17:30:12 local time CHINA
* Seven regions raise minimum wage standards:
Seven regions across China have raised their minimum wage standards so far this year, with Shanghai’s standard leading the nation, according to statistics from local governments.
The regions are Chongqing, Shaanxi, Shandong, Beijing, Tianjin, Shenzhen and Shanghai.
With a minimum monthly payment requirement of 1,820 yuan ($290) and a minimum hourly rate of 17 yuan, Shanghai topped the nation.
Shenzhen followed closely, with a minimum monthly payment requirement of 1,808 yuan and minimum hourly pay of 16.5 yuan.
* Three major cities in China raise the minimum wage:
Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin today all announced an increase in the minimum wage for employees in those cities. Shanghai raised its monthly minimum wage rate to 1,820 yuan and the hourly rate to 17 yuan, making them the highest rates in China.
Shenzhen, which normally has the highest rates, had already increased its minimum wage on 1 February to 1,808 yuan per month and 16.50 yuan per hour.
The rates in Beijing and Tianjin are in the higher to mid-range in China, standing at 1,560 yuan per month and 1,680 per month respectively. At least seven regions have increased their minimum wage so far this year, starting with Chongqing which raised its rate to 1,250 yuan per month on 1 January 2014.
* Taiwan’s textile & garment exports decline 1.54% in 2013:
According to the data, Taiwan exported $1.209 billion worth of fibres during the year, which accounted for 9.64 percent of all textile exports from the country.
Yarn exports earned $2.273 billion for Taiwan, while fabric exports fetched $7.841 billion, accounting for 18.12 percent and 62.5 percent share in all Taiwanese textile and apparel exports during the 12-month period.
Apparel exports from Taiwan were valued at $782.113 million, whereas made-ups accounted for $438.469 million.
China and Vietnam were major markets for Taiwanese textiles with these countries importing goods worth $3.774 billion and $2.028 billion, respectively, during the period under review.
16:30:12 local time CAMBODIA
* Unions, GMAC Tussle Over New Year Strike:
Garment worker unions have tangled with factory owners over the unions’ plan to use the coming Khmer New Year holiday to launch a nationwide strike.
A coalition of eight unions will send a letter today to the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) stating that workers will use their annual leave to extend the three-day holiday, which starts on April 14, through April 22.
“Since there have been requests from unions and union members in a variety of factories, they will exercise their right to continue their holiday after the Khmer New Year from 17 to 22 April…according to article 170 of the Labor Law,” the letter reads.
“Along with the days off, we request [the association] help solve some issues as soon as possible in order to ensure that buyers have confidence to continue to work with Cambodian garment and footwear producers and keep the sector sustainable,” the letter continues.
* Fourth Bail Hearing, Trial Date Set for Vorn Pao:
A fourth bail hearing has been set for detained labor leader Vorn Pao ahead of his trial this month, alongside 22 others, for their role in garment strikes in Phnom Penh in January.
Already denied bail by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on January 21 and the Court of Appeal on February 11 and March 25, the ailing president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association will have his request heard again by the municipal court this Friday ahead of his trial, which will be held on April 18.
Va Sakada, the court’s deputy prosecutor, confirmed that the trial would be held on April 18.
Both men were rounded up and beaten during a crackdown on the strikes. They are suffering from health problems that their lawyers say should see them freed: Mr. Pao has kidney problems, while Mr. Sombath Piseth has a broken hand.
“We asked bail for Mr. Piseth since he has a broken hand and he needs to get treatment. If he doesn’t within five months, he will never recover,” said his lawyer, Muth Piseth.
* Operation ‘urgent’ for strike detainee:
Representatives for a detainee held since his arrest at a strike in early January say the window to operate on his broken hand is closing.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday will hear a special temporary bail request for Sokun Sombath Piseth, 31, one of 21 people held in Kampong Cham’s Correctional Centre 3 since crackdowns on January 2 and 3, said Naly Pilorge, director of Licadho, which is providing legal representation for Piseth.
“The hospital in Kampong Cham says [his hand] was broken in four places,” Pilorge said. “There is a time limit where you can operate on a broken bone.”
Piseth is asking to be released from CC3 for five days to receive surgery.
