12:39:07 local time VIET NAM
* Minimum wage to increase from 2014:
The Government has recently issued Decree 182/2013/ND-CP to replace valid Decree 103/2012/ND-CP, dated December 4, 2012.
The minimum wage will be applied for four different regions in Viet Nam as follows Region I: VND 2.7 million (US$ 128); Region II: VND 2.4 million (US4 114); Region III: VND 2.1 million (US$ 100) and Region IV: VND 1.9 million (US$ 90).
The new salary benchmarks will pick up around VND 250,000 – 350,000 (US$11-16).
Employees of local enterprises, foreign agencies, organizations and foreigners will benefit from the monthly wage increase.
The Decree also encourages enterprises to pay their employees higher than the region-based minimum wages.
The new Decree will take effect on December 31, 2013.
Towers Watson: Wage hikes lower than last year
Wages have increased this year though the economy has yet to get out of the woods, but the pace of wage growth is lower than that last year, according to the salary survey of Towers Watson Vietnam.
Wages have picked up 11.7% this year, down from the 13.8% rise recorded last year, shows the survey.
* Minimum wage to be raised up to $127:
The minimum wage will be raised up to VND2.7 million (US$127) per month next year starting January 1, 2014, according to a new governmental Decree.
Under Decree 182/2013 dated November 14 and due to take effect on December 31, 2013, the new minimum wage will be VND250,000-300,000 per month higher than the current minimum wage.
There are four minimum wage rates applied for four zones of the country. The rates include VND2.7 million ($127 – the highest) per month for Zone 1, VND2.4 million for Zone 2, VND2.1 million for Zone 3, and VND1.9 million for Zone 4.
These wages are applicable to laborers working for enterprises, co-operatives, farms, households, individuals, and organizations of all economic sectors.
Wage scale and other allowances set forth by enterprises should be based on minimum wage, according to the decree.
* Attaching significance to improving the laborers’ knowledge :
In order to improve the knowledge for more than 3,000 cadres doing the management, and laborers in economic collectives, in the past time, the provincial cooperative alliance has coordinated with many units to offer training classes in various forms. This has, for the very first steps, brought about encouraging results.
According to the provincial cooperative alliance, currently the entire province has 400 cadres doing the management at cooperatives, some of whom are college, university or high school graduates, at 2%.
At the moment, the majority of well-qualified directors, vice directors working at the cooperatives are the ones transferred from other administrative units. In order to improve this situation, the provincial cooperative alliance has made many changes in training the cadres at cooperatives.
In the past two years, the unit has organized 4 training classes to foster 148 learners. Besides the general knowledge, those training courses’ attendants have chances to get access to action plans by the Provincial Commissioner and the Plan of the provincial people’s committee on collective economy..
The learners are also equipped with intensive knowledge according to each sector, like setting up projects to make credit loans, discovering and solving the issues in the cooperatives, managing and expanding the activities and services, organizing the tasks of accounting, the roles and responsibilities of chief accountants, accountants for business administrative, diagnosing diseases and introducing medicine to the poultry’s and animals’ bodies, the technique of planting sugar cane, vegetables, rice, producing with the combination between agriculture and forestry.
* Vietnam’s apparel exports post 18.7% growth in Jan-Oct’13:
12:39:07 local time CAMBODIA
* Strike reaches City Hall:
More than 100 workers from the Alim garment factory in Phnom Penh marched on City Hall yesterday, demanding the dismissal of four managers.
Yam Thaisan, a legal officer from a union representing the workers at the Por Sen Chey district factory, said strikers had called on Municipal Governor Pa Socheatvong to intervene to resolve the dispute.
“[The governor’s] representative accepted our petition, but did not promise to resolve this for us,” he said. “We will continue our protest again tomorrow, and we will travel to Hun Sen’s house soon if we have to.”
More than 400 workers have been on strike for nearly two weeks, demanding the sacking of the four managers, a 2,000-riel lunch allowance and wage uniformity.
* End strike or go to court, gov’t says:
If management at SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd. does not sign on to an agreement, which would end a three-month strike at the factory, the next stop is court.
Ministry of Labour officials are scheduled to sit down with SL management this morning, during which the ministry will try to talk SL into signing on to an agreement with the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said Sat Sakmoth, secretary of state at the labor ministry.
“If they still refuse to accept the agreement, I will send their case to the court,” Sakmoth said.
Among other stipulations, the agreement would require SL to rehire 19 fired union leaders and activists and drop a lawsuit SL filed against them, which alleges that these former employees are responsible for profits lost. The Ministry of Labour last Friday ordered SL to rehire the workers.
Joseph Kee Leung Lee, director of SL International Holdings, yesterday said he could not comment on the 19 workers, because of SL’s pending lawsuit.
* Shooting in Service of the State—Order vs Law:
From police officials to a government spokesman, the message was clear last week: The shooting dead of Eng Sokhom, a 49-year-old food vendor, and the injuring of nine others during violent clashes in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district was in the service of protecting the state.
