11:13:39 local time PHILIPPINES
* PH garment brands fight imports:
10:13:39 local time THAILAND
* Survey uncovers concerns of employers, workers about AEC:
A Jobstreet.com survey shows the concerns workers and employers have about theEconomic Community that will come into effect in 2015.
One-third of respondents see a higher job turnover rate due to the borderless, wider opportunities of thejob market, while employers believe they will have to raise wages to stop the labour drain.
Another one-third of the respondents believe the
10:13:39 local time VIET NAM
* Vietnam still depends on shoe material imports:
Despite a sizeable leather shoe exporting country, domestic producers still heavily depend on material imports as they fail to find out quality supplies in the nation.
Lien Anh Co. Ltd. in Binh Duong Province has suffered a damage of US$100,000 for importing a batch of substandard leather. However, it still has to import another leather batch for production as domestic material supplies have poor quality.
* Promoting the media’s roles in labor safety:
To reduce labor accidents to a minimum, along with efforts in management operation, the roles of the media is vital as it helps improve awareness of the necessity to observe labor safety process in production so that they can take preventive measures and limit risks at the maximum.
Over recent years, the media activities in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) have been implemented on various means of mass media, notably the program “Labor safety for family happiness and development of enterprises”, the labor safety column on the Vietnam Economic News, Labor-Society and Occupation and Life magazines.
* EU hopes to sign FTA with Vietnam by late 2014:
* Better Work Vietnam: Better Work. Better Business. Better Lives:
see video here.
10:13:39 local time CAMBODIA
* Union leaders threaten nationwide protest if salary not raised:
Labor unions in Cambodia threatened to hold nationwide rallies in December if their demand for a minimum wage increase of at least $154 per month is not met.
The threat came after the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) led by Ath Thon, the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions led by Yang Sophorn, National Union League of Cambodia Textile Industry led by Mam Nhem, and the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, led by Pav Sina sent collective letters to Van Sou Ieng, president of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), to seek salary increases and bonuses for factory workers.
“If the factory employers don’t raise the minimum wage for their employees, the trade unions will lead a protest throughout the country in December,” said C.CAWDU president Ath Thon in a news conference on Monday.
He said because the factory workers currently receive low wages, their daily lives are negatively affected.
* Food-price hike hits workers:
The price of food spiked this month, and Cambodia’s low-paid garment workers are feeling the effects.
Meat, vegetables, toothbrushes, beauty accessories and even the plastic bags they get packed in have all seen a sharp bump up in price this month, some items by as much as 30 per cent, workers and traders said yesterday.
The Post reported last week that reforms to stamp out corruption in the customs department have led to an increase in the cost of imported goods. Customs officials who would often undercut tax rates on imports are now applying the official rate, meaning import costs have suddenly increased, leaving consumers to foot the bill.
With a base minimum wage of $75 a month, a garment worker’s budget is sensitive to even the slightest inflationary pressure.
“In the past, I have sent some money home [to my family], but now the price of goods is going up, so maybe I cannot afford to do it,” Lok Tho, a garment worker at M&V International Manufacturing in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, said.
Even with overtime, Tho said she earns little more than $100 per month. After rent and living expenses, money for food is tight. Tho said she is struggling to afford baby formula – the price of which she said has also gone up this month.
* Factory rejects order to rehire 19 workers:
Flouting a government order, representatives of SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd yesterday refused to rehire 19 union representatives and activists during a meeting with the Ministry of Labour.
Rehiring the 19 has been the key sticking point in ending the three-month-old strike, which erupted into violence two weeks ago today in an incident that left an uninvolved bystander killed by a police bullet.
The order to rehire the workers – all active members of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) – came just days after the shooting.
“The employers at SL strongly refused to accept the 19 workers back,” said Sat Sakmoth, secretary of state at the Labour Ministry who attended the four-hour meeting. “I tried my best to explain to them that we will send the case to court now because of their decision.”
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11:13:39 local time INDONESIA
* BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates:
1. West Java Announces 2014 Minimum Wage. Read the full article here .
2. Banten Governor set the UMK 2014 in seven areas.
Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here.
