06:12:08 local time VIET NAM
* VN textile & garment firms may fail to benefit from TPP:
While foreign textile and garment companies have geared up with their investment plans in Vietnam to prepare for the Trans Pacific Economic Partnership (TPP) agreement, Vietnamese businesses have been staying put.
The Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vinatas) has noted the growing tendency of foreign importers seeking supply sources in Vietnam instead of China.
Vietnam’s textile and garment exports now can only satisfy 3 percent of the total demand in the globe. Meanwhile, China, which is called the world’s garment factory, provides 50 percent of the total products.
This means that if only 5-10 percent of the orders placed with Chinese companies moves to Vietnam, Vietnamese companies would have a lot of jobs to do, according to Nguyen Duc Thang from Dap Cau Garment Company.
Analysts believe that foreign importers, sooner or later, would seek Vietnamese supplies, since China is changing its economic development policy, prioritizing the investment projects in high technologies.
* Wage, social insurance policy reform committee set up:
The Prime Minister on November 4 signed a decision to establish a central steering committee for reform of wage and social insurance policies and incentives towards people who rendered services to the nation.
Under Decision No. 2016/QD-TTg, the committee will be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh, who is aided by the Minister of Home Affairs as permanent deputy and the Minister of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs and the Finance Minister as deputies.
The committee is tasked to study, build and supervise the implementation of projects on the overhaul of salary policy towards public servants, armed forces and workers at businesses, and social insurance policy.
It will coordinate with relevant ministries and agencies to mull over socio-economic policies regarding wage and social insurance policies and incentives towards people who made contributions to the revolution.
* Footwear exports aim to hit high record:
Footwear businesses are busy with a number of new contracts. Their exports are expected to hit a record high of US$8 billion this year.
The Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso) says if monthly exports are equal to the average level of US$675 million in the first nine months of this year, the sector’s export earnings will reach nearly US$8.1 billion by the end of this year, even up to US$8.44 billion thanks to strong growth in November and December.
The preliminary statistics of the General Department of Vietnam Customs show that footwear exports in the first half of October was US$309.6 million, bringing the total export value to US$6.31 billion so far this year.
Export earnings in the first nine months of this year rose 15.08% to nearly US$6.01 billion, accounting for 6.24% of the country’s total export revenue.
Export growth depends on market movement. September was the fourth consecutive month the footwear sector saw its exports drop by 25.14% compared to August to US$549.14 million, for instance to the US (9.63%), the UK (19.16%), Japan (19.12%), Germany (31.19%), China (65%) and Brazil (72.12%).
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06:12:08 local time CAMBODIA
* Workers injured: Dozens hurt in garment truck crash:
Nearly 30 garment workers were hospitalised early yesterday morning after a truck carrying them to their jobs at Kampong Speu province factories crashed.
“The  workers from Sangwoo (Cambodia) Co, Ltd, United Apparel Cambodia Inc. and Winson Int’l Garment (Cambodia) Ltd were injured and sent to the provincial referral hospital,” said Sun Pisey, president of Sangwoo’s Free Trade Union.
The accident occurred when the truck carrying the workers along National Road 4 rear-ended another truck, said Say Seth, deputy police chief in charge of traffic in Samrong Tong district, where the accident occurred.
Neither driver was charged with a crime.
None of the injuries sustained from the crash were life-threatening, Pisey said.
In the first half of 2013, 37 workers were killed in truck accidents, according to the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia.
* Cambodia’s Labour Pains:
Cambodia’s garment and footwear exports saw a rise of 22%, worth $US4.1 billion in the first nine months this year, according to the Ministry of Commerce, up from the $3.44 billion amount in the previous nine months, despite concerns that political uncertainty would be a drag on the economy.
However, though volumes increased, factory profit margins have been squeezed due to labour disputes and demands for higher wages, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) reports.
For example, according to management, an ongoing strike at SL Garment Processing (Cambodia), one of the biggest factories in the country, had cost the company more than $US1 million since the latest round of demonstrations began on August 12th after international brands H&M and Gap reduced their orders, and Levi’s stopped buying altogether.
