19:12:12 local time CHINA
* Frustrations lead to confrontation as workers take to the streets:
Frustrations with low pay, wage arrears and poor, often hazardous, working conditions led to an increase in strikes and worker protests last month.
China Labour Bulletin recorded 52 incidents on our Strike Map in October, up from 40 in the previous month. These protests sometimes spilled over into conflict with police and security forces. A police presence was reported in 15 cases, with at least nine protests leading to confrontation and arrests.
When 300 shoe factory workers in Dongguan took to the streets demanding the payment of wage arrears on 8 October, the local police used dogs to disperse the crowd and several striking workers were reportedly bitten. In another incident in Jiangsu, riot police reportedly beat and arrested numerous workers who were on their way to the local government to petition for the payment of wage arrears.
* China vows greater efforts to promote work safety:
China on Tuesday pledged greater efforts to promote work safety following a three-month nationwide workplace safety campaign which ended recently.
“Development at the expense of human life is a red line we should never cross,” said State Councilor Wang Yong during an inspection tour from Sunday to Tuesday in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei Province.
“We shall develop a long-term work safety mechanism that is effective in preventing major accidents,” he added.
China launched a nationwide campaign to boost work safety between June and September after a series of deadly accidents exposed deficiencies in safety supervision and management.
20:12:12 local time NORTH KOREA
* Two S. Korean firms in Kaesong to face ownership change:
Two South Korean companies, which are reviewing closure of their businesses in the Kaesong industrial complex, would face ownership change, not a complete withdrawal from the joint factory park, despite their decision to close operations, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Wednesday.
“To our knowledge, there are two companies planning to sell businesses and withdraw (from Kaesong). One firm stationed at the apartment-type factory is also reviewing its withdrawal,” Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Eui-do told a press briefing.
As for the two companies, which leased land and built factories in the Kaesong industrial zone, the ownership will be changed if they complete their sales procedure, Kim said, noting that production activities of the firms will last without a pause.
His comments came a day after local news reports that a textile manufacturer and an electronic parts producer at the joint industrial park in Kaesong of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) had signed contracts to sell their factories and land.
19:12:12 local time PHILIPPINES
* 11 regions due for wage hike:
18:12:12 local time VIET NAM
* Vinatex expands investments in central region:
The Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) is accelerating investment in the central region of the country as part of the national strategy for the garment and textile industry until 2020.
In a recent working trip to Nghe An Province, Vinatex general director Tran Quang Nghi said central provinces would be a destination for many large projects due to their advantageous geographical positions, developed traffic systems and abundant human resources.
“The group will invest in Nghe An so that it will become a regional garment and textile centre, which is especially important as Viet Nam prepares to enter new free trade agreements,” he said.
* Vietnam, EU begins new FTA round:
Vietnam and the European Union kick-started the fourth round of free trade agreement negotiations in Brussels on July 2, hoping to form a cornerstone of a complete pact.
- High hopes for signing Vietnam-EU FTA in 2014
- Vietnam-EU FTA under discussion
- Vietnam-EU FTA negotiations begin in Brussels
Vietnam and the EU have agreed to exert a great effort to end bilateral negotiations in late 2014.
To this end, both sides have set a working agenda for negotiations, and they expect to go into substantive talks during the four-day round in Brussels this week, said Luong Hoang Thai, a senior Vietnamese trade official.
They worked on the major contents of the agreement and clarified their interests in the previous three rounds. They exchanged several key offers, including one on opening up the markets for their goods.
* Garment and textile exports to reach US$19 billion:
The garment and textile sector’s export turnover is expected to hit more than US$19 billion this year thanks to an increase in orders and export revenue.
In the 10-month period, Vietnam’s garment and textile exports to China were estimated at over US$270 million and its furnishing fabrics at nearly US$700 million.
Meanwhile, its cotton imports from China were worth nearly US$7.5 million.
* Central Highland Bao Loc silk weaves a bright future:
Bao Loc in the Central Highland province of Lam Dong is famous nationwide for growing mulberries, raising silkworms and weaving silk.
Located at an altitude of over 800m, 190km from Ho Chi Minh City and 110km from Da Lat city, Bao Loc Plateau is cool all the year round with high rainfall, humidity and mist, suitable for growing mulberries and raising silkworms.
The “capital of sericulture” boasts large silk producers such as Bao Loc Silk Joint-Stock Company, A Chau Silk Joint-Stock Company, Kimono Company, Vietsilk Company and about 20 private silk production workshops.
