10:04:00 local time VIET NAM
* Better Work Vietnam expands to northern region:
The Better Work Vietnam programme in the apparel industry was launched in Hanoi on March 19, expanding its scope to the north and footwear sector of Vietnam.
Jointly organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the programme aims to enhance the operation efficiency and competitiveness of export enterprises.
As part of the Better Work Global programme, it plays an important role in connecting the interests of the private sector and the observation of Vietnam ’s law and basic international labour standards through training services and assessments.
After proving its efficiency in the south, in the 2014-2019 period, the programme will expand to Hanoi and surrounding localities by giving support to businesses in both apparel and footwear industries.
10:04:00 local time THAILAND
* ‘Don’t forget lese majeste prisoners’:
The public must not forget prisoners of conscience at this crucial juncture in Thai politics, a young student activist said after visiting lese majeste prisoners at the Bangkok Remand Prison on Saturday.
About 50 well-wishers and members of the June 24 for Democracy group made a special visit to show solidarity with those behind bars. Joining them were the wife and daughter of former Voice of Thaksin editor Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, who has been detained without bail for three years.
Aum Neko, a Liberal Arts student from Thammasat University, said students and the general public had become more aware of the problematic application of Article 112 of the Criminal Code against those accused of insulting and defaming the royal institution.
Aum joined other activists and the Prueksakasemsul family members, who are preparing for a week-long campaign for Somyot‘s freedom. He has been denied bail a dozen times.
The labour activist and media man is appealing against the Court of First Instance ruling that sentenced him in January last year to 10 years in prison on two counts of violating the lese majeste law plus a one-year suspended sentence for a previous violation in 2009 of the Printing Act.
Three other male lese majeste prisoners are also at Bangkok Remand Prison.
* Activists, relatives rally for lese majeste prisoners:
Student activists and relatives of lese majeste prisoners have called on the public to pay attention to the plight of people convicted of violating lese majeste laws.
They were also campaigning for the release of former labour rights activist Somyot, who was imprisoned almost three years ago.
Somyot has appealed the court of first instance verdict which sentenced him in January last year to 10 years in prison on two counts of violating the lese majeste law plus a one-year suspended sentence for a previous violation in 2009 of the Printing Act.
10:04:00 local time CAMBODIA
* Wing Star Workers Strike Despite Closure Threat:
One day after the Wing Star garment factory threatened to shut down, thousands of workers responded by protesting Friday, demanding hikes in lunch and transportation bonuses.
If the owners shut down the factory, they will incur large labor severance costs, warned Sim Rattanak, labor department director for Kompong Speu province, the region west of Phnom Penh, where Wing Star is located.
“Until now, I have not heard the factory call to say they will solve the problem or not, the factory should have the solution,” said Mr. Rattanak. Mao Chhiv Song, a Wing Star adviser, could not be reached.
A trade union leader also warned that the factory will have to compensate thousands of workers if it tries to close.
Mr. Phorn Phal, deputy secretary-general of the Free Trade Union, said that protesting workers have only interrupted production by temporarily leaving their work places.
* Regional Unions Push for Minimum Wage Hike:
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) urged the Cambodian government on Friday to raise the minimum wage of garment factory workers, to find justice for the five workers killed and to release the 21 workers in jail since January.
ITUC representatives from Asia and Europe held meetings on Thursday and Friday in Phnom Penh to discuss developments in Cambodia’s garment sector—particularly the defacto ban on freedom of assembly and the violent crackdown on protests in January. At that time, military police opened fire on demonstrators, killing five workers and injuring dozens more.
“The trade unions from the Southeast Asia region are all deeply concerned with the developments in this country…. Representatives from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Fiji and Singapore…are supporting the Cambodian trade unions in their struggle,” said Jeffrey Vogt, legal adviser at the ITUC’s department of human rights and trade union rights in Brussels.
