00:10:53 local time CHINA
* Deadly factory fire leads to manslaughter probe:
Italian prosecutors are preparing to open a manslaughter investigation over a fire that killed seven Chinese workers at a factory in Tuscany on Sunday, a disaster which highlighted rampant abuses in a sprawling network of illegal garment workshops.
Officials said authorities were struggling to control the thousands of Chinese factories that had transformed the town of Prato in recent years, often employing unregistered workers in conditions unions describe as “near slavery.”
“Most of the companies are organized like this. It’s the Far West,” Prato chief prosecutor Piero Tony told local media.
“Controls on security and issues relating to the workers are inadequate despite the efforts of local authorities and law enforcement officials. We are under equipped as a bureaucratic structure, we’re designed for a city that doesn’t exist any more, the city of 30 years ago.”
The fire in an industrial zone near Prato killed seven workers who were apparently sleeping in an improvised dormitory built above the workshop where they were employed. The seven have not been formally identified and the cause of the blaze is still being investigated.
00:10:53 local time PHILIPPINES
* Textile mill grows using abaca fiber:
23:10:53 local time VIET NAM
* Textile-garment exports to Korea up sharply:
Employees are seen at work at Saigon 3 Garment Joint Stock Company. The export value of Vietnamese textile-garment to the major markets like the U.S., Japan, Korea and China has continued posting strong growth – Photo: Van Nam
Textile-garment exports to Korea as one of the four major buyers of Vietnam’s apparel products posted robust growth in January-November, leaping 51.6% year-on-year to US$642 million, while other major export markets continued considerable growth.
In a report on the industrial production in January-November released on Monday, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said that textile-garment exports to the U.S. reached some US$1 billion in the period, growing 15.5% year-on-year. Meanwhile the shipments of garment items to Japan, Korea and China fetched US$426 million, US$642 million and US$390 million, up 23.4%, 51.6% and 49.1% year-on-year respectively.
The textile-garment industry brought home nearly US$16.5 billion in the 11-month period, growing roughly 20% over the same period in 2012. Local enterprises in recent months have continued to focus on accomplishing export orders and preparing for rising shopping demand towards the year’s end, the ministry reported.
* Vietnam’s apparel exports to US may rise 10.4%: AmCham:
Compared to Vietnam’s minimum wage adjustment for 2014 at 15 percent, Indonesian minimum wage increases for 2014 averaged 19 percent, on top of the 30 percent increases in 2013. In Bangladesh, Vietnam’s key competitor country in apparel exports, minimum wages were recently increased by 77 percent.
23:10:53 local time CAMBODIA
* SL workers end protest, return to work:
Garment employees from the Singapore-owned SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) have returned to work on Wednesday after a four-month protest over working conditions.
The employees agreed to go to work after the factory agreed to reinstate 19 employee representatives, who had been fired, during a meeting between Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng and the SL Director General.
Teng Ry, one of the 19 representatives who had been reinstated, said that the employees returned to work since this morning, however the factory locked the door, and wouldn’t let the representatives go to work.
He said that the union leaders will try to coordinate with a factory representative to let them go to work.
* China’s Luthai Textile to set up garment unit in Cambodia:
00:10:53 local time INDONESIA
* Thousands of Labors Rally over Serang Minimum Wage:
Thousands of labors from various workers union held a rally in Serang, Banten, by blockading the main road of Serang-Jakarta yesterday. The blockade was set in Ciujung toll booths and hampered the Serang-Jakarta traffic flow.
The protesting labors urges the Serang Regent to recommend the revision of 2014 City Minimum Wage (UMK) from Rp2,340,000 to be Rp2,442,000. “With only a small minimum wage amount, the labors are not prosperous enough,” said the Chief of Indonesian Prosperous Workers Union (KSBSI) DPC of Serang, Amir Sanusi. After the blockade, they continued their rally to the Serang Regent Office.
Previously, Banten Governor Atut Chosiyah had already set the 2014 City Minimum Wage, but only to seven cities in Banten, which is Rp1.4 million to Rp2.4 million. Only one more city for the UMK to be set, and that is Serang. It has not being done yet because there have not been any recommendation from the Regent to the Provincial government about Serang’s minimum wage.
