10:36:34 local time VIET NAM
* Decree expands reach of social insurance fund:
Workers at a Toyotsu Vehitecs Viet Nam garment workshop in Binh Duong Province. Authorised foreigners and employees on contracts of at least 3 three months will now benefit from the Government’s social insurance programme. – VNA/VNS Photo Quach Lam
Contract employees and foreigners authorised to work in Viet Nam would be included in the Government’s social insurance program, under a new draft revision to the Law on Social Insurance, compiled by the Ministry of of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs.
The draft law was discussed at a meeting last Thursday held on the management of the social insurance fund. At the meeting, the head of the ministry’s Social Insurance Department Tran Thuy Nga, said that currently employees on labour contracts of at least 3 three months can benefit from the government’s social insurance programme.
Under the draft, from 2018 the programme will cover all contracted employees, including foreigners permitted to work in Viet Nam.
* Vinatex in search of investment:
Viet Nam Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) is seeking VND9.72 trillion (US$458 million) to invest in 57 projects, including fibre production, knitting, dyeing and garment production.
Vinatex’s General Director Tran Quang Nghi acknowledged that the $458 million investment capital was a very large amount and difficult to raise, especially when the group has only VND4 trillion ($189 million) in charter capital.
In order to unlock the capital ties for investment, Vinatex proposed that the Government allow the group to hold incomes derived from State-capital sales in the equitisation process in five years. Vinatex eyes going public by the end of this June, which would increase the group’s capital to VND5 trillion ($237 million).
10:36:34 local time CAMBODIA
* Workers ‘locked inside’ during overtime strike:
Workers at two different garment factories say that managers locked them inside their workplaces last week when they tried to participate in a boycott of overtime.
Union representatives and rank-and-file employees at Kampong Speu province’s Complete Honour Footwear Industrial Cambodia Co, Ltd and Dai Yi Fashion in the capital’s Russey Keo district yesterday told the Post that management locked the doors as local police intimidated workers after they completed their regular eight-hour shifts, forcing them to work overtime.
“The factory forced the workers to work overtime and locked the gate” on Monday and Tuesday of last week, said Ngem Sophan, president of Worker Friendship Union Federation (WFUF) in the Dai Yi factory.
Lock-ins at about 4pm – the end of the factory’s normal eight-hour shift – early last week coincided with the beginning of a week-long boycott of overtime work supported by a coalition of 18 unions and union federations.
The boycott was held to demand an industry minimum wage increase to $160 per month, the release of 21 detainees arrested at demonstrations supporting a nationwide garment strike in January and five other points.
* Daun Penh Guards Seize Protest Drum, Scuffle With Activists:
Daun Penh district security guards push aside protesters and seize a ceremonial drum that was being played at a police roadblock Monday on Phnom Penh’s Sisowath Quay. The protesters were calling for the release of 21 people who were beaten and jailed during strike demonstrations in January. (Siv Channa)
Two political activists were injured by district security guards outside the Daun Penh district office Monday morning after a protest to free 21 protesters beaten and imprisoned during a strike in January turned into an effort to reclaim a confiscated protest drum.
The protesters, dressed in white and holding small plaques bearing the names and occupations of the 21 people being held in a high-security prison in Kompong Cham prison, had begun the day in front of the Supreme Court demanding the release of the detainees.
With Prime Minister Hun Sen attending an event at the nearby Chaktomuk Conference Hall, a large security presence greeted and scuffled with the protesters, who numbered at most 150. A group of Daun Penh security guards, masked by their customary black motorcycle helmets, seized a drum being beaten loudly by the protesters.
Marching to Wat Ounalom on Sisowath Quay with a small group of police watching on, the protesters did three loops of a small triangular traffic refuge. They then freed 21 caged birds and made their way to the Daun Penh office to demand their drum back.
11:36:34 local time MALAYSIA
* Ministry Seeks Public Suggestions On Minimum Wages:
The human resources ministry wants feedback from the public, employers and employees to boost the implementation of minimum wages.
Its minister, Datuk Richard Riot Jaem said this was to improve the implementation of the scheme as the government was serious in creating a win-win situation.
“As the scheme is reviewed biennially, I urge employers and workers to give their feedback and views to the Secretariat of the National Wages Consultative Council, latest by April 30,” he said.
He said this at a media conference, in conjunction with the launch of the Sabah-level Minimum Wage Clinic in Kota Kinabalu, Monday.
Riot said it was still early to take any action because the implementation of minimum wage of RM800 in Sabah and Sarawak, and RM900 in the peninsula took effect only in January.