“They produce over $5 billion [in exports] a year, so certainly [the factories] can support a higher minimum wage,” than $95, said Frederick Ho, deputy director of the Singapore National Trades Union Congress. The unions’ concerns, he said, would be discussed with the International Labor Conference in Geneva in May.
Ath Thorn, President of the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said that workers would continue to strike until their demands, including a minimum wage of $160, were met.
“If the government cannot solve all our problems, then the [investors] will consider whether to invest in Cambodia or not,” Mr. Thorn said.
* Analysis: Garment workers hold key to Cambodia’s political future:
In the battle for power within Cambodia’s newly competitive political landscape constituencies have become like chess pieces, with varying levels power and possibility.
Few pieces have the potential decisive power in Cambodia’s ongoing political deadlock as the nation’s restive garment workers.
Just months ago garment workers were on strike and swelling the opposition’s street protests. It’s no coincidence that since the bloody January crackdown on Cambodia’s garment workers the streets have been largely quiet.
“Three months after these events in January people are still in prison, there really hasn’t been movement on the minimum wage. Any reinstatement that have taken place have largely as a result of private pressure,” says, David Welsh, Cambodia program director for the Solidarity Center. He added: “Not a dollar of compensation has been given to those that were killed or injured. If anything, things have moved backwards.”
* Dying for fashion:
Deadly clashes between poor garment workers and police are threatening to cripple Cambodia’s largest export industry.
Cambodia’s largest export industry is facing its biggest crisis, with garment workers and security forces engaged in a series of ongoing clashes. One recent protest left five people dead and scores injured.
The violence comes after weeks of political and labour unrest crippled Cambodia’s garment industry.
While the international spotlight has focused on the garment factories of Bangladesh, Cambodia’s garment workers have been staging their own revolution. Hundreds of industrial strikes have left the industry in turmoil and presented Prime Minister Hun Sen with the toughest political challenge in his nearly three-decade rule.
read & SEE more. (101 EAST video report).
09:04:00 local time BANGLADESH
* 4 hurt in Keraniganj factory fire:
Four workers sustained burn injuries in a fire ensuing from a boiler explosion at a pants factory at Muhuri Patti in Keraniganj upazila on the outskirts of the capital early Saturday.
The identities of the victims could not be known immediately, UNB reported.
Local sources said a fire erupted in the pants factory owned by one Jahangir Hossain as a boiler exploded with a big bang at about 12:45 am, leaving four workers inside injured.
The injured were rushed to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital for treatment.
However, local people extinguished the blaze after some time.
read more. & to read. & to read. & to read. & read more.
* RMG fire safety may cost industry Tk2,400cr:
A total of 1,200 factories need to install sprinklers, while 3,000 other factories have to install fire doors as per the requirement of the Accord and Alliance
The country’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector needs to spend over Tk2,410 crore for importing fire equipment- sprinklers and fire doors- to comply with fire safety conditions set by the two retailers’ platforms Accord and Alliance.
Both the two platforms, who have launched their inspection to the country’s RMG factories, are now putting pressure on the owners to comply their factories with the fire safety plan recommended by Accord and Alliance.
“A total of 1,200 factories need to install sprinklers, while 3,000 other factories have to install fire doors as per the requirement of the Accord and Alliance,” BGMEA vice-president ShahiduallahAzim, told the Dhaka Tribune.
Based on sizes and the patterns of the factories, a factory owner, on an average, will have to spend around Tk1.50 crore to install sprinklers including setting-up costs, while Tk6.50 lakh will be needed for the specific fire doors, said Azim.
According to Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), currently BKMEA has 1000 running factories that need to install fire doors while 300 out of 1000 factories have to install sprinklers.
“Chinese fire doors certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) cost Tk2,300 per square feet and a 3/7 sq cost around Tk65,000 including looking glass while 7/8sq will cost Tk150,000,” said M Azharul Islam Khan, chief executive officer of VEGA Trading, a supplier of fire safety equipment.
