Articles with # are updated 18 March 07.00h (GMT)
14:08:34 local time VIET NAM
20140316 * Foreign textile firms invest in Vietnam to take advantage of TPP :
14:08:34 local time CAMBODIA
# * Workers Demand Bonus Increase, Labor Laws:
About 7,000 workers protested in front of the Wing Star Shoes Co. Ltd. factory in Kompong Speu province on Monday, demanding that the company raise their bonuses by $5 and properly enforce a number of labor laws, a union official said.
The strike comes ten months after a ceiling in the factory collapsed and killed two workers.
Workers are demanding that Wing Star raise their bonuses, which include lunch and transportation, from $10 to $15 per month, said Phorn Phal, deputy secretary-general of the Free Trade Union (FTU).
He said the workers are also demanding that the company stop forcing employees to work overtime; stop cutting monthly wages during strikes; and remove male security guards from outside the factory’s female restrooms.
“The strike started in the early morning today and stopped at 11 a.m. after provincial authorities arranged a meeting for workers and company representatives to find a solution,” said Mr. Phal.
# * Wing Star workers walk out:
Provincial Ministry of Labour officials will today meet with union representatives and management at the factory where a ceiling collapse killed two workers last May, in an attempt to resolve a strike.
About 5,000 employees at Wing Star Shoes, an Asics supplier, walked off the job on Friday, demanding 10 changes including an additional $10 per month for lunch and transportation, said Bin Srey Mom, a Free Trade Union representative at the factory in Kampong Speu.
“Factory management has not negotiated with us since we began striking,” Srey Mom said yesterday. “If the factory still refuses to find a resolution … we will block National Road 3″, where Wing Star is located.
# * ILO Names Factories With Poor Conditions:
Garment factories that fail to meet basic standards for working conditions are once again being publicly named by the International Labor Organization (ILO) following the launch Monday of the Transparency Database by the ILO’s Better Factories Cambodia program (BFC).
Ten factories in BFC’s initial transparency report of 61 factories were placed in the “lowest compliance” category, while 30 factories were found to have met all of BFC’s 21 “Critical Issues.”
The factories in the lowest category failed to address fundamental compliance issues, such as providing emergency exits and properly paying workers’ bonuses and allowances, after at least two evaluations from BFC and a two-month notice period, according to the transparency report published Monday.
# * GMAC trains companies how to resolve labor disputes:
The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) says it will hold a one-day training course on procedures to resolve labor disputes on Wednesday next week.
The event, aimed at managers, supervisors and team leaders, follows a similar course earlier this month on the establishment of trade unions in Cambodia and the scope of their representation.
GMAC said the new course would cover both individual and collective labor disputes as well as the roles of the Arbitration Council in determining awards and local courts in enforcing council decisions.
20140317 * Court Probe of Veng Sreng Street Slaughter Ends:
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has finished an investigation into the shooting deaths of five protesting garment factory workers, and the wounding of more than 40 others, during a military police operation against stone-throwing strikers on January 3, Judge Phou Povsun said Sunday.
“We had finished the investigation on Friday,” Judge Povsun said.
“When we finish the investigation, the prosecutor will make his conclusion and after he finishes the conclusion, he will send it back to me. I will check it and decide who will go to a hearing or what,” he said.
Mr. Povsun said it will depend entirely on the prosecutor whether anyone has a case to answer from the violence on Veng Sreng Street in the city’s industrial belt.
“We will have to wait [for] the conclusion from the prosecutor…. We will wait and see the conclusion after we have the result of the investigation,” he said. “We do not know about the hearing yet.”
There are currently 21 people detained in jail after being arrested by soldiers and military police officers during garment strike protests on January 2 and 3.
Last week, during high-level talks held in Brussels, the European Union called on visiting Cambodia government officials to release the 21 jailed protesters.
20140317 * Transparency drives improvements in factory working condition:
The International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) today launches its online transparency database showing how individual garment factories measure up on key working conditions.
One third of the 51 factories included in the ‘Critical Issues’ database made improvements on 21 basic legal requirements in anticipation of their inclusion in this initial report.
The total number of Critical Issues violations in this group of factories fell from 59 to 34 between December 2013 and February 2014—a 42% improvement.
A smaller group of 15 factories in the database (29%) were already in compliance on all 21 of the basic legal requirements included in the Critical Issues category. Another 15 factories made verifiable improvements between December 2013 and February 2014 in order to move into this group, for a total of 30 factories (59%) with no violations of the Critical Issues.
read more. & download the dataase here.
20140317 * Factory flaws go live:
Unionists and labour rights officials are applauding a website scheduled to go live today that will hold to account garment factories that flout Cambodia’s labour law.
The site, created and maintained by the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) program, will publicly name factories that violate two or more ILO workplace standards.
“Before, [factories] were not publicly disclosed,” BFC spokesman Tivea Koam said yesterday. “All of the public pressure will push buyers to … make sure they comply with the law.”
A quarterly report identifying the factories will be available through the website, Koam said. Named factories will be allowed to upload to the website photographs and other media detailing steps they are taking to improve working conditions.
“Before, reports of individual companies could only be viewed by factory owners [and buyers], the public could not check,” said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CADU). “It’s a tool for pushing the companies, so this way companies find ways to improve working conditions and obey the labour law.”
20140317 * ILO says 51 garment factories improved working conditions:
The International Labour Organization launched Monday an online database showing how 51 garment factories performed in terms of key working conditions.
A statement said 30 companies had complied with all 21 basic legal requirements. Among the other companies, the number of violations fell from 59 in December to 34 in February.
20140317 * Union Representatives File Complaint Against Leaders Over Pilfering:
Two union organizers have filed a complaint with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court claiming that the senior leaders of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (CCAWDU) have embezzled money that was meant to be paid to workers in compensation following a dispute with factory owners.
