00:16:47 local time CHINA
* China sets new emission limits for leather industry:
* China amends leather products’ import tariff for 2014:
23:16:47 local time CAMBODIA
* Global unions and brands to meet with Cambodian government:
On 19 February, IndustriALL Global Union, the ITUC and a number of global brands will meet with the Cambodian government to discuss the situation in the country’s garment industry following police violence that left four workers dead.
The violent end to the strike of Cambodian garment workers, rallying for an increased minimum wage in January, left four people dead, 39 injured and 23 workers imprisoned. Recently two workers were released. Of the remaining 21 detainees, 16 are on hunger strike.
IndustriALL Global Union and the ITUC will be joined by brands including H&M and Puma in the talks with the Cambodian government in Phnom Penh on Wednesday 19 February.
IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina says:
“It is encouraging that the government has agreed to meet with us and some of the major brands for constructive dialogue. It is in the interest of all to find a path towards a sustainable garment industry with living wages and freedom of association in Cambodia.”
In a rapid response, IndustriALL, UNI, the ITUC and brands joined forces in sending a letter to the Cambodian government demanding an investigation into the violence, as well as a sustainable process for reaching a new minimum wage.
22:16:47 local time BANGLADESH
* 19 accused factories pledge to allow trade unions for workers:
The assurance came in a hearing with the accused factories yesterday
Nineteen garment factories, which were accused of preventing trade unionism, have assured that they would allow the practice as per laws, said Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed.
The assurance came in a hearing with the accused factories yesterday, he said.
The commerce ministry organised the hearing after the allegations against the factories that they were barring trade unionism and harassing the workers who intended to form unions.
* Govt asks RMG owners Avoid arbitrary terminations:
The government Monday asked readymade garment (RMG) owners to avoid arbitrary termination of their workers to ensure positive working environment in the country’s apparel sector.
The readymade garment (RMG) owners were also advised to be more sympathetic about the workers for the sake of better worker-owner relations,
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said this while speaking at a views exchange meeting with 19 factory owners at the ministry on the day.
The Commerce Minister sat with the RMG owners, especially those 19 factory owners against whom there are allegations that they are not allowing trade unions in their factories or creating hindrances in trade union activities.
Mr Ahmed said garment factory owners should be more sympathetic to all their workers and should not terminate them on simple pretexts.
“We have addressed most of the issues to get back the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility, except four issues.
The four issues are:
* trade union related problems with 19 factories,
* trade union activities at Export Processing Zone (EPZ),
* appointment of 200 inspectors and
* establishment of database that would complete shortly,” he said.
* RMG factory owners should be sympathetic to workers: Tofail:
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed today said garment factory owners should be sympathetic to their workers and should not terminate them on silly grounds, as they make export quality items of the country.
“The garment factory owners should be more sympathetic to their workers as they fetch the country’s biggest export earning,” he said while speaking at a views sharing meeting at the ministry’s conference room here.
Readymade garment factory owners, representatives of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), secretary of labour and employment Mikail Shipar and secretary of commerce Mahbub Ahmed were present at the meeting.
“RMG factory owners should not terminate workers on a silly grounds because around 44 lakh workers are involved in the sector, of them around 80 per cent are female workers,” the minister said.
He said the present situation in the country is business friendly, which is better than any previous time and the garment sector is now peaceful which should be continued with caring of the owners and workers.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Tofail warns RMG makers on trade union lapses:
Commerce minister directs 19 owners to fix the problems by March 30
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday instructed the owners of the 19 garment factories that have allegedly fired their trade union leaders to rectify the situation by next month.
The move comes after the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations brought the matter to the labour and employment ministry’s attention.
Subsequently, the ministry conducted an investigation and found some of the factories to be guilty. Ahmed summoned the owners/representatives of the accused factories to his office yesterday to defend their positions.
He instructed the factory owners to rectify the situation by March 30, as the government will have to submit a progress report on the action plan laid out by the Obama administration to win back Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) status by April 15.
“Provided there are no political issues, we will get back the GSP status if we can fulfil four of the 16 action items,” the commerce minister said, adding that re-employment of the terminated workers and launch of trade unions in the 19 factories is one of the four conditions that must be fulfilled.