* 3 died by building collapse:
“The incident that claimed lives of thee innocent people took place just for the negligence of the building authorities”
At least three passengers of an electric-run auto-rickshaw were killed and several others sustained injuries after walls from different floors of an under-construction multi-storied building of a garments factory fell up on them while they had been passing through the area on Sarurday night at Kutubail of the capital’s outskirt Fatullah under Narayanganj district.
The deceased and injured persons were sent to Narayangang Hospital, but identities of the victims could not be known immediately.
Inspector Akhter Hossain, officer-in-charge of Fatullah Police Station, told the Dhaka Tribune that all three persons died on the spot after construction materials and the walls of different floors of the under-construction building ‘Captex Garments Ltd’ fell up on those persons when they had been crossing the area by an electric-run easy-bike at around 9:30pm.
“The incident that claimed lives of thee innocent people took place just for the negligence of the building authorities”, Inspector Akhter Hossain said. “Neither the construction workers nor the building authorities took any kind of safety measure during the construction of the multi-storey building on the roadside.”He added.
He also said there was neither safety net attached to the building side nor any shed on the road adjacent although construction site.
The building was being constructed while several hundred workers of the garments factory had also been working on different lower floors of building, Akhter informed.
read more. & read more. & read more. & to read. & read more. & read more.
* CEPZ workers demand dues:
Workers of a garment factory in Chittagong Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) in the port city yesterday observed daylong work abstention demanding overtime dues, as their net income was almost halved after the new wage was implemented from December 2013.
Around 240 workers of Mithun Knitting and Dyeing (CEPZ) Ltd were on strike from 6am to 4pm.
The company started three shifts of work instead of two in the past, cancelling all overtime hours to cut costs of production. An overtime hour of production costs double the basic salary per normal working hour.
“In the past, we used to get around Tk 13,000 to 14,000 monthly with daily eight hours of main duty and four hours of overtime. After the new wage was implemented and two shifts of work were turned to three, we are getting only half the amount,” said Afil Mahmud, a worker.
Workers said they asked the factory authorities several times to resume the overtime system or compensate for lost earnings.
Instead, the factory officials threatened to take legal action against the protesters, several workers alleged.
* Govt’s factory inspection halts over complexities:
The government-initiated garment factory assessment came to a halt for nearly three months following some procedural complexities, especially non-completion of reports on the already inspected factories, sources said.
Teams from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) had assessed fire, electrical and structural safety of more than 200 apparel manufacturing units during the period of November to December last and now they were reviewing those reports, according to the sources.
Although the BUET has already prepared the reports on those units, the International Labour Organisation (ILO)-appointed consultancy agency now wants grading of it depending on the risk factors.
The reports were prepared without any grading while some technical issues, especially structural, were needed to be addressed by modifying those, they added.
The BUET favoured flexibility in some standards while the consultancy firm wanted to follow the standards stipulated by the Accord and the Alliance accordingly.
* Process stalled as 1st-phase reports not finalised yet:
GOVT-SPONSORED RMG FACTORY INSPECTION
The government-sponsored and the International Labour Organisation-supported safety inspection to the readymade garment factories remained stalled for the last two months as the first-phase inspection reports of 200 garment factories are yet to be finalised.
It will take over a month more to start the safety assessment for the second phase, people involved with the process told New Age.
An ILO high official said that the second phase inspection might start by May while the government officials said the inspection will resume within 15-20 days.
To ensure fire and building safety in the RMG sector, the government in association with the ILO on November 22 started formal inspection of the factories which are not on the inspection lists published by EU Accord and North American Alliance.
Earlier on November 15, the government had started inspection of the RMG factories on a pilot basis after missing several deadlines because of an absence of common standards for the safety assessment in the garment factories.
According to the labour ministry officials, under the National Tripartite Committee the government and ILO estimated about 1,500 factories across the country to assess their fire and electrical safety and structural integrity.
* Factory owners lack Tk 1 lakh to prepare biometric database:
Most of the garment factories that represent the multi-billion dollar export sector have failed to complete biometric database of workers in 10 months due to ‘cash crisis’.
