15:05:57 local time CAMBODIA
* Hundreds block road in Bavet for better working conditions:
Around 1,000 protesting garment workers blocked National Road one in the village of Prey Pdao, Chrok Mtes commune of Bavet to seek better working conditions from their employers.
The factory workers from the Ching Khu factory, which produces jackets, had blocked the national road since this morning.
The protesters are demanding that the factory give their pay in a timely fashion, a 300 percent wage increase if they are asked to work on holidays and to not reduce their wages during the protest.
* ‘Shaking’ stirs fears:
Officials from the ministry in charge of construction are investigating the safety of a garment factory after workers yesterday fled from it saying they felt it shake “like an earthquake”.
More than 400 workers at the Siu Quinh Garment factory in the capital’s Dangkor district were granted leave after feeling the walls and equipment around them moving, worker Bouy Srey Mom said.
“We ran outside the building to a safe place after it shook like an earthquake and we feared it was going to fall down on us,” she said.
The workers felt similar things last week, but were told to keep working, she added.
“We cannot work inside a shaking building. We need to be sure it’s safe,” she said. “The factory allowed us time off until Monday.”
* Minimum wage ‘to be set next month’:
The Ministry of Labour next month will set the 2014 minimum wage for workers in Cambodia’s garment and footwear industries.
Ministry officials yesterday met with a working group of people representing workers, factory managers and the Garment Manufacturers’ Association in Cambodia to discuss formulas they could use to periodically raise the industry’s minimum wage, which currently stands at $75 per month, said Som Aun, president of the Cambodian Council of National Unions.
Ministry officials will now take into consideration reports submitted by the working group during yesterday’s meeting, said the Labour Ministry’s Vong Sovann. On December 16, the ministry will meet again and set the 2014 minimum wage.
* NGOs: stop the violence:
In June last year, Bov Srey Sras lost her unborn baby after being kicked in the stomach by a police officer at a public protest.
The incident, captured on camera, came as she stood outside the Court of Appeal calling for the release of her sister, who had been imprisoned after a three-hour trial.
Following her miscarriage, Srey Sras tried to sue the unknown police officer responsible for kicking her along with his superiors – a move that prompted a response from deputy Phnom Penh police chief Phoung Malay that many considered repugnant.
Following the fatal shooting of a 49-year-old female bystander during a police crackdown on protesting SL Garment workers in the capital’s Meanchey district on November 12, Srey Sras is not convinced that an apology will come.
“The authorities and police are continuing to make violence against women … and they’re now shooting at people.”
Incidents referenced included the SL Garment strike shooting, the electric shock and slingshot attack on women protesting at Wat Phnom on September 22, and the shooting of three garment workers in Svay Rieng province last year.
Then-Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith, who was responsible for the Svay Rieng incident, injured three workers when he opened fire on a crowd of strikers. He has since been sentenced to prison but remains at large.
read more. & read more.
* New Cambodia Labour Force and Child Labour Survey:
Two new reports by the National Institute of Statistics, Ministry of Planning and the International Labour Office (ILO) present the first-ever combined Cambodia Labour Force and Child Labour Survey.
The two surveys collected information on various aspects of adults’ economic activity and compiled national and provincial statistics relating to employment,
underemployment and other characteristics of the labour force.
The Labour Forces Survey also collected information on population and household
characteristics, education and training, labour force participation rate, informal employment, quality and stability of employment and social security coverage, equal opportunities and labour migration.
The Child Labour Survey collected data on children aged 5 to 17, specifically
working children. It examined school attendance, the characteristics of economically active children and the type of hazardous work they are involved.
* Minister launches workplace initiative for HIV voluntary counseling and testing:
Labor and Vocational Training Minister Ith Sam Heng has launched a global initiative for HIV voluntary counseling and testing for workers in Cambodia.
The launch Tuesday came five months after the International Labor Organisation (ILO) and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) unveiled the initiative in Geneva.
In a joint statement, the two UN agencies said the ILO’s ten core principles on HIV/AIDS were a “key reinforcement” of the Cambodian government’s regulation for enterprises to improve workplace responses to HIV.
So far, the statement said, 90 enterprises in Cambodia had been acknowledged for good practices in implementing the regulation, known as Prakas No 086.
