19:20:19 local time VIET NAM
* Garment, textile exports to reach $19bn ahead of TPP:
Viet Nam’s garment and textile export turnover is expected to hit US$19 billion this year, $1 billion higher than the set target.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the January-October figure was estimated at $14.8 billion, representing a year-on-year increase of 18.7 percent.
The Republic of Korea, the US and Japan were the biggest importers of Vietnamese products, posting growth rates of 68 per cent, 37 percent and 35 per cent, respectively, against the same period last year.
Local textile and garment companies are anticipating the success of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which should promote export turnover to several markets, especially the US, thanks to zero export duties.
Industry insiders said participation in the agreement would create favourable conditions to boost Viet Nam’s textile and garment sector as the third key industry of the country.
* Leather factory loses support:
The HCM City People’s Committee has asked the Department of Resources and Environment to immediately suspend operations of the Hao Duong Leather Joint-Stock Company for its continued violations of environmental regulations.
In a document sent to the department on Monday, Chairman Le Hoang Quan said the company had repeatedly broken the law, affecting the living conditions of local residents in the region and creating an unsafe situation, as reported by many in the public.
19:20:19 local time LAOS
* Lao unions blow whistle on minimum wage cheats:
Trade unions have blown the whistle on a large amount of businesses that have still not complied with minimum wage increase, Lao state-run daily Vientiane Times reported online Wednesday.
The country’s primary worker protection body the Federation of Trade Unions estimates that only half of the businesses in the capital Vientiane have observed the pay rise. In provincial areas the organization believes that only 20 to 30 percent of businesses are in compliance.
The policy was instituted to assist workers with adjusting cost of living pressures.
Many businesses claim not to know about the increased minimum wage despite the regulation having been introduced almost two years ago and came into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.
19:20:19 local time CAMBODIA
* ‘Ban’ for three more unionists:
Three more unionists have been suspended as a result of the violent strikes at a Kampong Speu garment factory in May and June, a Free Trade Union official said yesterday.
Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment Manufacturing factory’s FTU president Sun Vanny, vice-president Sem Sopheak and general secretary Chi Sakla were each stopped by security while trying to return to work on Monday morning, after a five-month absence since the protests.
“I was surprised to find out I was suspended from work without notice,” said Vanny. “I just found out when I went to work on Monday, but they didn’t allow me inside.”
Unbeknownst to them, the three were suspended from work on September 4 for a variety of violations of Cambodia’s Labour Law, including unexcused absences from work, according to the notice, which was signed by Sabrina’s director and filed with Kampong Speu’s provincial labour ministry.
* Cambodia’s garment export surges 24% in first 10 months:
Garment industry, Cambodia’s largest income maker, reported a 24 percent rise in exports in the first ten months of 2013, according to figures of the country’s Ministry of Commerce Thursday.
The figures showed that the country exported garment products in equivalent to 4.76 billion U.S. dollars during the January- October period this year, up 24 percent from the 3.82 billion U.S. dollars over the same period last year.
In October alone, the Southeast Asian nation exported garment items worth 537 million U.S. dollars, up 40 percent compared with the 384 million U.S. dollars over the same month last year.
Apparels are mostly sold to European countries and the United States.
20:20:19 local time INDONESIA
* Labor unions victory over Jokowi, companies:
The Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN) ruled in favor of labor unions, which demanded that seven companies commenced paying their workers in line with the 2013 provincial minimum wage (UMP) regulation.
The companies still pay their workers below the minimum wage of Rp 2.2 million (US$193.6) stipulated in a special decree issued by Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
The companies were PT Kaho Indah Citra Garmen, PT Misung Indonesia, PT Myungsung Indonesia, PT Kyeungseng Trading Indonesia, PT Star Camtex, PT Good Guys Indonesia and PT Yeon Heung Mega Sari.
Jakarta Legal Bureau head Bayu Mahendra said, as quoted by kontan.co.id, the provincial government would issue an appeal over the ruling.
* Indonesia’s labour strikes hurt everyone:
The disregarding of the rule of law that saw dozens of factories in Jakarta and surrounding towns cease operations will be more damaging to investor sentiment than the wage hikes that resulted from the labour strikes and violence last week.
It was mind-boggling to see the police spectacularly fail to maintain public order despite being armed with the experience from the violent worker strikes here late last year.
The government and employers had appealed to the police to prevent a repeat of the 2012 violence and incidents. But alas, groups of striking workers were still able to force their way into factories to intimidate and harass workers to join them.
18:20:19 local time BANGLADESH
* RMG workers protest in Gazipur, Savar:
Production in nine garment factories in Savar and Gazipur district was suspended for Thursday following workers’ demonstration demanding implementation the new salary structure recommended by the government-appointed wage board for the workers.