In 2004, the Vietnam Sericulture Corporation (Viseri) joined hands with Matsumura Company (Japan) to establish three large factories in Bao Loc, including Silk Spinning Factory No. 4 with an annual capacity of 85 tonnes of silk cords and two factories producing silk for making ties and kimonos with an annual capacity of 486,000m and 480,000m respectively, opening a new development period for the sericulture sector in Bao Loc.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 6/11 (4th item).
18:12:12 local time CAMBODIA
20131105 * New hope for SL strike resolution:
With union and company officials at one of Asia’s largest garment factories making no progress in resolving a strike that has lasted nearly three months, a pair of labour relations groups are working on an agreement that all sides hope will end the deadlock.
Officials from the International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia and Cambodia’s Arbitration Council Foundation yesterday confirmed that the groups have been working in conjunction.
Over the past two weeks, the council and BFC have held separate meetings with management at SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd and the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) – which represents the majority of SL’s employees – said Jason Judd, a BFC technical specialist.
In those meetings, BFC and the council spent hours listening to complaints and demands on both sides.
“Together with the Arbitration Council, we made an offer to both sides that we could help them to come to an agreement,” Judd said. “We’re involved because this is an extraordinary case.”
20131105 * Union leader ‘threatened’:
The president of an independent union filed a complaint yesterday, alleging he has received multiple death threats related to a garment strike his members have been involved in.
In the complaint filed with Interior Minister Sar Kheng, Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), says an unknown man has called him several times, warning that he and other union officials will be killed.
“After he called me, he called and threatened two colleagues, which caused them to worry about their security,” the complaint reads. “I am very worried about my security and safety.… I want [Sar Kheng] to take action to protect our security, and to investigate to arrest the suspect.”
Reached by phone last night, Thorn said he did not want to speak publicly about the alleged threats, because he is waiting for concrete evidence from police investigators.
Thorn did, however, confirm his receipt of multiple death threats.
20131105 * Alarm bells as workers panic, faint:
Nineteen garment workers employed by KKN Apparel Co Ltd fainted on Monday evening after an emergency bell sounded in the factory, in Koh Kong’s Mondol Seima district, police said.
Ngam Dara, the district’s police chief, told the Post an electric circuit broke, sounding an alarm bell throughout the building.
“[Workers] ran out quickly when they heard the emergency bell ring.… Those who ran out late were in shock and fell down,” Dara said.
Employees are instructed to exit immediately upon hearing the alarm, Dara added, noting such an incident had not happened before.
“The factory sent the workers who fainted to hospital and they received help in time,” Dara said, adding that the 19 employees all left hospital yesterday.
Joel Preston, a consultant for the Community Legal Education Centre, said fainting was a wider issue in factories, often due to malnutrition.
20131105 * ‘Bandith has to be in jail’:
As authorities denied harbouring him and calls for his charges to be upgraded to murder grew louder, deposed Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith remained a free man last night – even after a court upheld his 18-month prison sentence.
With Bandith absent from yet another hearing yesterday, the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh agreed that the former official turned fugitive inflicted “unintentional violence” on three women when he fired into a crowd of garment workers striking outside the Kaoway Sports factory in Svey Rieng province in February last year.
The court ordered Bandith to be arrested – an order that authorities have failed to execute since his sentencing in June – and also upheld convictions against Sar Chantha, still deputy chief of Bavet town police, who received six months’ probation for the lesser charge of illegal weapons use.
Judge Taing Sunlay said the decision against Bandith in June, made by Svey Rieng Provincial Court, was proper and “made within the law”.
In a statement released yesterday, Adhoc not only condemned a system that has failed to arrest Bandith, but said the charges against the deposed governor should be upgraded.
“Mr Bandith has yet to spend a single day in prison and the light sentence handed down to him is likely more a reflection of his political connections than the gravity of the crime he committed,” the statement says.
Bandith was ordered to pay a total of $9,500 to the victims.
From the perspective of the rights of garment workers and the industry, Dave Welsh, country manager for labour-rights group ACILS/Solidarity Center, said yesterday it was “difficult to over-emphasise how badly this reflects on Cambodia’s reputation internationally”.
Welsh said that Puma – the brand that bought from the factory – had been willing to get involved in the case by sending high-level representatives to Cambodia.
“But the industry as a whole could take a more unified stand,” he said. “They have an enormous amount of leverage.”
@cleccambodia has heard that Bandith is in Vietnam.
20131106 * SL strike ‘bad’ for industry’s rep, says union:
A labour union representing a minority of workers who have been striking at SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd for nearly three months released a statement yesterday, calling the strike bad for the industry’s reputation.