11:36:34 local time INDONESIA
* Indonesia Seeks Investment Gain as Thai Turmoil Bolsters Rivals:
Indonesia plans to woo companies from Japan to Europe as political turmoil in Thailand and rising wages in Malaysia boost the attractiveness of Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
The Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board plans to visit Japan, South Korea, China, the US and Europe to promote industrial zones in central and east Java, Chairman Mahendra Siregar said Feb. 28.
Japanese companies, the biggest direct investors in Indonesia, are turning to the country as protests in Thailand raise risks in that nation, according to the Japan External Trade Organization.
The perception that Indonesia is now politically less risky and cheaper than some neighbors is adding to the allure of the world’s fourth-most-populous nation, even as investment growth is set to cool before elections this year.
Wage Differential Malaysia set its first minimum wage levels in 2013 at 900 ringgit ($274) a month for workers in the more industrialized peninsular states. In Jakarta, the floor for wages is 2.44 million rupiah ($211) a month this year, up from Rp 2.2 million in 2013, according to the local governor’s website.
* Better Work Indonesia Seminar on Building Safety:
The collapse of Rana Plaza Building and fire safety in Tazreen in Bangladesh between 2012-2013 claimed the lives of more than 1200 workers.
It attracted media and consuner attention worldwide of the importance of building safety for garment factories.
The accidents create chain-reaction: workers strike asking for the safety of their workplace, Government was pointed-out lacking of building moniyoring standard and law enforcement, buyers of those garment factories were being forced by their customers to compensate the victims or will face boycott fron customers, and finally it will impact the whole Bangladesh garment sectors as many buyers considering to leave Bangladesh as tbe sourcing country.
Learning from Bangladesh recent situation, Better Work Indonesia held seminar today on building safety.
09:36:34 local time BANGLADESH
* Dhaka diary 1: Unions growing fast after Rana Plaza:
Tiny motor scooter taxis plough through waves of traffic, beeping car horns fill the air and the sky fades from clear blue to hazy orange as another balmy evening sets in over Dhaka. I am very far from the British seaside, but someone I last went shopping (unsuccessfully) with in Bournemouth is here with me.
Amirul Haque Amin, President of the National Garment workers federation, opened the TUC Congress in Bournemouth last September with a powerful speech about the devastation of the Rana Plaza collapse. Now I am visiting Dhaka to meet trade unions in the garment sector and today Amin has invited me to see the NGWF office. It is 7pm and yet the office is still a hive of activity.
Unions across Bangladesh have a new lease of life after a year of dramatic developments. At the start of 2013 unions in Bangladesh were still suffering under decades-old repressive laws where anti-trade union violence, and even murder, went unpunished while trade unions were effectively banned in garment factories. This left garment workers largely unorganised and often unable to resist demands to work very long shifts for the lowest wages in the world to make clothes – often that ended up in UK high street shops.
The collapse of Rana Plaza in April 2013 forced this to change.
It was lack of worker voice combined with the extreme negligence of the factory owners to health and safety that caused the shocking loss of life in the collapse – 1130 workers died and 2000 were injured. Workers in the factories could see there were cracks but were too afraid of losing pay to voice safety concerns or stay away from the building despite visible cracks in the building.
* Dhaka Diary 2: Women must lead this new union movement:
During my visit to Dhaka, an encouraging number of trade unionists in the garment industry I meet were women. This suggests Bangladesh unions are starting to better resemble their industry: over 70% of the garment industry in Bangladesh are women.
However, women are still not prominent in leadership roles in unions. A notable exception is Nazma Akter, leader of SGSF union federation. Nazma speaks at an event in Dhaka about the many forms of discrimination against women she and her members suffer at work. She describes routine harassment from male supervisors, still permitted by the amended Labour Law , which I blogged about here.
Women bore the brunt of the Rana Plaza disaster . It was mostly very young female workers who died or were terribly handicapped when the factory building collapsed – and these women are almost all still waiting for compensation. $40 million is still owed to them– see this very good report by Clean Clothes Campaign and update here. The TUC along with Clean Clothes Campaign and other groups are currently campaigning make sure Benetton and all other brands with links to Rana Plaza pay up by the anniversary of the collapse on April 24th.
Trade unionists in Dhaka told me that discrimination against women does not stop at the factory gate. Many also face discrimination in their community. As any activist is only as good as the support network around them, this is a major hurdle to women’s participation in unions. They suggested any training to empower women should involve training with the wider community on the discrimination women face and developing an encouraging climate to support women to take positions of responsibility within trade unions.
* Public admin ministry okays appointing 200 factory inspectors:
The inspectors will be appointed from the BCS candidates
The Ministry of Public Administration has approved a labour ministry proposal for urgently appointing 200 more factory inspectors to fulfill the condition of the Bangladesh Action Plan set by the United States for the restoration of GSP facilities.