The allegations against the leaders of CCAWDU come just weeks before a planned nationwide garment strike calling for a $160 minimum wage, in which CCAWDU and seven other unions have pledged to call on workers to stay at home for one week following the three-day Khmer New Year holiday in April.
It also follows increasing pressure from the government and factory owners to rein in the country’s labor movement after it threw its support behind the political opposition during mass demonstrations against Prime Minister Hun Sen in December.
The complaint by former CCAWDU officials Um Visal and Roeun Chanthan, dated March 3 and also signed by 29 garment workers, alleges that Ath Thorn, president of CCAWDU, Kong Athit, secretary-general of CCAWDU and Ek Pheakdey, another CCAWDU official, stole $92,929 from workers following an industrial dispute that was eventually settled by the union.
20140315 * Union leader denies embezzlement accusation:
A prominent union leader Ath Thon denies that he embezzled some US$90,000 from workers.
The denial was made after garment workers from E Garment factory filed a complaint against him and his two colleagues for embezzling money.
“They [workers] had already been paid, and that this was made to defame me,” said Ath Thon, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), on Friday a day after he was sued.
29 workers from a Chinese-owned E Garment Co., Ltd filed complaint with Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday against Ath Thon and his two colleagues, Kong Athith and Ek Sorpheakdey for embezzling US$92,929.
20140315 * Fashion Labels Concerned By New Trade Union Law:
A group of 30 international garment brands on Friday wrote to Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon to express their concern over the government’s draft union law, which could allow for the arbitrary suspension or disbanding of unions.
The letter, which was signed by brand names such as H&M, Gap, Adidas and Nike as well as the IndustriALL Global Union, Uni Global Union and the International Trade Union Confederation, follows after talks between the clothing buyers and senior government officials in Phnom Penh on February 19 to address instability in the garment sector after the lethal suppression of strikes in January.
In their letter on Friday, the clothing brands cite reports that unions have been prevented from registering at the Ministry of Labor, and that the government will not recognize any new unions until it has passed its new union law, which places new restrictions on labor groups.
“The passage of the Trade Union Law [must be] consistent with International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions 87 and 98 to establish effective industrial relations,” the letter states, adding that the brands hope the drafting of the law is also an “inclusive process.”
20140315 * ILO says working conditions database to go live on Monday:
The International Labor Organization said Friday its “online transparency database” on working conditions in Cambodia’s garment industry would go live next week.
In a statement, the UN agency said details would be released on Monday morning.
The database is part of an ILO project to support industry competitiveness and help “build the reputation of Cambodia as an ethical sourcing destination,” it said.
20140314 * Unions and brands mount pressure on Cambodian government:
Unions and brands are increasing pressure on the Cambodian government to address the demands of garment workers in the country.
IndustriALL Global Union, Uni Global Union and the ITUC together with 30 major brands, including H&M, Inditex, Gap, Adidas and Nike, have signed a joint letter to the Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia reiterating the need for an urgent resolution to the minimum wage and to respect the human rights of 21 wage protestors detained since demonstrations in January.
The letter follows a decision by Cambodian unions to postpone a planned strike on 12 March to allow time for dialogue with the government on the minimum wage process. Garment workers are demanding an increase in the minimum wage from US$ 100 to US$ 160 a month.
Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL, said:
“The unions in Cambodia have shown goodwill by postponing the strike, now it is time for the government to come to the table for constructive talks. Global unions and brands are united in their efforts to support this process to seek an end to the stalemate over the minimum wage. All the brands must commit to paying more to suppliers cover the costs of increased wages.”
Philip Jennings, general secretary of UNI Global Union said:
“The time has come for a new approach in Cambodia and that should come through recognition of global labour standards and dialogue. We call, once again, for the government of Cambodia to immediately release the 21 workers still behind bars for simply being brave enough to speak out about injustice.”
Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the ITUC, said:
“Freedom of association is under serious attack in Cambodia right now. The government has frozen all new union registrations and has banned public demonstrations supporting workers’ rights. Workers face retaliation in their workplaces for exercising this fundamental right. We all want to see a sustainable garment industry, and the government and employers need to respect freedom of association. Unions in Cambodia and around the world will campaign to ensure that Cambodian workers can exercise this basic right.”
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15:08:34 local time INDONESIA
20140317 * Textile Entrepreneurs Raise Prices of Campaign T-Shirts:
Textile entrepreneurs are not randomly accepting any t-shirts or shirts orders from legislative candidates.
Even if they accept them, entrepreneurs request a number of requirements that have to be agreed by the candidates. “Out strategy is by increasing advance payments from 10 percent to 50 percent,” said Ade Sudrajat, Indonesian Textile Association (API) chairman, to Tempo, Saturday, March 15.
Besides increasing advance payments, he said, candidates also have to settle payments when they are going to take the goods. The ordered goods will not be handed to them if payments are not settled.
20140317 * Pindo Deli’s owner can be in criminal:
Members of Indonesia Parliament Commission IX Rieke D Pitaloka said that employers who violate the provisions on minimum wages and do the weakening of trade unions threatened with criminal penalties .
It is delivered in the secretariat of the Federation of Indonesian Pulp and Paper ( FSP2KI ) action in respect of PT . Pindo Deli Mills Karawang affiliated to Asia Pulp and Paper work by restricting incoming board 17 Pindo Deli Paper Workers Union ( SPKPD ) following a lawful strike due to the failure of wage negotiations ( 13/3 ) .
Rieke added that other measures such as the influence of workers to get out of union membership and formed a rival organization to replace the function of the union could be interpreted as an attempt to muzzle union so that it can no longer perform its function to represent its members , such action must be stopped because it is a crime against the future front and humanitarian workers . Rieke also invited to jointly report to the Ministry of Manpower .