Without specifically mentioning the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) – which represents the majority of SL’s roughly 6,000 employees – Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, which represents some 2,000 SL employees, condemned the recent violent turn protests at the factory have taken.
“It gives a bad reputation for factories in Cambodia,” Mony said yesterday. “That’s why I have to request an end to this kind of protest.”
During demonstrations in front of one of SL’s Meanchey district factories on Thursday and Friday last week, security guards and other SL employees fired air rifles and flung marbles from slingshots into a crowd of protesters, C.CAWDU, vice-president Kong Athit said.
At least 10 strikers were hospitalised for injuries sustained from the projectiles, by Athit’s count.
19:12:12 local time INDONESIA
* Violent end to Indonesian strike:
A national strike was held in Indonesia on 31 October and 1 November with more than 1,5 million participants.
Although peaceful demonstrations were held in most regions, violent outbreaks injured a number people.
Strikes took place throughout Indonesia, gathering a total of 1,5 million workers demanding, among other things, an increased minimum wage. Despite pleas for peaceful demonstrations violent clashes occurred. 17 protesters were injured; one still remains in critical condition.
“We wanted safe demonstrations, but paramilitary forces attacked workers with beams and knifes. They were allegedly paid by the government and employers,” says Said Iqbal, President of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate FSPMI and the Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSPI).
* Nine Suspects Detained in Wake of Labor Rally Brawl:
Police said on Monday that they had detained nine suspects in connection to a South Cikarang brawl between demonstrating workers and paramilitary group Pemuda Pancasila during last week’s general strike.
“Ten people have been arrested,” said Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Cmr. Rikwanto. “Six were arrested [at the crime scene], three were arrested in Abacus and one in Jakarta.” A tenth suspect was arrested and released pending trial because he is accused of destroying a motorcycle rather than assault.
* Jakarta Governor Defends Minimum Wage Policy Amid Protests by Labor:
Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo’s decision to only allow for a slight increase in terms of the capital city’s minimum wage regulation prompted dissatisfaction among labor unions, who over most of last week rallied for the city government to approve a monthly minimum wage of Rp 3.7 million ($325).
Confederation of Indonesian Workers (KSPI) president Said Iqbal said Joko did not fully understand the elements used to determine the components of the decent living index (KHL) in the calculation of the minimum wage.
“The government used components determining a decent living in 2013, but set the minimum wage for 2014 at Rp 2.4 million,” he said in Jakarta on Monday, adding that the Rp 3.7 million demanded by the labor union had been based on its calculations for 2014.
* With Help from Disney Grant, Better Work Will Expand its SMS Worker Outreach Initiatives:
Following a 2012 pilot initiative using SMS technology to inform workers about occupational safety and health (OSH), rights and responsibilities, today Better Work Indonesia is reaching 10,000 workers in ten factories with information related to OSH (including fire safety), rights and responsibilities, and harassment in the workplace.
Better Work Vietnam has also recently been piloting SMS push messaging in five factories. With a new grant from the Walt Disney Company, Better Work will aim to expand their SMS outreach dramatically over the next two years, reaching at least 50,000 workers across thirty plus factories in Better Work Indonesia and Vietnam in the first year, and 100,000 workers by the end of year two.
17:12:12 local time BANGLADESH
* Tk 5,300:
Minimum wage for garment workers fixed
A split garment workers’ wage board yesterday voted and finalised its recommendation that Tk 5,300 should be the minimum salary for workers.
Factory owners, who are board members, however, rejected the proposed 76.66 percent minimum salary hike from the existing Tk 3,000.
The board fixed Tk 3,200 as basic pay, Tk 1,280 house rent, and Tk 320 medical allowance. It also included Tk 200 transport allowance and Tk 300 as food subsidies, said judge AK Roy, chairman of the six-member wage board.
Failing to reach a consensus on the minimum salary thrice before, the board in its ninth meeting yesterday went for a vote and the recommendation was passed 4-0, with factory owners in the board refraining from voting.
The new minimum salary and the new salaries for 3.5 million garment workers in seven grades would be effective after a gazette notification in this regard is published.
* Garment labour bodies reject new wage:
Different garment workers right bodies on Tuesday rejected the minimum wage of Tk 5,300 per month for garment workers declared by the minimum wage board on Monday.
The leaders of 12-garment workers right bodies at a press conference at Nirmal Sen Auditorium at Segunbagicha, rejecting the declared minimum wage said that actually the minimum wage was only Tk 3,200 as basic and food allowance, house rents and medical allowances were added with it.
Mushrefa Mishu, the president of Garments Sramik Oikya Forum said that they were demanding basic minimum wage worth Tk 8,000 per month and demanded revision of the declared wage within November 18.