16:05:57 local time MALAYSIA
* 82% Of Companies Will Not Defer Implementation Of Minimum Wages, Says MEF:
About 82 per cent of local companies will not defer implementation of the national minimum wage policy, according to the findings of a survey conducted by the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF).
The “Salary Survey for Executives and Non-Executives 2013”, carried out between June and September, revealed that half the respondents provided training to upgrade the skills of their foreign workers as a measure to cope with the implementation of the national minimum wages on Jan 1,2014.
MEF is the central organisation for private sector employers in Malaysia.
14:05:57 local time BANGLADESH
* Alliance may start RMG factory inspection next week:
The North American Alliance for Bangladesh Workers Safety, a US-based clothing retailers’ platform, likely to start factory inspection on fire and building safety from next week.
“They will start the inspection from the by first week of December on a set of common standards they approved earlier,” BGMEA Vice President Shahidullah Azim told Dhaka Tribune on Wednesday.
The Alliance’s board has adopted the Fire Safety and Structural Integrity Standards and established a committee of third-party experts to assist implementation to carry forward with establishing its next set of milestones, said a statement of the alliance recently.
* US delegation to check progress in factory safety upgrades:
A high-profile delegation from New York City is due in Bangladesh on Friday to gather the latest on-the-ground information on the progress made towards the improvement of factory safety since the Rana Plaza collapse.
The American contingent plans to meet survivors of the building collapse, officials of the Swedish retail giant H&M and labour leaders involved in getting global retailers to sign on the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and improve conditions for garment workers.
The goal is to bring back to New York City compelling facts and testimonial that will help raise awareness of the importance of the Accord and to encourage shoppers in New York City, one of the world’s largest consumer markets, to support the 100-odd brands that have signed the Accord.
“We want the consumers to realise that how they spend their money during the holiday shopping season impacts the lives of workers in Bangladesh,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
* Looking after workers is smart economics:
In the context of Bangladesh, we have often seen that the rises of wages are quickly matched by hiking of prices of essential items, such as food and house rent. Thus, workers always find themselves falling behind and hence are forced to come to the street demanding wage increases, writes Anis Chowdhury
The perishing of more than 1,100 lives in the collapse of the Rana Plaza, the worst industrial accident in the country, epitomises the condition of workers in Bangladesh. This also exposed the perils of unfettered globalisation that witnessed a race to the bottom in labour and environmental standards as countries compete to attract footloose foreign investors.
The garment workers, on the backs of whom Bangladesh has made tremendous progress, earn a pittance. The current minimum wage is Tk 3,000, about $38, a month, whereas according to the Centre for Policy Dialogue, a Dhaka-based research organisation, a basic diet that meets the needs of a family of three alone costs about $67 a month.
* RMG makers devise ways to tide over difficulties:
Apparel manufacturers are adopting alternative measures, including shedding manpower, to stay in business in the prevailing tumultuous situation in the country.
As part of the measures the manufacturers were adjusting their costs in the wake of the new wage structure announcement by stopping any fresh recruitment and cutting the existing manpower, sources said.
The readymade garment (RMG) makers were also pressing the workers to work overtime mainly to ensure timely shipments and thus retain the business as the buyers already started moving to other competitor countries, the sources also said.
“There is no fresh recruitment in many of the manufacturing units following a fall in orders mainly due to the political turmoil,” said Mr Reaz-bin-Mahmood, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), while talking to the FE Wednesday.
* Changes to Bangladesh garment industry grind ahead:
Among the more useful things that the international community has done for Bangladesh since a textile factory collapse killed more than 1,100 workers this past spring was to send DNA kits.
They came courtesy of the U.S. government and helped identify dozens of bodies crushed in the collapse of Rana Plaza in April, said Khondaker Golam Moazzem, a research director at the Dhaka-based Center for Policy Dialogue.
Families are still waiting for compensation. Promised building inspections are still to be done.
The government has yet to agree on the details of new safety regulations, and a disputed election threatens to slow the progress further.
But at least the dead could finally be named.
“We did not have the capacity locally to do large numbers of DNA matches, so it has been difficult to identify” all the bodies from the collapse, said Moazzem, citing just one of a series of obstacles in the effort to improve working conditions in Bangladesh’s massive textile industry and to help families devastated by the Rana Plaza tragedy.
Much has been set in motion in the months since the building collapse and a fatal fire at another factory focused international criticism on the country – perhaps foremost an agreement by major retailers to conduct their own inspections of Bangladesh factories and make sure needed renovations are made.