RMG factory owners claimed that they could not arrange the fund required for the process as they were facing huge pressure from global retailers to make their units safer for workers.
Sector people said a factory owner needed only Tk 75,000- Tk 1,75,000 to complete biometric database of the workers of his/her unit.
After the Tazreen Fashions fire in November 2012 that killed 112 garment workers, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association had taken the initiative of preparing biometric database of workers and signed memoranda of understanding with two IT farms — Systech and Tiger IT.
After the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers, in April last year, the BGMEA in May asked all of its members to prepare biometric database of their workers within six month.
* Thousands of handloom units facing closure:
Thousands of handloom units in the country are facing closure for want of cotton, dyes and chemicals at fair price, shortage of capital and absence of modern cloth processing centres, industry insiders said.
They said around 1,92,000 handloom units out of 0.5 million in the country have closed down and many others are on the verge of closure due to the aforesaid reasons.
According to them, handloom is the second largest labour intensive sector for rural employment after agriculture. Over 1.5 million people are involved with the sector directly or indirectly.
Tangail Secondary Weavers’ Samity former president Habibur Rahman, has slammed the government for not taking any realistic step to save the weavers from their current plight.
“There is none in the country to listen to our sufferings,” Mr Rahman told the FE adding that, “we have requested the government several times to ensure cotton, dyes and chemicals at fair price for the weavers or withdraw taxes on import of those, but we are yet to receive any response (from the government).”
* Cash incentive, lowering of tax at source on RMG announced:
The government will provide cash incentive at the rate of 0.25 per cent to the readymade garment (RMG) industries to overcome the fallout of Rana Plaza collapse and Tazreen Fashion fire.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed announced this at the inaugural session of the CAFAXPO (Chittagong Apparel, Fabrics and Accessories Exposition) in the city. The Minister formally opened the three-day exposition at Gymnasium ground of the MA Aziz Stadium as chief guest this morning.
Besides, the government has decided to reduce tax at source to 0.3 per cent from the existing 0.8 per cent. In case of new product and market exploration, the cash incentive has been enhanced to 3 per cent from 2 per cent which will help the RMG sector save at least Tk 11.00 billion, he said.
* Fashion industry needs better policy support to flourish:
The country’s fashion industry should get the government policy support as a priority sector to contribute to the economy in an organised manner, said the fashion house owners at the launching of the Fashion Entrepreneurs Association of Bangladesh in Dhaka on Saturday.
They said the FEBA would be the core representative body of the fashion industry people to bargain various industry-related issues with the government.
At present there are 4,500 fashion houses in the country with a yearly turnover of Tk 6,000 crore, they said.
* Impact of power tariff hike:
Ready-made garment (RMG) factory owners voiced deep concern over the recent power tariff hike. A statement issued by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said the recent 6.96 per cent increase in power tariff will result in the reduction of competitiveness of the export-oriented industry.
The BGMEA claimed that factors such as the increase in the RMG production cost by 13 per cent over the recent past and the rise in the value of the taka by 8.0 per cent against the dollar have already constricted the export profit, it added.
The RMG sector is also under a tremendous pressure, both at the national and the international levels, to invest in the remediation and retrofitting of the factory buildings, particularly after the tragic incidents of Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza collapse.
Various left-leaning fronts have warned of vigorous agitation if the government does not back off from raising electricity rates, describing the latest power tariff hike as ‘unfair’ and ‘anti-people’. Power prices have been raised 11 times since the Awami League-led government took office in 2009. This month, the tariff was further increased by 6.96 per cent on an average. The main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and the left fronts held separate rallies in Dhaka near the energy ministry to protest the hike.
* APEX FOOTWEAR LIMITED:
A leading manufacturer and exporter of leather footwear from Bangladesh to major shoe retailers in Western Europe, North America and Japan.
