in the news on-line, 6 Dec. 2013

21:00:37 local time map of china CHINA

* Up to 70 percent of women factory workers in Guangzhou sexually harassed:

Up to 70 percent of women workers in Guangzhou’s factories have been sexually harassed, a survey by a labour rights group in the city has found. The problem is so serious that 15 percent of victims felt they had no option but to leave their job to get away from their harasser.

The survey of 134 female employees, predominately production line workers, revealed that up to 70 percent had been subject to offensive comments, lewd jokes or whistling, while 32 percent reported annoying touching. About 25 percent had received obscene phone calls or messages and 30 percent had been shown sexual images. Some women had even been subject to indecent exposure or propositioned by co-workers.

About 43 percent of the respondents said they suffered in silence, while 47 percent said they actively resisted the harassment. However, nearly all respondents agreed that their employer, the trade union and the women’s federation, and even the police would be of little help in addressing the problem.

Eight of the respondents for example stated that: “The factory wouldn’t care and the police simply do not have the time for it.”
read more.

* Italian president calls for legal working conditions after factory fire:

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Wednesday stressed the need to ensure legal, safe working conditions after a fire killed seven Chinese workers at a factory in central Italy.

While giving his condolences to the local Chinese community, Napolitano underlined the importance of “interventions to prevent illegal working conditions.”
The president said the goal was to combine economic development in the area, which is a major manufacturing district in Europe, with the protection of human life and health.

Echoing Napolitano’s remarks, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said his government would “implement a planning and reorganization” in the district.
A fire broke out early Sunday at a garment plant in the suburbs of the city of Prato, just north of Florence in central Italy, where there is a large concentration of Chinese businesses employing at least 30,000 workers.
read more.

 * Fire kills seven and injures three in Italy:

At least seven migrant garment workers of Chinese origin died and three were injured in the blaze on 1 December 2013 in an industrial zone of the town of Prato in Tuscany region of Italy.

The fire happened on Sunday morning in a warehouse of a textile factory, on top of which according to local mass media reports there was an improvised dormitory made of small cardboard compartments where 11 workers slept.

The victims were reportedly Chinese immigrants.

Over recent years once one of the biggest textile dominated the industrial zone of Macrolotto where the tragedy happened has seen the biggest decline since World War Two. Likewise in many other industrialized countries in the search for bigger profit many textile companies moved from Italy to countries with less protected and lower paid workforce.

However, that was not the end of textile industry in Macrolotto zone. In fact the zone saw a new development, and for some years many Chinese companies come there. Producing in Italy makes part of the branding and is an added value to the final product. Currently there are more than 4,500 companies leading commercial activities in the zone. These companies employ some 30,000 legal migrants of Chinese origin and an unclear number of illegal migrants working and living in precarious conditions similar to the ones resulted in death of the workers.
read more.

* Bio-tech adopted for clean production in China:

On Dec 2, Novozymes and China Knitting Industry Association (CKIA) signed a strategic partnership agreement in Beijing to jointly promote the sustainable development of biological solutions in the Chinese textile industry.

In particular, the agreement addresses bio-innovative application and research in the knitting sector.
Low carbon emissions, energy savings and environmental protection are among the goals of the agreement. The two sides will cooperate in many areas, including sewage treatment at knitting enterprises and energy conservation. Novozymes will provide basic tests, research and technical guidance.
Today, the textile industry is confronted with increasing costs and serious environmental problems.
read more.

* China’s cotton output to shrink:


Cotton pickers are busy harvesting the crop in a field in Hami, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. The Ministry of Agriculture is estimating that the nation’s harvest will be about 6.3 million metric tons in 2013, down 540,000 tons from last year. [Photo / China Daily]

Textile mills turn to buy cheaper Indian cotton yarn to cut costs

Affected by adverse weather, a reduced planting area and lower Indian cotton prices, China’s cotton output is expected to drop sharply this year compared with 2012, which will result in increased cotton imports.

Lu Huaiyu, vice-president of the China Cotton Association, said that the cold weather during the cotton seeding season, heavy rains and then a drought in major cotton-planting regions such as Hunan, Anhui, and Jiangsu provinces between June and August have severely cut the nation’s cotton production.
read more.

* Humen garment district hopes to grow by thinking small:

Humen, a well-known fashion center for women’s wear, is beefing up its garment industry with children’s wear and e-commerce.

