12:04:19 local time CHINA
* City’s minimum wage up by 200 yuan:
The minimum wage of workers in Shanghai will be raised to 1,820 yuan (US$293) per month starting next month, up 200 yuan from last year.
The increase is 30 yuan more compared with last year’s increase of 170 yuan. Meanwhile, the minimum wage per hour will be hiked to 17 yuan from 14 yuan. Officials said the adjustment was made based on many factors such as residents’ living expenditures, consumer price index, average salary and economic development.
It also took companies’ business status and capacity into consideration. Shanghai’s minimum wage is the highest in China’s mainland.
11:04:19 local time CAMBODIA
* Brands ‘failing their workers’ :
European mega-brands are not doing enough to ensure that the Cambodian workers who make their products receive a basic living wage, according to a report released today.
Tailored Wages, an analysis of 50 of Europe’s biggest clothing brands, found that many major high-street chains are doing little to combat the meagre wages of Cambodian garment workers.
The report was produced by the Clean Clothes Campaign, an alliance of organisations in 16 European countries, in cooperation with the Asia Floor Wage, an alliance of trade unions and labour rights activists.
“A living wage is a human right. Yet the scandalous truth is that the majority of workers in the global fashion industry cannot afford to live with dignity,” the report says.
Calls for a monthly minimum wage of $160 reached a breaking point in January when security forces cracked down on protesters, killing at least four and detaining 23. Twenty-one remain in prison.
According to the report, as per United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, “in cases where the state fails to protect human rights – such as when the legal minimum wage fails to meet the minimum subsistence level (living wage) – business still has an obligation to respect the human right to a living wage”.
The monthly minimum wage of garment workers across Cambodia stands at just $100.
* Workers to file stories from the factory floor:
The Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM) is hoping to turn a select group of garment workers into muckrakers by offering a journalism program through the Voice of Democracy news outlet.
Free of charge, the course will last until October and have a firm focus on covering day-to-day life in an industry that employs hundreds of thousands.
“There are 10 garment workers from different factories in Phnom Penh who were selected to join in the project, and we expect that they will become good reporters and report on the situation of the workers inside and outside the factory to the media, especially to us,” said Hok Narin, who is in charge of the project for CCIM.
“They can report about strikes, fainting or working conditions.”
* Lawyer has hopes Veng Sreng clients will be freed:
A lawyer representing three of the 23 people arrested during garment strike clashes on January 2 and 3 hopes the capital’s court will drop charges against her clients when it hears their case on April 18, she said yesterday.
San Sokunthear, a lawyer from human-rights group Licadho representing three of the accused, said she had been told that on April 18, Phnom Penh Municipal Court will hear the case of 13 people arrested during the deadly Veng Sreng Boulevard shootings of January 3.
“I strongly hope the court will drop the charges,” she said.
But Sokunthear had not heard when the court will hear the case of the 10 arrested outside the Yakjin factory elsewhere in the capital on January 2. All but two of the 23 remain locked in prison in Kampong Cham province. They face charges of causing intentional violence and intentionally damaging property.
Security forces shot dead at least four people on January 3.
* Union bosses called in:
Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday summonsed three senior leaders of Cambodia’s largest independent garment union for questioning over claims they embezzled money meant to be paid to workers in compensation following an industrial dispute, a court official has said.
Prak Savuth, head of administration at the court, said Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) president Ath Thorn, vice-president Kong Athit and secretary-general Ek Sopheakdey have been called in over claims they embezzled nearly $93,000 from workers at Kandal’s E Garment factory.
10:34:19 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Chinese textile & apparel delegation visits Myanmar:
10:04:19 local time BANGLADESH
* Website with RMG sector database launched:
In line with the action plan to get back the US generalised system of preferences, the Labour and Employment Ministry on Sunday launched a website containing a database of the country’s garment sector.
State Minister for Labour and Employment M Mujibul Haque Chunnu inaugurated the website, www.dife.gov.bd, launched by the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments under his ministry.
The database contains information of 3,498 garment units across the country. The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments will update the website regularly, he added.
read more. & read more.
* Welcome to DIFE:
The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) is a department under the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
This department is responsible for ensuring welfare, safety and health of valuable human resources working in various sectors contributing national development.
By enforcing labour laws of the country, the department has been leading the nation in creating a safe and healthy work culture and improving the quality of wage earner. The DIFE is no longer considered a mere labour law enforcement agency, it provides information and advice to employers and workers concerning the most effective means of complying with the legal provisions.
The DIFE Collaborates with various government and private organizations, agencies along with international organizations specially ILO to facilitate policy, planning, measures and directions adopted to enhance occupational safety and health for all workers by appropriate working conditions and environment.
In 1969, on the basis of the Pakistan Government along with the report made by Air Vice Marshal Nur Khan, labour department was divided into three parts:
(1) Labour Department (2) Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments and (3) Department of Trade union Registration.
In the following year in 1970, The Department of inspection for Factories and Establishments was created as a separate department in pursuance of ILO Labour Inspection Convention No. 81 and labour policy of 1969.
Bangladesh emerges as an independent and sovereign country in the world map through a glorious liberation war in 1971.