22:10:53 local time BANGLADESH
* Rising living costs eat up RMG workers’ wage benefit :
Ready-made garment (RMG) workers will gain little from the new wage structure as the costs of accommodation, food, transportation and other basic requirements have gone up significantly in the country’s industrial belts, much ahead of its implementation.
Although garment makers and workers’ leaders agreed to the final recommendation by the wage board that had increased the minimum monthly wage for a worker to Tk 5,300 on last November 21, the gazette notification regarding the hike hasn’t yet been published.
After a visit to the densely populated industrial hubs like Ashulia, Savar and Dhaka, it was found that most of the landlords have already increased house rents by nearly 50 per cent on an average.
On the other hand, transportation fares, prices of kitchen items and other things have also gone up by 30 to 40 per cent there immediately after the announcement of the new wages.
Workers have expressed their serious concern over the sudden rise in their day-to-day expenses, saying they would not get the benefit of the 77 per cent wage-hike due to the illogical increase in house rents, as the rise in expenses in some cases might cost much more than the amount they would receive from the latest wage enhancement, which has come into effect from the current month.
Talking to the FE, Emamul Hoque, quality inspector of Bando Design of Sterling Group located at Sarkar Market area in Ashulia, said, last week his landlord had asked him to pay an increased amount in house rent from this December.
“Now, I will have to spend Tk 1300 instead of Tk 900 for a ‘pocket-room’ having no gas facility. But I’ll get Tk 1200 as house rent under the new wage structure,” he said, adding that the house owners had made the hike citing the latest wage of Tk 5,300 (US$ 68), which had been readjusted upward from the previous Tk 3,000 as minimum monthly wage.
* Bangladesh factory owners wary of wage increase:
Pay raise for garment workers could hurt competitiveness, bosses say
Millions of Bangladeshi garment workers-key players in a supply chain that produces inexpensive clothing for Western retailers-got a pay raise over the weekend, as a new government-mandated minimum wage of $68 a month kicked in, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
That puts Bangladesh into roughly the same league as other low-cost apparel exporters such as India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. But factory owners here said the increase risks making the industry, a mainstay of the impoverished country’s economy, less competitive.
“We are extremely concerned, especially because we are all negotiating for the next season with our customers,” said Rubana Huq, managing director of Mohammadi Group, a large exporter that produces for global retailers such as Wal-Mart Inc. and Hennes & Mauritz HM-B.SK +1.11 per cent AB.
Before this weekend’s rise, Bangladeshi garment workers’ minimum wage was 3,000 takas, or about $40, a month. Factory owners had argued for a smaller increase, of about 50 per cent. Labor groups initially had pressed for 8,000 takas, or about $100, but most large unions said they were satisfied with the raise.
Experienced workers generally earn significantly more than the minimum wage each month because of large amounts of overtime work. Before the increase, a seamstress with three years’ experience typically took home more than 8,000 takas a month.
Factory owners said the wage increase means they will need to charge more.
Global apparel companies, looking for a cheaper alternative to China, have increasingly turned to Bangladesh for basic, labor-intensive products such as casual pants, T-shirts and sweaters that don’t usually require highly trained workers or sophisticated machinery.
* Banks to remain open Saturday for garment wage:
Bangladesh Bank yesterday instructed the banks to keep their branches open on Saturday to help garment makers pay wages to workers and employees.
Banks have been asked to keep their branches open in the capital, Ashulia, Tongi, Gazipur, Savar, Narayanganj and Chittagong, where most of the country’s garment factories are located.
The order from the central bank came following a request from Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the platform for the apparel makers.
The banks have also been told to ensure proper security of the branches to be kept open on the day, the central bank said in a statement.
* Export stops:
Goods piled up at industries but no way to ship those
Factories are overflowing with finished goods due to the countrywide blockade that began on November 26, with many factory owners considering temporarily shutting down production for a dearth of storage space.
For instance, take an apparel factory spanning 20,000 square feet that produces 1,500 pieces of garments each day. After accommodating the cutting, sewing, finishing and packing workstations and office space for management, the factory would be left with storage space of 3,000 to 5,000 square feet, enough to accommodate 7-10 days’ output.