Otherwise, the 12-garment labour bodies will announce tougher programmes, including strike in garment factories.
* Minimum Wage Gets Fixed at 5300BDT (50Euro/68USD); factory owners refuse to recognize:
On Monday 4 November 2013, at the 9th meeting of the minimum wage board fixed the minimum wage at 5300BDT (including food allowance), which however was opposed by the BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturer’s and Exporter’s Association) representatives who pressed forward with their recommendation of 4250BDT (including food allowance) as the new minimum wage.
The representatives of the factory owners staged a walkout without signing the draft agreement. However, according to rule seven of the Wage Board Ordinance 1961, the board arranged a voting and passed the agreement by a 4 to six majority, ignoring the factory owner’s representatives. Now, 15 days must pass where opinions and objections will be taken and scrutinized by the board before the final recommendation is sent to the Labor and Employment Ministry to convert it into law.
This surprising move of shifting the demand for minimum wage from the popular 8000BDT pushed forward through the struggle and protests of millions of Garment Workers across Bangladesh (out of whom approximately 1% is unionized and represented by “worker leaders”), to the current 5300BDT which came from those representing Garment Workers in the board came yesterday after discussion with the neutral members (representing Government) of the board.
If this new minimum wage of 5300BDT is converted into law, it would still be the lowest in the world and far below the living wage for garment workers in Bangladesh.
* 20 factories closed in Gazipur:
The authorities concerned declared 20 readymade garments factories of Konabari, Kaliakoir, Ashulia and Sataish closed due to workers unrest on Tuesday.
Sources said hundreds of workers of some garment factories blockaded Baroipara-Jalsuka road and staged protest around 10:00am demanding to implement wage structure given by wage commission for garment workers.
* 50 Gazipur RMG units shut after workers-police clash:
Production in minimum 50 garment factories in the city and Kaliakoir upazila was suspended for Tuesday after workers clashed with police demanding implementation the new salary structure recommended by the government-appointed wage board for the workers.
Garment workers from Konabari, Kashimpur, Naojor areas of the city and Hajalhati area of Kaliakoir upazila took to the streets and staged demonstrations in the morning.
They put barricades on different roads, including the Dhaka-Tangail highway and Dhaka Bypass road, disrupting traffic.
The unruly workers also vandalised a factory, ’Asif Appealers’, in Konabari area and set fire to some furniture in the morning. They beat up two employees of the factory, leaving them injured. The agitated workers vandalised several vehicles during the demonstration.
read more. & to read. & to read.
* 70 RMG units shut due to labour unrest in Gazipur:
Nearly 70 factories were shut Tuesday as thousands of apparel workers went on the rampage in Gazipur apparel industrial belt over the latest wage proposal of Tk 5,300 as minimum monthly wages for the factory workers.
The factories are located at Gazipur’s Konabari, Kashimpur, Naojor and in Hajalhati area of Kaliakoir upazila.
At least 25 people, mostly workers, were injured as the protesters clashed with the law enforcers during the mayhem that led to the suspension of production at the units.
Police and witnesses said the trouble erupted at about 9am, when workers of several factories at Konabari in the industrial hub took to the street instead of joining work. They expressed their dissatisfaction over the role of the owners at the wage board meeting Monday last.
* RMG workers in unrest at Gazipur- 20 injured in RMG unrest:
At least 20 injured in clashes, about 65 garment units declared close for the day
At least 20 people were injured on Tuesday as hundreds of RMG factory workers demonstrated in Gazipur alleging that factories were refuting the minimum wage standards proposed by the government.
Meanwhile, in concurring events, workers in Tongi demonstrated demanding increased price rates per unit production, which is commonly known as production rate.
In Gazipur, workers allegedly set fire to a factory while demonstrating through Sadar upazila, however, police said the information was not true.
A concerned government panel recently proposed the minimum wage at Tk5,300 for RMG workers.
The workers were in rejection of the proposal however, their point of agitation was based on allegations that the factory owners were not willing to accept the proposal.
read more. & read more.
* BGMEA: Tk4,500 min wage, or no production:
Garment owners threaten to shut down business over minimum wage; will appeal against government proposal by Wednesday
Ready-made garment owners have threatened to shut down business within 15 days if the government makes them pay beyond Tk4,500 as minimum wages to workers.
RMG owners’ associations BGMEA and BKMEA made the announcement in an emergency press briefing Tuesday afternoon.
They said they will appeal against the government’s proposal for setting Tk5,300 minimum wage standard within Wednesday.