12:53:34 local time NEPAL
20140317 * Third country exports of a few products rise:
Exports of hand-knotted woollen carpets, readymade garments, pashmina, handicrafts, silverware and jewellery to countries other than India went up by up to 43.3 per cent in the first seven months of the current fiscal year due to weaker Nepali rupee and rise in production cost of some of these goods.
Third-country exports of hand-knotted woollen carpets, among others, went up by 22.4 per cent to Rs 4.20 billion in the seven-month period to mid-February. In the same period a year ago, exports of woollen carpets had dipped by 16.7 per cent to Rs 3.43 billion.
Depreciation in the value of the Nepali rupee vis-a-vis the US dollar played a vital role in boosting carpet exports, carpet exporters said.
Since carpet manufacturing is labour-intensive, with labour cost contributing to almost 65 per cent of the total production cost, weak rupee acts as an incentive to manufacturers to boost exports as price burden exerted by higher import prices of raw materials can be offset by labour costs which are extended in Nepali rupee.
13:08:34 local time BANGLADESH
20140317 * New garment wage yet to see full implementation:
The new wage structure for garment workers is yet to see full implementation three months after the due date.
Around 87 percent of the factories in Dhaka and its adjacent areas and 80 percent in Chittagong have so far employed the new wage structure, according to a recent survey of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
BGMEA surveyed 1,500 factories in Dhaka region and 600 in Chittagong between January and March.
In theory, all garment factories were supposed to introduce the new pay scale, a 77 percent raise, on December 1 last year.
“The owners are implementing the wage gradually despite the sector going through a period of adversity,” BGMEA Vice-president Shahidullah Azim said.
Labour leaders, however, are disputing the high implementation figures put forward by the sector’s apex trade body.
Sirajul Islam Rony, workers’ representative on the wage board, said about 75 percent of the factories in Dhaka and Chittagong implemented the new pay structure.
20140316 * 50% RMG units yet to pay new wages:
Workers of about 15 per cent of the surveyed readymade garment (RMG) factories are yet to get enhanced wages even three months after the new wage structure was announced, according to the BGMEA.
However, labour leaders alleged that 50 per cent of the factories are yet to implement the new wage structure. They said the number of non-implementing factories is higher in Dhaka metropolitan city compared to those in different industrial zones like Ashulia and Gazipur.
They said mainly dearth of job opportunities has forced the workers not to raise their voices against the non-compliant owners.
On the other hand, the government has no clear information about the wage implementation in the garment sector.
20140316 * Many RMG units yet to execute new wage structure in 3 months:
A good number of garment factories are yet to implement the new wage structure for workers after more than three months of its announcement.
Labour leaders said less than 50 per cent of the factories implemented the new wage announced by a government-formed wage board on December 5 last year.
Factory owners, however, said that more than 85 per cent of garment units had so far implemented the new wage structure.
Labour leaders said in some cases workers had been downgraded and they (workers) were deprived of the benefits of the new wage.
The government officials concerned, however, said that they had no documentation and observation on the implementation of the new wage in the garment sector in the month of February.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association conducted a survey on 1,500 factories in Dhaka and found that 15 per cent of the factories failed to implement the new wage structure.
20140317 * Norwegian project to improve labour rights, workers’ safety launched:
The Norwegian government launched a project Sunday in Dhaka in an effort to strengthen labour rights, improve occupational health and safety standards for 4,000 workers in garment, leather and shrimp sectors.
“Decent work and fair globalisation are important and related objectives on the Norwegian government’s agenda. Everybody must enjoy basic workers’ rights, work in an environment where standards are respected, and receive their share of the wealth created,” said Merete Lundemo, ambassador of Norway to Bangladesh at the project launching ceremony, says a press release.
She also inaugurated a two-day training which aimed at promoting better compliance with international labour standards, particularly fundamental principles and rights at work.
“We want all companies to be familiar with the national law and international standards. Enhancing labour rights and standards will enhance business,” she added.
The US$2.5 million project titled “Promoting Fundamental Rights at Work and Labour Relations in Export Oriented Industries in Bangladesh” is being implemented in the readymade garment (RMG), shrimp processing, and shoe and leather factories.
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20140316 * Labour rights, safety standard below required level:
The Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishments has found labour rights and safety standard below the required level, official sources said.
Besides, some important compliance issues have not been addressed satisfactorily. The issues are: formation of trade union, insurance facility for the garment workers, daycare centre, maternal welfare, participation committee, safety record book and safety committee etc.
These were the conclusions reached after the inspection of 81 garment factories which was done by the 23 special inspection teams of the Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishments on compliance issues of the garments sector.
After reviewing and expressing satisfaction on the progress it was observed that some important compliance issues were “below standard,” the sources said.
The special teams of the state entity had inspected 81 garment factories. Of these, some 51 are the members of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and 9 are the members of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) respectively. Some 21 are not the listed with any association in the country, sources said.
20140318 * Retailers’ teams to talk pledges, conspiracy theory in April:
High-ups of North American and European retailers groups are coming to Dhaka in early April to discuss garment factory safety inspection issue following government’s and factory owners’ criticism of strict inspection standards and allegation of conspiracy.
Garment factory owners and commerce minister Tofail Ahmed recently came down heavily on the two groups — EU Accord on Fire and Building Safety and North American Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety — after their team of experts started safety inspection of around 2,300 garment units.
The groups were formed after the Rana Plaza building collapse on April 24, 2013 that killed more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers, to improve workplace safety in the country’s factories.
Garment industry insiders and people close to the groups said that the retailers groups were not happy about the criticism of conspiracy to destroy the sector in the name of safety inspection.
They said that the retailers took the allegations seriously as they started the inspection after taking approval from the government.
The advisory committee of the EU Accord will arrive in Dhaka on April 3 and the Alliance board members, led by chair Ellen O’Kane Tauscher, will come to Dhaka on April 14 to discuss with the government about the factory inspection issue.