The company has revenues of USD 119 million in 2012. AFL pioneered the export of value added finished products export in the leather sector of Bangladesh and is also involved in the local footwear retail business with the second largest shoe retail network in the country. AFL has strategic, technical and marketing alliances with Italy. Public listed and traded since 1993, AFL is professionally managed, currently employs 9800 persons and is in full compliance with Corporate Governance Compliance Report under Section 2CC of the Securities Exchange Commission Notification Order.
* European Parliament delegation arrives Monday:
A delegation of the European Parliament (EP) will arrive in Dhaka on Monday on a two-day visit (March 24-25) to discuss post-election scenario in Bangladesh and see the progress made in the readymade garment industry after the Rana Plaza building collapse.
Chairperson of the Delegation for relations with South Asia Jean Lambert will lead the EP delegation. This mission comes ahead of the first anniversary of the catastrophic Rana Plaza building collapse, which cost over a thousand lives of garment workers, said a media release issued on Saturday.
read more. & read more. & read more.
THE TAZREEN FACTORY FIRE
* Tazreen fire victim Sumaya dies:
Around one-and-a-half-year battle of Sumaya, a victim of Tazreen fire, came to an end as she died from her injuries at her house in Ashulia’s Nischintapur Friday night.
Sumaya, who had a dream of earning a livelihood for which she came to Dhaka, was severely injured, lost her sight and finally suffered almost incurable cancerous tumour, which led to her death around 8:15pm, said Shahidul Islam Sabuj, apparel workers’ rights activist who was managing Sumaya’s treatment.
She was undergoing treatment at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University till March 6 and then shifted to her house at Nischintapur.
Sabuj said Sumaya’s condition gradually deteriorated in the last seven days as she could not eat and blood was coming out through her mouth and nose.
Sumaya, from Jamalpur, had jumped from the second floor of Tazreen Fashions at Ashulia when it caught fire on November 24, 2012. She sustained injuries in the head.
read more. & read more.
* Ad-interim bail to Tazreen’s chair rejected:
Cancelling an ad-interim bail granted earlier to the Tazreen Fashions Limited’s Chairperson by a Judicial Magistrate Court, the Dhaka District and Sessions Judge sought Thursday explanation from the magistrate whether there was any violation of law, sources said.
“The judicial magistrate was given 15 days’ time to reply to the show-cause,” Additional Public Prosecutor Md Anwarul Kabir told the FE.
Judge Md Abdul Majid of the Court of Dhaka District and Sessions Judge also “ordered Tazreen Fashions’ Chairperson to surrender before the court within 15 days,” Mr Kabir, who was present at the court, told the FE.
The orders came following a government petition filed against the February 10 bail order. Public Prosecutor Khandker Abdul Mannan appeared for the government in the court.
During hearing in the government petition, the state counsel said that the ‘due process of law’ was not followed in granting the bail. So, they sought cancellation of the bail order.
Earlier on February 9, 2014, Tazreen Fashions managing director Delwar Hossain and his wife-cum Tazreen chairperson Mahmuda Akter Mita surrendered before the court 40 days after the police hunt to arrest them following a lower court order.
* No more apathy to apparel factory disaster survivors:
The death of Sumaya, who managed to escape the deadly fire at Tazreen Fashions Ltd at Nischintapur on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka on November 24, 2012, by jumping from the second floor of the building but sustained severe head injuries, died on Friday night is not only deeply shocking but it also yet again betrays that the promises made various quarters, especially the government, made to extend all-out support to the survivors were high on rhetoric.
As apparel worker rights activist, who was managing her treatment, quoted in a New Age report on Saturday, Sumaya finally died in her house at Nischintapur with lesser treatment facilities although several people promised help in this regard.
According to the ENT specialist at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, who treated Sumaya, a cancerous myofibroblastic tumour developed in her nose and spread to the eye and the brain.
It may be pertinent to recall here that being reportedly deprived of proper treatment over months, despite repeated pledges on part of the government in particular over the issue, a Rana Plaza collapse survivor named Salma, a collapse that claimed lives of over 1,100 workers of apparel factories housed in the illegal eight-storey building at Savar and limbs of several thousand more in April 2013, reportedly took her own life in January in her rented house at Tongi.