Industrial unrest has been sparked by poor pay and working conditions, but more specifically by rising expectations as both the ruling party and the opposition have vied with each other to bid up increases in the minimum wage in order to win garment workers’ votes.
07:12:08 local time INDONESIA
* 13 Provinces Have Not Decided on Minimum Wage 2014:
Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration recorded there are 13 provinces which have yet to determine minimum wage for 2014. “These provinces have not made the final decision for minimum wage,” Ministry spokesman Suhartono said yesterday.
Every region is required to determine its minimum wage to maintain business stability. According to Suhartono, there has been no sanction for provinces for having not determined the minimum wage, nor does it contradict with Presidential Instruction number 9 year 2013 about Minimum Wage. Several provinces that have yet to determine their minimum wage are Lampung, Central Java, East Java, West Papua and North Kalimantan.
* Labors Keep on Protesting, Businessmen Admit Frustration:
The Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) said businessmen are frustrated due to the constant labor’s demonstration to demand increase in minimum wage. As a result, business investment becomes reluctant.
“Businessmen are finding a way out through rationalization, looking for more feasible business location and replacing labors with machines,” Apindo National Leadership Council General Secretary Suryadi Sasmita said today.
According to him, businessmen are having a dilemma with the demand for wage increase. “If factory relocation is needed, then businessman must first buy land and machines,” Suryadi said. Other than that, in order to relocate factories, businessmen must pay severance for all laid-off workers.
* Investment Impacted by Laborer Demands:
Chief economist at the Danareksa Research Institute, Purbaya Yudhi Sadewa, has called on the government to be firm about their approval of the minimum wage hikes proposed by laborers as it will have an impact on Indonesia’s investment climate.
These demands, he added, will be taken into consideration by investors before investing in the nation. The decision may affect the investment plans of new foreign investors or those who have already invested in the nation.
“The government must not be influenced by the laborers, they must also make a clear calculation,” said Purbaya on Monday.
Purbaya said that demanding higher wages was reasonable, but the amount must be appropriate and not cause regions and industries to suffer losses.
* Bali sets minimum wage at Rp 1.3m:
The provincial administration has set the 2014 minimum wage for the province at Rp 1,321,000 (US$116) per month, an increase of 11.8 percent over 2012, which was only Rp 1,181,000 per month. The decision was made by the provincial wage board in their final meeting on Oct. 29.
Head of Bali Manpower and Transmigration Agency I Gusti Agung Ngurah Sudarsana said on Monday that the wage board consisted of employers’ and workers’ union representatives, with the provincial administration acting as mediator. “We are now waiting for endorsement from the governor before the minimum wage could be officially implemented,” Sudarsana said.
The minimum wage is the minimum that has to be paid to any worker in the province. The minimum wage is issued by the governor, based on the recommendations of the provincial wage committee.
* Unemployment Rate Increases on Slowing Economy, Minimum Wage Hike:
The number of unemployed across Indonesia has increased as employment vacancies have fallen due to a slowdown in economic growth, the Central Statistics Agency said in a report on Wednesday.
The number of empty full time positions fell to 7.24 million in August this year, down 150,000 on the number of jobs available in the same month last year, the report estimated.
The BPS report came shortly after workers across the nation demonstrated in support of increased regional minimum wages, with those in Jakarta demanding a monthly minimum wage of Rp 3.7 million ($325).
Hatta claimed on Wednesday that minimum wage policies have contributed to the nation’s unemployment rate, saying that the wage rates mean businesses are forced to lay off employees.
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05:12:08 local time BANGLADESH
* Despite raise, RMG workers still get lowest wage in the world:
A government-appointed panel in Bangladesh voted Monday to raise the minimum wage for millions of garment workers to about $66 a month — still the lowest in the world and well below what workers have been seeking.
The harsh and often unsafe working conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry drew global attention after the collapse of an eight-story factory building killed more than 1,130 people in April. In another horrific case, a fire last November killed 112 workers.
