14:24:50 local time VIET NAM
* Lack of materials challenges garment firms in TPP period :
The biggest foible of the Vietnam’s textile and garment industry lies in the textile and dying – the important phases of the production value chain. However, Vietnamese still hesitate to pour money into the sectors.
It is foreseeable that with the “yarn forward” principle, Vietnamese garment companies would not be able to take full advantage of the low tariff in the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) agreement. It is because their products are made of the materials imported from China, which is not a member of TPP.
In order to fix the problem, Vietnam needs to make heavier investments in the textile and dying sectors.
According to Le Quoc An, former Chair of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vinatas), Vietnam would need more than 10 billion meters of fabric every year in the next 10 years.
Meanwhile, Vietnam can make out 5 billion meters at maximum, even if it makes appropriate investments. This means that Vietnam would have to import the other 5 billion meters of fabric every year.
An believes that the biggest obstacle that hinders investors to pour money into textile and dying projects is the high requirement on the waste water quality.
“Local authorities nowadays refuse textile projects because of the fear for the environmental pollution,” he said.
* Textile exports predicted to leap this year:
Some major firms in the apparel industry have predicted the industry’s export value this year to grow by a staggering 30% this year given the strong demands in Vietnam’s traditional markets.
Nguyen Van Thoi, board chairman of TNG Investment and Trading Joint Stock Company as a major apparel exporter, told the Daily that he had observed greater demands, and the growth rate of Vietnam’s textile industry is expected to hit 30%.
According to the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS), the industry last year obtained export revenues of US$20 billion, a rise of 18.7% against 2012. Of all, textile and garment shipments accounted for US$17.9 billion while yarn fetched US$2.1 billion.
The turnover is projected to reach US$26 billion this year, Thoi said, adding many enterprises have had full orders for 2014.
Foreign clients consider 2014 a golden year for Vietnam’s enterprises because many buyers of Vietnam’s apparel products had cleared all stocks last year.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 30/3. (12th item).
14:24:50 local time THAILAND
* Higher growth in garment exports seen as EU recovers:
Growth in garment exports is expected at 5 per cent this year, to US$7.8 billion (Bt250 billion), thanks to clearer signs of global economic recovery, especially in the European Union.
“Thai garment manufacturers have prepared well for changing factors such as the increased cost of labour and raw materials by investing in other countries and focusing more on design and innovation,” she said. “The industry will this year show brighter growth with an expectation of at least 5-per-cent expansion in overseas trading.”
14:24:50 local time CAMBODIA
* Thirteen Detained Veng Sreng Activists to Face Court In April:
About 100 activists from three Phnom Penh communities on Friday called for the release of 21 unionists, garment workers and rights activists detained after a series of strikes in January. Some of them are to be tried next month.
The protest was held as it emerged that the trial of 13 of the detainees is to be held April 18, according to a lawyer from rights group Licadho.
“The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has scheduled on April 18 to hear only the case of 13 people arrested in relation to the incident on Veng Sreng Street, but we haven’t received any information about the trial scheduled for Vorn Pao’s group,” said San Sokunthea, who is representing three of the detained, in reference to the leader of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association.
“For the three clients I defend, I hope the Phnom Penh Municipal Court will drop the charges, because my three clients have done nothing wrong,” she said, referring to Bou Sarith, 27, and Yon Chea, 17, who were released on bail in February, and Sy Sarath, who remains in prison.
* After Embezzlement Claims, Union Founder Wants Leaders Out:
Union organizers want three senior leaders of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (CCAWDU) who are accused of embezzling money that was meant to be paid to workers in compensation following a dispute with factory owners to step down, former CCAWDU officials said Friday.
Former CCAWDU official Um Visal said Friday that garment workers want the union’s president, Ath Thorn, secretary-general, Kong Athit, and Ek Pheakdey, another union official, to leave their positions because they allegedly stole $92,929 from workers following an industrial dispute that was settled last year by the union.
read more. & read more.