His two previous bail requests – along with the other defendants’ – were denied. But a doctor recently advised that if he does not undergo surgery for the broken hand soon, his injury could render him permanently disabled, Pilorge said.
All defendants arrested during the demonstrations are scheduled for trial on April 18.
* Ministry reiterates holiday pay:
The Ministry of Labour has announced that factory managers must allow employees three days off for Khmer New Year, even as some union leaders encourage workers to extend that time.
In a letter to factory owners dated March 25, Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng reminds owners that workers have the legal right to paid time off from April 14 until April 16.
“The ministry wants to mention that in cases where factories cannot stop work for the holiday, owners and managers must find employees who volunteer to work,” Sam Heng’s letter, obtained yesterday, reads. “Those who work are entitled to receive [double-time].”
Tomorrow, the leaders of eight unions will send a letter to the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) asking them to communicate to factory owners that union members request annual leave for April 17 to April 23, said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW). This would ensure workers receive pay while taking part in a stay-at-home strike.
Workers’ demand for a minimum monthly wage of $160 and for the court to drop charges against 23 defendants – 21 of whom are still detained in prison – arrested at January strike demonstrations have slowed since a boycott of overtime work in February, Sina said. But enthusiasm for the strike is high.
* ADB forecasts Cambodia’s growth at 7% this year, stronger next year:
Growth in Cambodia is set to ease moderately in 2014 before picking up in 2015 on the back of buoyant exports and robust agriculture and service sectors, a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report said Tuesday.
The ADB Outlook 2014 said Cambodia’s economic growth will moderate to 7 percent this year from 7.2 percent last year, with a subsequent edging up to 7.3 percent next year.
“Despite political uncertainty and the risk of further labor market tension, Cambodia is expected to exhibit healthy economic growth over the next two years, reflecting stronger exports, growing services, and strengthening economic recovery in the major industrial economies,” said Eric Sidgwick, ADB country director for Cambodia.
The expected slowdown in 2014 reflects political tensions since national elections in July 2013 and strikes for higher wages by garment workers that dented investors’ confidence and disrupted some production of garments and footwear in late 2013 and early 2014, the bank’s outlook said.
17:30:12 local time INDONESIA
* BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates:
1. Employers warned on BPJS compliance. Read the full article here .
2. Employing people with disabilities: It’s right and smart. Read the full article here.
3. Textile Industry in DKI Jakarta is fading .
Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia) .
4. Indonesian Working-Age Population Highest Among ASEAN.
Read the full article here.
5. Private Companies’ Workers are asked to register to BPJS. Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here.
6. Govt offers business players two years for price hike. Read the full article here.
7. Labor Political Direction. Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia).
BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates Overview here.
15:30:12 local time BANGLADESH
* Body soon to look into RMG sector problems: Tofail:
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed on Tuesday said the government has decided in principle to form a committee to look into the existing problems of the country’s garment factory owners and workers.
“The ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution Body’ will be formed with representatives of the owners and workers by this month,” he said while talking to reporters after a meeting with US Ambassador in Dhaka Dan W Mozena at his office.
Both the owners and workers can lodge their complaints and seek justice if he/she falls victim to any torture and harassment, minister said.
read more. & read more.
* Govt to form ADR council for RMG sector this month:
The government has decided in principle to form an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) council to deal with various problems in the RMG sector. The council will be formed by this month, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said Tuesday.
He said this while talking to the media after holding a view-exchange meeting with US ambassador to Bangladesh Dan W Mozena at the ministry. Mahbub Ahmed, secretary of the ministry of commerce, attended the meeting.
The commerce minister said the US had expressed satisfaction with Bangladesh’s initiatives to get back the GSP facility.
He said: “The US is satisfied with our initiatives to get back GSP. We hope that we will be able to submit the report within April 15 next.”
“We have decided to form the Alternative Dispute Resolution Council to solve the country’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector’s problems which is now in the preliminary stage. The Alternative Dispute Resolution Council will be formed by the current month,” the minister added.
* Mozena: satisfied Bangladesh made progress to get back GSP:
Government will appoint 222 second class officers for industrial inspection, says Tofail
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan W Mozena has said Bangladesh made progress with the terms to get back GSP.