20140318 * Govt, stakeholders initiate talks to resolve RMG issues:
The government and other apparel stakeholders have initiated negotiations to resolve some issues, including corrective action plan, that surfaced centering on the ongoing factory assessment programmes, sources said.
Other disputes including sharing of factory information on inspection report, continuation of export orders for factories located at shared buildings and some standards including setting up of sprinklers will also be discussed.
Apparel makers, buyers and government will sit to discuss the issues next month, industry insiders said adding that they are expected to evaluate the outcomes and go for the successful completion of the factory inspection programmes.
The Board members of Alliance will arrive here next month and hold meetings with apparel makers, high officials of commerce and labour ministries on April 14 to 16 while the Accord’s advisory committee will sit first week of next month, they added.
20140318 * RMG units need Tk 40b to meet fire safety standards:
Factory owners ask for soft loans, duty-free facility
The country’s readymade garment (RMG) factory owners are required to spend at least Tk 40 billion to meet fire safety standards set by various international buyers and their alliances after the deadly Rana Plaza incident, stakeholders say.
Fire Service and Civil Defence officials have swooped on many apparel factories and asked their owners to install various safety equipment including fire door, busbar tracking system, automatic fire sprinkler system, and fire extinguisher, they added.
“Each factory will have to invest afresh at least Tk 10 million to meet the fire safety requirements. Some big factories may even need to spend Tk 30 to 40 million to install the equipment,” said Mohammad Hatem, vice president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).
20140317 * EU still not happy with RMG safety measures:
Steps taken far from desired level: Trade Commissioner
The European Union is unhappy over the steps that the Bangladesh government has so far taken for improving working conditions in readymade garment (RMG) factories, as pledged by the country 10 months ago under a sustainability compact agreement.
According to the agreement, Bangladesh has to reform the labour law, recruit 200 inspectors and bring change to the garment factory structures to ensure fire safety, especially structural safety.
But in his latest statement, EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht maintained that Bangladesh’s reforms and safety measures were far from the desired level.
“The changes it brought in the labour law are not sufficient to safeguard workers’ rights,” the Commissioner said.
Bangladesh had pledged to reform its labour law to strengthen workers’ rights, in particular regarding freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, and to improve occupational health and safety, Mr Gucht said.
20140317 * No issues similar to Rana Plaza collapse:
A new inspection regime at garment factories in Bangladesh, launched after the Rana Plaza disaster, has so far not found “issues of a similar magnitude” to those that led to the tragedy.
Inspections – covering fire, electrical and structural risks – have taken place at 10 buildings, while inspectors plan to visit a total of 1,500 factories by September 2014.
The work is being carried out under the Bangladesh Accord Foundation (BAF), a legally-binding agreement signed by more than 150 clothing brands and retailers which source from Bangladesh and have agreed to source funds to pay for improvement works.
The BAF said: “The reports do not highlight any issues of a similar magnitude to those which caused the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in April 2013. They do identify a number of issues to be addressed and explain the steps to be taken to resolve them. Some of these steps are already underway.”
20140317 * Panel formed for factory occupancy certificates:
Owners of the garment factories housed in buildings built for other purposes will now have to depend on the recommendations of a technical panel to get occupancy certificates to meet the demand of the foreign buyers.
The Nagar Unnayan Committee in a meeting yesterday formed a technical panel to ascertain whether the certificates could be issued on a provisional basis to such factories, said Sheikh Abdul Mannan, member of the board of Rajdhani Unnyan Kartripakkha (Rajuk).
Jamilur Reza Choudhury, a noted civil engineer, will head the panel, Mannan said at the meeting chaired by Housing and Public Works Minister Mosharraf Hossain.
Earlier, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association appealed to the Nagar Unnayan Committee to accommodate noncompliant factories by relocating them to designated industrial zones and altering the detailed area plan (DAP) of the capital city.
20140316 * ‘Comply with building code in constructing RMG factories’:
Speakers stressed the need for complying with the building code while constructing garment factory buildings to ensure the safety of workers
Speakers at a seminar yesterday stressed the need for complying with the building code while constructing garment factory buildings to ensure the safety of workers and avert any untoward incident.
“We are ready to offer the technical support needed in constructing RMG factory buildings properly,” Professor Dr M Shamim Z Basunia, president of Engineers’ Institution Bangladesh, said while addressing the seminar.
The seminar, titled ‘Building, Fire and Electrical Safety of RMG Factories’ was organised by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association as part of the ongoing Chittagong Apparel, Fabric and Accessories Exposition (CAPAXPO-2014), at the Mahabub Ali Auditorium in the port city.
20140317 * Fire dept assesses Tk 531cr in loss, half the sum estimated by owner:
An investigation committee formed by the Fire Service and Civil Defence to investigate fire in the garment factory of Standard Group at Konabari in Gazipur estimated Tk 531 crore in losses in the factory fire.
The committee said in its report that unidentified criminals presumed to be outsiders along with rowdy workers set fire to the factory on November 28 last year.
The committee submitted their reports to the director general of Fire Service and Civil Defence in late February.
Jahirul Amin, deputy director of Fire Service and Civil Defence, also the head of the probe committee, told New Age that the committee assessed the damage based on the documents and invoices provided by the factory authorities.
20140318 * Workers of Fuji Fashion Limited:
20140315 * Cops-RMG workers clash injures 50:
Around five thousands readymade garment workers of a sweater factory protested on a demand of opening the closed factory in Savar municipal area of the district on Saturday morning.
Witnesses said that the agitated RMG workers of Dynamic Sweater staged a demonstration in front of the factory in the morning to meet their 10-point demands including wage hike, production bonus and opening the closed factory.
At one stage of the protest, they vandalized the factory and blocked Dhaka-Aricha highway.
20140315 * Info on 3,498 RMG units ready for inclusion in database:
The government has initiated the process of incoreorating information on 3,498 garment units in the proposed database, which will be completed by the end of this month sources said.