Garment workers have been demanding 8,114 takas ($100) instead of the current monthly minimum wage of 3,000 takas ($38), which is the lowest in the world. On Monday, the wage board raised the minimum wage by about 77 percent, to 5,300 takas ($66.25).
According to local research groups and rights activist Kalpona Akter, Bangladesh still has the lowest minimum wage in the world, even if the raise goes into effect. The Ministry of Labor still must approve the raise.
* Clash over new wage shuts 50 Gazipur RMG units:
The authorities suspended production in 50 readymade garment (RMG) factories in the city for Wednesday as the workers clashed with police demanding implementation of the new salary structure fixed by the government-formed wage board.
Police said a section of apparel workers who rejected the new minimum salary at Tk 5,300, recommended by the wage board, pressed their demand afresh for it at Tk8,000.
Witnesses said garment workers from Konabari and Kashimpur in the city took to the street and staged demonstrations in the morning.
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* Clash over new wage execution leaves 20 injured in Gazipur:
At least 20 people were injured on Wednesday in a clash between apparel workers and police at Konabari area under Sadar upazila of Gazipur as the workers demanded execution of the new wages approved by a government-formed wage board.
Police said a section of apparel workers, who rejected the new minimum salary at Tk 5,300, recommended by the wage board, pressed their demand afresh for a minimum wage of Tk 8,000 a month.
Fearing further deterioration in law and order situation, the authority of the most of the factories at Konabari and Kashimpur areas announced their facilities shut for Wednesday.
Sub Inspector Md Rabiul Islam of Konabari police outpost said a large number of workers from different apparel factories, such as, Tusuka Garments, Newton knitwear corporation (NTKC), Del Fashion, Jamuna Group, Islam group and Keya group, observed a strike and demonstrated in the area.
* 80 factories shut over unrest fears:
Production in nearly 80 garment factories at Savar, Ashulia and Gazipur was suspended yesterday in anticipation of a massive labour unrest over prompt implementation of the wage board’s recommended minimum salary of Tk 5,300.
“I have closed down five of my units at Kashimpur fearing unrest. I will reopen them once I hear of the government and BGMEA’s final decision on the minimum wage,” said MA Jabbar, managing director of DBL Group, a leading garment group.
A total of 9,000 workers are employed in the five units that were closed, he said. “The government and the BGMEA should resolve the wage issue as soon as possible to avoid further unrest.”
Momin Mondol, managing director of Mondol Group, another leading garment group in Gazipur, also said he suspended production in one of his units fearing unrest.
“They [the workers] come and leave as they please, without doing any work. However, they did not submit any written demand to the factory management.”
He, too, said he is waiting on a decision from the government and BGMEA.
* Protests force 200 RMG factories out of production:
Nearly 200 apparel factories in industrial parks around the city went out of production Wednesday as the workers held violent demonstrations demanding better minimum wage.
The apparel workers in Bangladesh, home of the world’s lowest wages, have been demanding better payments for their work.
The protesters rejected the minimum monthly wage of Tk 5,300 recommended by the RMG workers’ wage board on Monday saying it was too inadequate to meet the costs when the essential prices were soaring.
They have been demanding Tk8,000 as the minimum monthly wage.
Several apparel workers and six policemen were injured in clashes between the two sides at Gazipur, Narayanganj and Savar.
Workers’ demonstrations blocked a number of highways leading to the capital.
The workers rejected it as too inadequate for meeting daily needs when essential prices were sky rocketing, the factory owners also rejected it saying that they cannot pay so much.
At Gazipur the owners closed 150 factories for the day as the workers clashed with police over the wage issue, New Age Gazipur correspondent reported.
Witnesses said clothing workers from Konabari and Kashimpur in the newly city of Gazipur took held demonstrations in the morning in support of their demand.
* Protect workers’ rights to protect RMG industry: Karmojibi Nari:
Leaders of Karmojibi Nari, a female workers’ platform, on Wednesday demanded a rational minimum wage structure for the garment workers to resolve the ongoing crisis in the RMG industry over the announcement of a new minimum wage structure for them.