He made the statement after a meeting with Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed at the ministry on Tuesday afternoon.
He said: “Bangladesh has made progress in the field of factory inspection, labour abuse, and reforming labour act.”
Mozena also talked about TICFA meeting with the minister which is scheduled to be held April 28 in Dhaka.
Tofail Ahmed said US expressed satisfaction with Bangladesh’s initiatives to get back GSP.
* UK minister extends support for improving safety standards in RMG sector:
The visiting British minister of State for International Development Alan Duncan expressed Tuesday his government’s willingness to support the initiative taken by Bangladesh authorities to upgrade safety standards in the country’s apparel industry.
He also suggested a coordinated effort from all stakeholders regarding the issue to ensure smooth production in the garment factories.
Mr Duncan, now on his fourth visit here after being a minister, made the observations during his meetings with the ministries of labour, foreign affairs and finance on the day.
In his first meeting with the labour minister, Mr Duncan was informed about the progress so far made in the garment sector that included amendment to labour law, upgradation of Chief Inspector for Factories and Establishments to a full-fledged Department of Inspection for Factories with a new recruitment rules, establishment of hotlines and garment database.
* Brussels appreciates Bangladesh’s RMG sector reforms:
Belgium has appreciated progress of reforms in Bangladesh\’s RMG sector and assured Dhaka of continued efforts to make their buyer companies accountable for the wellbeing of garments workers.
\”We are pleased to follow the progress with reforms in the RMG sector in Bangladesh,\” a foreign ministry statement quoted Belgian deputy prime minister and foreign minister Didier Reynders as telling Bangladesh\’s foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali in Brussels yesterday.
read more. & read more.
* ‘RMG buyers also responsible’:
Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) industry’s reforms have pleased Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders.
He told Bangladesh foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali in Brussels that European buyers also have responsibility to ensure factory safety and labour rights.
“We shall continue to work towards holding them accountable,” he assured his Bangladesh counterpart AH Mahmood Ali on Monday at a meeting in Brussels.
The foreign ministry on Tuesday in a media release said that the two ministers also expressed their satisfaction at the “ever expanding” trade relations between the two countries.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Labour bodies criticise govt for failing to publish authentic list of missing RMG workers:
The lists of unidentified Rana Plaza victims published by the government and labour organisation contradict each other.
Labour organisations alleged that the authorities concerned have failed to publish an authentic list of the missing apparel workers even nearly a year after the factory building collapse, creating an uncertainty over getting the compensation.
An official at the Ministry of Labour and Employment said of the total 1,135 dead bodies, 844 were handed over to their relatives and 291 unidentified bodies were buried in Jurain graveyard and the process of DNA test of those unidentified bodies is going on.
The official seeking anonymity said of the total unidentified ill-fated apparel makers, the authorities identified around 210 bodies and still 81 victims remain unnamed.
However, the data contradicts the information available with the National Forensic DNA Profiling Laboratory under the Dhaka Medical College (DMC) that is working to identify unnamed victims who were buried without identification.
* IndustriALL suggests Tk 57 lakh for each worker:
IndustriALL, a global federation of unions, yesterday recommended an average of Tk 57 lakh as compensation for each of the families of the workers who died in the Rana Plaza building collapse.
The compensation was based on the loss of future earnings, and in line with a convention of International Labour Organisation, said IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, the local chapter of the IndustriALL Global Union that represents 50 million workers in 140 countries.
Nazrul Islam Khan, chairman of IndustriALL Bangladesh, said: “Almost one year has passed since the disaster, but the victims and their families have not received any compensation.”
“There are many victims and families who have received nothing. They are leading a miserable life,” he told reporters at the National Press Club in the city.
The briefing came three weeks before the first anniversary of the deadliest industrial disaster in history, which took lives of more than 1,130 people, mostly workers, on April 24 last year.
read more. & read more.
* IBC demands compensation for Rana Plaza victims, families:
IndustriAll Bangladesh Council (IBC) demanded on Tuesday compensation for victims and families of Rana Plaza tragedy based on the magnitude of sufferings and loss of probable earnings.
The IBC also announced month- long programmes including workers’ gathering, human chain, multi-stakeholders’ discussion, meetings and seminars ahead of the first anniversary of the country’s deadliest industrial disaster at Rana Plaza that killed at least 1,137 workers mainly to exert pressure on buyers to join the compensation fund .