3. Welcoming BPJS, 15 Regulations still not clear. Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia) Read the Google Translate English Version here.
4. Outsourcing rule leads to kickbacks, confusion. Read the full article here .
5. Apindo rejects West Java minimum wage. Read the full article here.
6. Brace for more rallies, say unions. Read the full article here
7.Workers not satisfied with the UMK East Java 2014 numbers.
Read the full article here
Read the Google Translate English Version here
BetterWork Indonesia media updates Overview here.
09:43:39 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Sweatshop Woes:
The recent strike at a Yangon garment factory may be a hint that more attention needs to be paid to working conditions as Myanmar continues to promote itself as a place to do business.
The strike of 200 workers at the “handsome” factory in Dagon Seikkan Township began on October 26, and continued for more than two weeks, after the sacking of a worker who refused to work overtime. Striking workers claimed the man was sacked without sufficient reason and called for the rights to which they claim they are entitled under the labor laws.
They also complained about the installation of a CCTV camera outside a women’s toilet that seemed to indicate there was concern about workers taking refuge in the toilet, rather than working. The management said it had been meeting the workers and hoped to settle the strike peacefully. Eventually, the dispute was settled and the strikers went back to work on November 5.
The dispute took place as the Myanmar International Textile and Garment Industry exhibition kicked off a four-day event at the Myanmar Convention Center on November 8 to showcase what garment and textile manufacturers in 18 countries and territories have to offer.
In all the razzmatazz of the exhibition, little if any discussion will have been had over the drivers of this trade.
Much of the profit in the business comes from leveraging low salaries and long hours on the garment-making factory floor into handsome profits, in some cases at high-end brands in up-market shopping outlets around the world.
It is a trade that needs far more scrutiny than it gets, even though the International Labour Organization has long been expressing concern.
Several labor disputes at garment factories in Myanmar during the last three years since the change of government indicate that workers, as in many countries, are overworked and underpaid and that conditions could be significantly improved.
09:13:39 local time BANGLADESH
* Warehouses of two factories burnt in Savar:
15 workers of a factory injured
Fire broke out at two factories including a readymade garment factory in Jirabo and Tongibari areas of Savar on Monday afternoon.
Mukib, store manager of Aman Spining Mill, said the fire had originated at the mill’s warehouse sometime around 3:45pm.
“Around 1000 tonnes of cotton have been gutted by the flames,” he added.
Sheikh Badrul Alam, officer-in-charge of Ashulia police station, said a fire had ensued at the storehouse of Mondol Fashions Limited at around 4:30pm.
The exact cause of the fire could not be known immediately, he added.
Eight fire fighting units rushed to the spot and successfully doused the flame.
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* Fire at 2 factories injures 30 at Savar:
A fire broke out at two factories, including a readymade garment factory, in Battola area at Jirabo and in Tongibari area of the industrial belt at Savar on Monday afternoon.
Uttam, assistant manager (marketing) of Aman Spinning Mill, said the fire originated at the mill’s warehouse around 3:45pm.
He said, “More than 2000 tonnes of cotton have been gutted by the flames.”
Witnesses said the factory authority attempted to douse the fire by own water source and 10 workers were injured while trying to tame the blaze.
After the fire incident at Aman, fire also erupted in a nearby Mondol Fashions Ltd. and at least 20 workers injured amid rush to go out from the factory as panic spreads over the area.
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* Fire In Aman Spinning Mills and Mondol Fashions:
Fire broke out in Zirabo, Savar at 4:45PM today 26.11.13, at the warehouse located in the ground floor of Aman Spinning Mills Ltd. Cottons were kept at the floor. Fire fighters tirelessly kept trying to douse the fire, and they eventually succeeded after an hour.
Five people were injured, however no one was reported to be dead. The locals aided the fire fighters spiritedly.
Meanwhile, there was another incident of fire at the first floor of a six storied building of Mondol Group’s garment factory at about 5:15PM today. At least 15 people were reported to be injured, however none were found to be dead at this accident. Fire fighters with the help of locals toiled a few hours before the fire could finally be doused.
* Jute godowns gutted:
Another message says: Two jute godown were gutted by a devastating fire at Batiapara bazar under Kasiani Upazila in Gopalganj district Saturday evening.