15:24:50 local time MALAYSIA
* Implement minimum wage or face court action: Ismail:
Employers who failed to implement the minimum wage despite repeated warnings, risk a five-year jail sentence, a RM20000 fine, or both.
Deputy Minister of Human Resources Datuk Ismail Abd Muttalib said an employer could be fined RM10,000 for the first offence and RM1,000 daily for the second offence for each employee.
“Those who are stubborn and refused to implement minimum wage despite warnings and action will be fined RM20,000 or five years jail or both,” he told reporters after presenting multi-purpose cards to more than 100 retirees from the Community Development Department (Kemas) here, today.
read more. & read more.
13:09:50 local time NEPAL
* Biratnagar Jute Mill applies for industry registration:
Despite being touted as the first industry of the country, Biratnagar Jute Mill is now seeking for the certificate of industry registration.
The jute mill, which has resumed its operation after being taken over on lease by Kolkata-based Winsome International, has filed an application at the Department of Industry (DoI) asking for registration and certification as the country’s first industry.
Based on the application, the DoI has prepared a proposal to register the industry at the first position of the registration list. The proposal will be taken to the Industrial Promotion Board. And once it is endorsed, the industry will legally be Nepal’s first industry.
Established in 1937, Biratnagar Jute Mill was the country’s first production plant. The government handed it over to Arihant Multi-fibre of Golchha Organisation in 2002. However, the company failed to run the factory properly due to political intervention and labour problems. Consequently, the government shut down the factory after spending Rs 550 million to pay off its 2,000 employees.
13:24:50 local time BANGLADESH
* Eight textile mills gutted in Narayanganj:
Fire fighters of Fire Service and Civil Defence units in Madhobdi of Narsingdi were able to douse the fire after three hours of effort
Ten people were injured in a fire incident in Ulukandipara of Araihazar upazila of Narayanganj that gutted eight textile mills. They were injured while trying to douse the fire.
Fire fighters of Fire Service and Civil Defence units in Madhobdi of Narsingdi were able to douse the fire after three hours of effort.
The affected mills are Bikrampur Textile Mills, Gopal Textile Mills, Osit Textile Mills, Esha Textile Mills, Pathan Textile Mills, Bhai Bhai Textile Mills, Mojibur Textile Mills and Louhojong Textile Mills.
* Govt launches web site with RMG sector database today:
A web site of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments will be launched today containing a database on garment sector in line with the action plan for restoration of US generalised system of preference.
The government has incorporated initial information of about 3,500 garment factories in the database, people involved with the process told New Age on Saturday.
Names and locations of the factories, number of workers and information related to trade unions have been included in the database, said labour secretary Mikail Shipar.
More details of the factories and the information of the rest of the garment units in the country will be included gradually, he said.
The labour ministry, in cooperation with the International Labour Organisation, has prepared the database.
The data base on RMG sector will be a part of the website of the DIFE (www.dife.gov.bd).
‘A portion of the database, which will contain general information on garment factory, workers and trade union activities, will be publicly accessible but the accessibility on some critical information will be restricted,’ Sayed Ahmed, the inspector general of the DIFE told New Age.
* RMG workers’ database opens today:
State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu will formally open the database at his office
The government will launch workers’ database for the apparel sector today in line with a condition set by the US authorities for the reinstatement of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility.
State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu will formally open the database at his office.
Name and number of workers and factory locations will be included first in the database and then other things like information on workers’ rights and safety will be entered gradually, said Labour and Employment Secretary Mikail Shipar.
* Website,factory inspection database unveiled:
The website and factory inspection database of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments have been unveiled publicly according to the requirements of the foreign garments buyers.
The process of appointing 67 non-cadre class-I officers is in the finishing ends. It would be finished appointing those officers within a week as President Abdul Hamid has already approved the recruitment rules of the department.
It will be sent to the public service commission to complete the recruitment of non-cadre class-I officers from their BCS cadre officers recruiting waiting lists. They will complete the recruitment within a week, State Minister for Labour and Employment Mojibul Haque Chunnu told on Sunday.