In August, the Humen township introduced policies to support the manufacture of youngsters’ clothes.
Li Dingru, deputy town chief of Humen, believes the town will become the most prominent children’s wear production and exhibition center in China.

At the end of last year, about 600 companies were making children’s apparel in the town. Annual sales of about 9.7 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) accounted for 25 percent of Humen’s total apparel sales of 38.6 billion yuan.
The town aims to increase its percentage of children’s apparel to 30 percent and 40 percent in terms of sales and production value of its garment industry by 2020.
A center for children’s wear, covering 50,000 square meters with 1,500 rooms, is under construction and will open for business next year.
read more.

20:00:37 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Why one of the country’s biggest fashion brands is shutting and rethinking:

One of Cambodia’s most recognisable fashion labels is to close – but not for long. The founder is overseeing the creation of a more mature replacement that will launch next week. Will Jackson reports.

Keok’Jay is one of the Cambodian fashion industry’s biggest success stories.

Over the past five years the business has grown from nothing into a profitable clothing manufacture, retail and export concern. It now has two retail outlets, employs 30 staff at two workshops and exports to a handful of wholesale customers in the US, Australia and Norway.
And all the while it has managed to maintain strong ethical principles.
All which is why it might seem strange that the label is shutting down for good on Sunday. The shops will close and the clothing lines will be discontinued.
read more.
PPP new

19:00:37 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* RMG minimum wage gazette today:

A novice worker will get Tk4,300 with a basic of Tk2,200

The government is set to publish the gazette of the minimum wage for entry-level readymade garment workers on Thursday.

Secretary for labour Mikail Shipar confirmed the news to the Dhaka Tribune.
He said: “The gazette has already been sent to the BG press for printing.”
Earlier, on November 21, the government-formed wage board finalised Tk5,300 as minimum wage with a basic of Tk3,000 for entry-level garment workers.
read more. & read more.  & read

* Gazette on RMG workers’ wage hike published, giving effect from Dec 1:

Owners sceptic of abilities, workers fear delay

The government made Thursday a gazette notification, paving the way for implementing a 77 per cent hike in the minimum wage for ready-made garment (RMG) workers, effective from December 1.

However, the apparel makers have expressed their doubt about the timely implementation of the new wages as the sector is passing through bad times due to the ongoing political turmoil.

Demanding proper and timely execution of the new wage structure, the labour leaders said they feared any further delay in implementing the latest wages could spark further bouts of violence in the RMG industrial belts.

Meanwhile, the gazette was published 17 days after a meeting of the government-formed wage board in which all the parties, including the apparel makers, labour leaders, reached a consensus on a new wage structure.
read more. & read more.
FE bd daily star bd

* RMG workers’ wage structure gazetted:

The government on Thursday published a gazette notification on the wage board award for apparel workers and others on the staff at apparel factories setting the monthly minimum wage at Tk 5,300 from Tk 3,000.

The new wage structure will be effective from December 1, according to the gazette notification. The gazette also said that the basic wage would increase by 5% every year.
Apparel workers have been classified under seven categories and other members on the staff under four categories in the wage board award.
The United Garments Workers’ Unity Federation president, Nazma Akter, told New Age that they had agreed the minimum wage but had disputes over the wage structure of other grades.
‘We do not want to see any more labour unrest centring on the minimum wage. We urge the government to reconsider the wage structure of other grades but grade 7,’ she said.
Nazma also called on owners to implement the new wage structure in time.
The wage board for apparel workers made its final recommendation for Tk 5,300 in the monthly minimum wage for entry-level workers at the last board meeting on November 21.
read more.
BD new age

* Inflation picks up for first time since July on political unrest:

Bangladesh’s annual inflation rate rose in November, ending a declining trend since July, as political protests against upcoming elections cripple the supply chain.

November’s rate was 7.15%, up from 7.03%in October, the statistics office said on Thursday, with higher prices for both food and non-food items.
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Ittefaq BD new age

* Inflation rises as shutdown rips supply chain:

Economists say the rate may go up further if political unrest lingers

20131206 DAILYSTAR Inflation

Inflation rose by 0.12 percentage point to 7.15 percent in November, compared to the previous month, mainly due to a supply chain disruption amid political violence and shutdowns.
Economists warned the rate will go up further if shutdowns and blockades continue.
But officials at Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics said inflation did not go up much despite political unrest and will remain contained in future.
Food inflation increased by 0.17 percentage point and stood at 8.55 percent in November, while non-food inflation rose by 0.04 percentage point to reach 5.08 percent, according to BBS.
read more. & read more.
daily star bd DHAKATRIBUNE

* RMG worker gang-raped:

A readymade garment worker was violated by a group of miscreants Wednesday night at Killarpool of Ishakhan road in the Narayanganj city.