Fire service sources said, the fire originated from an electric short circuit at about 2pm. On information, two fire fighting units from Gopalganj sadar and Muksudpur fire station rushed to the spot and brought the fire under control after two hours of frantic efforts with the help of local people.
The affected godown owners estimates put the loss from the fire at about Tk 1.5 million.
* 10 hurt as RMG workers clash with police in Gazipur:
The police charged batons and fired tear gas to disperse Garment factory workers who were staging violent demonstrations over wages at Nayapara of Kashimpur in the city on Monday.
The workers clashed with the police and set a police car on fire during the demonstrations demanding minimum wage at TK 8,000.
At least 10 people, including policemen, were injured in the clashes.
Witnesses said workers of Alim Knitwear factory, a unit of Mandal Group, began staging demonstrations in the factory in the morning. At about 2:30pm, the workers poured out of the factory and tried to block Konabari-Kashimpur road and Dhaka-Tangil highway.
At one point, workers of Montex Limited, another concern of Mandal Group joined the workers of Alim Knitwear in the protests. Police charged batons and fired tear shell to break up the demonstration.
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* RMG workers-cops clash injures 15:
At least 15 readymade garment workers were injured in a clash with police in Kashimpur area of the district sadar on Tuesday morning.
During the time, police opened fire at worker as agitators torched an RMG factory and a bus.
Witnesses said as a result of discontent, workers of Multipurpose Garments went berserk on Tuesday morning.
Clash ensued as the police tried to control the situation by firing rubber bullets and teargas shells.
* H&M aims to pay RMG workers ‘living wage’ by 2018:
Hennes & Mauritz, the world’s second-largest clothing retailer, laid out a plan on Monday to pay a fair ‘living wage’ to some 8,50,000 textile workers by 2018, saying governments were acting too slowly.
‘We believe that the wage development, driven by for example governments in some countries, is taking too long, so we want to take further action and encourage the whole industry to follow,’ H&M said in a statement on its web site.
* Bangladesh factory owners dispute Walmart claim:
The world’s biggest retailer couldn’t solve the problems of the garment sector in Bangladesh on its own, but it figured $50 million worth of low-cost loans was a good start.
But even as Walmart won public goodwill with its announcement, four garment suppliers in Bangladesh who provide clothing to Walmart told the Star that the retailer never mentioned any such loan offering.
“Walmart has not offered any loan, but certainly it would be a welcome step,” said Itemad Ud-Daulah, managing director of Dird Garments, which makes blue jeans for Walmart in two factories near Dhaka and employs 10,000 workers. “Low-cost loans would create a lot of goodwill.”
The Star provided Walmart with the names of the factory officials who said they were never offered loans. “We cannot speculate on what was said by individual factory owners,” Walmart spokeswoman Susan Schutta wrote in an emailed statement.
Walmart says its loan offer was met with a “no thanks.”
* Ticfa deal signed with US:
Bangladesh and USA signed the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (Ticfa) at 9:15pm (BST) in Washington DC, Akramul Quader, Bangladesh ambassador to the United States, told The Daily Star over phone.
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* Ticfa with US signed at last:
Questions arise over legality of signing such deal by polls-time govt; first target is to restore trade privileges
The government, after more than a decade of talks, yesterday inked the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) with the US, ushering in a new era of communication between the two countries.
Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed and Acting Deputy of US Trade Representative Wendy Cutler signed the deal in Washington on behalf of Bangladesh and the US respectively.
The version of the agreement signed was the one approved by the Hasina cabinet on June 17, Akramul Qader, Bangladesh’s ambassador to the US, told The Daily Star over telephone.
“Our first target is to recover our trade privileges to the US, as Ticfa is a platform for resolving trade disputes between us,” said Commerce Minister GM Quader, adding that the issue would be raised in the first meeting of the forum.
* Bangladesh and US sign Ticfa amid protest:
Bangladesh has signed the much-talked-about Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) with the US amid protests from the left political parties.
Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed and Deputy US Trade Representative Wendy Cutler signed the agreement on Monday at the USTR office in Washington DC.