* 15-20 hurt as Savar RMG workers clash with cops:
At least 15 people were injured as workers demonstrating for their arrears clashed with police in Savar, on the outskirts of the capital, this morning.
Around 200 workers of CPM Knit Composite Limited started the demonstration outside the factory around 11:00am and tried to restore to vandalism demanding their salary for the month of January.
Informed by the garment authorities, police rushed to the stop and charged batons to disperse the workers.
They also fired rubber bullets when the demonstrating workers pelted brick chips on the law enforcers triggering a clash, said Mostafizur Rahman, director of Ashulia Industrial Police.
At least 15 workers were injured during the clash, witnesses said adding that they were rushed to different local hospital.
The workers claimed that the authorities shut the factory in face of workers’ demonstration on February 14 and also announced to clear the arrears after three days.
They went to the unit to collect their salary yesterday as declared by the authorities but the workers found the factory gate closed.
The workers gathered in front of the factory this morning and resumed the demonstration for the salary.
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* 12-storey dormitory for RMG workers:
State minister for women and children affairs Begum Meher Afroze yesterday said government is constructing a 12-storied dormitory at Ashulia in Savar upazila for the female garment workers to resolve their long-standing housing problems, reports BSS.
Replying to a question of treasury bench member Nurunnabi Chowdhury in the Jatiya Sansgsad, she said the dormitory building would have 836 seats.
The state minister also informed the Jatiya Sangsad that government was giving allowances of Tk 350 per month to lactating mothers in municipality and city corporation areas of 61 districts in the country.
Among them, she said the allowances are being provided to 20,939 lactating mothers working in garment factories under Bangladesh Gar-ment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).
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* Textile mill warehouse gutted in Narsingdi:
A devastating fire broke out at Joba Textile Mills Ltd at Brahmandi in Narsingdi town at about 9:00pm on Sunday and again at 5:30am yesterday.
The manager of the textile mill said, the losses due to fire was estimated at Tk 50 crore.
According to police, witnesses and mill authorities, the first fire originated from the Finishing Department of the factory at about 9:00pm and quickly spread to three other nearby
sections. Fire fighters from Narsingdi and Madhabdi rushed in after getting information and doused the fire at about 1:00am on Monday after four hours of effort.
At about 5:30 in the morning, another fire broke out in the yarn go-down of the factory. Fire units from Narsingdi, Madhabdi, Shibpur, Polash and Monohardi reached the spot and with the help of mill workers and local people brought the fire under control after 7 hours at 12:30 pm Monday.
Fire service officer Rabiullah said, it took a long time to bring the fire under control as there is no pond, canal, river or other source of water near the factory.
Factory sources said, about 360 tons of cotton, 10 modern machines in the yarn godown, cotton weighing room, raw-cotton stock room, and machinery parts were burnt to ashes. The factory manager said the cause of the second fire is still unknown.
A probe team will be formed with members from the fire service to identify the causes of fire, he said. Another official of the factory said that a separate probe will be carried out by the insurance company.
On information, a Narsingdi sadar police team and officials of the district administration visited the spot.
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* Accord starts assessing fire, building safety of RMG units from tomorrow:
Reservation of factory owners over certain standards
The Accord will start assessing fire and building-safety compliances of readymade garment (RMG) units in Bangladesh from tomorrow (Wednesday).
The assessment will take place amid some reservations from factory owners on certain standards to be followed during the inspection, people involved with the project said.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is an initiative of about 150 European brands, retailers and companies. It was formed to ensure work-place safety in the country’s apparel units industry for a period of five years following the Tazreen and Rana Plaza tragedies that killed more than 1,200 garment workers.
In the first phase, the Accord will assess 200 garment factories and is committed to complete its inspection of a total of 1,500 factories by September next, they added.
However, apparel manufacturers have raised their objections to some of standards. These include use of automatic sprinkler system, fire escapes and fire doors and future of the factories located at shared and rented buildings, the remediation plan and funds required for its execution.
“Yes, the Accord’s inspection of garment factories will start from Wednesday,” Rob Wayss, Executive Director- Bangladesh Operations of the Accord told the FE Monday.