Narayanganj sadar model thana police arrested two young men named Ramjan, 25, and Sajal, 19 in this connection.
Narayanganj model thana subinspector Ataur Rahaman said that the girl was going home after her work on Wednesday night around 11:00pm.

When she reached Killarpool, some five young men intercepted her and took her to an abandoned house.
Later, the four among five criminals raped her consecutively.
A case was filed with the Narayanganj sadar model thana in this connection.
to read.
BD new age

* US, EU retailers diverting orders from B’desh to India: report:

The labour unrest in the readymade garments sector in Bangladesh has put Indian apparel exporters in an advantageous position, reports Times of India.

The US and EU are diverting orders from Bangladesh to India to meet their apparel requirements for the upcoming summer season. Indian apparel exporters are making most of the situation. They are scaling up operations and negotiating deals with foreign buyers so that they can enjoy a bigger pie of the overseas markets.
Talking to the Economic Times, DK Nair, general secretary, Confederation of Indian Textile Industry, said, ‘Though we do not want to take advantage of any country’s problem, it is true that orders are being diverted to India from US and EU, and this is helping our apparel exports.’
Export in dollar terms for April-October of the current fiscal has increased by 15.5 per cent over the same period of the previous financial year and reached $8,259 million. In rupee terms, apparel exports from India have increased by 26.18 per cent in the same period to touch Rs 49,096 crore compared to Rs 38,911 crore in the same period of the previous year.
read more. & read more.
BD new age    et

* Lukewarm response from exporters:

RMG products under police escort –
High fares and unavailability of transports blamed

Apparel makers are showing little interest in sending their products under police escort to Chittagong port during countrywide shutdowns, as they apparently cannot rely on the security measures and are reluctant to pay higher transportation charges.

“Around 25% to 30% of owners are sending their products with police escorts, while the others are not interested due to the high fares and unavailability of vehicles,” said Shahidullah Azim, vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

Disruptions in the transport sector due to the ongoing political unrest in the country have also hit production in factories as deliveries of raw materials have been hampered, Azim added.

Despite a government offer to police escort for RMG products being sent to Chittagong for shipment overseas, factory owners are not showing much interest as many goods-carrying vehicles came under attack by picketers during the opposition-enforced hartals and blockades of the last few months, BGMEA officials said.
read more.

* Input shortage takes toll on RMG production:

Around 40% production is being hampered due to raw materials shortage

Production at the country’s readymade garment factories fell substantially as the owners were facing difficulties to bring raw materials due to ongoing political unrest marked by hartals and blockades.

Besides, the global retailers have also stopped putting orders on apprehension that the suppliers would not be able to meet the shipment deadlines due to political uncertainties ahead of next general election.

“Around 30% to 40% raw materials are being brought to the factories through alternative means due to the series of blockades,”Shahidullah Azim, BGMEA vice president, told the Dhaka Tribune.

He said around 40% production is being hampered due to raw materials shortage. It would be tough for the sector to meet the export target as both the shipment and production are facing setback, he added.
read more.

* Apparel makers to form human chain Saturday:

Upset over the mindless violence across the country, apparel manufacturers have decided to form a human chain on Saturday in front of the BGMEA complex in the city, aiming to send out a strong message to the politicians – ‘save the RMG sector, save the economy’.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and Bangladesh Textiles Mills Association (BTMA) will jointly form the human chain, said a BGMEA leader on Thursday.
read more. & read more.
UNB BD new age

* Pay heed to EU’s GSP threat:

After the suspension of GSP (Generalized System of Preference) facility by the US government early this year, which allows duty free access to exports, following the fire at Tazreen garments and the collapse of Rana Plaza which killed over 1200 garment workers, the European Union (EU) has sounded an alert this time that Bangladesh may lose GSP if it fails to improve workers’ conditions in garment factories forthwith.

The US suspension of GSP facility has evidently had a very small impact on Bangladesh except to create a negative impact to highlight the country as a place where labours are subjected to harsh working conditions. The existing GSP facility to the US does not cover Dhaka’s major exportable items like apparel items, shrimps or leather goods.
But all such items enjoy duty free access to the EU nations. News reports said the EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht’s threat came at a press briefing in the sideline of the Bali WTO Ministerial Summit on Wednesday.
read more.