Police have denied responsibility for shooting the street food vendor dead.
But the casualties caused by police bullets during the violent garment factory protest have raised questions about state-sanctioned killing, and who bears responsibility for the slaying of innocent civilians.
“If they show violence against authorities, it’s against state power,” Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said last week, referring to those who police shot at in Meanchey district.
“When we see…opportunists who try to damage state property, the state has the right to protect the life of state power,” he said.
11:24:07 local time NEPAL
* Local shoes replacing foreign brands in the market:
After domestic footwear companies started manufacturing stylish and comfortable shoes, they have been witnessing a steady growth in sales in the Nepali market.
In a measure to create brand loyalty, domestic footwear industries have also been paying attention to branding. Shikhar, Run, BF Dear Hill Shoes, Takura, Fitrite and Sky Shoes are among the brands that come to mind when talking about domestic footwear products.
According to the Leather Footwear and Goods Manufacturing Association, the estimated annual sales of footwear come to 35 million pairs, and domestic manufacturers sell 17.5 million pairs.
11:39:07 local time BANGLADESH
* Bangladeshi Police Fire Rubber Bullets at Protesting Garment Workers:
Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesting Bangladeshi garment workers on Tuesday as unrest spread outside the capital here, a day after two demonstrators were killed during a protest for higher wages and better working conditions.
The government on Tuesday sent in troops from the Bangladesh Border Guard to restore order in factory areas. Weeks of sometimes-violent strikes have disrupted production in the apparel industry, which is a mainstay of the impoverished South Asian country’s economy.
Around four million people, mostly women, work in Bangladesh’s garment factories, which have become important suppliers of inexpensive clothing to retail chains in the U.S., Canada and Europe. The industry accounts for about 80% of Bangladesh’s merchandise exports.
Tuesday’s unrest flared after two workers died in a clash with police Monday evening outside the GMS Composite Knitting Ltd. factory in Gazipur, about 20 miles north of Dhaka. Police identified the dead workers as Badsha Mia, 25 years old, and Ruma Akter, 22, both workers at GMS.
Workers reached by telephone said police opened fire on protesters who were angry about an alleged assault on a seamstress at the factory. “We heard that a line chief had beaten up an [sewing-machine] operator,” said Nasima Akter, a worker at the factory. “We went outside to protest and clashes broke out with police. Then I heard gunshots.”
* 2 Protesting Garment Worker Dies and Hundreds Injured While Protesting for Minimum Wage 2013:
Two Protesting Garment Workers died on Monday 18 November 2013 while more than a hundred got injured in clashes between the Industrial Police and Garment Workers over the recent Minimum Wage declared by the Minimum Wage Board 2013.
The dead are Badsha Mia, 25, and Ruma Akter, 22, of GMS Composite Knitting Industries Ltd in Sardaganj of Kashimpur industrial belt. Protests were recording in Jamgorah, Shimultola, Gorat, Pukurpar, Ghoshbagh, Narshinghpur in Ashulia, Hemayetpur of Savar, Gazipur and Narayanganj District of the country.
Apart from the dead, at least six workers have received bullet wounds and dozens of other protesters are in Enam Medical College Hospital and Dhaka Medical College Hospital receiving treatment.
The protesters demand a minimum wage of around 8000BDT and a proportionate increase in the operators wage. The protests have been going on since months now and it has been the longest, strongest and the most talked about protest by workers in the history of Bangladesh.
read & see more (video report).
* PM asks RMG owners to keep labor leaders happy:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday asked the RMG owners to see what the labor leaders want that will stop the ongoing anarchy in the sector.
“Some labor leaders are fueling the agitation from behind. I will request you (RMG owners) to see what the labor leaders want to make them happy,” she said at a function, marking the distribution of the National Export Trophy 2010-2011, at Osmani Memorial Auditorium in the city.
Hasina said: “I can’t say whether the pockets of labor leaders are getting heavier, but this is certain that the workers are being subjected to losses.”
She requested the agitating RMG workers to go back to their work leaving the streets and agitations as at present all RMG factories are very busy with orders for the upcoming Christmas season.
The Prime Minister said the orders will be canceled if these are not fulfilled in time. In such an event, many factories will be shut down and the workers will have to go back to their home with empty hand.
Mentioning the present government’s initiatives to increase the wages of the RMG workers, she said the wages have been increased twice in the last four years. “When we took office in 1909, I saw that the minimum wage for the RMG workers was Tk 1600 only. We took the initiative to increase it to Tk 3000 in 2010.”
read more. & to read. & read more. & read more.
* PM asks RMG owners to keep labour leaders happy:
46 enterprises get Nat’l Export Trophy
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has asked the RMG factory owners to consider what the labour leaders want that will stop the ongoing anarchy in the sector.
‘Some labour leaders are fuelling the agitation from behind.