In Gazipur, garment workers of 28 factories including Titas Sweater, Asif Appealers, Standard Group, Islam Group, Tusuka Appealers and Keya Spinning from Konabari, Kashimpur and Jurun areas of the city took to the streets and staged demonstration when they found a closure notice in front of their factories on Thursday morning.
They put barricades on different roads, including the Dhaka-Tangail highway and Dhaka Bypass road, disrupting traffic.
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* Factory shut at Savar amid workers demo:
The authorities of two readymade garment factories on Thursday shut their factory amid workers unrest in Savar, on outskirt of the city demanding implementation of the newly declared salary scale.
Witnesses said that hundreds of workers of Standard group’s Shams Style limited and Zeisa group in Harindhara area of Hemayetpur staged protest procession at around 8:30pm and started throwing brick-chips to garment factories.
* Nearly 80 factories suspend production over labor unrest fears:
Production activities in close to 80 garment factories at Savar, Ashulia and Gazipur were halted due to fears over labor unrest.
Disagreement over the minimum wage has prompted concerns that workers will rise up. MA Jabbar, managing director of DBL Group, said “I have closed down five of my units at Kashimpur fearing unrest.” Mr. Jabbar added that 9,000 workers are employed in the five units.
* Workers’ unrest in Gazipur continues, most of the factories closed:
Readymade garments workers on Thursday continued their protest in Gazipur industrial area demanding to fix their minimum wage at Tk 8,000.
The angry workers observed strike, vandalised factories and engaged in clashes with police, police and witnesses said.
To disperse the unruly workers, police fired several rounds of tear gas shell and rubber bullets, they said.
Due to the workers unrest, the authorities of over 300 garment factories situated at Konabari, Jarun and Kashimpur area under Sadar Upazila of the district kept their premises closed for Thursday.
* Govt publishes gazette on minimum wage for RMG workers:
The government published the gazette notification on minimum wage for garment workers at Tk 5, 300 finalised by the tripartite wage board as draft on Wednesday night.
The gazette notification was published in line with the tripartite agreement after a long negotiation among the factory owners, workers and workers’ leaders and government representatives.
The garment owners have not submitted any appeal against the gazette notification yet though they had rejected the decision of Tk 5,300 as minimum wage outright. They also threatened to close down their factories if they are forced to pay more than Tk 4,500 as monthly wage to entry-level workers.
It will take 14 days for a new wage structure to be finalised after publication of the draft accord through official gazette.
* Minimum wage negotiations continue in Bangladesh:
Western media incorrectly reported yesterday that the minimum monthly wage for Bangladeshi garment workers had been increased by 77% to 5,300 taka (US$67). In fact discussions continue, with the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council holding firm in its demand for a rise to a living wage of US$120.
The BGMEA-BKMEA employers associations publically condemned the 77% increase proposed by the wage board and threatened to close factories in protest of any figure above 4,500 taka.
Working people have been hit by sharp recent increases to the price of essential commodities and food. The six-member National Minimum Wage Board is a government-appointed tripartite body that reviews the minimum wage of all industrial sectors in Bangladesh. The IBC was surprised by the swift announcement from the wage board especially without comprehensive consultation. The IBC has previously criticised the choice of worker representative on the board.
The 5,300 taka proposal includes allowances for food, travel and housing. These allowances worth approximately 300 taka are often already paid to workers.
IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC) Chairman Nazrul Islam Khan and Secretary General Roy Ramesh Chandra in a joint statement today on behalf of the IBC highly criticised the minimum wage board’s latest minimum wage declaration and the factory owners’ aggressive reaction.
IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina told the press today:
An absolute priority for IndustriALL Global Union is that the Bangladeshi garment workers throughout the country’s industry start to receive a living wage. IndustriALL supports the principle of fair pricing. The next round of purchasing contracts with the brands must take account of the increased salary.
I have discussed with BGMEA-BKMEA that one essential part of making the Bangladeshi garment industry safe and sustainable and to ensure its future is to raise the wages of workers from today’s low levels towards living wages. The others are fire and building safety and freedom of association.
IndustriALL has been in discussions on the issue of minimum wages with the brands and has not received any opposition to a significant increase. H&M, Primark and Inditex have all been vocal in encouraging an increase, while even Walmart have been quoted this week as supporting the review of wages.
The 109 brands and retailers to have signed the historic Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh with IndustriALL and UNI all commit to staying in the country for the long term. The Accord brands constitute a critical mass of the industry in the country and their commitments through the Accord will both raise standards and protect jobs. We want the garment industry to stay in Bangladesh, but with safe and sustainable jobs and living wages.