Roy Ramesh Chandra, secretary general of IBC made the compensation demand while reading out the programmes at a press conference held at the Jatiya Press Club in the city. Chairman of the organisation Nazrul Islam Khan, was also present during the briefing.
“The workers and victims’ families are undergoing an untold suffering but they are yet to be compensated,” he said adding most of the brands that sourced from the Rana Plaza factories are reluctant to join the compensation fund.
* Industriall urges brands to provide compensation before anniversary:
IndustriALL Bangladesh Council on Tuesday urged the global buyers and brands, who used to source products from the garment factories located in the collapsed Rana Plaza, to contribute significant amount of money to the Rana Plaza compensation trust fund before the first anniversary of the worst industrial disaster.
IndustriALL, a global federation of labour unions, demanded compensation for the families of the Rana Plaza victims as per the Employment Injury Benefits Convention of the International Labour Organisation and they announced a month-long programme to press home their demand at a press conference at National Press Club in the city.
As per the standard of ILO, the organisation estimated compensation on an average Tk 57.60 lakh for each deceased worker (considering the loss of future earning years and pain and sufferings).
* SC stays Sohel Rana’s HC bail:
The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the bail granted by the High Court to Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana in a case filed by Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) under the Building Construction Act.
Supreme Court’s Appellate Division Chamber Judge Justice Hasan Foez Siddique passed the order following an appeal filed by the state.
On March 23, the HC vacation bench comprising Justice M Rezaul Hasan and Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarker granted the Jubo League leader a six-month bail in the Rajuk case.
However, it had dismissed his bail pleas in the murder case filed over the Rana Plaza collapse that killed over 1,100 people last year.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more.
15:00:12 local time INDIA
* Tirupur’s wish list: more power, better roads:
The hosiery capital is also worried about pollution levels
Knitwear hub Tirupur is relatively a new parliamentary constituency. It is set to witness its second electoral battle this time.
This constituency in western Tamil Nadu could well turn out to be a difficult turf for all the key party contestants.
The candidates include S Sathyabama (AIADMK), Subbarayan (CPI-M), EVKS Elangovan (Congress), Senthilnathan (DMK) and N Dinesh Kumar (DMDK).
While the AIADMK comfortably won the seat in the previous general election, it does face a tough task in this year’s five-cornered battle.
The constituency comprises six assembly segments — Tirupur North, Tirupur South, Gobichettipalayam, Anthiyur, Bhavani and Perundurai. The last three are predominantly agricultural areas, while Tirupur is an industrial hub.
Here, the problems confronting the knitwear and farming sectors are plenty. As it stands, there seems to be a lack of enthusiasm amongst voters in choosing their next MP. Issues like indiscriminate tapping of groundwater for industrial purposes, continuing discharge of industrial effluents into water bodies, power cuts, acute shortage of housing, rising accommodation costs and badly maintained roads seem to bother the inhabitants of this town.
* Kalamkari workers throng Srikakulam:
Kalamkari workers are making a beeline for the banks of the Krishna at Srikakulam in Krishna district, as the water here is crystal clear without effluents, to wash textiles.
They undertake the 40-km journey from their hometown Pedana every day during the summer to reach Srikakulam as the canals near their home have dried. The fabrics are laid in flowing water to get the perfect colour.
“We believe the sacred Krishna flows for us. In summer, it helps us in two ways: promises ample water and brings out the perfect concentration of colour,” Kalamkari workers G Nagaraju and B. Prasad told The Hindu . Their team washes textiles that are meant for export to many European countries.
15:00:12 local time SRI LANKA
* More workers organized in Sri Lanka’s Free Trade Zones:
An IndustriALL Global Union/UNIFOR Project Advisory Committee meeting was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka to assess the advances of the Organizing Project carried out by the National Union for Metal and Migrant Workers of Sri Lanka (NUMMS) between 2012 and 2013.
Over the past two years, IndustriALL’s Canadian affiliate, UNIFOR, has provided support to NUMMS for their work to organize, primarily in the two largest Free Trade Zones (FTZ) near Colombo – Biyagama and Katunayake. During this time over 7,000 workers joined NUMMS from many sectors such as metal, garment, electronics, rubber and tire, cement, ceramics etc. The evaluation meeting, which ran from 25 to 27 March, brought together 22 union members and activists.