Over the long span of 42 years of independence, a huge number of factories, shops and commercial establishments has flourished in the country.
The importance of industry and trade is increasing day by day. Millions of workers are working in these sectors.
The Department of inspection for Factories and Establishments has been carrying out the responsibilities by ensuring legal rights, safe and hygienic work place for the huge number of working people.
* Apparel Database – Nearly 1,500 factories not registered:
The information was available in the online database opened yesterday by the government for the country’s apparel sector
Around 40% of the garments factories inspected by the government were not registered although the law makes it compulsory.
The information was available in the online database opened yesterday by the government for the country’s apparel sector.
State Minister for Labour and Employment Mojibul Haque Chunnu launched the site, www.dife.gov.bd, which will be administered by the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments.
The department conducted the inspections in recent time to 3,497 garments factories.
* DIFE website with database launched:
Bid to restore GSP facility in US
The government launched Sunday official website of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) where a database on country’s apparel sector has been put in place.
State Minister for Labour and Employment Md Mojibul Haque Chunnu formally opened the website at a function held at his secretariat office.
The DIFE in cooperation with International Labour Organisation (ILO) has developed the website www.dife.gov.bd, to meet one of the conditions set earlier by the US and European Union for restoration of Bangladesh’s GSP facilities there and sustaining it.
“The database contains information of 3,498 garment units across the country including their location, name of owners and number of workers,” the minister said.
The DIFE will update the website from time to time, he added.
With the launching of the website especially with the database of garment sector, labour and employment ministry has fulfilled one of the two conditions for restoration of the generalized system of preferences (GSP) facility in the US market and sustain the same benefit in the EU market, he said.
* Web site with RMG unit database launched:
The labour ministry on Sunday launched a website of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments which contains database of readymade garment sector in line with the action plan for restoration of US generalised system of preference.
‘Creation of a publicly accessible database on the RMG sector was one of the key requirements of GSP action plan suggested by the US government and today we have fulfilled the condition,’ state minister for labour Md Mujibul Haque said while inaugurating the website and factory database at the conference room of the labour ministry.
He that another key requirement of the GSP action plan was recruitment of additional 200 factory inspectors which will be fulfilled within seven days as the recruitment policy has already been approved by the President.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Budgetary allocation for apparel workers demanded:
Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre raised the demand from a rally in front of the National Press Club on Friday.
The group’s President Montu Ghosh said though the apparel workers worked hard and contribute immensely to the economy, they did not get good food and liveable housing.
* Govt misses revised deadline:
The government has missed its revised deadline for appointing 200 additional inspectors for the ready-made garment (RMG) sector as it still needs some more time to complete the recruitment process, sources said.
The government earlier set March 31 as the revised deadline for completing the recruitment process to revive the US GSP facility and retain the same benefit in the EU market, sources said.
They said the government needed more time to complete the process due to some formalities including bringing some changes to the non-cadre recruitment rules of the Public Service Commission (PSC), getting nod from the Ministry of Public Administration, vetting by the law ministry in this regard, and the President’s final approval.
However, labour ministry sources said 67 inspectors, who are first class non-cadre officials, would be recruited by the first week of April while appointment of the rest would need two more months.
“The DIEF recruitment rules have got the President’s approval last week, and 67 first class non-cadre officials will be recruited by the first week of April,” State Minister for Labour and Employment Ministry Mojibul Haque Chunnu told the FE Sunday.
* Towards a stable and vibrant RMG sector:
Bangladesh is the world’s second biggest apparel exporter after China. The ready-made garment (RMG) sector plays a significant role in socio-economic development of the country.
Garment products account for 80 per cent of total exports of the country. Most of our RMG products go to the US and European countries. The garment industry employs over 4.0 million people, many of them young women.
At present, our garment sector is facing a serious image crisis in the international markets following a series of tragic incidents including the Tazreen Fashions fire and Rana Plaza building collapse.
The European Union (EU), the US government and international organisations have threatened to strip Bangladesh of the preferential trade facilities, apparently to force the government and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BKMEA) to put in place safety measures in the apparel sector. The US government’s GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) facility for Bangladesh is now under suspension.
The US government should be aware that Bangladesh became the second-largest supplier of apparel products in the world markets, thanks to relaxation of the rules of origin by the developed countries. It is hoped that the US government will not ultimately cancel the GSP facility offered to Bangladesh. The punitive action will lead to loss of jobs of scores of industrial workers, especially women.
The national economy of Bangladesh has for some time been grappling with multifarious problems, triggered by political unrest and acute energy shortages, which have hit the industrial sector hard. The global demand for our products is not encouraging.
* Tofail: China to fund garment palli, DITF venue:
‘The country has also assured of allowing duty-free access for all Bangladeshi products’
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said China would finance establishing of Garment Palli, a permanent venue for Dhaka International Trade Fair and a display centre of local products.
Besides, the country has also assured of allowing duty-free access for all Bangladeshi products, he said.
The minister was talking to the journalists after attending a views exchange with a delegation from China’s Yunnan Province government at his office in Dhaka yesterday.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* BGMEA, UNIDO ink deal to enhance productivity:
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation on Sunday signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at enhancing capability and productivity of readymade garment sector.