The 109th company signatory to the Accord joined the broad coalition with IndustriALL and UNI today.
* Labour rights bodies demand revision of new RMG wage:
Leaders of 45 garment labour rights bodies at a press conference in the capital on Thursday demanded revision of the minimum wage of Tk 5,300 per month announced for the garment workers.
The minimum wage board on Monday announced the minimum wage for garment workers.
Kazi Mohammad Ruhul Amin, the general secretary of the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre, at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity said that the increased wage of the garment workers were not sufficient.
He demanded revision of the proposal of the minimum wage board and to raise the wage of the workers satisfactorily so that they could maintain their families.
The organisations jointly announced a movement programme to press for their demands including holding rally in front of National Press Club today at 11am, holding rallies and processions in the garment belts like Ashulia, Gazipur and Narayanganj from November 10 to 20 and handing over a memorandum to the prime minister, labour minister and chairman of the minimum wage board.
* RMG workers give until Nov 20 to revise min wage :
Rejecting the wage structure recommended by the government-formed fixed wage board, 45 garment workers’ organisations Thursday threatened to launch a tougher movement unless the minimum monthly wage is revised upward to Tk 8,114 by November 20.
Terming the minimum wage of Tk 5300 as recommended by the wage board (WB) ‘unrealistic, unacceptable and insufficient’, they said the amount still was the lowest in the world and it was too low to maintain livelihood of the apparel workers.
The ready-made garment (RMG) workers’ representatives gave the reaction at a press conference two days after the apparel manufacturers had threatened to announce closure of all factories if the minimum wage was not revised downward to Tk 4200 by the deadline.
Leaders of the organisations at the press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) said they would soon place their objection to the wage board as there is a provision for submitting objections, if anybody has, within 15 days of the gazette publication, which will expire on November 20 next.
Bangladesh National Garment Workers Federation (BNGWF) President Amirul Haque Amin said the authorities concerned should revise upward the minimum wage to Tk 8114 for the sake of workers and the industry as a whole.
* Minimum wage for RMG workers:
The wage board has fixed the minimum wage for ready-made garment (RMG) workers at Tk 5,300 per month. This has given rise to agitation. Both garment owners and workers have rejected the proposed wage and declared programmes for movement. The garment owners are saying that they can not sustain the industry if they are to pay wages at the new rate. On the other hand, workers are saying that the wage fixed for them will not be adequate for their survival.
The workers have asked for minimum wage of Tk 8,000 and threatened to go for a 10-day strike from November 15. Twelve labour organisations will join this programme. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) have decided that if the wage proposal is not withdrawn within 15 days, they will close down their factories.
The garment owners are of the view that the wage board has not considered the capacity of the industry.
The board has unilaterally taken the decision to fix wages. The BGMEA representative did not vote for the wage and has not signed the declaration. They have no alternative but to shut down the factories.
Before fixing the minimum wage, garment owners wanted to have an assurance from the prime minister for reducing income tax at source from 0.80 per cent to 0.25 per cent and fixation of a special exchange rate against dollar for export. But the prime minister did not make any commitment in this regard and told them to accept the recommendation of the wage board.
Garment owners also met the labour minister but did not get any positive response. Thereafter, they called a press conference and announced their programme.
Although Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of ready-made garments, the workers in Bangladesh get the lowest wage.
A Chinese worker gets $223 per month. In Vietnam, the wage is $109, in Thailand, $221, in Indonesia, $114, and in India and Cambodia, $70 per month. In Bangladesh, it is as low as only $52.
Therefore, an upward revision in the wage structure of garment workers is essential.
* RMG factory checks start on trial basis:
Factory inspections under the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, signed by at least 80 international retailers following the recent industrial disasters of Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza collapse, have started on a test basis.
“We have selected 10 factories in Mirpur and Tejgaon for trials,” said Roy Ramesh Chandra, secretary general of the local arm of IndustriALL Global Union, one of the architects of the accord.
The experience gathered from the trial inspections would be incorporated into the checklist, to be used by the North American Alliance (NAA), a platform of 22 North American retailers, and labour and employment ministry as well for their factory checks.
* RMG manufacturers ‘can find good partners in S Korea’:
South Korean Ambassador in Dhaka Lee Yun-Young on Thursday said the readymade garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh could thrive further through diversification of its export destinations.
The RMG industry in the country has largely been depending on the buyers of its major export destinations – Europe and the United States – and diversification of the export destinations could prove to be more rewarding than the status quo, he said.