I will request you (RMG owners) to consider what the labour leaders want to make them happy,’ she said at a function, marking the distribution of the National Export Trophy 2010-2011, in the Osmani Memorial Hall Auditorium in the city on Wednesday.
Hasina said: ‘I can’t say whether the pockets of labour leaders are getting heavier, but this is certain that the workers are being subjected to losses.’
Commerce minister GM Qader, commerce secretary Mahbub Ahmed and FBCCI president Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed also spoke at the function while Export Promotion Bureau vice-chairman Shubhashish Bose gave the welcome address.
Later, the prime minister distributed the National Export Trophy for 2010-11 among 46 enterprises in recognition of their contributions to the country’s export trade.
Of the trophies, 20 enterprises got gold medals, 15 got silver and 11 got bronze while another gold trophy was given to the highest export earner.
* PM alerts RMG owners to misguiding labour leaders:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday asked the ready-made garment (RMG) owners to see what the labour leaders want which will stop the ongoing anarchy in the sector, reports UNB.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Top exporters awarded for excellence:
The government yesterday awarded trophies to 47 successful businesses for their extraordinary performances in exports in fiscal 2010-11.
This year’s programme played out amid concerns on labour unrest in the apparel industry, frequent hartals, vandalism and arson attacks.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina handed the trophies and certificates to the awardees at a programme at Osmani Memorial Auditorium in Dhaka as the chief guest.
* Shun violence, join work, PM to RMG workers:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called upon the agitating garment workers to join the work by shunning the violent acts in the name of wage hike.
“I would like to tell the apparel sector workers to go to work and boost production. Otherwise they will have to return home with empty hand by loosing the job due to their excessiveness and if the factories are closed and orders are cancelled or go to other countries,” she said.
The Prime Minister added the workers should realize this situation in the greater interest of the sector.
The Prime Minister said this time is very crucial for the garment sector as X-mas is knocking the door. “We will have to catch the market of the X-mas. If we fail to do that, the buyer would not give any order,” she said.
She said it would affect the country’s entire garment industry including four million workers. “I don’t know whether the pockets of some labour leaders would be heavier or not, but I can surely say that the workers will be worst losers,” she said..
Sheikh Hasina said the Awami League government has been taking necessary initiatives for expansion of trade and commerce.
“I always say the businessmen will do business, while the responsibility of the government is to provide assistance to them. We have been doing this work for the last five years,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the entrepreneurs of Bangladesh are labourious and talented. “You have already proved your capability of sustaining in the competition with entrepreneurs of any country,” she said.
read more. & to read. & to read & to read. & read more. & read more.
& read more.
* “Good deal” for garment workers to benefit Awami League in poll-bound Bangladesh:
Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League-led coalition has averted one crisis. They have enough trouble anyway, the most important being the fallout of the war-crimes trials leading to fundamentalist violence and continuous Opposition strikes to force a return to the nonparty caretaker to conduct Parliament polls. The strikes affect commerce and exports.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was facing another unrest, affecting the ready-made garments industry. Garments fetched Bangladesh $19.2 billion last year, around 79% of its total export earnings of $24 billion.
Wages a Battle
Good harvests have reduced food imports. So, Bangladesh’s much-touted recent achievements are built wholly on its very-hard-working peasants and workers.
That is also why this year’s labour unrest in its garment factories, where the workforce is almost 80% women, was bad news for the government and the country. The minimum monthly wage for garment workers has been a paltry taka 3,000. It was last raised in 2010 just after the Awami League had come to power.
Prior to that, garment workers were being paid a measly taka 1,650 per month — just over taka 50 a day —for an eight-hour shift that would often stretch into 10-12 hours. With inflation rising and garment business booming on growing export orders, workers hit the streets demanding that their monthly wage be raised to taka 8,100 per month.
* Labor ministry calls urgent talks:
The Ministry for Labor and Employment affairs convened an urgent meeting with workers’ leaders of readymade garments industries to fix next steps to resolve the ongoing unrest in the sector.
The meeting will be held at the conference room of the ministry at secretariat around 3:00pm Wednesday.
Public relations officer of the ministry SM Arifuzzaman confirmed the matter to banglanews.
With Labor Minister Raziuddin Ahmed Razu in the chair, the meeting will also be attended by state minister for labor and employment affairs Munnujan Sufian and representatives from RMG owners-workers and law enforcement agencies.
read more. & read more.
* Name RMG unrest instigators: Minister asks intelligence:
Labour and Employment Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju today directed intelligence agencies to prepare a list of persons who were instigating apparel workers for creating recent unrest in the sector.
Urging garment workers to join works form tomorrow shunning unrest, he said stern action will be taken against the persons found provoking the violence in the name of wage hike.
In the face of ongoing anarchy in RMG sector which killed two persons in Gazipur, the minister held a meeting with the leaders of RMG workers and leaders in his secretariat in the capital today.