Now, if the plant is unable to send out the finished products in 9 out of 10 days, it would easily reach its storage limit. In reality, most of the factories are staring at this conundrum, thanks to the nine days of countrywide blockade that the opposition alliance has enforced in the past 10 days.
Nizam Uddin, production manager of AG Textile Mills, which manufactures fabric for the garment sector, said the factory has been hit at both ends by the blockade: both the inflow of raw materials such as yarn and outflow of fabrics, have stalled.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Businessmen seek interim loan from government to pay wages:
They urged the respective trade bodies to set up a fund with the help of the government’s special privilege as they could not make shipment due to political unrest
Businessmen of the country yesterday expressed their concern saying they might not be able to pay their workers’ salaries if the prevailing political crisis persisted.
They urged the respective trade bodies to set up a fund with the help of the government’s special privilege as they could not make shipment due to political unrest.
“Owners are passing a crucial time as the production and shipment are being disrupted leading to fund shortage,” Mohammad Hatem, first vice-president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), said.
A group of owners urged the BKMEA to appeal to the government for an interim loan to pay the wages of workers, otherwise they would not be able to pay workers’ salary, he added.
“Owners have to pay wages as per the new wage structure while we are facing cash crunch,” said Hatem.
* EU GSP threat looms large:
Bangladesh runs the risk of losing its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facilities in the European Union (EU) if it fails to fulfil key EU conditions – trade union rights for workers and greater safety in workplace – within a given timeframe.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht issued the threat at the ninth ministerial-level summit of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Indonesia on Wednesday, reports bdnews24.com.
Bangladesh had earlier forfeited its special trading status in the US market, at least in connection with a set of non-apparel commodities, for similar shortcomings.
Gucht said Bangladesh would have to achieve significant progress within a fixed timeframe in line with the roadmap to keep the duty-free access to the EU market.
Bangladesh had agreed in July to fulfil conditions recommended by the EU following a fire in Tazreen Fashions and the Rana Plaza collapse that killed over a thousand people.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* BD runs risk of losing GSP in EU:
Bangladesh runs the risk of losing its GSP facilities in the European Union (EU) if it does not comply with conditions set by the EU such as trade union rights for workers and greater safety in workplaces.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht issued the threat at the ninth ministerial-level summit of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Indonesia on Wednesday. Gucht said Bangladesh would have to achieve significant progress within a fixed timeframe in line with the roadmap to keep the duty free access to the EU market, according to a news agency.
to read. & read more. & read more.
* EU warns Bangladesh of compliance:
It indicates following the US in suspending GSP
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht yesterday warned Bangladesh of implementing the mutually agreed roadmap to improve the security of readymade garment factories to avert a serious consequence in its export trade.
“If nothing substantial progress is made, there will be a serious problem with the EU and EU parliament,” he told a press conference on the sidelines of ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia.
Bangladesh enjoys duty-free and quota-free market access of its products to the European market under the Everything But Arms (EBA) programme of the EU – the largest export destination of Bangladesh.
The EU Trade Commissioner was replying to a question about their intention over the trade concession to Bangladesh as the USA has suspended the GSP facilities in June after the deadliest Rana Plaza factory collapse and Tazrin Fashion fire incident.
He rang alarm bells for the first time after signing the EU and Bangladesh agreement on improving the factory condition on July 8, mediated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
* Plan to inform foreign envoys about labour standard:
It would explain the real situation of labour standard in Bangladesh a lack of which considered to have suspended the export preference
The Ministry of Commerce has undertaken a plan to hold talks with the Dhaka-based ambassadors of other countries, specially United States, Canada and European Union, in an effort to get back the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for local export items.
It would explain the real situation of labour standard in Bangladesh a lack of which considered to have suspended the export preference, officials said.
Commerce Secretary Mahbud Ahmed will hold a meeting with the ambassadors in the middle of this month to inform them about how the government is trying to execute labour standards in consistent with the outline of the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), said a senior official.
* TICFA agreement challenged in HC:
A writ petition was filed on Wednesday in public interest seeking a directive on the government to explain as to why signing of Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement with the USA should not be declared unconstitutional.