* TICFA: The capitulation:

After years of fruitless deliberations, the government has finally succumbed to internal and external imperatives to sign a Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) with the USA.

The USA had sent the first draft of the agreement under the rubric of Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to the Ministry of Commerce more than a decade ago. The USA has similar innocuous-looking agreements with a host of relatively small countries. The principal purpose of these agreements is to provide a forum for regular discussions on trade and investment related issues between the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the trade ministries of these countries.
read more. & to read.
banglachronicleFE bd

* Negative growth for jute sector:

Negative growth in export earning from jute at 20.66 per cent, as registered by the sector in the four months between July-October is a cause for serious concern.

The slump in the export of jute and jute goods during the past months is definitely on the high side. But the overall development on the export front of jute leaves a lesson to be learnt. Even amidst this bleak environment, the export of jute sacks and bags registered a 56.38 per cent growth as against the negative growth for raw jute, yarn and twine export.
This is a clear indication at where lies the priority. Primary jute goods prove uncompetitive in the market and because of lack of value addition earns smaller or no profit.
The country is reaping now what it sowed at the beginning of the new millennium. It was the time when India spotted the potential of this natural fabric and started investing in its jute sector in a big way.
Closed jute mills were reopened, new ones were set up and even an industrial jute park was established near Kolkata in Paschimbango.
read more.
FE bd

18:30:37 local time map of india INDIA

* Bangladesh labour unrest sees US, EU apparel exporters diverting orders to India:

The labour unrest in the readymade garments sector in Bangladesh has put Indian apparel exporters in an advantageous position.

The US and EU are diverting orders from Bangladesh to India to meet their apparel requirements for the upcoming summer season. Indian apparel exporters are making most of the situation. They are scaling up operations and negotiating deals with foreign buyers so that they can enjoy a bigger pie of the overseas markets.

Talking to ET, DK Nair, general secretary, Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI), said: “Though we do not want to take advantage of any country’s problem, it is true that orders are being diverted to India from US and EU, and this is helping our apparel exports.”
read more.

* Apparel exports may touch $60 bn in 3 yrs:

The growth is mainly expected to come from South America, Japan and Israel

are expected to grow by 20 percent to $16 billion during the present financial year on the back of growing demand in the new markets like Latin America and Africa.

“We are seeing this fiscal better than the last year. We expect a 20 percent jump in 2012-13 from $13.4 billion in 2011-12,” Apparel Export Promotion Council () Chairman A Sakthivel said.
He said the combined effort of the government and exporters to explore new markets would “give better fruits” this fiscal.
The growth is mainly expected to come from South America, Japan and Israel, the Chairman said, adding that demand in traditional markets such as the US, the UK, Germany and France has also started picking up.
read more.

* Powerloom weavers oppose inspection by officials:

Traffic was disrupted for a few hours here on Thursday when several powerloom weavers blocked traffic in protest against an inspection by officials.

Annadurai and Dhavasiraj who were engaged in the business said that Aruppukottai was well known for operation of handloom and powerloom units. In the wake of acute shortage of manpower, even handloom units were gradually turning into powerloom units.
Meanwhile, the State government had declared that yarns made by handloom units should not be used in powerloom units for manufacturing cloths in order to protect the handloom industry.
But the unprecedented power shutdowns in the last few days lasting for as much as 16 to 18 hours had forced some powerloom units to use yarns made in handloom units.
read more.
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* Load-shedding cripples Tirupur’s knitwear industry:

The Rs 13,000-crore at in Tamil Nadu is faced with a peculiar problem.

The export-based industry has been witnessing an uptick in enquiries and orders, but it is unable to accept all orders. Reason: unprecedented load-shedding of eight to 10 hours a day.

With the industry reeling under the frequent power cuts, most of which is unscheduled, almost all units have been forced to run on gen-sets. This is a costly proposition for the units because gen-sets cost Rs 18-19 for a unit of power, compared with the Grid’s Rs 6.5, industry sources said. Some units that could not afford to hire or buy gen-sets have downed shutters, they added.
read more.

* Child labourers rescued from factories in Cottonpet:

As many as 33 children aged between 6 and 16 years were rescued from four factories in Cottonpet in a joint operation carried out by the labour department, police and members of non-governmental organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA).