Issuing threat to a garment workers’ leader who attended in the meeting he said, “We have every information of what you [the workers’ leader] do. So be quiet and accept what will be offered [in upcoming wage board]”
* Workers’ demo- 30 RMG units shut in Ashulia:
The authorities of 30 garment factories declared shut their factories on Wednesday amid workers protest in Ashulia, on the outskirts of Dhaka city.
Sources said that following the workers protest some workers of garments factories took position on roads and started throwing brick-chips aiming factories at around 9:30am.
On information, police rushed to the spot and fired tear shells, rubber bullets and water canon to disperse the workers, leaving 20 workers injured.
But workers claimed that 40 people sustained injuries during police action in the protest.
read more. & read more.
* Gazipur RMG factories reopen:
Thousands of workers started working again in several readymade garment factories in Konabari-Kashimpur area in the district from Wednesday morning amid tight security.
Regarding the situation, Sub-Inspector Saiful Islam of Kashimpur outpost told banglanews, “A good number of garment units remained opened and workers were working the peacefully.”
* 10 injured in Police-RMG workers’ clash in Gazipur:
The authorities announced the factories closed for the day
At least 10 people, including two police constables, were injured in a clash between law enforcers and readymade garments (RMG) worker in Gazipur’s Tongi on Wednesday.
The police constables are Shahinul Islam, 38, and Badsha Fahad, 35.
Witnesses said workers of Ananta Garments Limited at Pagar in Tongi BISIC area staged demonstrations in the factory compound, demanding the implementation of the government-mandated minimum wage and protesting the attack on the workers by police on Tuesday.
Later, the worker of Shishir Knitting and Surf Excel Garments joined them.
The RMG workers locked into a clash with law enforcers when police tried to disperse the crowd whist the workers blocked the road and staged a protest rally in the area at around 11am.
Officer-in-chage of Tongi police station Abul Kalak Azad said police charged at the protesters and fired 20 teargas shells and rounds rubber bullets to disperse the workers leaving 10 people injured.
* 30 RMG units shut at Ashulia, Tongi:
Nearly 30 units suspended production in the Ashulia and Tongi apparel hubs as workers continued demonstrations over the wage issue for the 16th consecutive day Wednesday.
At least 25 people, mostly workers, were injured in clashes with law enforcers during the demonstrations on the day.
The readymade garment (RMG) workers are demanding implementation of the latest pay structure from the month of November after making some changes in it.
Witnesses at Ashulia off the city said the trouble erupted at about 9:00 am on the day, when workers of several garment factories including GSM, Nassa and IDS took to the streets soon after joining work.
* RMG unrest continues:
Apparel workers on Wednesday continued with their protests pressing for an upward revision of the minimum wage, the labour minister and labour leaders at a tripartite meeting the ministry blamed each other for the ongoing unrest.
At least 10 people were injured as the workers clashed with the police who dispersed the demonstrating workers at Tongi, Gazipur and Ashulia.
Additional police and Border Guard Bangladesh personnel have been deployed at Ashulia and Gazipur to avert violence.
The labour and employment minister, Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju, at the tripartite meeting at the ministry warned labour leaders of
stern action if anyone found to be involved in instigating the ongoing worker unrest in the apparel sector.
Rajiuddin also accused garment workers’ trade union president Montu Gosh of instigating the unrest.
The labour leaders, however, refuted the accusation and blamed the minister for the unrest saying that the afresh unrest was caused by the minister with deducting Tk 200 from the basic pay recommended by the Minimum Wage Board, which recommended Tk 5,300 as the gross minimum monthly wage for the apparel workers.
Left-leaning political parties and garment labour organisations, meanwhile, demanded immediate arrests of, and exemplary punishments for, the killers of two apparel workers, who were killed as the police opened fire during a clash with the apparel workers in Gazipur on Monday.
Democratic Left Alliance, a combine of the eights left-leaning political parties, at a rally in front of the National Press Club, demanded immediate stoppage of repressions on the apparel workers.
New Age correspondent in Gazipur reported that at least 10 including two cops were injured in a clash between the police and apparel workers at Tongi.
* Minister, labour leaders trade blame:
Labour leaders and the labour minister blamed each other Wednesday for the prevailing unrest in the country’s garment sector over the wage hike issue.
Labour Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju expressed his doubt about the role of labour leaders, saying they have no control over the garment workers.
However, the labour leaders held the ‘downward adjustment’ of the proposed basic pay by the government responsible for the situation.
The blame game took place in an urgent meeting, held at the minister’s secretariat office in the city, with leaders of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and labour organisations and representatives of the law-enforcing agencies over the prevailing unrest in the garment industry.
Earlier, Abul Hossain, president of Textile Garments Workers Federation, blamed the minister for reducing the basic payment to Tk 3,000 from Tk 3,200 by the Wage Board. “The workers are confused, and the government is responsible for the present situation.”
