10:38:22 local time CHINA
* Women’s congress aims to close income gap, lift status:
The widening income gap between men and women was the main point for discussion among delegates on Monday at the opening ceremony of the 11th National Women’s Congress.
“More efforts are needed to give women more opportunities and resources, to improve their abilities in administrating national and social affairs, and to help them play a more important role in cultural development,” Song Xiuyan, vice-president of the All-China Women’s Federation, said at the opening ceremony.
The congress is expected to draw up a blueprint for the economic advancement of Chinese women in the next five years.
09:38:22 local time VIET NAM
* Trade unions learn about labour relations:
A training course to promote the management skill and productivity of Vietnamese enterprises was held in the northern province of Quang Ninh on October 26.
Jointly organised by the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) and the Japanese International Labour Foundation (JILAF), the event was attended by staff from the provincial trade unions of Bac Ninh, Hai Duong, Quang Ninh and Hai Phong city, as well as representatives from the Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group.
Speaking during the course, VGCL’s Vice President Mai Duc Chinh said promoting better management and a productivity increase in enterprises are interlinked with ensuring the interests of the labour force, as they help build harmonious and stable labour relations, befitting all interested parties.
10:38:22 local time INDONESIA
* Govt Still Mulls Laborers’ Pay:
Around 5,000-10,000 laborers go on a national strike on Monday, October 28, 2013 in the Pulo Gadung and Kebon Cakung industrial areas, demanding a 50 % wage hike.
Industry Minister Mohamad Suleman Hidayat said his ministry was still discussing the laborer’s pay issue. “The rally is aimed at preventing the discussion from stopping. Now the discussion is still underway,” Hidayat told Tempo on Monday, October 28, 2013.
The minister hoped the rally would take place peacefully. “That is their right, the government will not stop it,” he said.
The Bekasi branch of the Confederation of Indonesian Labor Unions (KPSI), meanwhile, has refused to participate in the national rally. “We have decided not to participate in the laborers’ national strike,” Bekasi KPSI chairman Andi Ganti Nena Wea said.
* Millions of Workers to Join National Strike on Thursday and Friday:
Around three million workers in 20 Indonesian provinces will join national strikes on Thursday and Friday in support of improved welfare conditions.
Said Iqbal, the president of the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Union, said in a press release that hundreds of thousands of companies in forty industrial regions would cease production during the stoppage.
“There’s no political motive in this national strike,” he said. “Worker unions are purely fighting for the welfare of the workers.”
Said said that the unions were demanding an average national wage increase by 50 percent. In Jakarta, they were expecting the minimum wage to be set at Rp 3.7 million ($334).
* Three million workers to join nationwide labor strike: Labor leader:
The Indonesian Labor Union Confederation (KSPI) is predicting that three million workers will join a nationwide strike on October 31 and November 1, 2013 to demand a 50 percent salary increase in 2014..
“The workers are from 20 provinces and 150 districts and cities throughout Indonesia,” Said Iqbal, the president of KSPI, said in a statement here on Monday.
This number, however, does not include hundreds of thousands of additional workers from companies located in 40 industrial zones in Indonesia, he noted.
* Workers stay off work to prepare for nationwide strike:
Tens of thousands of workers stayed away from their workplaces in a number of cities in a warm-up for a nationwide strike scheduled for Thursday.
In Jakarta and surrounding areas, thousands of workers staged peaceful strikes.
Workers rallied in industrial estates in Pulogadung, Cilincing, Bekasi, Cikarang, Tangerang and Bogor to announce the nationwide strike. Most employers had no objection to the action as only some of their workers participated.
* Jakarta Sets Reasonable Living Cost Index at Rp 2.2m:
The Jakarta Wage Council has set the 2014 reasonable living cost index (KHL) at Rp 2.2 million ($199), much lower than the Rp 2.7 million that workers were originally calling for.
“The Jakarta Wage Council has agreed to make the reasonable living cost index for workers Rp 2,229,860.33,” Sarman Simanjorang, a member of the council, said as quoted by the Jakarta government’s news portal on Sunday.