“We’re concerned that the garment owners and workers are still hell-bent on their stands over the announcement of new minimum wage structure. We want a permanent solution in this regard to protect the industry and the workers’ interest,” executive director of Karmojibi Nari Rokeya Rafique told a press conference at its office here.
On November 4, the board formed to re-fix the minimum wage for the garment workers finalised a new minimum wage structure at Tk 5,300, but the RMG factory owners rejected it.
Apart from announcing a new minimum wage structure, Rokeya Rafique said the government should bring the garment workers under its social safety net programme to ensure their civic amenities and fundamental rights like accommodation, education and healthcare.
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* RMG workers take to street as Tk 4,500 offered as minimum wage:
The readymade garment workers at Savar off the city were back on the streets on Wednesday morning demanding hike in their wages as the RMG factory owners rejected Tk 5,300 as the minimum wage as fixed by the Wage Board for the workers.
In the Rishipara area of Savar the workers of the Standard Garment tried to block the Hemayetpur-Singra Road. Later the police managed to disperse them.
On the other hand, workers of several garment factories in Jirabo area of Ashulia went on work abstention on the day to press home their demand.
According to sources, when the workers of Standard Garment came to work in the morning, the factory authority declined to implement Tk 5,300 as the minimum wage as set by the wage board, Instead, the authority offered Tk 4,500 as the minimum wage. This irked the workers and they took to the street and the workers at Ashulia went on work abstention.
Later the authorities declared the factories closed.
Director of Ashulia Industrial Police Mostafizur Rahman confirmed it. He said additional police were deployed to avert any untoward incident in the factory areas.
* 2-week ultimatum for revising wage:
Garment workers’ organisations have given the government-appointed wage board a two-week ultimatum to revise their minimum wage.
At a press conference on Tuesday, they threatened to launch tough movements including strike in garment factories if their demand was not met by Nov 18.
The workers held a press conference at Gonotantrik Biplobi Party office in Dhaka’s Topkhana road after a meeting of the leaders of 12 labour organisations.
Garments Sramik Oikyo Forum President Moshrefa Mishu said they had given the wage board a two-week ultimatum to meet their demand.
* Strict enforcement of laws, rules suggested:
Improving factory safety, workers’ welfare
A government committee suggested strict enforcement of the existing laws and rules to compel non-compliant apparel factories to abide by the required workplace safety and welfare standards, sources said.
“Raising penalty won’t bring any success unless the laws and rules are enforced. So, we recommended proper implementation of those to control the errant factories,” said a member of the committee.
He said the report was submitted on Wednesday. “We did not recommend raising penalties, since we found most of them hardly were enforced ever.”
The ministry of commerce (MoC) in an inter-ministerial meeting on August 5 last formed the technical committee headed by MoC joint secretary Atiqur Rahman to make recommendations on raising penalties for the factories not following the existing laws and rules.
After the deadly Rana Plaza collapse, the last big disaster in the readymade garment (RMG) sector, it was observed that a good number of apparel factories did not follow the laws and rules on trade, labour, fire safety and building construction.
The committee members were of the opinion that had all the factories followed the existing laws and rules, the deadly incidents like the Tazreen Fashions fire and the loss of 1,130 lives in the Rana Plaza collapse could have been averted.
The technical committee was also formed in the face of suspension of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility for Bangladeshi products in the US market over the allegations of poor working conditions and the lack of workplace safety.
* Govt body for customs, GSP certificate facility cancellation:
A government committee has suggested for cancellation or suspension of customs bond and GSP certificate facility, and import-export license of non-compliant readymade garment factories in line with the existing laws and rules related to workplace safety and workers’ welfare, commerce ministry officials said.
The National Board of Revenue provides duty-free raw materials import facility widely known as bonded warehouse facility to export-oriented industries while the Export Promotion Bureau issues generalised systems of preference certificate against export of RMG products.
