national news agency of Uzbekistan, this year’s cotton fair is held for ninth time and has acquired the status of one of major international economic forums. Representatives of the cotton and textile industries, traders from many countries arrived in Tashkent for participation.
They will discuss trends and prospects of international cooperation in development of this sector of the economy, market prices for core international markets, will be able to see results of implemented in Uzbekistan policies of consistent intensification of cotton and textile sector and to conclude direct contracts for the supply of its production.
More than 1,000 representatives of cotton textile businesses from 40 states participate in the event.
* Uzbekistan intends to expand mechanized cotton harvesting:
Uzbek government intends to significantly expand the mechanized cotton harvesting, share of which in total volume will be increased to 80-90% in several years, Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev said at the International Uzbek Cotton and Textile Fair, reported 12uz.com information portal.
Mechanical Engineers of Uzbekistan created a fundamentally new cotton pickers, which meet needs of farmers for their technical specifications, pricing and service options. In total 3,000 cotton pickers will be produced at the Tashkent Tractor Plant (TTP) next year, the Prime Minister said.