As mentioned in these columns on more than one occasions thus far, like all other disasters that occurred in different apparel factories since the sector’s inception, investigations have found out that the Tazreen fire was attributable to owners’ apathy to worker safety in the first place.
In this context, the Tazreen management was primarily responsible for helping the survivors to get back to normal life, not to mention making adequate compensation to the victims’ families.
Either way, the government needs to immediately look into the matter for further indifference to survivors, be they of the Tazreen fire or of the Rana Plaza collapse, may send out a wrong signal to apparel workers at large that they are alone when it comes to facing the problems, that too, caused by their owners.
More importantly, such a situation does not bode well for the sector crucial for the nation seeking to come out of poverty soon.
08:34:00 local time INDIA
* Labour strike enters 4th day, fabric output hit:
Production of unfinished fabrics in the country’s biggest man-made fabric (MMF) industry here is set to be affected by the ongoing labour unrest over wage hike in the city.
The strike for wage hike by more than 10,000 powerloom workers in Bhestan industrial estate has entered its fourth day on Saturday. There is a daily production loss of around 70 lakh metre of fabrics at over 1,000 powerloom units in Bhestan.
Industry sources said striking workers have started contacting employees in Katargam, Udhana, Udhana-Magdalla, Limbayat, Varachha, Pandol and other areas to asking them to join the wage hike movement. Some workers at Pandol industrial estate approached their unit owners demanding wage hike on Saturday.
Katargam Weavers Association president Devesh Patel said, “There is no question of increasing the wages now. Wages are raised by the unit owners periodically. The workers are trying to gain benefit from the fact that the sector is facing severe shortage of workers as many had returned to their hometowns and now are only likely to arrive in the first week of May.”
* Powerloom units’ wage talks to continue on Monday:
About 15,000 units in the two districts, having two lakh powerlooms, are on strike since February 21 demanding revision of wages.
Owners of powerloom units in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts that do job-work for master weavers called off the protests they had planned for Saturday as the officials of the Labour Department called them for talks for the wage issue.
The talks will continue on Monday.
About 15,000 units in the two districts, having two lakh powerlooms, are on strike since February 21 demanding revision of wages.
Though the Collectors of the two districts and the officials of the Labour Department had held several rounds of talks, an agreement was not reached on the issue. Hence, the unit owners planned a human chain from Karanampettai to Karumathampatti and protests at Palladam.
* Coimbatore power loom unit owners to stage protests:
The job-working power loom unit owners have sought 80 per cent increase in wages.
Owners of job-working power loom units in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts, who are on strike for the last one month, will stage protests at Palladam and form a human chain for 10 km from Karanampettai to Karumathampatti on Saturday.
P. Kumarasamy, president of Coimbatore District job-working power loom unit owners’ association, said that District Collectors of Coimbatore and Tirupur and officials of the Labour Department have held talks with the job-working power loom unit owners and the master weavers. However, there is no solution in sight.
About 15,000 units, which have nearly two lakh looms, are on strike from February 21. The job-working power loom unit owners have sought 80 per cent increase in wages. Since, an agreement has not been reached despite the talks held, the unit owners have decided to intensify the protests. They also plan to go on indefinite fast from Monday, he said.
* Silence of the looms:
Clackety-clack. Clackety-clack. This is the ‘song’ of the handloom that fills B. Thiyagarajan’s days as he goes about weaving the famed Woraiyur cotton sari.
Using a loom unit that combines ethnic carpentry with British Raj-era mechanics, Thiyagarajan, 65, is among the last of his family in the weaving profession – “our children don’t want to do this anymore,” he smiles sadly when visitors troop in see the loom he operates at his humble abode in Weaver’s Colony, Woraiyur.