* Retailers launch Bangladesh factory inspection:
Safety experts hired by Western retailers such as H&M and Benetton will begin a mass inspection Wednesday of clothing factories in Bangladesh, nearly a year after 1,135 garment workers died in a building collapse.
Dozens of fire officers and structural engineers will begin inspecting more than 1,500 plants and then recommend safety improvements in an exercise that is expected to last until September.
Bangladesh is the world’s second biggest clothing manufacturer and the sector is the mainstay of the impoverished South Asian nation’s economy.
But the sector has a woeful safety track record, which was highlighted in November 2012 by a fire at the Tazreen factory in Dhaka when 111 workers were killed, many of whom were unable to escape due to a lack of proper fire exits.
* Owners seek time, fund for RMG factory relocation:
Garment factory owners has sought five years to shift their production units from shared and rented buildings after a platform of European Union retailers asked them to relocate their units soon due to safety concern.
At a meeting with the representatives of EU Accord on Sunday the factory owners said that the demand for prompt relocation of the factories from shared buildings was unrealistic.
They said the owners agreed to ensure workplace safety and to shift their units from shared buildings but they needed time and fund.
The factory owners, at the meeting at the BGMEA auditorium in the capital, demanded that Accord should provide the fund it promised to give to remove safety problems in the country’s RMG units.
‘We agreed to fulfil all the safety-related requirements of retailers including factory relocation subject to availability of fund and time,’ Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association vice-president Shahidullah Azim told New Age on Monday.
* RMG buyers cancelling orders without assigning any reason:
BD suppliers hit hard by ‘unethical’ decision
A good number of international ready-made garment (RMG) buyers have been cancelling their import orders at the eleventh hour without assigning any reason hitting hard the local RMG suppliers.
For cancellation of the import orders country’s RMG exporters counting losses worth millions of dollars every year, industry insiders said.
They also said in recent times the stock lot of readymade garment has been increasing forcing them to sell those at discount price.
Interviewing ten of such affected garment factories, the FE found that total loss of those units stood at US $20 million in last one year.
According to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), RMG worth US $550 million was stockpiled during the last financial year due to the unethical cancellation of orders by importers.
* DoE fines 42 factories for polluting Buriganga:
Department of Environment on Monday fined 42 dyeing and washing factories in Dhaka district Tk 1.26 crore for polluting the water of the Buriganga River.
After a hearing at DoE’s Dhaka headquarters, its director (monitoring and enforcement) Mohammad Alamgir fined the factories for operating without effluent treat plants (ETPs) which led to the discharging of huge effluents into the river.
The DoE ordered the representatives of the factories to immediately install ETPs and the failure of which will lead to their closure.
* Tanners seek $1.0b JICA loan for relocation to Savar:
Tannery owners are trying to get $1.0 billion loan from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for meeting the cost of relocation from the city’s Hazaribagh to Savar.
Recently, they wrote a letter to the JICA for providing the financial assistance as the owners are unable to relocate around 200 tanneries on their own.
“We dearly need long term loan with lower interest rate for the relocation… we can’t bear all costs of relocation… if we do we can’t run our business,” President of the Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods & Footwear Exporters Association (BFLLFEA), Mohammad Abu Taher, told The Financial Express Monday.
Earlier, they also met Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman seeking financial assistance.
“We met with BB Governor… he did not assure us of anything, but he said he would try to find a way for us,” he said.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Labour leaders for full compensation to Rana Plaza victims’ families soon:
Workers’ leaders of the readymade garment (RMG) industry demanded Monday full compensation for the families of the Rana Plaza victims as early as possible.
They also called upon some 29 importers, who used to buy apparel products from the factories located in the collapsed Rana Plaza, to come forward to provide compensation to the families of the victims.
The call was made at a human chain formed by National Garment Workers’ Federation (NGWF) in front of National Press Club in the capital.
Speaking on the occasion, NGWF President Amirul Haque Amin said a total of 29 foreign firms used to purchase RMG products from five apparel units housed at the collapsed multi-storey commercial building before the tragic incident.
“But, none of the companies has come to assist the affected workers as yet. It’s really a matter of great sorrow for all of us,” he said.