The capital’s minimum wage is pegged to the living cost index, which totals the average costs of standard expenses like housing transportation and food in Jakarta. Workers pushed for a higher living cost index after fuel subsidy cuts and the weakening rupiah drove up inflationary costs in the capital.
Last year, the minimum wage exceeded the index. This year, despite a push by labor unions, the two will total Rp 2.2. million a month.
* Basic cost of living components determined:
The city’s tripartite wage committee recently completed a survey on price increases over the past ten months and set the basic cost of living (BCL) at Rp 2.3 million (US$220).
The BCL will inform the minimum wage hike, due in January 2014.
Sarman Simanjorang, a member of the local wage committee, revealed that the BCL was high because of a spat between workers and employers over the rent component.
Workers insisted that affordable rent in the city was Rp 800,000 per month while employers said it was Rp 570,000, he said. In addition, workers proposed Rp 2.7 million to be a more realistic BCL.
* Nationwide strike in Indonesia announced for 31 October:
Trade unions in Indonesia have announced a national strike on 31 October – 1 November. Workers demand a rise in minimum salary, implementation of health insurance and an end to outsourced precarious work.
Indonesian trade unions will strike to demand a 50 percent rise in the minimum salary, end to outsourced precarious work, and implementation of health insurance and introduction of laws to protect Indonesian domestic workers.
Said Iqbal, President of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate FSPMI and the Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSPI), confirms that three million workers in twenty Provinces (with three more Provinces to join) and 150 Districts/Cities (potentially 200) will join the national strike. The strike covers diverse industries and occupations, including outsourced teaching profession, factory, airport, port and transport workers.
* Wage hike will affect investment climate: BI:
Bank Indonesia (BI) Governor Agus DW Martowardojo has said that significant wages increases will affect investment climate in Indonesia because wages and labor costs influence investment decisions.
“If wage rises are too drastic and are not based on a step-by-step process, there will definitely be an impact on the investment climate and business expansion in Indonesia,” Agus said in Palembang on Monday, as quoted by Antara news agency.
He was speaking in response to a massive workers strike today in which participants called on the government to set a new minimum wage for the province (UMP) in Jakarta.
* Indonesian Shoemakers Ready to Leg It:
Weakening global demand coupled with a potential production shutdown by some factories amid concerns of rising labor costs in Indonesia could be a major blow to the country’s exports of footwear.
Industry insiders expect footwear exports to fall by $1 billion next year.
Eddy Widjanarko, chairman of the Indonesian Footwear Association (Aprisindo), said on Sunday that the association had projected exports of footwear this year to reach $4 billion.
However, for 2014, the figure is expected to drop to $3 billion.
Eddy said the decline in demand, especially from the United States — the market for 80 percent of Indonesia’s footwear exports — and frequent strikes as a result of workers’ demands for wage hikes of up to 50 percent could prove to be a double whammy for investors.
“There are 46 foreign companies ready to leave Indonesia, even if the minimum wage rises by 20 percent,” he said.
08:23:22 local time NEPAL
* Garment export up 17.8%:
Total export of readymade garments went up by 17.8 per cent in the first two months of the current fiscal year, largely due to depreciation of Nepali currency.
Nepal exported garments worth Rs 786.2 million in between mid-July and mid-September this fiscal as against Rs 667.4 million in the same period a year ago, the latest statistics of Nepal Rastra Bank shows.
“The export figure might have gone up during the two-month period due to depreciation of Nepali rupee, as sellers here received more of Nepali currency while exchanging the US dollar provided by international buyers,” the Garment Association – Nepal (GAN) said.
Of the total garments exported so far this fiscal, Rs 55.1 million worth of goods was bought by India and the rest went to other countries around the world.
08:38:22 local time BANGLADESH
* RMG factory owners’ latest trick:
The readymade garment factory owners, it seems, are willing to use anything as a pretext to prolong, if not postpone, the ongoing negotiations towards an upward revision of the minimum wage for workers in the RMG sector. On Sunday, according to a report published in New Age on Monday, they did not turn up at the meeting of the minimum wage board, citing the ongoing 60-hour countrywide hartal (general strike) by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance as a reason for their absence, and thus missed yet another deadline for the submission of their proposal.