“In the 1960s, as many as 200 saris would be produced in a day,” recalls B. Padmanabhan, a retired weaver who serves as typist at the Woraiyur Devanga Cotton-cum-Silk Handloom Weavers Co-operative Production and Sales Society in Tiruchi. The Devanga Chettiars are a community traditionally associated with weaving in the southern states.
“The Society building (past the Panchavarna Swami temple), would be teeming with 50-60 weavers waiting to deliver their goods and collect their wages. We’d check the saris for defects, and then hand over the raw material for the next batch.” Today, though, he says it would be difficult to see 10 weavers in a week, let alone in a day. The most quoted reason is the low level of earnings, on average, Rs. 2000 a month, for a job that requires a high degree of design and mechanical expertise.
“Most of those who are still weaving are past 50, nearing retirement. Though the demand for Woraiyur saris is constant, we are finding it hard to fill orders due to the shortage of weavers,” says S. Ramalingam, Textile Control Officer, Department of Handlooms and Textiles, at the Society. Established in May 1936, with 50 weavers, the Society had 385 members as of June 2013. Of this, only around 153 weavers produce Woraiyur cotton saris, (80×100 thread count), which are marketed by the Textile Department through Cooptex.
08:34:00 local time SRI LANKA
* MORE CHINESE FDIS FOR APPAREL SECTOR:
Several Chinese textiles and apparel companies are looking at opportunities to set up offshore manufacturing zones in Sri Lanka under the proposed Sri Lanka – China Free Trade Agreement, Conference and Exhibition Management Services Global Operations Group Director, S .S Sarwar said.
“With the ever increasing competition in the world market, the industries of Sri Lanka can expand their share in the market abroad and at the same time could attract more foreign investment for highly potential industries, specially the garment and textile industry.
Garment factories in Bangladesh are managed by Sri Lankan middle and senior management staff giving employment to thousands of unemployed in that country,” Sarwar said. Commenting on the Sri Lankan apparel industry, Sarwar said, “Sri Lankan apparel exports surpassed US$ 4 billion mark. I’m confident that Sri Lanka could further increase its export figures.
The total number of garment factories in Sri Lanka is estimated to be around 450. Even though Sri Lanka’s apparel industry is small in size compared to African and Bangladesh markets. Sri Lanka’s close proximity to major trade routes and the hassle free Colombo port will immensely help to take the industry to next level.”
08:04:00 local time PAKISTAN
* Safety standards: 90 factories operating boilers illegally :
A Directorate of Industries official said a dozen such boilers were installed in small industrial units and a public hospital in residential areas.
In July 2005, the Industries Department, on directions from then chief minister Chaudhary Pervez Elahi, had banned inspections of factories located in residential areas. The ban was to help promote industrial activity in the province. The role of chief inspector of boilers was curtailed.
These include garments manufacturing units, confectionary manufacturers and dyeing units. Most of them are located at Kot Lakhpat, Quaid-i-Azam Industrial Estate, Raiwind Road, Ferozpur Road and Sheikhupura Road.
* Trade promotion: Diversification of export markets a priority, says textile minister:
Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi on Friday said the government has decided to focus on searching for new markets in order to enhance the variety of exports at the regional and global level.
Soon after taking the charge of the portfolio of the Ministry of Textile Industry, Afridi said that the government’s top priority would be to enhance regional trade to bolster integration and strengthen cooperation with regional economies.
The minister said the government would announce the annual textile policy by the mid of the current year. “We are committed to evolving a comprehensive strategy for the development of the textile industry,” said Afridi. He said that the textile sector’s share of total exports is 54%, which needs to be enhanced in order to increase the trade volume.
* Prices of clothes & apparels up by 15 percent:
As spring sets in, clothing and apparel shops have started bringing in new designs for all consumers including stitched and unstitched clothes.
An anecdotal survey conducted by Business Recorder shows that prices of the latest designs of clothes and apparels have gone up by around 15 percent as compared to the previous year. A number of shopkeepers interviewed suggested that increase in utility prices was a major reason for the rise in prices.