* 67 factory inspectors to be recruited by April 3:
Labour ministry opens worker database today
The labour and employment ministry will recruit 67 factory inspectors by April 3 in line with a US condition tagged with the restoration of a trade privilege — generalised system of preferences.
The ministry got a go-ahead from the President on Thursday to recruit the inspectors, Labour and Employment Secretary Mikail Shipar said yesterday.
“We will publish the presidential permission as a gazette notification within a couple of days and send it to Bangladesh Public Service Commission (BPSC),” he said.
The inspectors will be first class non-cadre officials and the appointment will be made through the BPSC, Shipar said.
The government will have to write to the US by April 15 on the progresses it has made in fulfilling the conditions to get back the GSP that was scrapped last year due to shortcomings in labour rights and workplace safety.
* Govt to start appointing factory inspectors by March 31:
The government will start recruiting 165 factory inspectors by March 31 to ensure labour rights and safety in the apparel factories, officials said.
The government has a plan to complete the entire recruitment of 200 factory inspectors before April 24, the first anniversary of the deadly Rana Plaza collapse, to ensure labour rights and On February 13, chiefs of five foreign missions, including US ambassador Dan Mozena, asked the government to recruit 200 factory inspectors by March 31.
The government will immediately appoint 65 assistant inspectors with class I status from the waiting lists of the candidates who had qualified in the 28th, 29th, 30th and 32nd examinations of Bangladesh Civil Service, labour and employment secretary Michael Shiper told New Age on Saturday.
It will also recruit 100 factory inspectors from the waiting lists of the four BCS examinations based on the consent of the BCS qualifiers, he said.
When asked, Shiper said it would require some time to appoint the remaining 100 inspectors due to some procedural problems.
* Tk 80b new investment in RMG sector to meet compliance needs:
Country’s readymade garment (RMG) industry is going to make Tk 80 billion new investments to meet the requirements of full compliance as being demanded by buyers, brands, labour and human rights organizations since Tazreen and Rana Plaza catastrophe, insiders said.
They said the sector has been under pressure from local and international stakeholders including Accord, Alliance, foreign buyers and International Labour Organization (ILO) now closely monitoring the sector.
According to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), more than 2500 garment owners including woven and knitwear have agreed to make new investment of Tk 80 billion for fulfilling the compliances and fire safety conditions.
“We have no alternative but to improve the compliance and fire safety conditions and for that new investment is needed,” Vice President of BGMEA Nasiruddin Ahmed Chowdhury, told the FE Saturday.
He said after the Rana Plaza tragedy and Tazreen Fashion fire incident the compliance issue has become a key one for export. The buyers’ first demand is to fulfil compliances in the factory including working environment, wage, fire and disaster safety measures, building codes etc.
* BGMEA for optimum use of Mongla port:
The BGMEA has already held meeting with the shipping ministry officials and made a formal proposal in this regard
Local apparel makers can reduce the cost of business if the government copes with the demand for optimal use of the Mongla port for quicker shipments to save time and money, BGMEA leaders say.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said its members can export readymade garments through the Mongla port, provided the government ensures smooth ferry service at Mawa ghat for crossing the River Padma before construction of Padma Bridge.
Besides, the association demands that the authorities build container yards near Mawa ghat for housing the containers before transhipment to Shibchar on the other side of the river by the ferry.
The main reason for which Bangladesh turns into the second largest RMG exports in the world is least labour cost, giving competitive advantage against other apparel exporting countries such as China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and others.
The businesspeople said only reduced cost of business can help Bangladesh retain its status as a giant in the RMG.
* BetterWork: Learning Seminar on Building Safety, March 2014:
The collapse of Rana Plaza building and fire accident in Tazreen in Bangladesh between 2012-2013 claimed the lives of more than 1200 workers.
It attracted media and consumer attention worldwide of the importance of building safety for garment factories.