* BGMEA proposes Tk 4,500 as minimum wage for garment workers:
Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) today proposed Taka 4,500 as minimum wage for an entry level garment worker.
The association leaders described the proposal of Taka 5,300 as recommended by the wage board unrealistic and said the amount was proposed without considering the industry’s production capacity which is on the fall.
” We condemn the wage board’s unrealistic and irrational proposal. we’ll be able to give no more than Taka 4,500 for an entry level worker,” M Atiqul Islam, President of the BGMEA, told an emergency press conference at its Bhaban this evening.
President of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) AKM Salim Osman, BGMEA former presidents Abdus Salam Murshedi and Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin and senior members of the association attended the function.
Atiqul Islam said the industry’s production capacity has reduced by 37 per cent due to manifold reasons especially switching orders to neighboring countries, increased production cost and cost of doing business.
* Will shut business if forced to pay: BGMEA:
Garment manufacturers have threatened to close down if they are forced to pay anything over Tk 4,500 as monthly wage to the workers.
Ready-made garments are Bangladesh’s biggest exports that fetched more than $ 19 billion last year.
The threat of closure came after a joint meeting of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) on Tuesday.
The meeting was convened at the BKMEA’s Karwan Bazar office a day after the government-sponsored Wage Board proposed a Tk 5,300 monthly minimum wage for ready made garments workers.
The workers have been asking for a Tk 8,100 a month.
The BGMEA-BKMEA joint meeting rejected the wage board proposal, saying it would ruin the industry if implemented.
The BGMEA President Atiqul Islam said they could pay no more than Tk 4,500 in monthly wage to a worker and condemned the Wage Board’s award.
read more. & read more: Apparel owners threaten shutdown if minimum wage not reviewed.
* Owners threaten RMG factory shutdown:
They urge govt to revise down wage recommendation; more than 80 factories shut over unrest
Garment makers today threatened to shut down all factories if the government does not review the recommendation of making workers’ minimum wage Tk 5,300 within the next 15 days .
They deem the sector will lose competitiveness once the amount is implemented.
The leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), two platforms of apparel makers, will appeal to the wage board for reviewing the recommendation tomorrow.
“The recommendation of Tk 5,300 as minimum wage for the entry-level workers is a suicidal thinking for the sector. The garment sector is not capable to pay this amount,” said Atiqul Islam, president of BGMEA, at a joint press conference at the trade body’s office in Dhaka.
“The recommendation is an indiscretion as the board chairman finalised it without the consent of the owners’ representative on the board. This recommendation has some other motives as everybody knows that the sector is not capable to adjust the amount. We all are rejecting the recommendation,” Islam said.
“Our recommendation is Tk 4,500 per month. The board will have to follow our recommendation,” he said.
read more. & read more.
* Review minimum wage or face shutdown: RMG owners:
Readymade garment (RMG) manufacturers and exporters on Tuesday threatened to shut down all the factories in the country if the minimum wage board for the workers in the sector does not review its recommendation of the minimum wage at Tk 5,300.
At a press conference at BGMEA Bhaban, leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) also sought the government’s intervention to settle the dispute over the workers wage.
The wage board at its 9th meeting on Monday decided to fix the new minimum wages at Tk 5,300 through voting of the board members. However, two board members representing the owners’ side at the meeting refrained from voting.
Addressing the press conference, BGMEA president M Akiqul Islam said the wage board at its 9th meeting refuted the owners’ proposal for fixing the wage at Tk 4,300 and recommended Tk 5,300 without the consent of the owners’. “We’ll appeal to the wage board for a review in a day or two,” he said.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Apparel makers threaten shut down:
Apparel manufacturers and exporters have threatened shutting down their factories unless the government reviews the recommendation of fixing minimum monthly wage at Tk5,300 within next 15 days.
Their warning came a day after a government-formed wage board proposed the amount, up from existing Tk3,000 per month.
“This is a suicidal proposal, which is void of reality, unacceptable and irrational,” Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told a press conference in Dhaka on Tuesday.
Pointing out different problems currently being faced by the RMG makers compared to competitors China and Vietnam, he said the business environment what China and Vietnam have is not in Bangladesh.
“The cost of doing business here is higher than the two countries. For example, they get undisrupted electricity supply but we do not,” he said.
The leaders of RMG makers demanded reducing bank interest rate to a reasonable level, taking steps to cut prices of gas and electricity in industrial zone, reinstating of bargaining rules for apparel makers with insurance companies and prevention of taking additional charges by the inland container depot from the exporters.