As a result, the board could not hold a scheduled discussion on the wage issue, thereby casting doubts over a government pledge to put in place a new pay structure from November.
The workers’ representatives submitted their proposal to the board on August 18, demanding that the minimum wage should be fixed at Tk 8,114. The owners’ representatives were originally scheduled to submit their proposal on September 2, a deadline they missed.
On September 17, they proposed a 20 per increase on the existing Tk 3,000, inducing widespread resentment and protests among workers. Subsequently, they decided to place a revised proposal on October 21.
Although the owners’ representatives turned up for the October 21 meeting, they did so only to seek an extension on the deadline, which, as indicated above, expired on Sunday.
It is worth noting that the other members of the board, including the chairman, did turn up for the meeting, thereby proving as lame the excuse that the workers’ representatives came up with for their absence. One wonders what their reaction would be if some of their workers were to skip work, even for a day, on account of hartal.
* Minimum wage of garment workers:
The Financial Express published a report in its October 27 issue that the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) had decided to propose the minimum wage of garments workers at Tk 4,500 before the Wage Board considered affordability of the industry.
The wage proposal is 30 per cent higher than the present minimum wage of Tk 3,000 per month.
It seems BGMEA’s plea is not reasonable. The workers must be remunerated fairly so that they can lead a decent life. As the government has formed a Wage Board to re-fix the minimum and other wages of garment and knitting factory workers, advice may be made to the board not to fix the minimum wage at a figure less than the minimum wage of a public sector worker. Group insurance for every worker of the garment and knitting factories, covering life and accidental risks, should be made mandatory.
Owners have to follow provisions of the Labour Law 2006 in the case of permanent, full or partial disability of a worker on duty in an accident. It must be made mandatory that in absence of insurance, double compensation is to be given to the victims by the employer.
It is learnt that a Chinese garment worker, on an average, gets wage that is four to five times higher than that of a Bangladeshi worker, a Vietnamese worker gets what is three times higher than that of a Bangladeshi worker and even an Indian worker gets more than double the wage of a Bangladeshi worker.
* RMG minimum wage: Fresh proposal deferred again:
Whenever declared it may take effect from November
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has deferred once again its fresh proposal on minimum wage for the workers due to hartal.
The proposal is now being expected to be submitted on October 31.
The trade body for the apparel industry was scheduled to place the proposal at a meeting of the wage board held on Sunday.
after enjoying a three days extended time to prepare an acceptable and realistic proposal revising the earlier proposal of 20% increment over existing minimum wage.
“Considering the capability of the small and medium factories, we are going to propose Tk4,500 as minimum monthly wage, which include food and transport allowances in the basic salary,” he added, .
The minimum wage to be declared by the board would be effective from November if it takes time to announce due to technical problems, he noted.
“We will take next course of action if the factory owners fail to place fresh proposal on October 31,” said Sirajul Islam Rony, workers’ representative to the board. “They can open factories during the hartal hours but cannot join the meeting. It’s a lame excuse.”
* Hartal chokes RMG exporters:
Shipment via Ctg port hampered at peak time; supply chain cut off as thousands of goods-laden trucks stranded at land ports
International trade has almost come to a standstill due to the 60-hour shutdown enforced by opposition parties, leaving thousands of goods-laden trucks stranded on the land ports and the premier sea port.
“The three-day strike couldn’t come at a worse time. With Christmas approaching in the Western world, now is the peak time for shipment of garment products,” Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), said.
If the garment makers fail to maintain the lead time in this important period, the international retailers will lose confidence in Bangladesh and shift orders to other countries, he added.
read more. & read more.
08:08:22 local time INDIA
* Textile sector lost 42% jobs to closed mills:
About 30 per cent of all textile factories in India were non-operational as of 2010-11, which led to a massive job loss of 42 per cent in the sector, according to a study.
Tamil Nadu, which accounted for about 54% of the non-operating textile units, incurred the maximum job loss — of over 2 lakh — during the period.