The Labour and Employment Ministry, in cooperation with the International Labour Organisation, is preparing the database.
The inspectors of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) have already collected the information on those who are running readymade garment (RMG) factories across the country, they added.
A working committee, headed by the DIFE Inspector General, has recently been formed in this regard. The committee will meet this week to finalise which information would be incorporated and accessibility of those information, they further added.
Factory’s name, location and number of workers and information related to trade unions will initially be included in the database, they said. They are giving emphasis to security of information.
20140315 * 3,500 factories on govt list for RMG sector database:
The government has finalised a preliminary list of about 3,500 garment factories to include the name of the factories and their workers in a publicly accessible database for RMG sector.
As per the requirements of the GSP action plan set by the US as well as the requirement of Sustainable Compact of EU, the government has started work for creating the database for reporting labour, fire and building inspections as well as information on the factories and their locations.
The US government on June 27, 2013 suspended the generalised system of preferences for Bangladesh due to an insufficient improvement in worker rights condition.
The US on July 19 last year gave 16-point Bangladesh Action Plan for reinstating GSP facility for Bangladesh.
In the action plan, the US suggested that Bangladesh should ‘create a publicly accessible database/matrix of all RMG/knitwear factories as a platform for reporting labour, fire, and building inspections, including information on the factories and locations, violations identified, fines and sanctions administered, factories closed or relocated, violations remediated, and the names of the lead inspectors.’
20140317 * Maiden Ticfa meeting in April-end:
The first meeting under the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) between Dhaka and Washington will be held in the last week of April next, said an official on Monday.
“The meeting will be held in the last week of April as proposed by the US side,” Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed told UNB. The maiden meeting of Ticfa was originally scheduled for April 7-8 but postponed as both sides did not find the schedule convenient due to other engagements.
Both sides are now working to set specific dates for the two-day meeting through a mutual understanding as Dhaka prefers April 27-28 for holding the meeting, said another official at the commerce ministry.
Meanwhile, the US is planning to create a ‘Ticfa Working Group on GSP/Labour Affairs’ to provide an ongoing, formal mechanism for Bangladesh and US to address labour concerns as it envisions Ticfa as the key coordinating mechanism for bilateral, government-to-government efforts on the GSP Action Plan.
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20140315 * First meet under Ticfa postponed:
The first meeting under the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) between Dhaka and Washington has been postponed.
The meeting was scheduled for April 7-8 in Dhaka, which is now likely to be deferred to next month.
It has been postponed due to business of the US side, said officials at the foreign and commerce ministries.
The US had confirmed the meeting date (April 7-8) during Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque’s visit to Washington DC on February 18. But later it informed Bangladesh that the US trade representative officials, who will be coming to Dhaka, have urgent engagement on April 9 and thus asked for deferring the meet.
The Ticfa meet will be held within next month as the US suggested that it could take place in the third or fourth week of April, a senior foreign ministry official told The Daily Star yesterday.
20140318 * No new investment made in knitwear sector in 3 years :
No fresh investment has been made in the knitwear sector in the last three years though there are opportunities to expand its export market share.
Leaders of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) said despite the rising demand for Bangladeshi global brand products, the sector failed to attract new investments.
“We do not have the capacity to meet the growing demand for knitwear garments in the export market but still new investments are not being made”, a BKMEA leader said.
20140316 * Power tariff hike worries RMG owners:
RMG factory owners on Sunday voiced deep concern over the recent power tariff hike.
A statement issued by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said the 6.96 percent increase in power tariff will result in the reduction of competitiveness of the export-oriented industry.
Factors such as the increase in the RMG production cost by 13 percent over the recent past and the rise in the value of the Taka by 8 percent against the dollar have already constricted the export profit, it added.
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20140317 * Power price hike to hit competitiveness of RMG sector: BGMEA:
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association on Sunday said the latest power price hike would put adverse impact on the readymade garment sector and the industry would lose its competitive edge.
In a news release the trade body expressed its deep concern over the power price hike and said the 6.96 per cent increase in power tariff would result in the reduction of competitiveness of the export-oriented industry.
The BGMEA urged the government to keep the power prices unchanged for the RMG sector to keep the sector competitive in the global market.
20140318 * Second unit of Rajshahi Jute Mills to restart soon, says minister:
Textile and Jute Minister Imazuddin Pramanik has announced to restart the second unit of Rajshahi Jute Mills soon.
Minister Imazuddin Pramanik announced this while talking as chief guest at an exchange of view meeting with officials and employees of RJM at the board room of the mills on Sunday.
The minister said, during the tenure of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, no jute mills will be sold rather closed jute mills will be reopened and as a part of this, the second unit of RJM will be reopened.
20140316 * Organic clothing: new hope:
The relaxation of standards for organic clothing has opened up new avenues for the country’s embattled garment sector.
Organic clothing, a niche but lucrative market, requires strict adherence to organic farming and environmentally and socially responsible textile processing methods, which have so far been very restricting for the country’s 5,000 garment producers.
But on March 1, the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) International Working Group has modified a host of rules, giving textile manufacturers a larger choice of fabric mixes.
Previously, to get the organic certification, the material must contain a minimum of 70 percent organic fibres and 30 percent non-organic fibres but a maximum of 10 percent conventional synthetic fibres.
20140316 * Tanners should shift or shut down: minister:
Reducing vulnerability to climate change a global responsibility: new book
Why anticipatory and planned measures to reduce vulnerability to climate change would not be a global responsibility just like mitigation, asks a new book on the issue written by a Bangladeshi scholar.
The book, ‘Toward a Binding Climate Change Adaptation Regime: A Proposed Framework’ dealing with climate adaptation politics was unveiled in the city Saturday.
The author, Mizan R. Khan, professor of Environmental Science and Management at North South University, is now a visiting scholar at Brown University, USA.