“We are blamed for the unrest, though it is created by the government. Workers are not responsible for it,” he added. The labour leaders requested the minister to review the workers’ payment structure.
* CCC disappointed at new Bangladesh minimum wage level:
Whilst the proposed revision represents a 77% increase on the current minimum wage of 3,000 taka (€28.48) it will still be just 21% of the €259.80 (25,687 taka) that the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, of which Clean Clothes Campaign is a member, calculates to be a living wage for the country.
Since the government announced the work of the Minimum Wage Board back in the summer of 2013, trade unions and labour groups across Bangladesh have been calling for the government to endorse a rise to 8,000 taka (€76.27) and in doing so signal a real commitment to move towards a living wage.
Over 4 million people – predominantly women – work in the garment industry in Bangladesh, and the industry accounts for 76% of Bangladeshi exports and yet the people working in the industry are the lowest paid garment workers in the world.
The past few months have seen widespread industrial action as workers join together to demand wages are set high enough to cover the basic costs of living. As Clean Clothes Campaign partners the Garment Workers Trade Union Center explained in September “Workers have been demanding a fair wage for a long time. Recent times have witnessed huge demonstrations and strikes in the apparel sector demanding wage increases and enhancement of other benefits. In Bangladesh itself garment workers get less than what workers in many other sectors receive as minimum wage. Even the poverty reduction project undertaken by the government envisage 18000 taka as minimum wage for a family.”
Clean Clothes Campaign is campaigning for all workers to receive a living wage. We believe that a minimum wage should be a living wage which allows a garment worker to earn enough in a standard working week (no more than 48 hours) to be able to feed herself and her family, pay the rent, pay for healthcare, clothing, transportation and education and have a small amount of savings for when something unexpected happens.
We urge the government of Bangladesh and the brands and retailers that buy from the country to take urgent steps to ensure every garment worker is paid a wage they can live on.
* The RMG paradox: Best quality at the cheapest price:
We all know the price of a product is determined by its quality. The higher the quality of a product is, the better the price is charged. But things are just the opposite in case of garment export.
The buyers are creating pressure on the manufacturers to supply garments at a cheaper rate and at the same time they have to ensure the quality as well. We know the garments sector has been passing the most crucial time since its emergence.
The sector started its journey in early eighties on a limited scale. The exports then were worth few million dollars. But now it has exceeded the $ 20 billion mark and it is increasing with every passing year.
Two factors are working behind the export growth. One is the availability of labour and comparatively it is cheaper than in any other neighbouring country.
The net price Bangladesh receives is mainly charged for CM i.e., cutting and making. No significant development is visible in developing the backward linkage of the sector, though it has passed three long decades. Initially the sector was witnessing rapid growth and emerged as the main source of foreign exchange earnings for two decades.
But suddenly Bangladesh has started facing problems in the sector. It is natural that initially a country depends on low-tech, low-value and labour-intensive industries and then gradually moves to high-tech and high-value industries.
We see other Asian countries have gone through the same process and gradually they have diversified their industrial production.
Initially the wage rate of the garment sector was very low and as the industry is experiencing a rapid growth, pressure is being created to increase the wages of the workers alongside ensuring good working environment. It happens so throughout the world in every case.
Although a minimum wage has been fixed, the problem is still there. It needs further negotiation.
On the other hand, when it comes to the working condition, there is no set standard of it.
The garment manufacturers are very much confused about the standard they are to follow, as there is none of it set by the government or the buyers. Pressure is on the factory owners to comply with the safety standards set by the buyers.
First of all, we need to focus on the wage issue, especially the minimum wage.
If we think about the wage increase, the benefit is no doubt well-deserved. But…
* BGMEA-workers leader talks:
The readymade garments factories owners and leaders of workers held a meeting on Wednesday night to find out a way to resolve the ongoing unrest in the sector.
With Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Atikul Islam in the chair, the meeting was attended by BGMEA ex-president Abdus Salam Murshedi, FBCCI ex president AK Azad, BGMEA vice-president Shahidullah Azim and others leaders on behalf of garments owners.
Besides, a 50-member team of workers’ leaders attended in the meeting.
BGMEA sources said minimum wage is set to be announced finally on Thursday. Workers’ leaders were requested to control the situation after the announcement.
* RMG workers’ leaders’ divided over minimum wage:
The dispute among the union leaders came to light during a meeting with Labour Minister
Garment workers’ and leaders are divided into two groups over the minimum wage for the RMG industry as pro-government leaders support the proposal of Tk5,300 whereas anti-government leaders oppose it.
The dispute among the union leaders came to light during a meeting with Labour Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju, which was arranged to devise ways to overcome the ongoing unrest in the RMG sector.
“The minimum wage of Tk5,300 for garment workers is acceptable,” said Shamima Nasrin, president of Shadin Bangla Garments Sramik Karmochari Federation.