“Of the total 17,987 textile factories across India, about 12,688 factories were operational and about 5,300 non-operational as of 2010-11,” said the study titled “State-wise Assessment of Textile Sector & Recommendations”, conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham).
“While the total number of textile factories grew at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 5 per cent during the decade of 2000-01 to 2010-11, the number of non-operational textile factories grew a whopping 23 per cent, and the number of textile factories under operation grew at a CAGR of a meagre 2 per cent,” said the study.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Huge job loss in textile units shut as of 2010-11:
About 30 per cent of total textile factories across India were non-operational as of 2010-11 which led to massive job losses in the sector, a study by industry body Assocham has found.
“Of the total 17,987 textile factories across India, 12,688 factories were operational and around 5,300 were non-operational as of 2010-11,” the study said.
Consequently, the share of jobs lost due to shutdown of operations of textile factories also rose from six per cent in 2000-01 to 42 per cent in 2010-11, it found.
“This is a matter of grave concern as organised textile sector, apart from creating 14 lakh jobs, also contributes four per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 10.1 per cent to the total exports earnings,” Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said.
* Woodland to expand capacity:
Undeterred by dampened consumer sentiment, footwear and apparel maker Woodland is upping production capacity at plants across countries and in India on the back of increased sales in shoes and garments.
The company, which was born when Indian exporter Aero Group bought a bankrupt Canada-based company in the late 1980s, has already earmarked nearly Rs. 500 crore to open eight large-format stores across the country over the next three years.
* Textile worker commits suicide over bonus issue:
A 75-year-old worker of a textile unit nearAnupparpalayam in the city allegedly committed suicide by immolating himself in front of the unit on Sunday.
The burnt body of Dhavamani was found with a suicide note reportedly written by him in which had he stated that the owners of the unit in which he worked beat him when he questioned the low scale of bonus issued to him.
* CITU protest:
Members of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) staged a demonstration here on Monday evening demanding immediate arrest of the owner and the manager of the garment company where Dhavamani (75), who committed suicide on Sunday worked.
Dhavamani ended his life by immolating himself in front of the company after he was allegedly beaten up by the owner and the manager when he reportedly expressed displeasure over the Deepavali bonus disbursed to him.
C. Moorthy, district assistant secretary of CITU, said though the owner and the manager were named as accused in the First Information Report, they were yet to be arrested for abetting the suicide.
08:08:22 local time SRI LANKA
* 3M promotes safety culture in workplace:
Six out of seven incidents reported at the workplace result in employees contracting diseases due to hazards, it was revealed during the National Safety Symposium held recently.
Most workers only realised they were suffering from adverse effects years later, Professional Services Engineer of the Personal Safety Division at 3M Sri Lanka, Shayan Appuhamy said.
In this light, there was a need for safety standards and regulations for Sri Lanka to abide by, just as items like soap and toothbrushes were subject to regulation, Appuhamy said. For this to happen, a ‘safety culture’ must prevail in the country, he added.
07:38:22 local time PAKISTAN
* ‘Paranormal’ activity: Women fall unconscious following ‘exorcism’ at Landhi factory:
Nearly 25 female workers of a Landhi garments factory fell unconscious in the aftermath of an exorcism to get rid of ‘evil spirits’ in the workplace on Monday.
“The factory seemed to be overtaken by a genie or evil spirit as many of my co-workers have experienced mysterious incidents in the past,” claimed Farzana Naseem, who arrived with an unconscious colleague in an ambulance. “A spiritualist was called to this morning by the factory owners to get rid of the suspected ‘jinns’ but as soon as he began reciting different verses, the workers began falling unconscious while others ran out shouting and screaming for help.”
The rescue teams were called in to the factory, Casual Sports Wear, which is located in Landhi Export Processing Zone, to take the unconscious employees to Jinnah hospital. The rescue workers insisted, however, that there was a mysterious gas leak which caused the workers to faint.
On the other hand, the doctors and psychiatrists, who treated the patients, denied that there was any gas leakage. Some of the workers developed a temporary neurological condition, most likely out of fear from the exorcism, leading to a mass hysteria.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* ‘Big black ghost’ lands many factory workers in hospital:
Panic, commotion and complete chaos was witnessed as ambulance after ambulance with unconscious and semi-conscious women workers of a garment factory in Landhi started pulling up in front of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre’s emergency section on Monday morning.