* RMG owners to appeal for review of proposal:
Two apparel-sector apex bodies Tuesday formally rejected the wage board’s draft proposal on minimum wages and threatened to shut down all garment factories unless the decision is reviewed in 15 days.
They will file an appeal to the wage board for reviewing the proposal for fixing Tk 5,300 as minimum wages for ready-made garment (RMG) workers, which was finalised at Monday’s meeting without the consent of the apparel representatives.
Leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) announced their positions at a joint press briefing after an emergency view-exchange meeting with representatives of all “We will submit our written appeal to the wage board Wednesday, seeking review of its proposal as the proposed Tk 5,300 minimum wages are not affordable for the industry,” Md Atiqul Islam, president of the BGMEA told the press briefing.
The BGMEA leader also said they would discuss the wage fixation issue with the Prime Minister.
“We will request the wage board to revise its proposal to Tk 4,500 as minimum wages. If it is not solved within 15 days, BGMEA and BKMEA will announce closure of all factories,” Mr Islam said.
Responding to another question as to how many factories have so far been closed down after a Tk 3,000 minimum wages were announced in 2010, he said the government offered various policy support including incentives, and there were 5,300 factories at that time, which now stands at 3,200.
“Everybody sees the increase in export growth, not the internal situation as many of the factories have to face air shipment, discount and order cancellation following different obstacles, including political turmoil,” Mr Islam added.
* RMG labour bodies, left parties reject new wage:
Different garment workers right bodies and left leaning political parties on Tuesday rejected the minimum wage of Tk 5,300 per month for the garment workers announced by the RMG workers’ wage board on Monday.
The leaders of 12 garment workers’ right bodies at a press conference at Nirmal Sen Auditorium at Segunbagicha rejecting the announced wages said that actually the minimum wage was only Tk 3,200 while
food allowance, house rent and medical allowance were included with it.
Mushrefa Mishu, the president of Garments Sramik Oikkya Forum said that they were demanding basic minimum wage of Tk 8,000 per month and demanded to revise the announced wage within November 18.
Otherwise, the 12 garment labour bodies would announce tougher movement programmes including strikes at garment factories.
The organisations announced programmes including handing memorandum to the minimum wage board on November 10, exchanging views with different political parties and professional bodies and organisations from November 7, holding gate meetings at the main gate of the garment factories and holding rallies at Narayanganj on November 12 and at Gazipur on November 15.
Garment labour leaders Mahbubur Rahman Ismail, Taslima Ahter, Shabnam Hafiz, Shamim Imam and others attended the press conference.
* Minimum Wage Under the Clout of Question and Rejection:
Moshrefa Mishu’s Garment Workers’ Unity Forum (GWUF) along with 12 other federations has rejected the proposed minimum wage of BDT 5300 agreed upon by the representatives of the garment workers and the Government in the Minimum Wage Board.
Moreover, BGMEA and BKMEA held a press conference today rejecting BDT 5300 as the minimum wage for garment workers and instead made it clear that the maximum they can reach is BDT 4500.
If within the fifteen days’ time span the Wage Board does not revise its discussion then they will be forced to close down all the garment factories.
* Who cares, really? :
As I sit down to write this article, there are reports on widespread violence in areas like Mirpur and Gazipur.
A frantic phone call from one of our factory managers was enough to put the fear of air shipment or possible discounts in me. That the industry may actually be going through the toughest times possible does not seem to considerably cause a stir these days.
The quickest pass-the-buck syndrome has gripped the society and when it comes to deviations from norms, it’s the easiest to point a finger at the manufacturers and have heated discussion on TV late night or write a column or two on how nothing has taken a positive turn in the sector. An emerging economy may have shortsighted manufacturing community that may ignore the issues related to labour. But does the responsibility begin and end with only the manufacturers? Is there someone who cares enough, really?
A minimum wage hike has been announced. The raise seems to be reasonable and the RMG industry should be able to cope with the increase. But how are the customers feeling? I can share with readers at least eight mails sitting in my mailbox saying that we are more than 30 cents higher than China or India in lingerie. I can also share at least five that have come in the last hour that says that our cost of manufacturing (CM) is too high, our consumption is too much, and that we could do with lesser CM. Where are the manufacturers going to go?
In principle, most of the retailers and brands have assured the world that they are prepared to pay more to the factories in Bangladesh.
One of the leading brands has actually gone ahead and asked for a minimum wage review in Cambodia last week.
Now that spells of good news for even Bangladesh. But how and from when are our customers going to pay the up charge?
Ground reality is this that we are all fighting our grounds in all fronts. If it’s the buyers, most of the manufacturers have already engaged in negotiations and have indicated to the customers that there “will” be a wage increase that will possibly impact the price level from anywhere in between 25% and 40% of the FOB value. Customers have not said ‘no’ to this, but many have even pledged bearing the up charge.