The accidents create chain-reaction: workers strike asking for the safety of their workplace, Government was pointed-out lacking of building monitoring standard and law enforcement, buyers of those garment factories were being forced by their customers to compensate the victims or will face boycott from customers, and finally, it will impact the whole Bangladesh garment sectors as many buyers considering to leave Bangladesh as the sourcing country.
Learning from the incident, Better Work Indonesia hosted a learning seminar on Building Safety on 3rd March 2014 for our partner factories in Indonesia. We also invited few guest speakers from Ministry of Public Work, Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration and also Better Work Bangladesh.
read & see more. (more video).
* A historical sketch of our jute industry:
Bangladesh industrial economy gained 65 per cent of the capacity owned and managed by the Pakistanis after the liberation war.
This caused serious management problems in addition to a loss of an estimated Tk.69.9 million in the jute sector alone due to post-war damages and pilferages.
It was a serious challenge before the Bangladesh government to restore normalcy in the economy and bring the production level to the post liberation period.
For this purpose, the government of Bangladesh nationalised all abandoned mills and factories and also took over the Bengali owned mills and factories.
This was a new experiment against a new national setting and the result was not happy.
In 1972-1973 the Jute Mills Corporation suffered a loss of Tk 255 million for a variety of reasons.
It started with denuded stocks and inventories and a negative bank balance. It needed over Tk 1.1 billion and never got more than Tk 500 million.
Out of its foreign exchange requirements of over Tk 170 million, it received only Tk 40 million or less than 25 per cent.
About 15 per cent of the 160,000 odd workers employed on their own terms made the life of the officers miserable by agitation, gheraos and so on.
Frequent power failures caused production loss of Tk 165 million and debarred two mills with 750 looms from going into production.
Another Tk 100 million might have been lost due to labour unrests. Goods sold could not be shipped for want of tugs, barges and shipping space. Insurance claims of about Tk 112 million could not be received.
The BJMC had to hire BIWTC barges at about 100 per cent premium at fixed rates. Despite being a government sales agent it could not adopt the policy of price maneuverability so common in international deals.
And besides, it was going without the support of market studies or product development research.
As a consequence, the jute industry of Bangladesh dwindled.
One striking feature of the jute industry before the liberation was continuous upward trends, but after liberation, the monthly production trends became very unstable.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Call for compensating Rana Plaza’s missing workers:
Bangladesh Garment Sramik Sanghati (BGSS) yesterday urged the government to declare dead the 183 missing workers from the Rana Plaza collapse, whose bodies could not be identified even after two stages of DNA sampling.
“Their families can then become eligible for compensation,” Taslima Akhter, convener of BGSS, said at a press conference.
The families of missing workers have received very little compensation, as the authorities have only compensated those whose bodies were found or identified in the DNA sampling, she said.
The actual number of missing workers, however, could be more than 183 as it was not possible for BGSS to form a more comprehensive list with its limited resources, she added.
* Rana Plaza missing workers’ list published:
Bangladesh Garments Sramik Sanghati on Saturday published a list of 183 missing workers, who went missing following Rana Plaza collapse, and demanded that the government should give compensation immediately announcing the missing workers dead.
The activists of the apparel workers’ organisation, released the list at a press conference at Nirmal Sen Auditorium on Topkhana Road in the city.
Coordinator of the organisation Taslima Akhter announced demonstration in front of the debris of Rana Plaza at Savar on April 24 marking the first anniversary of the building collapse to press home their seven-point demands.
The demands include announcement of April 24 as workers safety and mourning day, publication of a full list of the workers killed, wounded or missing, identification of the bones of the workers found later and the graves according to the DNA reports, award of adequate compensation, cancellation of the bail of building owner Sohel Rana and exemplary punishment for the people responsible for the building collapse.
* 430 Rana Plaza victims get Primark compensation:
Some 430 victims and their families of New Wave Bottoms (NWB), one of the garment factories situated at the collapsed Rana Plaza, have received Tk 50,000 each as compensation from the trust fund.