He said the companies should immediately come up and take rapid measures for releasing financial assistance for the deceased and critically wounded workers, who sacrificed their hands or legs and even their lives for manufacturing apparel products for the companies.
* Adequate compensation for Rana Plaza victims demanded:
Leaders of National Garment Workers Federation, on Sunday demanded that the authorities pay adequate compensation to the families of workers killed in the Rana Plaza collapse.
The NGWF, formed a human chain in front of the National Press Club in the city on Sunday morning to press its demands.
The federation president Amirul Haque Amin said the proposal of the committee formed by the government fixing Tk14 lakh as compensation for each worker killed in the factory collapse was not acceptable and demanded that the amount should be raised to Tk.28 lakh considering that the families had lost an earning member.
He said that the foreign buyers linked to the garment factories that the collapsed Rana Plaza had housed should also raise the amount of compensation to the victims.
21:46:47 local time INDIA
* Ponfab workers allege bleak future looms large:
For the past few years, the handloom weavers employed by Pondicherry Co-operative Handloom Export Development Project, Ponfab, have not been given any work. For those weavers, who depend on the amount of cloth that they weave for their daily wage, this has been a huge blow since many of them have not had a proper income for close to five years.
On Monday morning, the workers of Ponfab took out a rally under the aegis of the AICCTU demanding that the government supply the workers thread through the year and also urged that their wages be regularised and other benefits including a housing scheme be given to them.
According to one of the workers at Ponfab, many of the workers here started working the handloom when they were 15 years old, and since then they have not had any other profession. Now, without any thread and any work, many of the people are forced to look for other employment. Since they have no other skills, they end up taking up unskilled labour including cleaning houses and sometimes even construction work.
* Textiles: Spools of opportunity for India:
Relative cost advantages and the changing geography of world production and trade could work to our advantage
For many years now, developing countries have dominated the trade in textiles. The relative labour intensity of parts of the textile value chain has combined with low barriers to entry into the industry to give poorer countries an advantage in production and trade.
This has held even when a few global majors dominate the value chain leading up to the supply of textiles to retail markets in the US and the European Union. Even they must locate the cutting, sewing and trimming operations in the garment industry in low-cost locations, often fed with cloth imports from abroad.
But with design, value chain management and retail distribution under the control of major global players, margins for most developing country producers remains low. Especially for those that have not managed to vertical integrate production and establish a textile production complex.
For country’s performing well in this business, the rewards have been significant in recent years. Cotton yarn production in 40 leading producers rose, according to Euromonitor International (using UN data), from 31 million tonnes in 2008 to 46 million tonnes in 2013 or at 8.4 per cent per annum (Chart 1).
Production was dominated by China and India, partly because these countries were important suppliers to both world markets and their own substantial domestic markets (Chart 2). This domination at the yarn production stage is of considerable relevance, even though discussions on the geography of the textile business have focused on the trade.
* Budget allocation for textiles increases:
Allocation for skill development and integrated textile parks has gone up in the interim budget presented by Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Monday.
Textile industry sources here told The Hindu that the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (which has given a boost to modernisation of the textile industry) had an allocation of Rs. 2,300 crore last year.
* Indians to be largest overseas textile buyer group at ITMA:
22:01:47 local time NEPAL
* Textile: Nepal diplomat wants trade potential unlocked:
Pakistan and Nepal should focus on the promotion of bilateral business relations, ensuring continued partnership for progress, said Ambassador of Nepal Bharat Raj Paudyal, while talking to textile exporters of Faisalabad on Monday.
The improvement in regional trade will trigger the pace of development in the whole Saarc region, the ambassador added.
Paudyal said Nepal greatly valued its relations with Pakistan, which were based on mutual respect, trust and shared perceptions on regional and international issues.
He recognised the vibrant role of textile exporters in the economic progress of the country. Nepal and Pakistan are important economies of South Asia but the pace of economic growth in South Asia is slow, and intra-regional trade in the Saarc bloc is only 5% compared with 25% in ASEAN and 65% in the European Union, the ambassador noted.
21:16:47 local time PAKISTAN
* Much-needed SOMO training on the responsibility of multinationals in Pakistan:
International grievance mechanisms offer a solution for badly functioning legal systems
In Pakistan, where terror attacks, corruption, nepotism and human rights violations are the order of the day, Oxfam Novib Pakistan and SOMO are trying to support local NGOs in the (re)construction of their communities.
