09:34:20 local time CHINA
* Developing a business in Africa no ‘shoe-in’:
Tough times hit footwear manufacturer at first after going abroad
It may turn out to be one of the most inspired decisions Wang Jianping has ever made. Going to Nigeria 10 years ago has helped him turn what was once a modestly sized shoemaker in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, into a manufacturing phenomenon that has left its footprint all over Africa.
Soon after Wang’s Hazan Shoe Co Ltd was founded in 1991 it employed about a dozen people in its small factory, where they made 300 pairs of shoes a day. These days, in addition to its factory and offices in Wenzhou that cover 116,000 square meters, it has four production lines in Lagos employing 1,000 people, making 11,000 shoes a day. It also has a research center in Italy, set up after Hazan bought the Italian shoemaker Wilson in 2008.
But it was going to Africa that radically changed Hazan, which is exactly what Wang had in mind when he planned the move.
“For the first three years we were an original equipment manufacturer for international brands. As a first step of getting Hazan out of China I decided to take it to Africa,” he says.
“Materials and labor are a lot cheaper in Africa than in China, which is why I switched the main factory from Wenzhou to Nigeria, where there is also more demand.”
08:34:20 local time VIET NAM
* Vinatex seeks more funds to take advantage of TPP:
08:34:20 local time CAMBODIA
* Gatherings continue for justice and release:
This morning, civil society groups gathered once again to call for the release of 21 detainees, including garment workers and human rights activists, arrested in early January.
The group, including land communities, monks, youth networks, unions and NGOs, chanted, banged drums and sung outside Wat Ounalom for about an hour from 8am. The gathering was disrupted after authorities confiscated the drum and loudspeakers; a smaller group of about 200 participants, mainly from land communities, moved to Daun Penh district office to ask for the return of their confiscated equipment.
They were confronted by security guards outside the office, leading to a minor clash which saw two women injured.
* Unions plan forum:
The leaders of 18 unions and union confederations this week will invite ruling and opposition party members to take part in a public forum where labour relations issues will be discussed.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU), yesterday said the letters have already been drafted and signed, with the forum to take place before a stay-at-home strike planned for later this month.
“We will send the letter to those officials tomorrow or Tuesday to invite them to join our public forum,” Chhun said.
Among those called to join are Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng, Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon and leaders of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, Chhun added.
The forum, which is scheduled to take place on International Women’s Day next Saturday, is the next step in garment workers’ persistent protest of the government’s failure to set the industry’s minimum monthly wage at $160 and the continued detention of 21 garment workers arrested at demonstrations supporting a nationwide garment worker strike in early January.
Workers at some garment factories last week boycotted overtime work. If no progress is made on their demands, workers will stage a strike, during which they will stay home from work, but not hold any public demonstrations, from March 12 until at least March 19.
Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, yesterday said that the unions had filed a request last Thursday with authorities to hold their forum at Freedom Park.
* Cambodian workers to be “hardest hit victims” if minority unions still plan strikes: GMAC:
Cambodian workers will be the ultimate victims if minority and violent unions continue to put the garment and shoe industries under the state of uncertainty and unpredictability by continuing to demand for further wage hikes that the industry cannot afford, an employers’ association said in a statement Sunday.
The statement issued by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said although the Labor Advisory Committee had already decided on the new minimum wage by a majority vote, minority and violent unions continue with daily threat of strikes, demonstrations and disruption of the workplace.
“Many factories have reported the reduction in orders starting from April this year as many buyers have evaluated and now consider Cambodia as a high-risk country,” it said.
The statement came after eight 8 opposition-aligned trade unions jointly announced early this week to renew a garment strike from March 12 to 19 to demand a 160 U.S. dollars minimum wages for garment workers and the release of 21 detainees who were arrested on Jan. 3 during a violent protest.
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said the eight trade unions represented about 200,000 of the 600,000 workers in more than 900 garment and shoe factories in the kingdom.
* A life forever changed:
Inside a rehabilitation centre in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district, Hoeun Chan is slowly and arduously training his arms to be stronger.
Each morning, he lifts his body from his bed into a new wheelchair, then grips his hands on its sides and pushes his weight up and down.