On the other hand, Abul Hossain, president of Textile Garment Workers Federation, opposed the government decision of setting Tk300 as basic and total salary of Tk5,300, saying that they did not accept the government intervention in setting the minimum wage and it was not legal.
Participants in the meeting alleged they could not raise their voices against the government decision as the moderator of the meeting did not allow them to speak.
“If there was no unrest or anarchy in the RMG sector, the factory owners would not care about us and that is why some unrest continues,” said a worker leader requesting anonymity.
He said the unrest over the minimum wage would have already come to an end if the government did not interfere in the wage board’s decision.
* Exporters warn of possible backlash:
The country’s apparel exporters on Tuesday warned of a possible backlash from the ongoing labour unrest occurred at the key garment industrial zones, including Ashulia, Savar and Gazipur.
These areas are the home of more than 700 highly compliant garment units executing orders for the world’s renowned chain retail stores and apparel brands like, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Carrefour, JC Penny, H&M, Zara and Gap.
The weeks-long workers’ violence over the wage demands forced to shut production of most factories in the industrial zones, causing huge production and shipment loss for the apparel manufactures.
The labour unrest in the industrial belt over salary hike continued for the 15th consecutive day on Tuesday forcing the authorities to suspend production at least 70 garment factories in the zones.
The movement has got additional sensation after death of two fellow workers on Monday.
Expressing grave concern over the current spell of labour unrest, they said, a ‘conspiracy,’ both local and foreign, is on to create fresh anarchy in the country’s largest export sector which may in turn put the sector into uncertainty and threaten its future prospects.
“The weeklong violence in the garment sector is posing a great threat to growth of the industry when it has started coming out from the severe shock of recent building collapse tragedy and fire incidents,” Md. Shahidullah Azim, Vice- President of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) told The New Nation yesterday.
He said the ongoing political unrest coupled with workers’ violence in the sector has pushed up the manufacturing cost of garments and created hindrance for shipment. “Many foreign buyers have already canceled existing orders for not exporting goods in time while the exporters were being forced to give discount to the buyers,” he added.
* DCCI voice concern over vandalism in RMG factories:
Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), the country’s largest trade body, on Wednesday expressed deep concern over the current spell of labour unrest and violence in the RMG sector that has been “taking a heavy toll” on the export earning apparel industry.
In a statement, the DCCI said recently the garment industry is facing a setback due to the ongoing unrest and unwarranted attacks on different established garment factories in Savar, Tongi, Ashulia and Gazipur area. NEO Zipper Company Ltd. — a company with foreign investment, situated in Tongi, Gazipur was also attacked today (Wednesday) like many other factories earlier.
“If this kind of violence is not stopped right now, it will affect the whole industry which will cause a serious damage to the country’s economy. DCCI think that if such violence goes on, orders from international buyers may shift to alternative destinations. The country may also lose foreign direct investment.”
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* UK Parliamentary Group releases report on Bangladesh RMG:
* Unified standards for RMG factory inspection:
Amidst much of the clamour, following the two successive factory disasters, the North American Alliance and the European Union Accord for Bangladesh Workers’ Safety seem well poised to launch their action plans towards addressing the safety issue.
The Alliance and the Accord, founded separately by North American and European apparel companies, retailers and brands have set out their programmes to develop and launch the Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative, a binding undertaking aimed at improving safety in the country’s ready-made garment (RMG) factories through ‘transparent, results-oriented, measurable and verifiable’ goals.
The Alliance represents the overwhelming majority of North American imports of RMG from Bangladesh, produced at more than 600 factories. In its ongoing effort to improve building and fire safety standards across the Bangladesh garment industry, the Alliance took a number of steps during the past two months which it considers as milestones in its campaign.
These include release of the list of member factories of the Alliance, adoption of fire and building safety standards, and investments in the organisation’s technical expertise and on-the-ground staffing in Bangladesh.
The disclosure includes data such as factory name, address, number of workers, building composition etc., which will be important in prioritising and implementing inspections.
The list also includes factories that manufacture goods for members of the European Union (EU) Accord on Fire and Building Safety. Shared suppliers make up approximately 50 per cent of the Alliance factory list, underscoring the need for combined efforts on behalf of garment industry workers.
* Wal-Mart satisfied with RMG safety:
The world renowned retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said that the environment of readymade garments factories of Bangladesh has been developed comparatively than the earlier.
On behalf of Wal-Mart, Bureau Veritas made the report after conducting survey on 75 factories in Bangladesh.
Bureau Veritus, a global leader in Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC), signed a deal with Wal-Mart to assess the safety standards in Bangladesh garment factories. And this was it’s first report which mentioned a good number of garments developed the environment of their factories to ensure safety of their workers and employees.
The report said that 54.17 percent factories required average electricity improvement, 40.91 percent in average building safety. And 34 factories have upgraded themselves from category D and C to A/B.
ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE
* Tazreen Factory Fire: A Year Later, Survivors Feel Forgotten:
A year after the deadly factory fire that killed 112 garment workers at Tazreen Fashions Ltd. in Bangladesh, survivors and the families of those killed and injured say they have been forgotten by the factory owner, international buyers and the government.
In interviews with Solidarity Center staff in Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital, many survivors said they were so injured in the blaze and escape from the building that they are unable to work again. Yet the compensation they received after the disaster—if they received any assistance at all—was not sufficient to cover initial medical bills, let alone pay for the expensive, ongoing care many need. Some were the sole breadwinners and, without the ability to work and with no financial assistance to see them through their recoveries, their families often go hungry, they cannot afford to send their children to school and many even risk losing their homes.
“I am not able to work and I don’t think that I will be able to work anymore,” said Shahanaz Begum. “Now, my life seems worthless.”
Like nearly all Tazreen garment workers who made it out of the burning multistory building alive on November 24, 2012, Shahanaz survived by jumping through a window. Windows—most of them barred—were the only exit because the factory had no fire escapes and staircases were locked or led to the burning storage room on the first floor. And like all survivors with whom the Solidarity Center spoke, Shahanaz said a factory manager told her she could not leave. She left anyway, searching through the smoke and darkness for a way out until she was forced to jump.
Now, Shahanaz said, “I cannot see through my right eye. I have problems in my spinal cord and can’t even walk properly. I cannot sit properly as my left leg was broken, my right leg is filled with blood clots and I cannot lift heavy weights.”
11:09:07 local time INDIA
* Strike in spinning mills in Andhra, TN hits Bhiwandi powerlooms:
Spinning mills in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have landed in a crisis as powerloom weavers in Bhiwandi in Maharashtra are on the tenth day of a strike in protest against a power tariff hike.
The strike comes at a time when there is a surge in fabric demand both from domestic and overseas markets, particularly the US. Bhiwandi has 10 lakh powerlooms and consumes 6 million kg of yarn per day. The strike has already pushed up fabric prices that are produced by Bhiwandi powerlooms by 3-4% in the last 10 days.
“Fabric prices will remain firm for at least a month, even if the strike is lifted, as it will be difficult for the powerloom units to become fully operational instantly as a large chunk of labourers have left for home after the strike call was given,” said Manoj Kedia, director, Kedia Texfab & Industries, one of the leading yarn suppliers in the Mumbai market.
The Bhiwandi cluster employs nearly 12 lakh workers who largely come from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. The yarn dealers and spinners say that powerlooms from Bhiwandi are supposed to meet the textile ministry officials in Mumbai on November 20 following which the strike may be called off.
* 8 lakh-odd powerlooms in Bhiwandi silent for 10 days now:
Strike on against the power tariff hike effected three months ago.
Eight lakh-odd powerlooms of Bhiwandi that made deafening noise until 10 days ago have now gone silent.
On November 6, the Bhiwandi Powerloom Sangharsh Samiti went on a strike in protest against the hike in power tariff by Torrent Power Limited, a franchise of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd that provides electricity to Bhiwandi.
Torrent hiked power tariff by 50 per cent to Rs 4.80 per unit three months ago.
“This is an unreasonable hike,” said a 28-year-old powerloom owner Azim Ansari.
Officials at Torrent Power said they were charging according to the rates fixed by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission, which is at par with other districts where powerlooms exist. “We are just the executing body,” said an official spokesperson.
Bhiwandi, just second to Ichalkaraji in Kolhapur in textile production with annual turnover of Rs 350 crore, consumes 3,000 lakh units of power annually. It has been a blacklisted town in the MERC’s list for power theft. “A whopping 97 per cent of power was stolen by the powerloom owners here. Only after 2007, when Torrent came in, did the theft stop,” said a senior MERC officer.
* State urged to protect weavers:
Andhra Pradesh Handloom Workers Union urged the government to make a comprehensive legislation to protect the interests of weavers in the State.
The Union which organised a Round Table conference here stated the law in support of the weavers was ineffective. Even though handloom sector was the second large employment provider and earned a name in the overseas market, the government neglected the industry.
Mr. Seshaiah, district secretary, who coordinated the meeting, said the reservation made in support of handloom sector was often violated and misused. Most of the weavers were leaving their looms and migrating to other sectors. Some of them were caught in the debt-trap of micro-finance companies.
* Strong export demand lifts cotton prices:
Despite the record production expected in 2013-14, strong export demand has kept the cotton prices firm, ruling above the minimum support price (MSP).
However, traders and ginners expect the prices to come under pressure from December as the arrivals are set to increase across the country.
The Cotton Association of India ( CAI) has estimated the 2013-14 crop at 380.5 lakh bales, which is an all-time high. Against the MSP of Rs 4,000 a quintal, Banni Brahma, the best quality long staple cotton, is trading at Rs 4,700 a quintal to Rs 4,800.
China is expected to announce its import quota in the coming days, which will decide the future course of Indian cotton exports.