The agreement will enable the countries to establish a forum with representatives from both parties to discuss opportunities and interests of bilateral trade and investment and identify and work to remove impediments in the trade and investment sectors.
While aiming at fostering bilateral trade and investment for creating jobs, improving technology and enhancing development, it recognises the importance of promoting the observance of other issues such as intellectual property rights, environment, and workers’ rights in accordance with laws of each country and in line with the international agreements as applicable to the countries.
Left political parties have voiced protests against the signing of the document, saying the agreement will have negative impacts on the country’s agriculture.
* Economists, left parties against TICFA- TICFA deal signed:
Financial analysts on Monday questioned the government’s signing of Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement with the United States as it would reduce the benefits for Bangladesh mandated in multi-lateral frameworks and realise only the US interests.
The left-leaning political parties rallied in the capital against signing the deal and called on the government to refrain from inking the ‘deal of slavery’.
Economic analyst and former adviser to a caretaker government, AB Mirza Azizul Islam, found no rationale of signing the deal considering all its aspects.
‘First, I would say the timing of signing the deal is not appropriate when the government is supposed to carry out routine tasks only and the next government will have to bear the responsibility,’ he said.
He also did not find any substantiation to the arguments brought for signing the deal including increase of foreign investment, duty and quota free access of Bangladeshi products to the US and revival of the generalised system of preferences.
‘I don’t think there will be foreign investment when domestic private sector investment is decreasing. It requires political stability, proper infrastructure facility and educated and skilled labour force for increasing investment,’ he said.
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* Ticfa raises mixed reactions:
Communist Party of Bangladesh and Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal stage a rally before the capital’s Jatiya Press Club yesterday protesting the signing of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) with the US.
Photo: Focus Bangla
Business leaders yesterday gave a mixed reaction to the signing of Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement.
Welcoming the move, a group of businessmen said the deal would foster new business with the US, the country’s single largest export destination, and both the countries would be able to hold talks to resolve any trade dispute.
Previously, Bangladesh could not hold dialogues to resolve trade disputes with the US as there was no such platform between the two.
“Ticfa should have been signed a lot earlier to increase trade with the US. From now, we will be able to bargain with them,” said Helal Uddin, vice president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry. “I welcome the deal.”
But Sabur Khan, president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Bangladesh would not be able to follow all compliance standards cited in the Ticfa deal, as the country is not ready yet.
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* BNP finds positive Ticfa signing:
Opposition BNP on Monday night found positive the singing of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) between Bangladesh and the USA.
“Bangladesh has long commercial, economic, technical, military and political relations with the USA,” BNP vice-chairman Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury told UNB.
* BD, US sign TICFA deal:
Bangladesh and the USA signed the much-talked-about Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) deal in Washington on Monday aiming to bolster bilateral trade and investment, officials said.
Bangladesh’s commerce secretary Mahbub Ahmed and United States Deputy Trade Representative Wendy Cutler signed the deal on behalf of their respective governments at US local time 10.00 am.
Mr Mahbub confirmed signing of the deal in a message to the FE from Washington.
“We’ve just signed the TICFA,” he said in the message.
United States Trade Representative Michael Froman made brief remarks and presided over the signing ceremony. US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Desai Biswal was also present in the event.
The trade and investment agreement is signed after eleven years of negotiation which started in 2002.
The cabinet in June this year gave go ahead and assigned the ministry of commerce (MoC) to handle the affairs relating to signing of the TICFA deal.
The TICFA is considered as a platform for discussing bilateral trade and investment issues. Officials said signing of the deal will help bolster trade and investment cooperation between the two nations.
* Fin min cuts tax at source to 0.60% on apparel exports:
Finance Minister AMA Muhith approved a proposal on reducing the existing 0.80 per cent tax at source to 0.60 per cent for export earnings from apparel sector, sources said.
Muhith’s approval came on Monday on the back of a proposal of Finance Division, apparently to pacify the apparel makers as they had submitted a good number of demands to the finance ministry to offset their losses to be caused due to workers’ wage hike.
The exchequer would be deprived of around Tk 500 crore per annum for easing the tax rate, which has been treated as ‘final settlement’ by the taxmen, a high official in the National Board of Revenue said.