The author raised the pertinent question: why anticipatory and planned measures to reduce vulnerability to climate change should not be a global responsibility just like mitigation.
This discrimination is likely to continue unless the laws of adaptation were strengthened, he wrote in the book published by Routledge in October 2013.
20140316 * Factory waste polluting rivers in Narsingdi:
Narsingdi: Waste and chemical from factories are polluting water of the Old Brahmaputra, Arial Kha, Shitalakhya rivers and Haridoa canal in the district posing serious health hazards for people and also causing adverse impact on the environment.
Thousands of farmers in Narsingdi sadar upazila, Polash upazila and Shibpur upazila are affected as a large numbers of industries are continuously spewing toxic industrial wastes into agriculture lands violating rules. Sources at the of the deputy commissioner said that hundreds of factories in the district are dumping garment factory waste, dyeing chemicals, polythene , printing, fertilisers, cement factory waste on crops lands, rivers, water bodies and canals, violating industrial and environmental laws.
They said that the toxic water that goes down the drains from those factories finally end up in rivers Shitalakhy, Arial Kha, Old Brahmaputra, and Haridoa canals and other water bodies.
The toxic wastes include chemical dyes, detergents, ammonia, lime, sulphate, sulhuric acid, soda, bleaching powder and many other harmful materials.
Before going into the rivers, canals, and water bodies, the toxic water spread into vast tracts of arable land, thus seriously damaging land fertility. About a decade ago people used to catch fish from those rivers, canals, water bodies and also used the water to irrigate Boro crops fields. But the scenario has now changed and no fish can be found in the polluted water.
During a visit to Shilmandi, Madhabdi and Panchdona in Narsingdi sadar, Danga, Ghorashal in Polash upaizla, Kararchar, Bhareterkandi Sherpur in Shibpur upazila, our correspondent found most of the dyeing, printing and textiles industries and other factories releasing toxic chemical into rivers, canals, and water bodies.
Many houses near the river are forced to use the dirty water for their household needs including bathing and washing.
They must use the toxic rivers water because they have no alternatives.
read more. & read more.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
20140318 * Primark to give $10m more to Rana Plaza victims:
Primark, an Irish clothing retailer, on Monday announced to pay out $10 million in compensation to victims or their dependents of the Rana Plaza factory collapse weeks before the anniversary of the disaster in which more than 1,100 garment workers lost their lives.
The retailer has agreed to pay $9 million to the 580 workers, or their families, from New Wave Bottoms, Primark’s supplier, which was based on the second floor of the building.
A further $1 million will go to workers from its competitors’ supply chain and this amount will be paid to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund chaired by the International Labour Organisation for distribution, Primark said in a press release
The latest round of payouts will bring Primark’s total compensation to $12 million as the retailer has paid out $2 million in short-term support for all workers within the Rana Plaza building, including those working for other brands.
20140318 * Primark to give away $9m this week:
British clothing retailer Primark will start paying compensation to the Rana Plaza victims within this week.
The retailer will disburse $9 million to 580 workers (or their dependants) of New Wave Bottoms, one of the five garment units that were housed in the ill-fated Rana Plaza building.
“The payment will be met in full, in cash, directly by Primark and will amount to some $9 million,” the retailer said in a statement yesterday.
Primark is giving away the compensation only to the workers of New Wave Bottoms as the retailer used to source garments from this unit on the second floor of the building.
Besides this amount, Primark has already disbursed $2 million to the workers or their families immediately after the collapse of the building.
Another $1 million will go to a common fund — Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund — where International Labour Organisation is the chair.
20140318 * Primark to start long-term payments to 580 workers of New Wave Bottoms:
Primark, a UK-based retailer, announced Monday that it will begin long-term payments to 580 workers of the New Wave Bottoms that produced apparel products for it.
The payment worth US$ 9.0 million will be distributed to those workers or their dependants who died or were injured due to the Rana Plaza building collapse, a statement issued by the retailer said Monday.
It will also contribute $ 1.0 million to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund chaired by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for distribution among the workers in its competitors’ supply chain in addition to the $ 2.0 million which it has already distributed to the workers or their families.
This brings the total that Primark is paying to the victims of Rana Plaza to some $ 12 million.
Primark is making the long-term payments, for purposes of recognition, as compensation under the auspices of the Coordination Committee of the Rana Plaza Arrangement.
20140316 * Primark to pay £6m more to victims of Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh:
Retailer agrees payout weeks before anniversary of tragedy, in move that raises hopes of spurring donations from other firms
Primark is to pay out a further $10m (£6m) in compensation to victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh weeks before the anniversary of the disaster in which more than 1,100 garment workers lost their lives.
The British retailer has agreed to pay $9m to the 581 workers, or their families, from New Wave Bottoms, Primark’s supplier, which was based on the second floor of the building in Dhaka. A further $1m will go into a communal compensation pot to be shared among all the 3,600 workers who suffered when the eight-floor Rana Plaza complex collapsed in April last year.
Both payments should be made under the auspices of a compensation scheme backed by UN agency the International Labour Organisation (ILO), under a deal agreed over the weekend.
Campaigners hope Primark’s payment will help persuade other retailers linked to the Rana Plaza building to pay up. The latest round of payouts will bring Primark’s total compensation bill to $12m after it paid out $2m in short-term support for all workers within the Rana Plaza building, including those working for other brands.
20140316 * Rana Plaza survivors fearful as they continue to work in garment factories:
Less than year on from tragedy, most have had no choice but to return to industry despite ill-health and dread of another collapse
Pervin Banu walks to work every morning scared. A survivor of the collapse of a factory making cheap clothes for western firms on the outskirts of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, almost 11 months ago, the 22-year-old once more spends her days at a sewing machine. Now, in another factory, she turns out trousers for export.
“If there were any other alternative I would choose that. You don’t want to go back for a second time after returning once from a death trap,” Banu said.