According to the proposal, the inspectors will be appointed from the Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) candidates, who have already passed all the three tiers of the tests, but so far failed to secure any cadre posts.
“Public administration ministry approved last week appointing of 200 more factory inspectors,” Md Faizur Rahman, a joint secretary of labour and employment ministry, told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.
He said: “We have already sent the necessary documents to the public administration ministry, so the ministry can place those in the secretary-level meeting scheduled this week.”
“After the approval at the secretary-level meeting, the proposal would soon be sent to the public service commission for its consent and then to the law ministry for examining the legal matters.’’
* Tk 5000cr RMG orders shifted to India:
The readymade garment industries of Bangladesh are facing threat of existence as the orders worth Tk 5000 were shifted to India during last year.
A big section of foreign buyers are not interested to purchase their garments from Bangladesh due to situations had arisen out of political unrest, building collapse and intermittent fire incidents in the garments factories. They are now trying to find new markets elsewhere including India.
Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA) sources confirmed this information to banglanews.
While talking, BGMEA president Atiqul Islam told banglanews that garments industry is now passing through rough water due to several hindrances many orders have gone to neighboring India.
Not only that India which got new orders of Tk 5000 crore was actually it was of Bangladesh. But due to political unrest Bangladesh was deprived of that business.
* Boosting pry textiles production capacity to help RMG exporters cope with emerging challenges:
Proposed FTA between India, EU
Enhancement of the production capacity of primary textiles would help local apparel exporters to cope with emerging challenges after the signing of the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the European Union (EU), industry insiders said.
According to them, if the country fails to enhance production capacity of yarn and fabrics, then the local garment exporters might face stiff competition with their Indian counterparts after signing of the proposed agreement.
India is negotiating with the EU to get duty-free access to the market for apparel products.
The India-EU free trade area negotiation under which New Delhi might get the zero tariff access is likely to resume late this year and it is expected that it would be concluded by next year, diplomatic sources said.
EU provides duty-free access facility to Bangladesh and Pakistan while Indian products are subject to about 12 per cent duty.
“India is self-reliant in production of cotton, yarn and fabric, so they are already one step ahead of us relating to shipment lead time. If we fail to ensure availability of yarn and fabric locally, then Bangladeshi exporters would face a serious setback after the FTA signing,” Managing Director of Onus Garment Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin told the FE.
* RMG accessory makers, packagers aim to triple sales in four years:
Apparel accessory makers and packagers aim to triple sales to $12 billion in the next four years, buoyed by robust growth in garment shipments globally.
The sector with 1,200 companies now meets almost the entire accessory and packaging needs of the apparel sector, said Rafez Alam Chowdhury, president of Bangladesh Garments Accessories and Packaging Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Accessories and packaging material makers earned $4.1 billion from sales to local garment exporters last fiscal year; the amount is expected to reach $12 billion in 2018 and $25 billion in 2025.
“We believe the sector will be able to achieve the target if the government provides policy support,” Chowdhury said at a press conference at the National Press Club in Dhaka yesterday.
* 60% listed textile companies register Q4 profit:
Profits by the rest of the companies, mostly export-oriented ones, declined for the first time in recent years
Around 60% of the listed textile companies registered profits in the fourth quarter this year, shrugging off recent political unrest and industrial accidents.
Profits by the rest of the companies, mostly export-oriented ones, declined for the first time in recent years.
Investors pulled funds from the poor-performing textile stocks, reflecting in sharpest decline in volume of trade from October last year till yesterday.
However, volume of trade in terms of value sharply declined to 7% from 17% of the total trade at the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DE) during the period, according to BRAC-EPL, a leading brokerage firm.
* PM likely to launch GSP automation system:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is likely to formally launch the automation system of generalised system of preference (GSP) by the end of this month, official sources said.
The activities of issuing GSP facility against Bangladesh’s apparel exports to European countries are being automated to help check misuse of certificates as well as quick settlement of the facility in line with the demand of the European Union (EU), they mentioned.
“There will be positive impact on the international arena and also on exports, when the Prime Minister will inaugurate the GSP automation system,” Ministry of Commerce (MoC) Deputy Secretary Saidur Rahman Selim told the FE Monday.
* Factory wastes pollute 2 rivers in Narsingdi :
Disposal of factory waste and chemicals are polluting waters of Haridoa and old Brahmaputra river in the district posing serious threat to public health and environment as well.
Many residents of the river areas are forced to use the dirty water to meet their daily needs and they have been suffering from many diseases including skin and diarrhoea.
Waters of the rivers become black and poisonous due to continuous dumping of factory waste and chemical mixed-water, especially from the textile industries.
Amir Hossain, an associate professor of Narsingdi Government College and a resident of Bongshidia village of Shibpur upazila said, his two children and other family members are suffering from skin diseases by using polluted water of Haridoa river.
Ruma Begum, a housewife of Madhobdi area, also said her three children and she herself have been attacked with skin diseases by using the polluted water of Old Brahmaputra River.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Joint Statement calling on brands to Pay Up!:
We, the undersigned, welcome and support the Rana Plaza Arrangement, a comprehensive and independent framework, consistent with international labour standards, that will provide the much-needed support for loss of income and medical expenses to the victims, their families and dependents of the Rana Plaza building collapse. A joint approach is the only way to ensure all those who have already lost so much are compensated fully and in a predictable manner.
The combined commitment of the Ministry of Labour of the Government of Bangladesh, the local and international garment industry, local and international trade unions and local and international non-governmental organisations, with the ILO as neutral and independent chair has led to this groundbreaking approach.
The Arrangement has established a claims process, which will be implemented by a range of local organisations and international experts, who will support victims, their families and their dependants to submit claims, assess the level of payments to be provided to each beneficiary, undertake medical assessments and provide follow up support where needed.
The Arrangement’s voluntary Donor Trust Fund is now taking donations and will be able to start making payments into the victims accounts as soon as sufficient money is pledged.
US$40 million is required before the first anniversary of the terrible collapse of Rana Plaza on April 24th.
* Rana Plaza Arrangement:
On April 24th 2013 1134 people were killed and hundreds were injured when the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh collapsed.
The unprecedented scale of the disaster meant a coordinated, systematic approach was required to ensure the victims, their families and dependents would not have to endure ill-health and financial hardship resulting from the death of a family member or life changing injuries.
In September 2013 representatives from the government, the garment industry both locally and internationally, trade unions and non-governmental organisations, came together to form the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee. With the UN agency International Labour Organisation (ILO) acting as a neutral chair, their purpose was to develop a comprehensive and independent process that would deliver support to the victims, their families and dependants in a predictable manner consistent with international labour standards. This process was agreed in late 2013, and established through an agreement known as “the Arrangement.”
The Arrangement has established a claims process, which will be implemented by a range of local organisations and international experts, who will support victims, their families and their dependants to submit claims, assess the level of payments to be provided to each beneficiary, undertake medical assessments and provide follow up support where needed. These payments will be funded through the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, which is open to contributions from any organisation, company or individual wishing to support the delivery of financial and medical support to the Rana Plaza families.
What is the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee and who is involved?
09:06:34 local time INDIA
* Trade unions plan mass protest:
Over 45 trade unions from the Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt will gather here for a mass protest on Wednesday, making this the first such showdown between the district authorities and industrial workers this year.
The protest comes in the wake of long-pending worker demands, including wage hike.
Organizers said several thousands are likely to attend the agitation, which will be held near the Mini Secretariat. “We have a three-point agenda for the protest. We need a minimum wage hike.
The stranglehold of contractors on Gurgaon’s industries needs to go. And we want all industrial disputes of the region resolved,” said Satbir Singh, district president of the Centre of Indian Unions, which recently decided to join the agitation.
* GOTS unveils standard for processing organic textiles:
08:36:34 local time PAKISTAN
* APTMA seeks NDMA from India before MFN status:
All Pakistan Textiles Mills (APTMA) has demanded for non-discriminatory market access (NDMA) from India before asking MFN from Pakistan as without level playing field there could be no trade liberalisation between the two neighbouring countries.
Chairman APTMA Muhammad Yasin Siddik through a statement pointed out the trade balance heavily tilted in favour of India due to whole array of regulatory duties and other levies on imports from Pakistan besides various rebates and incentives to Indian exporters from state and central governments.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Nearly 13.32 million cotton bales reach ginneries: PCGA:
The Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) fortnightly report showed that around 13,328,667 cotton bales were sourced to the country’s ginners by March 1, depicting an increase of 4.43 percent against last year figure at 12,763,657 bales.
PCGA Chairman Mukhtar Ahmed Khan Baloch briefed journalists on Monday about seed-cotton (phutti) arrivals, sales and unsold stock of cotton.
He said that 11,966,299 cotton bales were sold to the textile units and exporters bought 363,394 bales. Thus, overall 12,329,693 bales were traded so far. He said PCGA was following the production target of Pakistan Central Cotton Committee. Baloch said total 98 out of 1,200 ginning factories are operational in Sindh and Punjab.