Both the BGMEA and the UNIDO representatives expressed hope that they would work jointly towards improving competitiveness and encourage export growth of RMG sector through increased productivity and compliance with international standard.
BGMEA vice-president Reaz-Bin-Mahmood and UNIDO international coordinator John T Smith signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides at a ceremony held at the BGMEA headquarters in the city.
read more. & read more.
* Footwear makers now set sights on home market:
The country’s leading footwear manufacturers, mainly the exporters, have now set their sights on grabbing the multi-billion-taka local market, alongside their usual exports, insiders said.
They said the present strategy of retail marketing in the country would help the exporters sustain in business in the long run in case of any setback in their export activities.
Around 25 leading footwear and leather goods exporters including BANBIZ (Pvt) Ltd, Ha-Meem Footwear Ltd, Akij Footwear Ltd, B W International Footwear Ltd and Palmi Shoes Ltd now look forward to doing business in the local market, keeping their export activities intact.
However, president of Leathergoods & Footwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) Syed Nasim Manzur said the export market is becoming very difficult for the local exporters. So they are looking to the local market alongside their exports.
“Safety, quality and compliance issues are gradually becoming more and more challenging to the local exporters. But doing business in local market is easier for which they are diversifying their goods,” he added.
* Govt offers spl incentive for raw jute exporters:
The government has offered special incentive for the raw jute exporters allowing them to reschedule their defaulted loans with the state-owned commercial banks at 8 per cent interest rate in next 10 years, officials said.
Ministry of finance on Sunday issued a notice in this connection stating that the businessmen who exported raw jute between 2009 and 2013 would enjoy the privileges.
First three years of the stipulated 10 years would be regard as grace period, according to the notice, said the officials.
The amount of bad loan is more than Tk 100 crore and is with the four state-owned commercial banks.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Identities of 146 missing Rana Plaza workers listed:
A labour organisation has prepared a draft list of workers who went missing after the collapse of Rana Plaza last year.
The list compiled by ‘Bangladesh Garments Sromik Shonghoti’ on Saturday provided the full identities of 146 out of 183 missing workers who have been named.
The leaders of the organisation said it was gathering information on more missing workers.
The labour body made seven demands while revealing the list at a press conference at Dhaka’s Topkhana Road.
The army, which led the rescue operation in the wake of one of the most devastating man-made disasters, could not account for 261 people who were employed at the building’s various garment factories.
read more. & read more.
09:34:19 local time INDIA
* WhatsApp worsens Varanasi weavers’ woes:
Traders send blueprints of Banarasi sari designs to be mass-produced in Surat
The mainstay of the Banarasi sari, woven with expensive natural yarn such as Chinese silk and cotton, is its design.
What was an organic and handmade process, however, has now, to the dismay of weavers, been hijacked by technology to abet mass production — power looms in Surat ensure that designs of synthetic and polyester yarns are produced in bulk in quick time.
To facilitate this, traders in Varanasi have got into the practice of taking pictures of designs on their smartphone and ‘WhatsApping’ copies of it to traders in Surat.
In Surat, automated looms ‘copy’ these designs, print them on fabric and send the saris back to traders in Varanasi in large quantities. Abundant power supply, yarn and cheap labour ensures that Surat can produce five times the volume Varanasi can and around four times cheaper.
The system works well for traders and silk store-owners like Tamanna Ahmed, who buy samples of designs from weavers in Varanasi and, using WhatsApp, order finished products of the same design from Surat at a cheaper price. Customers also benefit as they can buy the intricate designs of the Banarasi sari at the cost of the inexpensive Surat fabric.
* No poll delight here, only skeins of a dying tradition:
Elections may spread a rich tapestry of excitement everywhere but not in this traditional weavers’ town off Jhansi. Here life hangs by a thread, as the market has fallen for the textiles that the town is famous for.
People here say they will vote out of duty, and not because they have any demands of, or expectations from, any party or candidate.
“We have forgotten to make demands now. We are tired of asking. No one listens to us — no one has for years,” says Jagdish Banpuria, a weaver with a stint in politics some years ago.
The town used to supply textiles to the defence forces and had a huge market in Mumbai. But Mauranipur, also known as mini-Bombay, is now struggling to protect its weavers who have fallen into bad times. Thousands of them have migrated to Gujarat, Maharashtra and other States to work as labourers; the younger, educated lot do not want to learn weaving because the skill does not earn them enough.
“All we have been asking for is a sales centre for the textiles made here so that weavers can sell their products at a minimum support price and talent and industry will not die,” Mr. Banpuria says.
These are the only demands the voters here have been making since their craft fell on bad days in 1995. At that time, the town had 25,000-30,000 weavers. Half of them have migrated to other States because of the falling demand for their product.
“There was a time when on Mondays and Tuesdays, Army trucks would pick up quality textiles from the local market. The remaining was bought by middlemen or merchants from Bombay,” recalls Suresh, who just sells yarn now. Now the town has just 4,000-5,000 handlooms and 8,000 powerlooms running.