However, Muhith did not consider other demands of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the platform for apparel makers.
Recently, BGMEA put forward a list of demands to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Muhith, saying if the demands are not met the very existence of the garment sector would be jeopardized.
* ‘Undercut’ cuts jute yarn export income:
‘Undercut’ is now a great grievance for the oversaturated jute spinning sector which is depriving the country of a large amount of export earning and also giving the importers a bargaining power, industry insiders said.
According to business terminology, ‘undercut’ is the practice of offering a product or service at a price that is deliberately set below the price charged by the competitors. This tendency is directly affecting the jute spinning sector, they said.
Bangladesh is the key source for jute yarn in the world, supplying 90 per cent of the global requirement of nearly 0.6 million tonnes, according to the Department of Jute (DoJ).
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THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Owners not bound to pay Tk 19.51 lakh to each: BGMEA:
COMPENSATION FOR RANA PLAZA VICTIMS
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association opposed Tk 19.51 lakh compensation package for each dead or disabled Rana Plaza worker saying the garments owners are not lawfully responsible to compensate at such high amount.
The trade body recently submitted a written opinion to the sub-committee on fixation of compensation demanding to re-fix a ‘logical amount’ of compensation considering the exiting laws and ability of the owners.
On November 21, the sub-committee discussed on the papers at a meeting presided over by Dhaka University economics teacher MM Akash.
The BGMEA additional secretary Md Zaglul Hayder and the representative of the nine infantry division Colonel Rafiqul Islam also attended the meeting.
The head of the sub-committee MM Akash told New Age that the process of the fixation of compensation for the Rana Plaza victims would be finalised by November.
* Move to slash compensation money for Rana Plaza victims:
Apparel-makers are trying to reduce compensation money for the families of the Rana Plaza victims far below the amount proposed by a high-powered committee, sources said Monday.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) leaders, on November 07, proposed Tk 0.7 million for each of the dead victims’ families to be fixed while the committee recommended Tk 1.95 million, they said.
The committee was formed following the High Court order after the country’s worst industrial disaster-Rana Plaza building collapse on April 24 last that killed more than 1,100 workers — to decide the amount of compensation. It later formed two sub-committees to fix the compensation rates and categories of the injured.
On November 21, the members of the committee sat again when the BGMEA placed its proposal recommending decrease in the compensation amount of Tk 0.7 million for family of each deceased and Tk 0.1 million for each injured worker.
The BGMEA in its proposal said compensation should be fixed according to the labour law and owners’ capability and reality should also be brought into consideration.
ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE
* Bangladesh – 1 year after the Tazreen Fashion factory fire:
At the Tazreen Fashins factory site, IndustriALL and UNI Global Union speaks to Suman Kabir who lost his wife Masuma in the fire at Tazreen Fashion on 24 November 2012
08:43:39 local time INDIA
* Sexual abuse of women at workplace goes unchecked:
Here’s a grim reality: about 40-60% of women in the city face harassment at their work place. And it’s none other than the Hyderabad police department itself that substantiates this claim.
Worse still, most of these cases end up being “internally closed” by managements concerned, authorities say, much like what Tehelka allegedly intended to do initially in the now burning sexual assault case against its founder-editor Tarun Tejpal.
To add insult to injury, several prominent government and corporate offices in Hyderabad still have no internal complaints committees, despite it being made mandatory under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Rederssal) Act, 2013.
“It is true that most managements, for the fear of their reputation taking a beating, attempt to resolve these matters internally,” said city police commissioner Anurag Sharma, reiterating this worrisome trend that he claims, often deter his men from acting on such cases.
* ‘Issue minimum wages for unorganized labourers’:
The National Minimum Wages Campaign Committee demanded wages on par with class IV employees of the government for unorganised labourers.
These labourers contribute to 65% of the total GDP of the country and hence should be given minimum wages, said Swami Agnivesh, noted social activist on Monday.
Agnivesh said that 93% of the total labourers are unorganised and mainly belong to rural areas. A minimum wage law was constituted in 1948; however, no efficient system has been pressed to implement it.