However, there are grey areas to be cleared:
1) From when will the customers absorb the increase?
2) Will they absorb it fully?
* Bangladesh Urges Raise in Garment Industry’s Minimum Wage:
A government-appointed panel recommended raising the minimum wage in Bangladesh’s garment industry, which has struggled amid a string of fatal factory accidents and labor unrest, by close to 80%.
A six-member committee of government officials, garment manufacturers and union leaders on Monday proposed an increase in the minimum pay in the South Asian country’s biggest industry to 5,300 taka ($67) a month, up from the current 3,000 taka.
Unions had demanded the minimum wage, which was raised in 2010, be more than doubled to 8,000 taka a month. Some union leaders, however, said workers would likely accept Monday’s proposal.
“I’m happy that we were able to come up with a figure,” said Sirajul Islam Rony, president of the Bangladesh National Garment Workers Employees League and representative of the workers on the wage board. “It’s the minimum the workers will accept.”
Many Western retailers have been cautious about taking a public stance on Bangladesh’s minimum wage amid security concerns and ahead of national elections in January.
* Loom workers on strike:
Work abstention by the loom workers at Jem Jute Mills Limited at Muslimbagh in Boda upazila of Panchagarh continued for the fourth day yesterday.
The workers have been agitating in front of the largest jute mill in the northern part of the country since Saturday to realise several demands.
The demands include weekly holiday on Friday, eight-hour work period with reasonable wages and refraining from random sacking of worker.
The workers alleged that the mill authorities forced the loom-workers to work on Friday from last month cancelling their holiday. They also forced them to work additional times for covering job of three shifts with two shift’s workers.
Previously, the mill authorities paid workers’ wages on Thursday but now they fixed the payment day on Friday.
* Sub-contracting guideline for apparel industry drafted:
The government is going to finalise a guideline for establishing a transparent and accountable sub-contracting system in the readymade garment sector to ensure workers’ safety and improve working conditions in the sub-contracting factories, commerce ministry officials said.
The ministry has already formulated a draft sub-contracting guideline that will be finalised at a meeting with stakeholders including garments makers and exporters on Wednesday, they said.
‘The draft guideline has been prepared in line with the National Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire Safety and Structural Integrity in the RMG Sector in Bangladesh signed among the government, factory owners and workers after the tragic Rana Plaza collapse at Savar that killed at least 1,100 workers,’ a commerce ministry official told New Age on Monday.
The guideline will be made mandatory for all owners of both exporting factories and sub-contracting factories, he said.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Wait now is for inheritance check:
After DNA tests, families need to have their identities confirmed by DC offices, PMO
Although DNA tests have confirmed the identities of 157 dead victims of the Rana Plaza disaster, the wait of the relatives for financial assistance gets longer as their inheritance also must be proved first.
The relatives of the collapse victims, whose identities could not immediately confirmed, have been waiting for seven months for monetary assistance.
Sources said the offices of deputy commissioners (DCs) of the respective districts would confirm the identities recovered from the DNA tests by visiting the addresses given against their names and finalise a list of lawful heirs. The list would then be sent to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), who would then decide on the amount the families would get from its relief fund.
Sources also said the families would get compensation in the range Tk200,000-Tk500,000 and the process of finalising heirs would take at least two more months.
The PMO and the BGMEA, association of readymade garment exporters, have so far donated Tk320m to the victims of the biggest industrial disaster in history.
16:42:12 local time INDIA
* Garment factory gutted in Sahibabad:
A massive fire broke out at a garment factory in Ghaziabad’s Sahibabad Industrial Area late on Sunday night.
Fire department officials said that the blaze started around 11pm at Shri Vardhman Knityarn Private Limited situated at Site-4 of the Sahibabad Industrial Area. Chief Fire Officer of Ghaziabad V K Singh said that fire department got information about the incident at around 11pm on Sunday, adding that around 6 fire tenders were pressed into service. No one was injured in the incident.
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* CICU urges civic body to strengthen fire services:
Taking note of a recent fire accident in a garment factory here, the Chamber of Commerce and Industrial Undertakings (CICU) has urged the municipal corporation commissioner and mayor to strengthen the fire brigade of the civic body.
“Industry pays heavy taxes as property tax (earlier house tax), fire cess, licence fee, octroi on electricity, still the industry is not given proper attention over any issue, be it the fire brigade or the road conditions and sewerage system,” said Upkar Singh Ahuja, joint secretary, CICU.