But change on the ground has been slow, said Moazzem and others who have followed the process. There is concern that as the scope of the needed factory renovations becomes clear, owners may resist when they are asked to shut down plants for weeks at a time or help finance installation of new safety systems. A round of strikes and sporadic violence ahead of January elections have sparked worry among some activists and others that the political system could become paralyzed at a time when the government is supposed to tighten oversight of an industry that has far outgrown the local ability to enforce standards.
read more. & to read.
* Slow progress in getting back GSP facility:
The US suspended GSP facility for Bangladesh on June 27, 2013. Following the Rana Plaza incident in April 2013 and, before that, the fire in the Tazreen Fashions in November 2012, the US decided to postpone duty-free access for Bangladesh’s specialised products in the US.
According to the US authorities, the major causes behind the cancellation of GSP were mainly the incidents in garment factories; the increasing number of deaths of garment workers; unsafe working conditions; human rights violation; harassment of labour organisers; poor salary etc.
Immediately after the decision, the US added some preconditions for the revival of GSP facility. The new terms and conditions were improvement of labour situation; safety standards for garment factory workers; assurance of security in the workplace; formulation of comprehensive, concrete and coordinated plan to ensure worker’s safety and secure workers’ rights, etc. The authority also added that it would analyse the situation again after six months, following which the GSP suspension would be reviewed.
* GM Quader: Ticfa opens up trade opportunities:
The Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) is not politically motivated, rather it would open up bilateral trade and investment avenues, Commerce Minister GM Quader said in Dhaka on Tuesday.
“It’s innocent and harmless deal. It has been signed protecting the country’s interest, not considering political interest,” he told a press briefing, a day after the deal was signed between Bangladesh and the United States.
He informed that the first meeting of Ticfa will be held in January next year in Dhaka.
“Importantly, we’ll also be able to track and discuss Bangladeshi efforts to improve worker safety and worker rights. This is an important priority for the United States as Bangladesh seeks to prevent more tragedies in its readymade garment sector.”
* TICFA Treaty: cost and benefit:
Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA) is usually defined as a dialogue between the US and other countries to resolve bilateral trade disputes.
TICFA and GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) are two different issues. But the US’s banning GSP facility has pressurised Bangladesh to sign in TICFA to regain that.
Economic impact of GSP is not much big. Bangladesh gets GSP facility only to 0.54 per cent of total export of USD$ 4.8 billion. The 0.54 per cent covers USD$ 26 million. Bangladesh has to pay USD$ 750 million tax to the US. Comparatively, social impact of GSP is much bigger because banning GSP is a stigmatisation to Bangladeshi products in the world market.
* RMG exports rises 19% in July-Oct’13:
The exports of readymade garments from Bangladesh rose by nearly 19 percent year-on-year in the July-October 2013 period, according to the data released by the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
From July to October 2013, Bangladesh’s exported knitwear worth US$ 4.022 billion, showing an increase of 17.85 percent over exports of US$ 3.412 billion made during the corresponding period of last year.
Similarly, the country exported woven garments worth US$ 3.864 billion during the four-month period, registering a rise of 20.07 percent over exports of US$ 3.218 billion made during the same period last year, the data showed.
13:35:57 local time INDIA
* Eyeing better prices, Punjab, Haryana cotton farmers hold back crop:
Cotton arrivals in Punjab and Haryana have shrunk by more than 30% in the current season, with cotton growers holding back crop in anticipation of fetching higher rates, hitting the ginning sector hard.
“Cotton growers in Punjab and Haryana have held back the crop as they want more price for their crop. As a result, cotton arrivals have dipped,” Northern India Cotton Association president Mahesh Sharda said on Tuesday.
13:05:57 local time PAKISTAN
* Fire erupts in textile factory:
A massive fire-fighting operation was under way late on Wednesday evening to put out a huge fire that broke out in a textile factory on National Highway in the Shah Latif Town area.
“All people have been rescued due to our timely action,” said SSP-Malir Imran Shaukat.
* Fire erupts at Karachi factory:
A fire that broke out at a foam factory on late Wednesday night, could not be extinguished despite eight-hour hectic efforts.
25 fire tenders were busy in dousing the fire which erupted at the factory located on the National Highway, official sources said.