Hearing the screams and wails of the semi-conscious women, the ones just regaining consciousness also became hysterical and fainted once again. Those who continued to scream were given thorough checkups and administered injections to help calm them down by the doctors.
“I saw a big black ghost in the washroom. It resembled a shadow but was far bigger than any shadow I have ever seen,” said Shagufta Naz, a young helper in the factory’s checking department.
“For days, we could hear the mysterious sound of a man sobbing in the washroom. We couldn’t explain it. But today we saw him too and he wasn’t an earthly being,” she says as a female patient lying on a stretcher in front of her screamed and Ms Naz echoed her before breaking down in sobs herself.
After having seen the disturbed patients, Prof Dr Afridi was of the view that it was a case of mass hysteria. “Jinn, bhoot, churail are common mentions in developing countries such as ours. What we have here is a case or mass hysteria and possession syndrome. The women were all extremely scared and wouldn’t listen to reason, not even to suggestions that they recite the four Qul or Ayatul Kursi if they believed that there was something evil after them.
* Punjab govt to amend existing labour laws: Raja:
Punjab Minister for Labour and Human Resources, Raja Ishfaq Sarwar said provincial government has decided to amend existing labour laws,besides new legislation to protect the rights of labour and workers.
Raja Ishfaq Sarwar was addressing a meeting of the officers of Punjab Labour Department,PESSI,Workers Welfare and other related departments.
He noted that compensation on the death of factory workers during work hours will be enhanced from Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh,adding that implementation on minimum wages (upto Rs. 10 thousand),announced by the government will be ensured.He said that every company and industrial unit will be bound to provide compulsory employment letter to the factory workers and labourers.
read more. & read more.
* Eligibility for sustainable GSP Plus facility:
While EU’s GSP Plus status for Pakistan seems almost a certainty, it remains to be seen whether the country would be able to benefit from this status.
Even without the granting of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus status, the European Union is still one of Pakistan’s largest trading partners, and about 30 per cent of its exports are destined for EU countries.
However, our exports to the EU are below potential. With improved access to European countries through the GSP Plus status, opportunities for Pakistani exporters to expand into EU markets would increase manifold. In fact, about 66 per cent of all tariff lines of the EU would have zero custom duty for our exports.
Countries that are eligible for this status are those who are considered vulnerable in their trade profile with the EU. This vulnerability is reflected in a lack of diversification of exports: i.e. 75 per cent of the export share is dominated by seven or lesser items, and exports constitute less than two per cent of EU’s total GSP imports (in case of Pakistan, it is only 0.2 per cent).
* PHMEA concerned over increase in electricity tariff:
Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PHMEA), North Zone, has expressed concern over unbearable increase in electricity tariff for industrial sector, deteriorating law-and-order situation and putting additional burden on the already crisis ridden knitwear sector without any consultation with stakeholders and demanded immediate remedial measures to revive the national economy.
A meeting of the Zonal Committee of PHMEA held here with Muhammad Amjad Khawaja in the chair to discuss notified agenda in addition to discuss problems being confronted by this sector.
The participants in the meeting were critical of the prevailing situation and said that hosiery sector had been in deep trouble for the last one decade due to the persistent energy crisis.
07:38:22 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Uzbekistan collects more than 3.35 million tons of raw cotton:
Cotton growers and population of Uzbekistan collected over 3 million 350 thousand tons of raw cotton for the state fulfilling contractual obligations in difficult conditions.
Islam Karimov greeted Uzbek nation with the result of cotton harvest on October 25.
The President reminded about bad weather, which slowed germination and growth of cotton. The temperature was higher than normal at 8-10 degrees, in southern regions reached 45-50 degrees in July-August, and all of this was accompanied by sandstorms, proliferation of various agricultural pests and diseases of plants, which had a negative impact on development of cotton.
Considering all these complex conditions, results achieved this year by cotton growers are even more valuable, the president added.