Lee Yun-Young was delivering a lecture on a topic, titled ‘All About Korea and Korea-Bangladesh Relation’, at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), as the third lecture of the BIISS Country Lecture Series.
The South Korean envoy said the volume of RMG goods import by South Korea is worth US$ 6 billion a year, mostly coming from China and Indonesia.
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* Fire burns jute warehouse:
A fire gutted several hundred mounds of jute in a warehouse of Sattar Jute mill at Bandar upazila on Thursday in Narayanganj.
Fire service and civil defense service sources said that the fire was originated from a cigarette at around 11:00am and gutted almost 11 hundred mounds of jute.
Two firefighter units reached the spot and extinguished the blaze.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Office opened at Savar to collect data about Rana Plaza victims:
National Skills Development Council (NSDC) on Thursday opened a new office of ‘Coordination Unit for Rehabilitation of Rana Plaza Victims’ at Savar.
The main objective of the coordination unit office, located at the Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) at Ulail bus stand, is to collect and analyse information of the status of all victims.
The unit will also act as a point of contact for the Rana Plaza building collapse victims to receive information about the discharge of compensations.
to read. & read more. & to read.
* Coordination unit for Rana Plaza victims’ rehab opens:
National Skills Development Council (NSDC), under the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE), launched the operation of the ‘Coordination Unit for Rehabilitation of Rana Plaza Victims’ at the Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) at Savar on Thursday.
The key objectives of the coordination unit is to collect and analyse information from all stakeholders on the needs, services provided and current status of all victims. The unit will also act as a contact point for the Rana Plaza building collapse victims to receive information on their rights, and services available. The unit consists of a coordinator, data analyst, social worker and liaison officer.
At an information sharing session held on September 14 last, NSDC members along with stakeholders in Bangladesh’s garment industry developed strategies to strengthen the rehabilitation and reintegration of garment factory workers and their families affected by the Rana Plaza collapse.
Under the leadership of NSDC, a coordination committee was formed comprising representatives from international organizations, NGOs, trade unions and industry associations. This coordination committee meets on a regular interval to follow up progress on the on-going activities. To take this initiative forward, NSDC is now coordinating the activities proposed in the action plan through the establishment of this unit.
17:50:19 local time INDIA
* Bonded labourer rescued in Salem:
An 11-year-old bonded girl child labour was rescued from a handloom unit in Kondalampatty here on Thursday evening.
Based on information, members from Child Line raided the unit and found the minor girl involved in work.
Inquiry with the girl revealed that her parents were paid Rs. 30,000 by the unit owner A. Rathnavel and she was working there for the past two months. She was rescued and sent to Reception Home for Girls, run by Life Line Trust.
A complaint was lodged with the Kondalampatty police who in turn registered a case under Section 17 of Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.
The police are yet to arrest the accused.
The girl would be produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) chairperson A. Xavier on Friday and further course of action would be decided.
* AFT Mill declares 45-day lay off:
The State-run Anglo French Textile Mill (AFT) on Wednesday declared 45-day lay off, causing concern among its 1,400 labourers.
The lay off is expected to reduce the financial commitment of the mill on account of salary to workers from Rs. 3.25 crore to Rs. 1.25 crore a month. Responsibility of contributing to provident fund, ESI and other benefits will be suspended during the lay off period. Workers will only be eligible to draw 50% of their salary.
V. Balan, Chairman, AFT Mill, told The Hindu on Wednesday that the lay off move was contemplated for quite sometime. As the accumulated loss of the mill had gone beyond Rs.100 crore, the management had no option but to follow this legally-accepted move to prevent further loss. The mill had followed all mandatory procedures before announcing lay off.
The workers got to know of the development from the notice board of the 115-year-old mill, that has not paid salary to its employees for the past ten months.
The mill had partially resumed production after the AINRC came to power with financial infusion of Rs. 36 crore. But, mounting financial pressure on account of salary, electricity, maintenance and others forced the management to declare paid holidays within two months. Total loss and debt of the mill are estimated to be around Rs.110 crore and Rs.129 crore respectively.
Hours after the lay off, leaders of 13 unions of the AFT Mill held an urgent meeting to discuss about the future course of action. When contacted, V.S. Abishegam, secretary, Pondicherry Textile Mills, who presided over the meeting, said that the unions, which were fighting for resumption of production, were worried over the development.
* Garment exporters to grow due to rise in demand, weak rupee, says a report:
The financial situation of garment manufacturers is expected to improve during 2013-14, mainly driven by growing demand from importing markets, depreciating rupee and structural changes in competing markets like China and Bangladesh, India Ratings & Research said in a report.