The Office of the Chief Controller of Imports and Exports provides import and export licenses under which businesses can import and export any permissible products.
‘The committee has suggested the government for cancellation or suspension of those facilities for ensuring workplace safety and workers’ welfare,’ a committee member told New Age on Wednesday.
The initiative is also related to revive GSP facility for the Bangladeshi products to the US markets, he said.
‘If any factory fails to comply the laws and rules related to safety and working conditions, the authorities will cancel or suspend the facilities following the recommendation of the overseeing agencies,’ said another member.
* Bangladeshi garment plants to invest $ 8 M in CEPZ:
Bangladeshi company M/s arrow Jeans (Pvt) Ltd (Unit-1) is going to set up a readymade garments industry in Chittagong EPZ, a press release said here on Wednesday.
This company will invest US$ 8 million for setting up their plant with annual production capacity of 3 million dozens of Casual Jeans, Trouser, Dress pants, skirt, shorts, jacket, vest, ladies blouse, blazer and Jump suits. Arrow jeans limited will create employment opportunity for 1,804 Bangladeshi nationals.
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* Tannery industry relocation progressing fast:
The process of relocating tannery factories from the city’s Hazaribagh area to Savar is progressing fast, reports BSS.
The government has already handed over 205 plots at
Hemayetpur Tannery Industrial Zone to 155 companies for setting up their factories.
A highly placed source of Industries Ministry said the government is proceeding with a target of relocating tannery industry from Hazaribagh by December 2014.
Industries Minister Dilip Barua told BSS that the government will consider ensuring all facilities for the factory owners, if the tannery industry is relocated by December 2014 as a tripartite agreement.
He said the grand alliance government is giving importance to green industrialisation. So, it has undertaken a Taka 1,078.71 crore project to develop an environment friendly tannery zone and stop pollution of the Buriganga river.
During a field visit, it was found that the government has developed an industrial zone by electing fencing walls beside the bank of Dhaleshwari at Harindhara village of Tetuljhara union in Savar.
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04:42:08 local time INDIA
* Power looms workers to go on strike:
Power looms in and around the textile town in Ichalkaranji in Kolhapur district will remain closed for five days from Thursday in protest against Mahavitaran’s undue hike in power bills.
The decision was taken in a meeting of power loom owners on Tuesday when it was pointed out that the hike in power bills had adversely affected the textile industry and despite representation to both the Mahavitaran and state chief minister Prithiviraj Chavan, nothing had been decided for the expected relief and hence protest was the only remaining option.
04:12:08 local time PAKISTAN
* EU grants free status to Pak textiles:
The European Union (EU) has granted duty free market access to Pakistani made-ups under the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) Plus status with effect from January 1, 2014.
The EU’s Parliament granted approval of this facility by a majority vote as Islamabad will get the benefits by increasing its exports in a major way.The facility will provide duty free access to 3,500 products. There was duty of 11 percent on Pakistani textiles, which has been abolished with effect from Jan 1, 2014.
“This facility will boost Islamabad’s exports by $1 billion,” said the official sources while talking to The News here on Tuesday night.The EU block of 27 member countries granted this facility to the textile sector, including bed linen sector. These 13 textile products represent $231 million of Pakistani exports to the EU (9% of their dutiable imports).
Talking to this scribe, former adviser to PM on Textile, Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, thanked the Punjab governor who made hectic lobbying with the EU parliamentarians to win support for providing this facility to Pakistan.
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* GSP Plus status to textile sector:
The European Union (EU) Parliament has granted Generalised System Preferences (GSP) Plus status for Pakistan textile sector effective from January 1, 2014.
A spokesman of Ministry of Commerce said on Wednesday with the approval of GSP Plus status, Pakistan’s textile export would likely enhance by $500 million to $1 billion annually and the domestic textile industry would become capable to use maximum capacity utilisation.
* Textile sector welcomes EU for clearing way to GSP Plus status:
The approval of duty-free status for Pakistan with a majority vote by the European Union (EU) International Trade Committee has been largely welcomed in Pakistan while the textile and industrial sector has termed it a milestone achievement.