In time, he hopes this repetition will lead to improved strength and increased mobility. For now, occasional mishaps and overbalancing sometimes cause his wheelchair to roll over, sending him falling to the floor.
Chan, 27, has been paralysed from the waist down since being shot in the side by police near the SL Garment factory strike on the day it boiled over in the streets of the capital’s Meanchey district in November.
“After doctors in Cambodia said I was crippled for life, I felt utterly hopeless,” he told the Post at his temporary new home at the Kien Khleang Rehabilitation Centre yesterday. “At first, I did not want to live. All my life, I was looked after by mother and hoped that when I graduated from university, I could support her and give her a comfortable life. Instead, she has to take care of me like I am a child again.”
* BetterFactories Media updates 21 February- 2 March 2014, Boycott a tough call for many:
* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-02-21 PM lauds military for handling of protests
2014-02-24 Overtime strikes set to begin
2014-02-25 Overtime boycott under way
2014-02-26 Boycott a tough call for many
2014-02-27 A year after trial, still free
2014-02-27 Coca-Cola auditors visit sugar suppliers
2014-02-27 Scores of factories ‘set to sue’ over wage strike
2014-02-28 Leaflet arrests questioned
* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-02-21 Hun Sen adds armed forces chiefs to strike committee
2014-02-22-23 Gov’t criticizes media coverage of strike violence
2014-02-24 Global clothing brand’s view of media coverage is surprising
2014-02-24 Unions set to begin first phase of nationwide strike
2014-02-25 Garment workers begin boycott of overtime
2014-02-26 Demonstrators demand release of 21 detainees
2014-02-26 Strikes justified, suppression not, experts say
2014-02-27 As garment sector strikes loom, soldiers watch over factories
2014-02-27 Gov’t suspends freedom of association for unions
2014-02-28 Coca-Cola company confirms audit of Cambodian suppliers
2014-02-28 Labor Ministry denies it has stopped recognizing unions
2014-02-28 Labor strikes embroil Japanese firms in Cambodia
2014-02-28 More than 100 garment workers in two factories faint en masse
2014-02-28 Union representatives detained for distributing strike leaflets
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
09:34:20 local time MALAYSIA
* 100 Employers To Face Music For Not Implementing Minimum Wage:
One hundred employers from throughout the country will face stern action if found to have not implemented the minimum wage.
Human Resources Deputy Minister, Datuk Ismail Abdul Muttalib said the employers were identified after 600 employees lodged complaints against them since the 2012 National Minimum Wage Order was enforced on Jan 1, 2014.
“We have warned the employers involved. If they still fail to adhere to the order, they will face stern action from the ministry,” he said after opening a 1Malaysia Azam Kerja Career Carnival, here, Sunday.
07:34:20 local time BANGLADESH
* Jute mill workers stage demo in Khulna, Jessore:
Workers of seven jute mills of Khulna-Jessore region staged demonstrations on Sunday to realise their 11-point demand, including providing fourth installment money of the National Wage and Productivity Commission through cash slips.
Witnesses said the workers of Crescent and Platinum jute mills in Khalishpur, Star in Dighalia, Alim and Easter in Atra industrial area, Carpeting and JJI jute mills of Noapara gathered at the respective mill gates around 9am where they held separate rallies in favour of their demands.
read more. & to read.
* ILO hands over equipment worth Tk 1.5cr to BUET:
The International Labour Organisation on Sunday handed over RMG factory building safety assessment equipment worth Tk 1.5 crore to Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.
The tools to be used for assessing the structural integrity of readymade garment factory buildings have been procured with the financial assistance of the Netherlands, Canada and the United Kingdom.
An estimated 40 lakh workers are employed in the country’s RMG sector.
The ILO will also provide equipment worth Tk 4 crore in the second phase, labour ministry officials said.
read more. & read more.
* ILO provides fire safety assessment equipment to BUET:
‘The government wants to appoint experts from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) to asses all kinds of factory inspection,’ Labour Secretary said
If the BUET was well-equipped, the government would not allow foreign engineers to inspect fire and building safety in the garment factories, said a top official.
“The government wants to appoint experts from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) to asses all kinds of factory inspections,” said Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar.
He was addressing a function in Dhaka yesterday, organised by International Labour Organisation (ILO) to hand over RMG factory building safety assessment equipment to BUET.