“Improving textile and apparel demand from large markets, benefits accruing from a depreciating rupee and structural changes in competing markets like China and Bangladesh have improved performance and stronger order book visibility for exporters. The trends are seen to sustain in the short-to medium term,” India Ratings & Research Associate Director (Corporates) Tanu Sharma said in a release.
Most garment exporters are, therefore, running on full capacity and also outsourcing manufacturing on a job work basis as order books are growing ahead of the peak festive season (December), it said.
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* Textile export plan could unravel on currency swings:
The government’s ambitious plan to achieve a 30% jump in textile and garment exports to $43 billion this fiscal and partly offset the impact of a domestic slowdown may go haywire.
A 9.3% appreciation of the rupee since its lowest in August may restrict the pace of textile and garment export growth to a moderate range of 10-15% this fiscal, especially in the absence of any major policy intervention and the withdrawal of an up to 4% incentive on yarn exports in September, senior industry executives said.
* Cotton farmers hard-hit:
The cotton growers’ hope of selling their rain-damaged produce to the government agency has dashed as the officials of the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) have said that the existing guidelines do not allow them to purchase cotton with high moisture content.
The CCI Chairman and Managing Director B. K. Mishra, Director (Marketing) M. M. Chokkalingam and CCI General Manager of Guntur S.K. Chaturvedi visited Nakrekal Market Yard after repeated appeals from the district administration to set up cotton procurement centres in the district.
Explaining the plight of the cotton farmers who incurred huge loses owing to incessant rains, Agriculture Joint Director B. Narasing Rao told to the CCI tem that many farmers committed suicide finding no takers for their produce and urged the officials to relax norms.
* Cotton yarn exports slow, inventory levels rise:
Cotton yarn exports have started moderating, owing to a fall in orders from China and the withdrawal of a few export incentives. This, along with weak demand in the domestic market, has resulted in higher inventory levels.
“Export demand has become weak; domestic demand is also very weak. Spinning mills have already started sitting on surplus cotton yarn inventory,” said Vardhaman Group Chairman S P Oswal.
However, due to good demand for cotton yarn from China and South American countries early this financial year, exports could touch an all-time high of 1,200 million kg in 2013-14. “The shipment of cotton yarn has been good so far but we are not sure if this will sustain,” said A B Joshi, textile commissioner.
17:50:19 local time SRI LANKA
* Brandix collaborates with Accenture on BPO services:
Accenture has signed an agreement with Brandix, the largest exporter of apparel in Sri Lanka, to provide Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) services for human resources, finance and accounting and procurement.
Together, Accenture and Brandix will contribute to the growth of business services in the retail industry with particular focus on the apparel segment, forming an industry centre of excellence.
The agreement is designed to help Brandix build world class, streamlined back office processes at a reduced cost and to drive significant improvement in operational efficiency and effectiveness. Accenture will deliver these services from Colombo, Sri Lanka.
17:20:19 local time PAKISTAN
* GSP plus status: textile exports to rise by $1bn:
Textile exports to the European Union (EU) are expected to surge by up to $1bn a year as the 27-nation bloc granted the much sough-after Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus status to the country, effective from Jan 1, 2014.
Though the brighter prospects of raising exports to the EU market after the grant of duty-free and preferential duty rate access on 3,500 products have buoyed the businesspeople – particularly the textile and clothing exporters in Punjab – growing energy shortages remain a major impediment.
There will be no gas for the captive power plants (CPPs) of the province all through the winter.
* EU trade concession to greatly benefit textile exporters: PYMA:
Textile organisations and associations have hailed the grant of GSP Plus status to Pakistan. Talking to news persons, Ubaidullah Sheikh, Chairman Pakistan Yarn Merchants Association (North Zone) said European Union trade concession would greatly benefit the textile exporters as the EU was second biggest textile export destination of Pakistan.
He said Pakistan was exporting more than two billion dollars worth of textile goods to European market and was handicapped to face cheaper goods from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. He said BD was enjoying total duty-free access in European market and despite having no cotton production it purchasing from Pakistan and exporting to European Union on comparatively cheaper rates.
* Brisk cotton buying at falling prices:
Fear of acute shortage of gas and electricity during the winter season amid slack global demand kept sentiments depressed on the cotton market on Wednesday as ginners were hasty sellers while spinners and exporters were obliging them at further lower prices.
Floor brokers said even the good news of granting export concessions to the country by the EU under its GSP+ status from the start of the next year could not help arrest the falling local cotton prices. They said reports of mild showers in some cotton growing areas of Punjab would prove to be a healthy sign for the standing crop.
The bumper Indian cotton crop and reports that China would not enter the world market in view of already having huge buffer stocks were the key factors that kept the global cotton prices remained under pressure, brokers said.