The Fire Brigade department declared the fire as third-degree inferno.
The authorities seem to have failed in putting in place a better system to overcome such a situation despite the killing of hundreds of people in such incidents.
Last year, over 200 people were brunt alive at a factory located in the city’s Baldia Town locality. It was the deadliest fire of the city’s history.
* Fire tenders combat inferno at textile mill on National Highway near Karachi:
Fire engulfed a major portion of a textile mill located on the National Highway near Karachi, Express News reported on Wednesday.
The Chief Fire Officer Ehtishamuddin Siddiqui declared that the inferno was a Category-three fire, the highest category blaze.
One snorkel, two water bowsers and 12 fire tenders have been dispatched to help subdue the fire.
The fire is being reported to be intensifying and flames can be seen from afar.
Fortunately, no loss of life has been reported so far.
Earlier this month, a chemical factory in Sher Shah area of Karachi had caught fire which was put out by fire fighters. According to chief fire officer Ehtishamuddin Siddiqui, the fire broke out at Neelum Industry situated at plot no. F-61-G in Sher Shah.
No casualties were reported as the staff present in the factory was evacuated before the fire fighters arrived. At least 10 fire trucks had to be called in.
* 10 labourers attacked for protest:
More than 10 labourers were injured when armed men attacked them during a protest against denial of salaries on Tuesday.
A group of labourers gathered in front of a textile mills near Joiyanwala Mor to protest denial of salaries by the factory management. Unidentified people, holding iron rods, attacked the protesters, injuring 10 of them including Irfan, Arsalan, Zaheer Abbas and Muneer.
The Housing Colony police are looking into the matter.
* Gas shortage: Textile millers seek innovative solution:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Punjab Chairman S M Tanveer has asked the government to bring an innovative solution than stopping gas supply to textile mills from next month.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Tanveer said the industry would refrain from holding strikes and rather prefer to negotiate with the government to come up with innovative proposals to solve the energy crisis.
He said the government should avoid any radical measures like completely disconnecting gas supply to the industry and instead manage it through an hourly-based system.
Currently, gas supply to textile mills in Punjab has dropped to 2.33 days a week, translating into only 56 hours in a week with electricity supply for four to six hours a day.
* Disconnecting gas supply: APTMA suggests out of box solution:
SM Tanveer Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Punjab has suggested the government for an out of box solution instead of disconnecting gas supply to textile mills from December 2.
Addressing at press conference on Wednesday, he said the industry would refrain from holding strike and would prefer to negotiate with the government with some innovative proposals to deal with the situation.
He said the government should avoid any drastic measure of gas disconnection from 2nd of December and instead of manage the everyday increasing load on supplies through hourly-based supplies to stakeholders.
* Trade with India ‘Pak businessmen should focus on textiles’:
Indian market is highly receptive to Pakistani textile merchandise, gems and jewellery, furniture, agro-based products and sugar industry byproducts, therefore, Pakistani businessmen should focus on these areas to enhance two-way trade between the two countries, a diplomat said.
Economic and Trade Minister of Pakistan High Commission in India Naeem Anwar stated this, while talking to LCCI Acting President Mian Tariq Misbah on Wednesday.
Pakistani businessmen need to chalk-out a well-tailored plan to penetrate Indian market to avail of the available business opportunities, he said.
Last year India had imported furniture, gems and jewellery worth billions of dollars, he said.
13:05:57 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Singapore Indorama invests $31 million in textile industry of Uzbekistan:
Singapore Indorama Industry Pte Ltd additionally invested $31 million in the textile industry on the basis of Uzbek State Enterprise Kokand Textile Mill, representative of the State Joint Stock Company Uzbeklegprom told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.
Indorama Industry under the agreement signed with the Uzbek government in late 2012, directed these funds to increase the processing capacity by 2 times – up to 20,000 tons of cotton per year.
In September 2011, Indorama Industry commissioned a processing capacity of 10,000 tons of cotton fiber production and 7.2 thousand tons per year of compact yarns on the basis of Kokand enterprise. Project cost – $44 million. At present company’s investments in this production reached $75 million.
In July 2010, Indorama Industry and the National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity of Uzbekistan created a joint venture Indorama Kokand Textile for textile production on the basis of textile mill in Kokand.
Indorama Industry owns 76% assets in the joint venture, the NBU – 24%.