16:12:12 local time PAKISTAN
* Textile sector grows 40% in Q1 FY14:
The textile sector posted 40 percent rise in profitability in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013-14 (Q1 FY14) due to improved demand and better yarn margins.
The textile people said on Tuesday further boost to the profits was provided by depreciating rupee and cheaper financing rates.
Profits of the sector’s listed textile firms increased by 40 percent on yearly basis to Rs 9.1 billion in the Q1 FY14.
The same was also reflected at the local bourse as shares of listed textile firms have shown price performance of 12 percent versus Karachi Stock Exchange 100-share index’s return of just 2.2 percent in Q1 FY14.
In the textile sector, Nishat Mills (NML) had a target price of Rs 111 per share, which most brokers advised to ‘buy’.
* Textile sector profitability rises:
Pakistan’s largest industry, textile, impressively started the current fiscal year by posting 40 percent rise in profitability in the first quarter ended September 30.
“This was due to improved demand and better yarn margins. Further boost to the profits was provided by depreciating rupee and cheaper financing rates,” Tahir Saeed at Topline Securities said. Favouring fortunes resulted in improved overall textile output in the first quarter of FY14, which can be gauged from 9.3 percent growth in textile exports to $3.6 billion.
The same is reflected from listed textile companies’ profits, which increased by 40 percent, or Rs2.6 billion, to Rs9.1 billion in the quarter under review as compared to Rs6.5 billion in the same period last fiscal year.
* Rains, floods damage 0.361 million cotton bales:
Heavy rains and floods have reportedly damaged 0.361 million bales of cotton crops, which may make it difficult for the government to achieve projected agriculture sector growth target of 3.8 per cent for the current fiscal year.
Sources in the Planning Commission told Business Recorder that flood caused relatively more damage to the cotton crop in Punjab with 0.230 million bales followed by 0.130 million bales in Sindh.
The floods and rains have inundated cotton crop at 78.6 thousands hectare of land in Punjab and 40.2 thousands hectare in Sindh. They said that last year, the production of cotton was around 13.6 million bales despite damages to the crop in Sindh and Punjab due to rains/floods.
The sources are optimistic that estimated damage to the cotton and other crops would not have major impact on growth. Secretary Planning Commission has recently stated that projected growth target of 4.4 percent for the current fiscal year need to be revised because it may not be achieved.
* Cotton output rises 11pc to 7.6m bales:
Higher flow of phutti (seed cotton) from cotton fields into ginneries helped increase cotton production by 11.02 per cent at 7.606 million bales during last month as against 6.851m bales produced in the corresponding period last year.
The consolidated statement of phutti arrival into ginneries issued by Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) for October 2013, instead of two quarterly reports, disclosed that both the cotton producing provinces – Punjab and Sindh — recorded higher cotton production.
However, improved cotton production is mainly due to higher arrival of phutti in the Punjab during the period under review.
* GSP Plus: EU vote clears Pakistan’s path for duty-free access to European markets:
The European Union on Tuesday thumbed up Pakistan’s request for duty-free access to European markets, paving way for the country’s acquisition of the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus status.
The Ministry of Commerce tweeted that the EU Parliament’s International Trade Committee had voted 17-12-1 in favour of Pakistan’s inclusion:
16:12:12 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Cotton exploitation continues in Jizzakh:
Several dozen Jizzakh educators and caretakers are forced to pick cotton daily. Specifically, at least fifteen to twenty employees are delegated from the children’s home number 32, a music school, Bakhor kindergarten and the local chapter of the Society for the Blind.
They toil in the cotton fields that belong to Akmal Ikramov Farm (number 26). It takes about an hour to reach the farm by bus. Not only are the exploited workers asked to supply their own food and water they are also supposed to pay for petrol, which costs 2000 soms a day.
* Enough is enough, say Hialpesa workers:
One of Peru’s largest and most profitable textile and clothing companies, Hilandería de Algodón Peruana (Hialpesa) called in the police on Monday to prevent union members from entering the factory after they refused to take part in the charade of signing sham employment contracts.
The 136 workers took the drastic decision to refuse to sign the contracts after the labour authorities issued a landmark ruling in September invalidating 1,008 short-term employment contracts. Legally, this means the workers automatically become permanent, but the company kicked the decision into the long grass by engaging in yet another round of endless and pointless legal appeals.
After pursuing their case through legal and government channels for four years, the workers, who are members of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate FNTTP, told their employer they were not prepared to sign away their newly-acquired rights through dud short-term contracts. The company’s response was a blunt: ‘if you don’t sign, you don’t work’!