Within this framework, SOMO organised a successful training in Pakistan last week, focused on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and how to hold companies accountable for how they conduct their business.
The timing was perfect,” says SOMO researcher Mark van Dorp. “The training was completely in line with the current issues that the local NGOS face. The readiness to take action is considerable, but within the national context the possibilities for taking action are limited as there is no properly functioning legal system. NGOs in Pakistan are often not aware of the possibilities offered by international grievance mechanisms. The partners immediately started developing detailed plans for a follow-up.”
With a dedicated two-day training course and a community meeting SOMO researchers Mark van Dorp and Martje Theuws gave detailed information on the concept of ‘corporate social responsibility’, what to expect from companies and how companies can be held accountable. “It is important to organise it in a country in which CSR is often expressed in donations to charities,” Van Dorp explains. The programme is based on SOMO’s knowledge and experience in the field of multinationals in conflict regions.
One of the main economic sectors in Pakistan is the clothing industry.
Working conditions are often very poor and similar to those in Bangladesh: employees are only given temporary contracts which means they cannot join trade unions and aren’t eligible for social securities.
Only 3% of employees in Pakistan is organised.
Wages are very low and the working days are long.
Child labour is also common and many factories are unsafe.
Where clothing manufacturers and international brands in Bangladesh are being addressed regarding their responsibilities, this is rarely the case in Pakistan. “Pakistan is a blind spot,” according to Van Dorp.
* Aptma urges govt to restore Punjab’s gas supply:
The provincial chapter of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) on Monday demanded that gas supplies on hourly basis should be restored to enable Punjab’s textile mills to operate on 24/7 basis in combination with electricity supply.
After presiding over a meeting of the Aptma Punjab general body, its chairman S M Tanveer told newsmen that the Economic Coordination Committee had approved partial supplies of gas to the Punjab-based textile industry for two months ending on Feb 15 on a presumption that the temperature would improve by then.
However, the cold weather has been lingering on and the Punjab textile industry has no option but to request the government for gas supplies of 85 million cubic feet per Day (mmcfd) to the textile industry, diverted to Rouch power gas from Sunday, he said.
* ‘Suspension of gas supply will dampen progress’
Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited’s (SNGPL) decision to suspend gas supply to textile industries in Faisalabad is an anti-industry and anti-worker decision, which will damage the benefits of GSP Plus Status to Pakistan, said Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI) President Engineer Suhail Bin Rashid.
While addressing a press conference, he said that the decision will lead to unemployment of 2.5 million workers, along with causing huge loss to the production and export orders secured by Pakistani exporters during the recent Heimtextil trade fair in Germany.
He said that overnight suspension of gas to Faisalabad industries will not only send a negative signal but will also prove to be a historic mistake on behalf of SNGPL.
* Textile mills for continuing gas supply until March:
Textile mill owners of Punjab, while thanking the chief minister for supplying at least some quantity of gas to the industries for two winter months, have asked the provincial government to ensure similar supplies until the start of March, when weather is expected to be less chilly.
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Punjab Chairman SM Tanveer, in a meeting here, announced that a delegation of the association would meet Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in Islamabad today (Tuesday).
“The industry will be facilitated in the best national interest. It is the only sector that has the potential to fetch the much-needed foreign exchange,” he said.
* Textile mills oppose FBR’s plan:
Textile mills oppose the plan of the Federal Board of Revenue to withdraw a statutory regulatory order (SRO) that provides sales tax exemption to machinery, appealing the government to restrict FBR from implementing such anti-investment measures.
Group Leader All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Gohar Ejaz said that suspension of gas supplies in Punjab, proposed sales tax hike and re-imposition of duties on machineries were already upsetting textile entrepreneurs as cost of doing business was on the rise.The FBR issued the said SRO 575 dated June 5, 2006 to give sales tax exemption to machinery. The industry could not avail this incentive from 2007 up to now due to economic turmoil and global recession, he said.
Textile mills are now all set to add more capacities in the wake of new opportunities as a result of GSP Plus status and slow withdrawal of China from low value-added textiles, said Ejaz.