Her route takes her past the huge pit, now filled with refuse and brackish water where the building she worked in once stood. A heavy cement memorial has been constructed by unions. Police officers guard against looters, street children, the curious, the media and the bereaved. Yards away, the buses, trucks and battered cars stream past, choking the road that leads from the suburb of Savar to the centre of Dhaka.
Thronging the pavement every morning and evening, are the tens of thousands of workers, a fraction of the four million in Bangladesh, who are employed directly or indirectly by the garment industry.
Despite the disaster, the industry is thriving.
20140316 * Savar Foundation continues rehabilitation efforts:
The foundation has raised and distributed over Tk 220,000 for the victims of the Rana Plaza collapse
The Savar Foundation, a charitable organisation that aims to rehabilitate the Rana Plaza victims, has donated two motorised rickshaws to the family members of two garment workers who died in the building collapse.
The two motorised rickshaws, worth Tk 100,000, have been donated to slain garment workers Sheuli and Bobita’s family members on Sunday.
Garment worker Sheuli Rani Das, 18, who died in the building collapse, was the primary source of earning in her family. After she died, the family has been suffering a lot due to inadequate compensation from the authorities.
20140314 * Rana Plaza: Primark called on to pay up as launch date of payments announced:
IndustriALL, UNI Global Union and the Clean Clothes Campaign are today welcoming the launch of the Rana Plaza Arrangement claims process, which will officially commence on the 24th March.
They are now calling on brands to contribute to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund and ensure families of those killed and injured at Rana Plaza finally get the money they are owed.
The claims processing will be carried out from an office based in Savar, the town where the Rana Plaza building was located. Potential beneficiaries will be contacted directly and invited to come to the office to make their claim.
A pre-claim legal team will work with each claimant to ensure they fully understand what claims can be made for and how they will be decided.
A hotline in Savar will be launched at the same time to respond to any questions or enquiries about the claims process. It is expected that first payments will be provided by the first anniversary of the disaster.
Payments made under the Arrangement will be funded through the Rana Plaza Donor’s Trust Fund, which has been collecting contributions from brands sourcing from Bangladesh in general and Rana Plaza in particular.
The Fund was opened at the beginning of February, with an initial target of $10
million, believed to be the amount needed to pay first instalments to all the potential claimants. $40 million is needed in total to cover full payments to over 3000 workers and families of those killed.
Since its launch in February the Fund has garnered widespread support. The Ethical Trading Initiative, the Bangladesh Accord Foundation and the Business Social Compliance Initiative have all issued appeals to their members calling on them to contribute to the Fund. Seven brands; Bon Marche, El Corte Ingles, Inditex, Mango, Mascot, Loblaw and Premier Clothing have all publicly pledged initial donations.
However there is a long way to go before the $40 million needed to make payments to all workers is found. Primark remains notably absent from the list of donors, despite their involvement in the development of the Arrangement and their previous commitment to provide full and fair compensation to Rana Plaza workers through a single, unified scheme.
They are the only signatory company of the Arrangement yet to make a contribution.
IndustriALL, UNI Global Union and the Clean Clothes Campaign are today calling on Primark and the other brands sourcing from Rana Plaza to fulfil their commitments and to immediately pledge funds the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund so that the victims and families of the horrific disaster receive compensation by the 24th April.
IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina stated:
“As we are happy to see the Arrangement roll out on 24 March, it is now time for Primark to go back from zero to hero in its response to the industrial homicide at Rana Plaza. Stop delaying the process and join the other companies in a single approach based on international standards. Pay into the Trust Fund to secure a historic, comprehensive compensation solution for all victims.”
UNI Global Union general secretary Philip Jennings said:
“This arrangement is good news for the families of Rana Plaza victims who have waited too long for compensation. A transparent and coordinated approach is far stronger than a handful of separate voluntary corporate schemes. Companies need to commit and pay up..”
Clean Clothes Campaign‘s Ineke Zeldenrust added:
“The Rana Plaza victims have waited long enough – with the launch of the claims process we hope that families suffering as a result of the disaster will finally get what they deserve before the first anniversary. We are now calling on Primark and all the other brands linked to Rana Plaza to stop delaying and pay up.”
20140315 * Rana Plaza compensation fund short millions:
Only seven of the 28 international brands linked to garment factories in Rana Plaza have contributed to compensation fund.
The process to begin paying compensation to the victims of the Rana Plaza collapse is less than two weeks away, but only seven of the 28 international brands linked to garment factories in the building have contributed to a fund.
About $40 million (U.S.) is needed to pay 3,000 workers or the families of those killed when the Rana Plaza collapsed on April 24, 2013.
The Rana Plaza Donor’s Trust Fund is backed by the International Labour Organization. The process to pay compensation officially starts on March 24; to date, Bonmarché, El Corte Inglés, Inditex, Mango, Mascot, Premier Clothing and Canada’s Loblaw are believed to have donated to the fund but it is less than a quarter of the money required.
Negotiations have been ongoing for months.
International unions and agencies such as IndustriALL, UNI Global Union and the Clean Clothes Campaign called upon brands Friday to commit to the fund.
“Since the beginning of negotiations we got commitments that brands will pay,” said Monica Kemperle of IndustriALL, a global union that is working with retailers and brands, under the leadership of the ILO. “Now we will see how serious brands are when we launch the Donor Trust funds on March 24.”
* Clean Clothes hails launch of Rana Plaza claims process:
12:38:34 local time INDIA
20140317 * 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.
20140315 * 8mn Indian cotton bales lie unsold:
CCI has procured approximately 2.75 lakh bales till now in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and few other states.
There is still cotton arriving in irrigated fields of Vidharba in Maharashtra and Khamam, Warangal in Andhra Pradesh.