* Rapid modernisation in RMG sector needed:
RMG sector serves as a source of flagship product of our country.
It also increases people’s interest in Bangladesh both as travelling spot and investment destination.
The sector occupies an important place in Bangladesh economy and a distinct position in global market. Bangladesh is known in the global market as ‘a small country with a strong presence’ for its thriving RMG sector.
According to BGMEA report, the country has hitherto around 5,600 active garments factories, employing nearly four million people directly. It continues to show robust performance, competitive strength in global market.
In FY 2012-13, the income of the RMG sector was to the tune of US$ 21.52 billion out of the total export earning of US$ 27.09 billion, according to the report of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
RMG’s contribution to total export in 2013 was 79.63 per cent with an increase by 1.03 per cent of total export in 2012.
Rapid modernisation in this sector will help increase its income and thus strengthen the economy.
* Garment orders on the rebound:
Work orders from international buyers are picking up with the return of political stability in Bangladesh after the January 5 national elections, exporters said yesterday.
Garment makers aim to achieve the export growth target at the end of the year, given there are no further political upheavals.
Bangladesh, the second largest garment exporter after China, shipped knitwear items worth $7 billion and $7.18 billion of woven items, registering year-on-year growth of 18.13 percent and 17.32 percent in July-January, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau.
The country shipped more than $2.24 billion of clothing overseas in January, 7.09 percent more than a year earlier. This advance marks the eighteenth year-on-year increase in the last nineteen months, buoyed by gains in exports of both woven and knitwear, data shows.
“There is no shortage of work orders in my factory. I will be able to achieve the targeted 10-15 percent export growth in 2014, compared with the previous year,” said David Hasanat, managing director of Viyellatex Group, a leading garment exporter.
“I could have executed more orders if I had more capacity in my factory. However, we have price pressure from the international retailers, even though our cost of production increased manifold last year.”
* Reforms slow in BDs toxic tanneries:
Standing knee deep in toxic chemicals, Mokter Hossain loads animal hides into huge drums filled with still more dangerous liquids at a tannery in the Bangladesh capital.
Barefoot and sick with fever, Hossain stops every now and then to cough, a legacy of the job that his doctors warn could one day kill him.
“Some days I am too ill to work,” said Hossain, 25, who has spent years inhaling fumes from the hexavalent chromium and other chemicals used to turn the raw hides into soft leather, reports AFP.
“I take medicine to control my skin diseases. If I don’t, it gets worse,” Hossain adds, gesturing to his arms and legs which are covered in rashes and black spots.
Hossain’s tannery is one of 200 in Hazaribagh in Dhaka, where some 25,000 workers toil for as little as $50 a month to produce leather for shoes and other goods for stores in Europe and the United States.
Ten months ago, Western retailers were forced into action after a garment factory complex collapsed killing 1,135 people, one of a string of tragedies that have shone a global spotlight on that sector’s shocking labour and safety conditions.
But there are few signs of reform at Bangladesh’s leather industry, where conditions are equally atrocious and business is booming thanks to the West’s growing demand for cheap, leather items.
read more. & read more. & to read .
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Rana Plaza victims still awaiting compensation after garment factory disaster:
Following the failed compensation talks in Geneva in September 2013, an agreement has now been reached and a process established to compensate the victims of the Rana Plaza factory disaster in Bangladesh.
Very few of the 28 retailers involved, however, have signed the accord or agreed to provide compensation to victims and their families.
One of several Bangladesh garment factory disasters in recent times, the Rana Plaza building collapsed in April 2013, killing or injuring nearly 3,000 workers. Reports have since surfaced that the mainly female workforce were threatened with losing their pay if they refused to work that day, even though the building was already showing cracks. Once inside, the doors were locked and managers instructed workers to continue to work, even as the building began to shake and crumble.
To date, some emergency relief has been provided by a few retailers (notably, Primark and Loblaw, sister companies both controlled by the Westons). However, Rana Plaza victims still await compensation.
Workers who survived but are disabled await medical care and rehabilitation. Families who lived off of the meagre wages of workers who died are now in dire straits.