However, compensation money was not paid to the remaining 150 beneficiaries of the NWB due to absence of proper documentations or there being more than one claimant, Secretary General of IndustriALL Bangladesh Council Roy Ramesh Chandra told the FE Friday.
Documents of the rest beneficiaries will be received on April 11 next and their payment would be made accordingly, he added.
The first batch of beneficiaries (NWB workers) received the first instalment of compensation directly from Primark.
The rest out of 3,639 workers of four other garment factories will get their payment on April 15 next.
The multi-stakeholders’ coordination committee, formed with international and Bangladeshi representations from government, industry and trade unions including IndustriALL Global Union to deal with the compensation issues, is assigned to complete the payment under the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund.
* 430 receive Tk 50,000 each in first phase:
Four hundred and thirty workers and families of deceased workers of New Wave Bottoms, one of the five clothing factories housed in Rana Plaza that collapsed on April 24, 2013, on Friday received Tk 50,000 each in compensation from the Donor’s Trust Fund in the first phase.
The multi-stakeholder Rana Plaza compensation coordination committee on March decided to disburse compensation money to 581 workers of New Wave Bottoms in the first phase but 151 workers or families are yet to receive the compensation money in the absence of proper documentation.
Roy Ramesh Chandra, secretary general of the IndustriAll Bangladesh Council, said that they would receive documents of the workers April 11 and make the payment accordingly.
The first batch of beneficiaries (NWB workers) received the first instalment of compensation directly from Primark, a British clothing retailer.
The fund was set up at the beginning of February, with an initial target of $10 million, estimated to be the amount needed to pay the first instalments to all potential claimants.
The fund now has $8 million while Primark would give $1 million to the fund.
About $40 million is needed to pay 3,000 workers or families of workers who were killed in the building collapse.
* Global retailer hands compensation to 430:
A total of 430 victims of Rana Plaza collapse yesterday received Tk 50,000 each in compensation from the retailers who used to sell garment products manufactured in factories housed in the building.
UK-based clothing retailer Primark provided the money to the victims on the “loss of future earning basis” through mobile banking service bKash. However, the distribution was managed by the Rana Plaza Trust Fund, said Roy Ramesh, general secretary of the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council.
The compensations for the dead workers were sent to their families.
Primark will disburse a total of $9 million gradually to 580 people who used to work in New Wave Bottoms Limited, a garment factory on the second floor of the Rana Plaza that collapsed on April 24 last year, killing 1,138 people.
And on the first day of the first phase, 580 victims were supposed to be paid, but 150 of them could not produce necessary documents to receive the money. They have been asked to come to Savar Cantonment School on April 11 with valid documents to receive their part of the compensation, Ramesh said.
Primark will also contribute $1 million to the trust fund for all the victims of the tragedy. It has already donated $2 million to the victims earlier.
read more. & read more.
12:54:50 local time SRI LANKA
* National minimum wage problematic for certain sectors : EFC:
The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC), in a recent submission to Sri Lanka’s National Pay Commission, the country’s apex employer body, has signalled that a “national minimum wage could distort and create problems to certain sectors which need to be separately considered for fixing minimum wages”.
Putting forward its case, the EFC stated; “The issue of the minimum wage is controversial. Many argue that it is too blunt an instrument to be useful and could have detrimental effects on employment, growth and incentives to work, and that it can negatively impact opportunities for lower skilled workers and the youth. Supporters of minimum wages conversely argue that it is an effective instrument in protecting the lower paid and in combatting poverty.
Minimum wages are essentially labour market interventions used by governments, either as an instrument of political macroeconomics or as a social tool. Minimum wages represent the lowest levels of pay, established through a minimum wage fixing system, to be paid to workers by virtue of a contract of employment”.
It also added; “The concept of minimum wage can be broadly distinguished into two categories. First is the adoption of a national minimum wage, which is applicable to all workers across regions and sectors, irrespective of the peculiar capacities of different industries.