This development would enhance Pakistan’s textile export to EU nations supporting Pakistani economy and creating jobs at home.
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has said that Pakistan has achieved first-ever milestone leading towards the GSP Plus status for its textile and clothing industry in the EU.
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* Textile exports all set to boost:
The European Union’s International Trade Committee has reportedly approved the list of countries applying for the EU GSP Plus status including Pakistan.
Analysts said the GSP Plus status for Pakistan will result in an increase in textile exports particularly in the higher value-added segment of the textile chain whereby fabrics, readymade garments and made-ups will receive duty-free access to the EU market.
However, growth in total textiles exports under the GSP Plus scheme is capped at 14.5 percent per annum. Although this may limit sector-wide growth in EU export revenues to 14.5 percent from base-case estimates, individual companies that manage to increase their proportional share in exports to the EU should emerge as relative winners.
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* PTEA hopes EU’s duty waiver will lead to increase in exports by 30%:
Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) have hailed the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee decision that voted to approve duty free access for Pakistani goods and hoped that duty waiver will lead to increase textile exports to the EU by 30 per cent and will generate significant economic activity in the country.
Talking to news persons Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood, chairman and Adil Tahir, Vice Chairman PTEA said on Wednesday that Pakistan had been trying hard for a number of years to attain GSP plus status to enhance its exports and approval from European Parliament’s is a good sign for the ailing value added textile industry especially home textile exports, which are badly suffering due to various factors. Pakistan’s exports to the European Union can surge by at least 40 to 50 per cent or 1 billion dollar to 1.5 billion dollar in value if we fully utilise our existing potential and capacity, they added.
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* Pakistan unlikely to benefit from GSP Plus status: PTA:
“Pakistan is unlikely to yield the benefit of GSP Plus status, particularly in presence of severe electricity and gas load-shedding, huge power tariff, worsening law and order situation in most parts of the country.”
This was stated by Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA) former chairman Agha Saiddain while commenting on the EU Parliament’s International Trade Committee’s move to grant duty free market access to Pakistan. “To reap the fruits of GSP Plus status, first we need to put our house in order,” he added.
* Islamabad inches closer to GSP Plus status:
The European Union (EU)’s parliamentary committee on international trade has rejected a resolution against providing market access to Pakistani products – paving the way for incentives provided under the GSP Plus status.
“The last time the GSP status was provided to Pakistan in 2002 during the tenure of military dictator Musharraf. We argued before parliamentarians in the EU that it was time the EU extended its support to the democratically elected government in Islamabad by providing incentives under GSP plus,” said Federal Minister of State for Commerce and Privatisation Khurram Dastgir Khan while addressing a news conference here at PID on Wednesday.
Accompanied by Secretary Commerce Qasim Niaz, the minister said Pakistan ratified 27 conventions to obtain market access under GSP Plus. However, he clarified that a moratorium on the death penalty is not part of any condition for obtaining this status. “As far as my knowledge is concerned there is no connection between the two,” he added.
Further, he said, the GSP Plus would help the government reverse the current trend of shifting textile and other units outside Pakistan. However, he said, that it is not a big issue as so far only four textile units have shifted operations outside Pakistan. Overall, 267 units have packed their bags so far as reported by SECP, he added.
* 60% ASEAN workers not covered by labor laws:
Sixty per cent of ASEAN migrant workers are not covered by labour laws, trade unions or minimum wage, said a regional human rights activist yesterday.
Sinapan Samydorai, head of the ASEAN task force on migrant workers, said the majority of migrant workers in Southeast Asia are employed in the informal sector, such as domestic workers, and are not covered by national labor laws.
“Unless all ASEAN members enforce the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of Migrant Workers, this could prove problematic in terms of protecting their rights,” he told participants of preparatory meeting for the upcoming ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labor, slated for November 26-27 in Bandar Seri Begawan.
About 14 million migrant workers from ASEAN countries have fanned out to work in other parts of the globe. Almost six million work within Southeast Asia.