* THE WORST INDUSTRIAL DISASTER TO HIT THE GARMENT INDUSTRY:
On April 24th 2013 Rana Plaza a building housing five garment factories, in the Savar area of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, collapsed.
Nine stories of concrete came crashing down killing 1,138 people and injuring over 2,000 more. It was the worst industrial accident to ever hit the garment industry and
At least 27 global garment brands had recent or current orders in with the five garment factories in the building. Nearly all those who died or were injured were garment workers. Many had been ordered back into the unsafe building by factory owners despite the building being evacuated the day before when giant cracks appeared in the walls.
A wake up call
In the immediate aftermath of the collapse the world’s media descended on Dhaka and the terrible fate faced by so many was front page news.
This led over 150 companies to sign the , a legally binding and independent agreement designed to make all garment factories in Bangladesh safe workplaces.
This is an important step in ensuring such a terrible disaster doesn’t happen again but for the survivors and the families of the dead it provides little relief.
Ten months on, the suffering continues
For the many who were in that building on that terrible day, and the families of those who never made it out there is little escape from the suffering they have endured.
They suffered terrible injuries, lost husbands and wives, children and parents, brothers and sisters; and will bear the physical and emotional scars for life. This can never be compensated for, but they can and should be compensated for loss of income and medical costs before one year has passed.
Brands must act now.
07:04:20 local time INDIA
* AEPC hails 2% duty credit scrip extension to EU & USA:
* Textiles Secretary reviews Powerloom Mega Cluster progress:
* Plea to bring down price of yarn:
The Tirupur Exporters and Manufacturers Association (TEAMA) has expressed disappointment over the reluctance of yarn producers to reduce the prices of various yarns even after the cotton prices came down in the recent days.
M. P. Muthurathinam, the president of TEAMA, wondered why the spinning mills which show urgency to increase the yarn prices every time the prices of different varieties of cotton, which is the main raw material for yarn production, shoot up did not want to do the reverse act of decreasing when cotton prices come down.
“The cost of cotton has come down by almost Rs 2,000 per candy in the recent days. Besides this, the power situation has also improved and hence, the prices of yarn could have been brought down,” he said.
* Govt announces fresh sops for exports to EU:
The Government has handed out fresh sops to exporters of a number of labour intensive items such as leather, textiles and chemicals for exporting to the European Union.
The additional incentives provided under the ‘market-linked focus product scheme’ is in the form of a duty credit scrip worth two per cent of what a firm exports. The scrip can either be used to import goods at lower interest rates equivalent to its value or sold by the exporter to other importers in the market.
The move has come as a big relief to exporters of textiles, chemicals and leather as all these items have graduated out of the European Union’s special incentive scheme called the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) this year.
06:34:20 local time PAKISTAN
* Man-made mistakes: How free trade is devastating Pakistan’s polyester industry:
At the end of Korangi Industrial Road, there is a small cloth market in the impoverished Landhi area. Retailers here deal exclusively in women fabrics. Everything from lawn to chiffon and georgette is available round the year.
“To be honest, business has never been this good,” said Abdul Rehman, a young trader. “Inflation and economic slowdown hasn’t affected us. A few years back, women shopped during Eid and marriage seasons. But, now they want something new to wear every other week.”
Reshmi, crinkle and wash-and-wear cloth remain the particular favourite in the low income localities, he said. “There is demand for cloth made of polyester fibre.”
Bundles of cloth – thousands of tons of them – make their way into Pakistani markets from India and China every week. In many cases, the Afghan Transit Treaty is used to meet the local demand.
“Containers go to Afghanistan first. The cargo is unloaded and shipped back to Peshawar via Torkham border. All the textile products come to Peshawar’s Karkhana Bazaar. We all get supplies from there,” said another trader.
This uninhabited import in textiles is not limited to cloth. Everything from readymade children’s garments to synthetic fibre gets dumped in local markets. This should have alarmed officials at the commerce ministry especially as the textile industry is Islamabad’s industrial backbone.
But successive governments have found excuses to avoid the complex issue. Some have hidden behind the free-market argument, while others say local producers have failed to meet demand at the right price.
Most of the imported cloth is made up of man-made thread — polyester stable fibre (PSF) and polyester filament yarn (PFY). What happened to Pakistani synthetic industry is a sad story.