20140314 * Election results in exodus of workers from Surat textile industry:
Workers who usually go on leave for Holi tend to return by last week of March or first week of April
It’s not just traffic jams in Mumbai thanks to campaigning, the upcoming general elections has its repercussions on the Surat-based synthetic textile industry which is reeling under labour shortage.
With a desire to vote in the general elections, textile workers in Surat, most of which hail from states like Orissa, Bihar, UP and Maharasthra, among others, are on an exodus to their homes.
Workers who usually go on leave for Holi tend to return by last week of March or first week of April. However, according to textile industry players in Surat, many of the workers are not likely to return before May leading to acute labour shortage. Surat textile industry employs around one million workers.
“Production is already down by 30-40%. More than 200,000 workers have gone on leave for Holi. But this year is different. With general elections coming up, workers have hinted they won’t return before May since they want to stay back for voting,” said Rakesh Choudhary, executive director of South Gujarat Textile Exporters Association.
12:08:34 local time PAKISTAN
20140317 * Value-added hosiery sector: PHMEA flays delay in restoration of gas supply:
Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PHMEA), North Zone, has criticised the delay in full restoration of gas supply to value-added hosiery sector.
PHMEA Chairman Muhammad Amjad Khawaja said on Sunday that gas supply to the export-oriented textile sector had been restricted to 25 percent, as domestic use of gas was almost doubled during the winter season.
The industrial sector had accepted this decision despite serious reservations and somehow, they managed to run their gas-specific machinery with reduced production capacity in addition to arranging costly fuel to run their boilers and other non-gas specific appliances, he said adding that now the winter season had ended and the domestic consumption reduced substantially, therefore, the SNGPL and the government authorities should enhance gas supply immediately up to 50 percent during this month.
He said that the gas supply should be further increased to 100 percent from next month in order to help the hosiery sector to work with full capacity.
20140316 * ‘India ready to lift restrictions on Pakistani textile products’:
India is ready to remove restrictions on Pakistani textiles products, a move which will increase Pakistani exports to New Delhi three folds, said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Assistant Maftah Ismael on Saturday.
He said that India will ease ban on 160 Pakistani products and it had agreed to grant access to Pakistani items to local market. Maftah said that Pakistan had demanded of India no to impose duty on 160 items.
20140316 * GSP+ requires implementation of 27 int’l conventions:
GSP Plus Scheme given to Pakistan requires the countries to fulfill economic criterion of eligibility to ratify and implement 27 International UN Conventions on human rights, labour rights, climate change, narcotics control and corruption.
Countries, which want to benefit from GSP plus scheme, are required to ratify and give binding commitment to effectively implement these 27 international conventions on various fields. An official source familiar with the development told Daily Times here on Saturday that Pakistan has ratified all conventions in letter and spirit. He said there were no issues related to the ratification but only problems were identified at the implementation stages.
The federal and provincial governments have already undertaken various legislative and institutional measures to ensure effective implementation of these conventions in the light of our international commitments as well as principles enshrined in Pakistan’s constitution.
20140315 * Call to restore zero-rated regime: PTEA terms duty-free access to EU unviable:
Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) termed duty free access of Pakistani goods to EU under Generalised System of Preferences unviable unless the government restores zero-rated regime for export-oriented textile industry to help ease its liquidity flow.
Over 25% working capital of textile exporters is already stuck-up in refund regime.
Raising the demand of zero rating, Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood, Chairman and Adil Tahir, Vice Chairman PTEA in a statement here on Friday, said the government should bring in necessary reforms and give special status to export-oriented textile industry allowing zero-rating facility to achieve desired goal from GSP Plus scheme. Being mainstay of the economy and major stakeholder in forex earnings, export-oriented textile sector should be given more special status than other industries, they demanded.
If the government wants to fully utilise the GSP Plus scheme, it should immediately enforce the previous system of zero rating for export-oriented textile industry which would mean no deduction and no payment of sales tax refund and this would help ensure cash flow for industry to meet export contracts, they said and added that there was no deduction of sales tax which has to be refunded by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) at later stage up to February 2013 and after its withdrawal huge amounts of textile exporters have stuck-up in sales tax refund regime creating severe financial crunch.
20140315 * Jute imports fall by $1.7 million in July-January:
Pakistan’s import of jute declined by over six percent to $25.756 million during July-January 2013-14, official statistics say.
Jute import fell by $1.748 million from $27.504 million during the same period last fiscal year, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) said. In term of volume: jute import reduced by six percent to 50,025 metric tons in July-January 2013-14 from 53,214 metric tons in the same period last fiscal year, the PBS suggests.
In January 2014, jute import, however, posted an increase of $0.662 million (18 percent) to $4.422 million as compared to $3.760 million in January 2013, according to the statistics. In terms of quantity jute import went up by 1257 metric tons (17 percent) to 8,711 metric tons in January 2014 from 7,454 metric tons in January 2013, the figures depict.
20140314 * Profits of textiles rise by 26% :
Pakistani textiles posted earnings growth of 26 percent in the six-month period ended December 31, 2013, an analyst said on Thursday.
“This was due to improved demand and stable yarn margins. Further boost to the profits was provided by depreciating rupee and declining finance cost,” Tahir Saeed at Topline Securities said.
The profits of the listed textile firms increased by 26 percent to reach Rs17.5 billion, while gross profits posted a growth of 14 percent to Rs39 billion in the first half of FY14.
Favouring fortunes resulted in improved overall textile output in the period under review, which can be gauged from 6.8 percent uptick in sales to Rs283 billion, he said.
“This can also be observed from 7.8 percent growth in the country’s textile exports in the period under review to $6.9 billion. In terms of rupee, overall textile exports went up by 19 percent to Rs730 billion,” Saeed said. Strong cotton yarn, grey cloth and bedwear demand from China and other neighbouring countries has contributed to higher unit sales, while margins increased due to stable cotton prices and around seven percent rupee depreciation against the dollar, he said.