In the writ petition filed by three Supreme Court lawyers—Md. Nasir Uddin, Ariful Islam and M Monirul Islam Khan—and a citizen, Abdullah Al Mamun, also prayed for a directive to prevent the authorities from taking further steps to implement the treaty signed on November 25, 2013 in Washington.
The secretaries to the cabinet division, the prime minister’s office, law, commerce, foreign, and US ambassador to Bangladesh were made respondents to the writ petition.
The Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement, in short TICFA, stipulates setting up of a US-Bangladesh Forum on Trade and Investment on November 25.
The draft Ticfa deal states that the forum meetings would monitor bilateral trade and investment relations and identify the opportunities for expansion of trade and investment and identify and remove the hindrances.
* Writ against ‘TICFA’ agreement:
A writ petition was filed with the High Court on Wednesday challenging the legality of signing the much-talked about Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA) with the US.
Supreme Court Lawyer Mokhsedul Islam filed the petition with concerned department of the HC.
Cabinet Secretary, secretary of Prime Minister’s Office, Secretary for law ministry, commerce secretary, foreign secretary and Bangladesh Ambassador to US were made defendants in the writ.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more.
* Writ challenging legality of TICFA filed:
A writ petition was filed with the High Court (HC) Wednesday challenging legality of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA), signed recently between Bangladesh and the USA.
In the petition, a rule was sought from the HC as to why the signing of the much-talked-about treaty on November 25, 2013 in Washington would not be declared illegal, sources in the Supreme Court (SC) said.
During pending of the rule, the petitioners also sought the HC’s injunction order to restrain the respondents concerned from taking any further steps to implement the treaty.
* TICFA’s impact on Bangladesh’s IPR regime: Nothing lies beneath:
The existence of national IPR laws, in addition to the international treaties on IPR, compounds Bangladesh to comply with and enforce IPR within her legal system by default
On November 25, 2013, Bangladesh and the US have signed the “Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA).” The treaty has been signed to ensure a platform for Bangladesh and the US to formally engage in regular discussions, explore opportunities of bilateral trade and investments and identify and overcome barriers to increase bilateral trade and investment between these two countries.
One of the main aspects of TICFA is that the treaty, in addition of fostering bilateral trade and investment, acknowledges the importance of compliance of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in accordance with the national laws and the international treaties that are applicable to these countries.
This, nonetheless, sensitised various quarters including the members of the civil societies, activists and the edified citizens, who are concerned that TICFA will have a far-reaching impact in terms of the implementation of the IPR in Bangladesh.
* Raw jute export plunges:
The export of raw jute has plunged in the current fiscal year due to devaluation of currency of neighbouring India, a major raw jute importer from Bangladesh, jute department officials said.
They said the drastic fall in the raw jute export would discourage the growers from cultivating more jute and they (the growers) would also be deprived of fair price of their produce.
According to jute department statistics, 2.15 lakh bales of raw jute were exported till December 2, 2013, while 20.55 lakh bales of raw jute were exported in the last fiscal year 2012-13.
In the FY 2011-12 some 22.85 lakh bales of raw jute were exported.
21:40:53 local time INDIA
* Garment workers ramp up campaign for wage revision:
Anusha from Manamathi village off East Coast Road spends nearly 14 hours daily away from home on travel and work at a garment unit in Mahindra City, Chengalpet.
After all her effort, she earns merely Rs.3,000 a month, an amount that is not enough to make ends meet.
Several women workers like her have been slogging for long hours in garment and fashion industrial units around the city for meagre salaries. In a bid to draw the attention of the government to their demands for an increase in the minimum wages, members of the Garments and Fashion Workers Union are conducting a postcard campaign.
Nearly three lakh workers, mostly women, are employed in about 5,000 garment units around Chennai. Addressing presspersons here on Wednesday, S. Elizabeth Rani, treasurer of the Union, said she has been working for nine years and earns Rs.4,000 a month.
“I have not had much of a hike in salary. But the cost of essential items has gone up manifold. I am forced to borrow money to meet my daily expenses,” she said.
* Industry demands better infra for erstwhile ‘Manchester of the East’:
Industrialists in Kanpur, major hub of leather; textile and packaging, rued lack of a progressive industrial policy in UP
Kanpur, the erstwhile ‘Manchester of the East’, has been the victim of utter neglect and apathy by the successive regimes in Uttar Pradesh, despite the region contributing handsomely to the exchequer by way of taxes.