They were engaged in stitching bags. It is illegal to employ children below the age of 14.
A majority are from Bihar. An official of the Labour Department said that most of the children were made to work in cramped spaces for over 12 hours every day. “They worked, ate and slept in the same space. They were paid Rs. 3,500 per month.
The wages were sent to their parents in their hometown,” the official said.

When The Hindu spoke to some of the children, they complained that their employers did not allow them to go outside the workplace. Some said that they had been brought to Bangalore by agents on the pretext of being provided “good education”.

A 12-year-old from Nepal, who dropped out of school two years ago, said that he was forced to work as he has three siblings to support. “My mother and I would work in the fields in Nepal. When my mother fell ill suddenly a few months ago, I had to come here so that my younger siblings had food on their plates,” he added.
read more.
Return to frontpage

18:00:37 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Factory fire flares up fears in Walled City:

The rooftop of a three-storey building was burnt down while goods and raw-material worth hundreds of thousands of rupees reduced to ashes when fire broke out in an old structure in congested Sootar Mandi, rescuers said on Thursday.

However, no casualty was reported in the fire, which erupted in the second floor of the building located inside the walled city. Police said that the fire created panic in the entire Lohari Gate area as several policemen were deployed around the site to provide smooth passage to the firefighting vehicles.
Rescue officials say they believe the chemical caught fire, shortly after an unidentified smoker threw a burning cigarette on the packets placed in a godown.
Several firefighters on fire brigade vehicles rushed to the site immediately but could not reach the spot to launch operation because of narrow streets. The building was evacuated soon after the fire broke out.
The rescue workers managed to put out the fire after hours long hectic efforts. Police said that a local businessman had set up two small shoemaking units on the first and second floor respectively while his office was established on the top floor. Further investigation was underway.
read more.
the NATIONnew

* Uninterrupted gas supply: APTMA accused of using Punjab chief minister’s clout:

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has been accused of using the clout of Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif to convince Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for an uninterrupted supply of gas to Punjab-based textile industry in winter months, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

The sources said members of APTMA, Punjab, led by S.M Tanveer and Ijaz Gohar met the Chief Minister Punjab and apprised him about the adverse impact of gas suspension on the Punjab-based textile industry.
read more.

* Bilateral relations: FCCI, EU discuss trade opportunities:

Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) President Suhail Bin Rashid has discussed new opportunities for trade and investment during a seminar organised by the European Union (EU) Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark in Lahore.

While appreciating the efforts of Wigemark, Rashid said that a large number of European companies were interested to invest in Pakistan.
“The EU countries have contributed more than 36 % share towards the total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Pakistan,” added Rashid.
read more.

* PCGA hails Prime Minister’s package:

Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) has hailed the Prime minister’s economic package, describing it a revolutionary step towards the economic stability and industrialisation.

Talking to media men here on Tuesday PCGA chairman Mukhtar Ahmed Baloch said that the amnesty and incentives-laden package would improve sentiments, investment climate, tax base and the job market while reducing cost of doing business.
read more.



map of Asia

The next newsletter and news bulletin will be published 9 December 2013,
Unless events require an extra edition.


* Up to 70 percent of women factory workers in Guangzhou sexually harassed
* Italian president calls for legal working conditions after factory fire
* Fire kills seven and injures three in Italy
* Bio-tech adopted for clean production in China
* China’s cotton output to shrink
* Humen garment district hopes to grow by thinking small

* Why one of the country’s biggest fashion brands is shutting and rethinking

* RMG minimum wage gazette today
* Gazette on RMG workers’ wage hike published, giving effect from Dec 1
* RMG workers’ wage structure gazetted
* Inflation picks up for first time since July on political unrest
* Inflation rises as shutdown rips supply chain
* RMG worker gang-raped
* US, EU retailers diverting orders from B’desh to India: report
* Lukewarm response from exporters
* Input shortage takes toll on RMG production
* Apparel makers to form human chain Saturday
* Pay heed to EU’s GSP threat
* TICFA: The capitulation
* Negative growth for jute sector

* Bangladesh labour unrest sees US, EU apparel exporters diverting orders to India
* Apparel exports may touch $60 bn in 3 yrs
* Powerloom weavers oppose inspection by officials
* Load-shedding cripples Tirupur’s knitwear industry
* Child labourers rescued from factories in Cottonpet

* Factory fire flares up fears in Walled City
* Uninterrupted gas supply: APTMA accused of using Punjab chief minister’s clout
* Bilateral relations: FCCI, EU discuss trade opportunities
* PCGA hails Prime Minister’s package

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

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