Eighty per cent of the workforce in the FTZ is made up of young women between 20 and 25 years old who have migrated from the interior of the island to Colombo in search of jobs.
The working conditions are so harsh and wages so low that few workers manage to stay on the job for more than five years, thus losing their rights to any benefit or social security. The high turnover of workers in the FTZ is a huge challenge when seeking to build sustainable union membership:
14:30:12 local time PAKISTAN
* Commerce Ministry clarifies Disney report:
The Ministry of Commerce has clarified certain contents mentioned in a news item in the opinion section “Disneyland” by Dr Farrukh Saleem published by “The News” daily on Sunday, March 30, 2014.
On March 4, 2013, Disney Consumer Products (DCP), subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company excluded Bangladesh, Belarus, Ecuador, Pakistan and Venezuela from the Permitted Sourcing Countries list and asked its licensors and vendors to transition the production of Disney branded goods, out of high-risk countries, to a country on its Permitted Sourcing Countries List by March 31, 2014.Disney’s Permitted Sourcing Countries List comprises 71 countries, which have World Bank Governance Indicator (WGI) of 65% or more.
Another 101 countries/territories having WGI of 31% or more are eligible to supply after International Labour Standards (ILS) audits.The list also includes countries where the WGI is below the above-mentioned standard but where International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) operate a “Better Work Programme”.
The Corporation has stated in their communication that a country may be added to the Permitted Sourcing Country List if either the country implements the Better Work Programme or improves its governance indicators as tabulated by the World Bank. Pakistan’s WGI score in 2012 World Bank Report was 21.
The Better Work Programme is also not yet operative in Pakistan.
* Aptma slams rise in cost of doing business:
Muhammad Yasin Siddik, chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) on Tuesday appreciated the government’s decision to reduce petroleum products prices, saying it will give some relief to the businesses and common man, a statement said.
Siddik said that they are expecting at least five percent reduction in the prices of petroleum products after the rupee appreciation, it said.
He appreciated the government for improving the economic situation due to which the rupee had appreciated by around 10 percent in the last couple of months, enabling the government to reduce petroleum prices and to give relief to the business community and the people, as well.
The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association chairman also said that the cost of doing business in Pakistan has increased to an alarming level, making the country’s products uncompetitive in the international market.
The European Union (EU) had given GSP Plus status to Pakistan, allowing its hundreds of items duty-free access in the 27 countries and it is an opportunity for Pakistan to increase its exports and get maximum benefits, Siddik said.
* Textile mills: APTMA demands uninterrupted power supply:
Chairman APTMA Punjab S M Tanveer has said that the Punjab-based textile industry on independent feeders is facing six to eight hours of electricity loadshedding, resulting into one-shift closure.
He apprehended that if industry is not provided with uninterrupted electricity supply, mills would be constraint to opt complete closure of their operations.
According to him, the Punjab based industry is responsible for more than 86 percent of PEPCO’s total industrial sector revenue being penalised both on account of the inordinately high and in-competitive tariff reaching upto Rs 18 per unit coupled with 6 to 8 hours daily loadshedding.
The industry is fully compliant in paying electricity bills and is also receiving electricity supply on zero line losses.
Furthermore, Chairman APTMA Punjab said that the low availability of gas supply to the textile industry aggravates the situation, while such industry in other provinces is being provided gas supply 24/7 resulting in extremely low energy cost for them.
* Implementation of Cotton Policy 2009-14: Rs 26.75 billion released against committed Rs 188 billion, National Assembly body told:
The government has released only Rs 26.75 billion against the total commitment of Rs 188 billion for implementation of Textile Policy 2009-14, envisaging export target of $25 billion.
This was revealed during the meeting of National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Textile Industry, held here on Tuesday with Khwaja Ghulam Rasool Koreja in the chair.
Secretary Textile Ministry Rukhsana Shah told the committee that slow release of funds made the Textile Policy ineffective to achieve the desired results. She said that Pakistan can earn more foreign exchange with the export of value-added textile products.