The industrialists based in Kanpur, which is a major hub of leather, textile and packaging industries in this part of India, rued the lack of a progressive industrial policy in UP.
“The situation is really bad so far as industry is concerned. The government is simply not concerned whether industries survive or not,” Jet Knitwear Managing Director Balram Narula, also a leading voice for industry in UP, said.
* Creating a transparent market for cotton growers:
Appachi eco-logic cotton project is a unique organic cotton contract farm model in the Western Ghats region of Kabini Reservoir.
The project covers nearly 1,200 farmers spread over 1,875 acres. Over 17 per cent of the area comes under reserve forests of both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and exposing the cultivation fields to wild animal attacks is forcing farmers to start cotton cultivation on a mono cropping basis instead of food crops.
For growing cotton the farmers for a long time were using only chemical fertilizers and pesticides extensively, thus destroying the soil fertility and the ecology besides paying a huge amount to buy the inputs.
“To begin with, the process, right from procuring seeds to selling the harvested produce, proved a nightmare for them since seeds would not be available on time and local moneylenders and middlemen used to fleece them since most of the farmers were either small, marginal or tribal growers,” says Mr. Arun Balamatti, Programme Coordinator, JSS Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Suttur, Nanjanagud Taluk, Mysore.
21:40:53 local time SRI LANKA
* Export earnings increase to record levels in October:
The external sector strengthened further with the trade deficit contracting sharply in October 2013,the Central Bank said yesterday.
Earnings from exports increased to record levels, reflecting the ongoing recovery in the global economy, while expenditure on imports declined. The contraction of the trade deficit, higher inflows to the services account and an increase in private transfers contributed to reducing the current account deficit.
Earnings from textiles and garments exports grew by 46.8 per cent, year-on-year, to US dollars 436 million in October 2013, which was the highest monthly value of export of garment and textiles ever recorded.
Exports of garments to both the EU and USA, which are Sri Lanka’s major export destinations, recorded remarkable growth rates of 53.2 per cent and 43.4 per cent, respectively in October 2013, reflecting the recovery in those economies as well as seasonal demand.
21:10:53 local time PAKISTAN
* Loss of $3 billion export earnings feared: Ministry against suspending gas to textile sector:
The Ministry of Commerce and Textile is reportedly up in arms against proposed suspension of gas to textile sector during winter 2013-14, saying that any such decision might result in loss of $3 billion export earnings in next three months, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.
The Economic Co-ordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet, in its meeting on December 2, 2013 was all set to approve gas load management programme 2013-14 but Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar deferred the item on the plea that his health did not allow him to give more time to the meeting.
The textile value chain contributes 55 percent of Pakistani exports and employs 39 percent of industrial workforce. Pakistan is likely to get trade preferences from the European Union (EU) under GSP Plus scheme from January 1, 2014. Considering the current state of affairs with respect to availability of natural gas and electricity, it is feared that textile manufacturers will not be able to gain benefits from this window of opportunity, if remedial measures are not taken.
* APTMA trims down demand for gas during winter:
APTMA trimmed down its demand sharply for gas supply during winter season from 450MMCFD to 100MMCFD, a smart move that pushed the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources to withdraw summary for complete supply suspension to Punjab-based textile mills.
During the previous years, APTMA was following a strategy of confrontation to secure gas supply for Punjab-based textile mills during winter. The CNG sector was a prime victim of this strategy, which has now reduced to its size due to aggressive moves of APTMA during last few years.
* Decision to withdraw cut in gas supply hailed:
Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) President Engineer Suhail Bin Rashid has expressed his relief at the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources’ decision to withdraw a summary on suspending gas supply to textile industries in Punjab during the peak winter months.
In a statement issued yesterday, Rashid said that GSP Plus Status is likely to be granted by European Parliament from January 01, 2014 which would be a unique opportunity for Pakistan. “Our exports might go up from $700 million to $1 billion per year along with generating employment to 100,000 people,” said Rashid. “In addition this would also create economic activities in the country.”
* Pakistan govt to resolve energy crisis for textile growth: