20:18:24 local time VIET NAM
* Country study Vietnam online:
FWF has published the Vietnam Country Study. It provides an overview of labour law, labour conditions and industrial relations within the garment industry.
Fair Wear Foundation has been carrying out audits in Vietnam since 2006. The garment industry continues to be an important factor for economic growth in the country.
Companies can use the Vietnam country study as a guide: it provides general information, an overview of the garment industry and a description of the trade union situation.
read more. & download the study here.
* Garments and textiles penetrate new markets:
The Africa, West Asia and South Asia Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade reported that Vietnamese enterprises are enjoying numerous opportunities to accelerate exports to the Middle East and Africa.
A large number of domestic enterprises gained large-scale contracts to ship goods especially Islamic clothing in the Middle East with high added value.
In addition, modern products such as T-shirt and jean trousers became populous in the continent. This is also a potential market for other made-in-Viet Nam garments products especially fabric and children clothing.
Viet Nam’s major importers included the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.
Moreover, the Africa is another promising market for Vietnamese exporters.
* TPP prompts exporters to head towards home market:
Vietnamese garment exporters, from the big ones with strong brand names like Viet Tien or Nha Be, to outsourcing companies–have been gathering their strength to conquer the home market, which is believed to be more potential once the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is signed.
The domestic market was never considered an important market for Vietnamese garment groups. This was the “playing field” for small companies only. However, they have changed their mind, trying to “return home.”
* Chinese firms rev up operation in Nam Dinh:
The People’s Committee of the Red River Delta province of Nam Dinh has granted an investment licence to Jiangsu Julun Textiles Group Co., Ltd of China to build a factory worth 68 million USD in the locality.
Covering an area of 80,000 sq. m in the Bao Minh industrial park in Vu Ban district, the factory specialises in producing yarn with an annual capacity of 9,816 tonnes, weaving (21.6 million metres) and dyeing (24 million metres).
Construction of the factory, whose land lease contract is for 46 years, is scheduled to be completed in June 2016.
According to Nguyen Viet Thang, from the managing board of industrial zones in Nam Dinh, another investor from Hong Kong (China) is planning to build a 10,000 ha garment and textile industrial park in Nghia Hung district.
The province will submit the project to the Government for approval, he said.
Nam Dinh province has three industrial parks – Hoa Xa, Bao Minh and My Trung – which house a total of 127 businesses with nearly 25,000 workers.
to read. & read more.
* Breaking ground on expanded Regent garment project:
Two garment factories will be constructed in the first phase of the project with an investment value of USD35 million, expected to provide jobs for 5,500 laborers.
Regent Garment Co ., Ltd. on the morning of March 12 held a ground-breaking ceremony for the first phase of the expanded Regent garment project in Lai Vu industrial park, Kim Thanh district.
Two big garment factories will be constructed in the first phase of the expanded Regent garment project in 2014 with an investment value of USD35 million, expected to be completed and provide jobs for 5,500 laborers later this year.
20:18:24 local time CAMBODIA
* On 1st Day, Garment Strike Gains Little Traction:
Two unions that called for a stay-at-home strike by garment factory employees Wednesday had little success in mobilizing workers after six other unions, under pressure from the government and factory owners, pulled out of the planned industrial action on Tuesday.
Union leaders who pushed ahead with the industrial action said that their members in 14 factories joined the strike, though some were back to work by the end of the day for fear that they would lose their jobs.
Workers at one factory confirmed that they had staged a successful walkout Wednesday.
The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) reported that none of its more than 400 factories were affected by the strikes, which unions initially said would involve hundreds of thousands of garment workers across the country.
* Minority of unions still strike:
A small number of workers from four union groups took part in a stay-at-home-strike yesterday, union leaders said, after mass industrial action was postponed the day before.
Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun said members of his union from a “small amount” of factories had chosen to stay home as they continued calls for a $160 minimum monthly wage and the release of 21 men arrested during a strike in January.
“I think it is an effective way of appealing to the government and factories,” he said. “We told the workers to only do it for three days.”
Most of the 18 union groups involved in planning the strike agreed on Tuesday to postpone it until after Khmer New Year.
* Riot Police Ready for Action, Protests on Standby:
About 100 Daun Penh district riot police on Wednesday held exercises in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park in preparation for possible industrial action in a week that garment workers’ unions had called for a mass stay-at-home strike.
Unions had downscaled plans of street protests to a mass stay-away, scheduled to begin Wednesday, but then were divided Tuesday on whether to go ahead with the strikes at all, and nothing materialized Wednesday.
But Daun Penh district officials said they were continuing security preparations in the event that the situation changed.
“We don’t know whether the unions have really suspended the protests, so we are carrying out exercises in case something does occur and if it does, we will crack down,” said first lieutenant Nuth Vichet.
* Freedom Park off-limits: city:
Freedom Park will remain off limits indefinitely for protesters, authorities said yesterday, despite Prime Minister Hun Sen suggesting last month that a ban on public assembly was being lifted.
Pich Saroeun, chief of Russey Keo district’s Chroy Changva commune, said Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong had announced during a road inauguration in his commune that he was placing a “temporary” ban on gatherings at the park.
The governor, Saroeun added, had given no firm indication of when that ban would be lifted, other than to say it would not be before investigations into the deadly violence of early January and other clashes were finished.
* Government’s Trade Union Law May Limit Freedom of Association:
A draft trade union law that the government has pledged to introduce by the end of the year includes provisions that will allow for unions to be suspended if their activities are deemed illegal, the head of Cambodia’s largest employers association said Wednesday.
Van Sou Ieng, president of the Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Association (Camfeba), said that the long-awaited trade union law, drafts of which have not been released for public scrutiny, will allow for punitive actions against workers’ associations that do not heed orders from the Ministry of Labor.
“[I]n the trade union law, yes, there is some provision, not for deregistration, but for suspension for a short period of time if the trade union has exceeded certain procedures or notifications…from the Ministry of Labor,” Mr. Sou Ieng said at a press conference at the Sofitel Hotel in Phnom Penh.
* Cambodian labor minister warns of strict law enforcement for illegal strikes:
Cambodian labor minister Ith Samheng warned Wednesday that the government will strictly implement the law to ensure the safety of the garment industry if the minority group of the trade unions holds illegal strikes.
“Garment strikes and demonstrations in Cambodia are not truly to demand higher wages or better working conditions, but they are a political package created by the opposition party and its aligned trade unions,” he told reporters.
“Such issues cannot be settled in a short time. It is necessary to enforce the law strictly and violators will be punished in accordance with the effective law.”
* Grand Twins sets listing date:
Taiwanese garment manufacturer Grand Twins International says it will officially list and start trading on the Cambodia Stock Exchange (CSX) on May 8 after spending several weeks whipping up interest from local investors, whose appetite remains on the low side so far.
Stanley Shen, a spokesman for the garment maker, confirmed the listing date yesterday. Grand Twins will be the second company to go public on Cambodia’s relatively new bourse since the IPO of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority in 2012. The exchange was launched in 2011.
* BetterFactories Media updates 13 March 2014, On 1st day, garment strike gains little traction:
* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-03-13 Businesses need help fighting corruption CAMFEBA
2014-03-13 Freedom park off limits city
2014-03-13 Grand Twins sets listing date
2014-03-13 Minority of unions still strike
* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
* to read in the printed edition Koh Santepheap Daily (Khmer):
BetterFactories Media updates Overview here.
19:03:24 local time NEPAL
* Property worth Rs. 6 lakh gutted in fire:
Property worth around Rs. 600,000 was reduced to ashes when a fire broke out at a garment factory in Pingalasthan in the wee hours of Wednesday.
Police said that the cause behind the fire that broke out at the factory of Nita Shrestha of Bhimsengola was electric short circuit.
Police said they are looking into the case.
19:18:24 local time BANGLADESH
* RMG factory catches fire in N’ ganj:
A fire that broke out in a readymade garment (RMG) factory at Rupshi in Rupganj upazila here on Wednesday gutted some chemicals.
Fire service officials said the fire erupted at the chemical department of ‘Antim Garment’ at about 11am and it soon engulfed the entire room.
On information, five firefighting units from Narayanganj city and Demra rushed to the spot and doused the blaze after half an hour of frantic efforts.
Fire brigade officials said the fire might have originated from an electric shot circuit.
The extent of loss caused by the fire could not be estimated immediately.
to read. & read more. & read more. & to read.
* Jute mill workers go on 24-hr strike in Khulna, Jessore:
Workers of seven jute mills of Khulna-Jessore region started a 24-hour strike on Wednesday morning to press home their 11-point demand, including providing fourth installment money of the National Wages and Productivity Commission through cash slips.
Over 50,000 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 went on the work abstention and gathered at their respective mill gates around 6am.
They also took to the street and staged demonstrations on Khulna-Jessore highway to press for their demands that also include providing 20 percent dearness allowance and enactment of a jute packaging law.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Paying for RMG upgrading:
It is important for all stakeholders to ensure necessary upgrades are adequately financed
Stakeholders have been making concerted efforts to improve safety standards in the RMG sector. The Accord and Alliance initiatives are a tangible sign of commitment by major brands to the future of the industry in Bangladesh.
It is important for the industry that stakeholders, particularly the government, BGMEA and BKMEA and international buyers, work in co-operation to keep ensuring progress on improving safety.
Clearly, long-term thinking is needed by all stakeholders to ensure necessary that upgrades are adequately financed.
If done correctly, a combination of improved standards, better retro-fitted factories and more modern purpose-built sites will help to raise productivity and ensure long-term competitiveness and sustainability.
* “The Safety Accord”- a twitter “conversation”:
“Clothiers Act to Inspect Bangladeshi Factories” to read here.
THE TAZREEN FACTORY FIRE
* Tazreen chairman’s bail cancellation order on March 20:
Dhaka District and Session Judge Abdul Mozeed has set the new date after hearing both the sides
A Dhaka court has set March 20 to give its order regarding the prosecution petition seeking cancellation of the bail granted to Mahmuda Akhter Mita, the chairman of Tazreen Fashions.
Dhaka District and Session Judge Abdul Mozeed has set the new date after hearing both the sides.
The court also rejected the bail petition of Tazreen Fashions Managing Director Delwar Hossain.
On February 12, public prosecutor Khondoker Abdul Mannan filed the plea before the court.
The state counsel mentioned in the petition that the accused had been absconding for a long time and that she was not obedient to the court.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Pay all dues to Rana Plaza victims: labour leaders:
Labor leaders and rights activists on Wednesday demanded payment of all dues and compensation to the victims of Rana Plaza building collapse by April 24.
Speaking at a discussion, they urged the government to publish the names of the institutions and individuals who donated Tk 127.67 crore to the prime minister’s relief and welfare fund for giving compensation to and rehabilitation of Rana Plaza victims and how many of them got the money from the fund.
Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies organised the discussion on ‘Disaster-accident of workplace: multiple sufferings of women’ at National Press Club to mark International Women’s Day 2014.
Columnist Syed Abul Maksud said according to the standard of International Labour Organisation each deceased worker of Rana Plaza should get Tk 72 lakh.
He said not only the government but also the buyers, the retailers and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association should pay the compensation in due time.
Maksud urged the government to declare April 24 as National Labour Solidarity Day as last year on this day Rana Plaza building collapsed killing more than 1100 garments workers.
Rights activist and Labour Safety Forum coordinator Hamida Hossain said, ‘We want to know which institutions and individuals donated Tk 127.67 crore to the prime minister’s relief and welfare fund for the Rana Plaza victims and to whom the government distributed the money.’
Criticising the existing Labour Act, she said Tk 1.2 lakh cannot be the compensation for a dead worker.
Some victims shared their experiences in the programme.
* Workers for agitation if Rana Plaza victims not paid compensation:
Leaders, activists urge payment by Apl 24
Labour leaders at a roundtable threatened to launch a massive agitation if the authorities concerned failed to pay due compensation to the Rana Plaza victims and their families by April 24 next.
Ready-made garment (RMG) industry workers’ leaders, journalists and columnists and NGO activists have called upon the government to take necessary steps in the payment of compensation in line with ILO standards by the deadline, when the country will observe the first anniversary of the industrial tragedy.
The demands were placed at the roundtable discussion organised by Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) at National Press Club in the capital.
According to the said ILO article, minimum 50 per cent of the average monthly wage and seven per cent more in consideration of inflation every year will be added to the amount. The calculation will be made considering 60 workable years for a worker.
“Basing on the calculation, a worker killed in the Rana Plaza incident will get more than Tk 7.2 million and the compensated amount must be cleared by the coming April 24. Otherwise, we’ll have no alternative but going for massive movement locally and globally,” Mr. Roy said.
Noted columnist Syed Abul Maksud said the government should set a benchmark in line with international standard keeping Rana Plaza tragedy at the front, so that the standard can be followed in the future if any industrial accident occurs in the future.
He also proposed announcing April 24 as National Workers’ Solidarity Day, marking the world’s worst industrial disaster in the century.
At the discussion, Rana Plaza’s wounded victims, mostly women, shared their painful and bitter experiences they had to go through since the tragedy of the building collapse.
* Full compensation still eludes victims:
The Rana Plaza collapse victims, mostly female garment workers, have not completely received compensation neither in line with a High Court ruling nor the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions even almost a year past Bangladesh’s worst industrial catastrophe.
Speakers made the observation at a discussion, “Disasters-accidents at workplace: women’s multifaceted problems”, organised by the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) in the capital’s Jatiya Press Club yesterday.
Formed following the HC ruling, the government-appointed 31-member panel recommended Tk 14.5 lakh for the dead, missing and permanently disabled workers, Tk 7.5 lakh for those losing one limb, Tk 4.5 lakh for workers needing long-term treatment and Tk 1.5 lakh for the traumatised survivors.
Under the ILO’s “loss of earnings” standards, which fix compensation based on victims’ age and national life expectancy, the family of a dead worker is entitled to Tk 28 lakh.
Moreover, the permanently disabled workers should receive more than Tk 25 lakh, the recoverable injured ones Tk 15 lakh and those with minor injuries Tk 5-10 lakh.
Rights activist Dr Hameeda Hossain, coordinator, Labour Safety Forum said till the $40 million promised by foreign buyers was collected, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) fund should provide it.
18:48:24 local time INDIA
* Organic cotton production declines in India as brands shift to Better Cotton Initiative:
India is still the largest producer of organic cotton in the world, accounting for two-third of the global organic cotton production.
But, the total organic fibre production of the country has fallen by close to 50% as global brands shift to Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). A marketing-driven green alternative to conventional cotton grown using chemicals, BCI is growing rapidly and getting premium over the conventional cotton.
From 1,95,797 metric tonne, its peak in 2009-10, to 1,03,004 metric tonne in 2011-12, organic cotton saw a fall of about 47%. The advent of better cotton initiative (BCI) and failure of organic cotton to give the expected 10% more price than conventional cotton has led to reduction in the area under organic cotton in India.
India’s organic cotton has been export dependent.
The international brands have shifted to BCI as it is less expensive than organic and does not have issues like integrity involved in organic.
18:18:24 local time PAKISTAN
* Cotton mill helps upgrade small looms:
As demand continues to grow, Crescent Cotton Mills has started helping small loom owners increase their capacity in an effort to fulfil international market requirements.
The management at Crescent Cotton Mills is providing technological up gradation to small factory owners of Faisalabad along with easy access to export orders from the international market.
In Faisalabad, there are over 250,000 power looms, most of which are home-based industries with very limited capital or awareness of the market. These small millers, who were only producing fabrics for local consumption, are now becoming exporters with the support of the textile tycoon.
Crescent Cotton Mills is working with these businesses to help them build contacts in the international market as well, said Naveed Gulzar, Executive Director at Crescent Cotton Mills Limited, while giving an interview to The Express Tribune.
“It was my idea to enable at least 100 small millers to become exporters,” said Gulzar. According to him, local markets do not offer good returns that can be gained by becoming a player, even of a small scale, in the international market.