Kamran Khan, a salesman at EGO clothing shop in Super Market, told Business Recorder that they offer more than two dozen male and female clothing varieties, with prices varying on the basis of quality.
“We don’t offer sales because we deal in quality stuff. The sales are gimmicks and nothing more,” he said.
Talking about prices of different male and female clothes, he said the cost of stitched material available at his shop ranges between Rs 2000 to Rs 25,000. He said that unstitched cloths usually cost less than the stitched ones but again it all depends on variety and stuff of the cloths.
* Availing GSP Plus status: Carpet sector seeks zero-rating facility:
“The carpet sector cannot benefit from the duty-free access to EU market under GSP Plus status unless the government will restore zero-rated facility.
A significant ratio of working capital of carpet exporters is already stuck-up in refund regime at a time when the carpet export has already declined to $120 million from $300 million,” said Pakistan Carpet Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PCMEA) Chairman, Major Akhtar Nazir Khan Cooki (Retd) and Vice Chairman (North Zone), Kamran Razi in their joint statement on Saturday.
Raising the demand of zero-rating, they said the government should bring in necessary reforms and give special status to export-oriented carpet industry allowing zero-rating facility to achieve desired goal from GSP Plus scheme. Being mainstay of the economy and major stakeholder in forex earnings, carpet sector should be given special status, they demanded.
* Carpet industry growth counts on zero-rating:
The carpet sector cannot benefit from the duty-free access to EU market under Generalized System of preferences unless the government restores zero-rated regime for export-oriented carpet industry to help ease its liquidity flow.
A significant ratio of working capital of carpet exporters is already stuck-up in refund regime at a time when the carpet export has already declined to $120 millions from US$ 300 millions.
Pakistan Carpet Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PCMEA) chairman Major (r) Akhtar Nazir Khan Cooki and vice chairman (NZ) Kamran Razi, raising the demand of zero rating in a statement, said the government should bring in necessary reforms and give special status to export-oriented carpet 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 carpet sector should be given special status, they demanded.
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* ‘GSP Plus a blessing for value-added sector’:
Gulzar Firoz is a well-known personality in the fraternity of exporters. He got Pakistan’s first ever combined effluent treatment plant installed in Korangi’s tannery zone.
He was conferred Tamgha-e-Imtiaz on his services to the clean industrial environment. Firoz is the chairman of Firoz International in addition to holding senior positions in a number of trade associations.
He talks about leather sector in the wake of EU’s preferential tariff regime, challenges and future.
Q. What are the prospects for leather sector after the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus?
A. GSP plus is a blessing for Pakistan’s value-added sector, but I think a lot of efforts is needed to fully utilise this facility.
The status has finally been extended to Pakistan but we have to comply with various conventions. Leather garments sector could also get benefit from this preferential tariff scheme and it should increase garments export to European Union countries manifold.
08:04:00 local time UZBEKISTAN
* How cotton is grown in Uzbekistan:
What do Uzbek farmers think about the subsidies available to them from the government and about the improved business conditions announced countless times by officials?
An Uznews.net correspondent talked to a Tashkent province farmer who grows cotton. He spoke on condition of anonymity.
He has been growing cotton for about ten years.
“It’s almost not lucrative to grow cotton and sometimes unprofitable,” admits the farmer, “For instance, farmers get about 300,000-500,000 soms (135-225 USD) from each hectare, while a hectare of onions can bring up to 10 million soms (4,500 USD).
Q: How much land do you have and how much of it is for cotton growing?
* Police harass head of the Union of Day Laborers:
Abdullo Tojiboj-ugli, the head of the Day-laborers Union, delivered on March 20 the union’s demands for better working conditions and more jobs to the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection. While doing so he was supervised by about two dozen police officers.
The petition calls on the government to create decent conditions for workers in Uzbekistan. Specifically it calls for the abolition of the government monopoly on growing cotton and for organizing job centers and fairs not just formally but to actually accommodate the needs of workers and employers.