11:09:07 local time SRI LANKA
* 800 Factory Workers Wage Long Strike for Union:
More than 800 workers at the Ansell Lanka Ltd., factory in Sri Lanka have been on strike since October 11, seeking recognition of their union and re-instatement of 11 fired workers associated with organizing the union.
The union president was among the workers fired, according to Anton Marcus, joint secretary of the Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union (FTZ&GSEU), a Sri Lankan affiliate of the global union IndustriAll.
Women make up more than 60 percent of the workers, who manufacture surgical and industrial latex gloves for export. The strike at the factory, located in the Biyagama Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in western Sri Lanka, is one of the longest to date in any of country’s EPZs.
Management at the factory, owned by Ansell Limited, which operates 29 facilities in 16 countries with corporate headquarters in Australia and New Jersey, rejected all proposals made by the Sri Lanka commissioner of Labor and the minister of Labor to resolve the situation in a just and equitable manner. To date, no settlement has been reached and no inquiry has been held to look into the dismissal of the 11 workers, Marcus said.
* Scab-made medical gloves sicken Ansell workers in Sri Lanka:
Australian-based manufacturer of medical gloves and condoms, Ansell continues to attack its workers. Suspending striking trade union members in Sri Lanka and replacing them with contracted scabs puts a bad stain on Ansell’s products that are exported throughout the world.
IndustriALL Global Union is mobilising solidarity behind its Sri Lankan affiliate the Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union (FTZGSEU). The FTZGSEU has organised and defended the workers at the Ansell Lanka Ltd factory in the Biyagama Export Promotion Zone for many years. Ansell has an ugly history of union busting at the factory since 1994, when management refused to recognise FTZGSEU as the legitimate bargaining partner that led to demonstrations in which one worker was shot dead by police.
Large purchasers of Ansell products include national, regional and local governments, military, health care institutions (hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, home-care companies), correctional institutions, security agencies and companies, safety equipment supply houses, laboratory supply houses, and retailers. In communications to these institutions IndustriALL Global Union’s message is to check usage of “Dirty Gloves”.
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* Sri Lanka’s joint trade unions express doubt over relief from 2014 budget for working masses:
The Coordinating Center for a Joint Trade Union Alliance in Sri Lanka has expressed doubts over relief being granted to the working masses by the government in the 2014 budget.
Executive committee member of the Centre, Wasantha Samarasinghe said while the government will present its 2014 budget tomorrow (21) they have learnt that the working masses will not be provided relief as demanded.
He observed that the joint trade union alliance had submitted to the Finance Ministry on a request made by the government a set of 21 proposals including a salary increment of Rs. 10,000 to public sector workers and a Rs. 5,000 payment for private sector workers to be included in the 2014 budget.
* Sri Lanka’s garment exports to EU, US jump 30% in Sept’13:
10:39:07 local time PAKISTAN
* Three-month gas supply cut: exporters urge government not to take step:
Pakistan would lose billions of dollars in foreign exchange earnings, besides, unemployment will increase as a result of three months gas supply cut to industries.
* Minister begins fresh round of eco diplomacy for GSP Plus:
Minister of State for Commerce, Textile & Privatisation Engr. Khurram Dastgir Khan left for Eastern Europe to begin a fresh round of economic diplomacy to ensure a favorable majority in the EU Parliament in anticipation of a plenary vote in Mid-December 2013 on grant of GSP Plus trade preferences to Pakistan for three years.
The visit to Eastern Europe follows a successful round of economic diplomacy in October at the European Parliament in Strasbourg as well as in Paris, Madrid, Rome and London. Minister of State Khurram Dastgir khan led the joint effort between Commerce & Foreign ministries, which resulted in a positive, pro-Pakistan vote in the International Trade Committee (INTA) of the EU Parliament earlier this month.
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* Textile and food group exports slump in October:
Pakistan’s exports declined massively in October by 29 percent to the worth of $1.8 billion as against the value of Rs $2.62 billion in the previous month owing to 7 percent contraction in food group and 12 percent decrease in textile group, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) reported on Wednesday.
During the four month of current fiscal year 2013-14, however, the overall exports from Pakistan remained stable as it increased by 5.11 percent to the worth of $8.6 billion as compared to the value of $8.2 billion in the corresponding period of last year, PBS ‘s data said. While on monthly basis, in October, food group exports declined to $303.4 million as against the worth of $325.00 million in September 2013.
* Record production of cotton bales expected:
Pakistan is set to produce record 16.4 million bales of cotton in 2013-14, as a total of 9.51 million bales have so far arrived in the market, which becomes around 58 percent on an average of total arrival until 15th of November 2013.
Market sources have pointed out that a record bumper crop of cotton is very much on the cards if one adds remaining 42 percent arrival of cotton until 1st of April 2014.
Therefore, they said, total production of cotton would likely to be 16.4 million bales in Pakistan for the crop season 2013-14, which is a record breaking production in the history of the country.