On the other hand, minimum wages could also be fixed in relation to different industries, as in the case of Sri Lanka in terms of the Wages Boards Ordinance. In such a situation it is envisaged that minimum wages be fixed taking into account the nature of the industry and its peculiarities”.
* A national wages policy – how desirable or practical? :
A news report says that the President Mahinda Rajapaksa had directed the new National Pay Commission Secretary to establish a National Wage Policy. The Terms of Reference according to the report are as follows:
*The services of the professionals in management, medicine and science in the public sector should be retained by removing the discrepancies and anomalies faced by them.
* To obtain optimum productivity and efficiency from the government sector professionals, the obstacles faced by them have to be removed and that should be done before the private sector absorbs the services of the said professionals.
* To create a conducive environment for both public and private sector professionals introduce welfare programmes.
* To introduce welfare benefits and suitable salary structures for the employees in the private sector steps should be taken to enhance their career developments.
* To introduce an effective social security system for all private sector employees who are about to end their services.
* To introduce better salary structures for the public sector professionals who have exceptional abilities in various fields on merit basis.
How useful will such an exercise be and how should it be done?
* Trends and status of world textile and clothing industry:
The world economic activity down from 4.0 % in 2011 to 3.1% in 2012. In 2013 the economic growth expected to remain subdued.
The main reasons for stagnant real rate of GDP are, weak domestic demand and slower than expected growth in emerging economies, along with recession in the euro area and weak economic recovery in United States.
One of the major trends the world textile and clothing industry is facing is protectionism.
Rising protectionism and the growth of Regional Trade Agreements (RTA’s) are making international trade more difficult.
United States has implemented 14 ,FTA’s to date. North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which promotes trade between United States, Canada and Mexico, US-Dominican Republic-Central America Free trade Agreement, which encompasses the United States, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica (DR-CAFTA), and bi-lateral agreements with Israel, Jordon, Chile, Australia, Singapore, Morocco, Oman, Peru, Columbia, Panama, Bahrain and South Korea.
12:24:50 local time PAKISTAN
* PCGA recommends three options to rescue ginning sector:
Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) has recommended three options to the government to rescue the ginning sector.
According to first recommendation, PCGA urged the government to impose ban on the import of cotton and yarn from India via Wagha border, secondly 25 percent dumping duty should be imposed on Indian goods and third is that government should release Rs 25 to 30 billion for the procurement of 8,50,000 bales of cotton through Trade Corporation of Pakistan (TCP).
While addressing a press conference on Friday, PCGA Chairman Mukhtar Ahmed Baloch, former chairman Haji Muhammad Akram, Khalid Hanif Lodhi, Khurram Javed and Khawaja Riaz Ahmed and Shehzad Ali Khan announced these recommendations.
They also demanded the bailout package for the ginners and urged the TCP to procure the unsold stock of 0.85 million cotton bales immediately so that they can repay the loan of the banks.
* Ethiopia’s Textile Manufacturers Benefit from Global Interest:
The sign for Salem’s directs you off a busy road in Addis Ababa, down a side street to a compound where multiple pairs of feet move up and down working treadles, and wooden shuttles flit back and forth, as Ethiopian sheumanoch — weavers — ply their trade.
Seated at their looms, most appear to be making scarfs, the majority of which are sold on site in a colourful shop. But a small number of scarfs are destined for shores and stores far away from Ethiopia.
Currently, increased international interest in Ethiopia’s centuries-old textile industry is seeing some of the world’s biggest companies investing in it.
At the same time this interest is affording small-scale business like Salem’s, which employs 14 weavers, a chance to grow.
“It is a time of change, absolutely,” Salem Kassahun, the owner, tells IPS. “Now we make what our grandmothers wore but also what our daughters will wear and what the wider world wants.”
Last week she exported 700 scarfs to London-based Rose & Rose, which sells designer scarves and accessories. It was only the second shipment, but she hopes it will become a regular order.
Five years ago, there was little interest in Ethiopia’s textiles, Salem says, but during the last three years queries from overseas have increased steadily.