19:31:17 local time CHINA
* Negative impact on cotton from China policy & PSF – ICAC:
* First China cotton auction since price cut sees strong demand:
The first auction of raw cotton by China’s state stockpiler since cutting its minimum bidding price met with strong demand on Tuesday, with appetite at future sales expected to stay robust as the country looks to offload its massive reserves.
A successful round of sales could curb Chinese appetite for imports, pressuring international prices and hitting top exporters India and the United States, already smarting from dropping shipments. — Reuters
18:31:17 local time VIET NAM
* Bright prospects seen for garment, textiles:
The garment and textile industry has achieved significant success in the first quarter and its outlook for the whole year is optimistic, the Ministry of Industry and Trade reports.
The ministry said that the garment and textile industry achieved the highest growth rate at 20.2 per cent in the first three months. The average increase in the rate of the country’s industrial production in the same period was only 4.9 per cent.
The industry’s export revenue in Q1 also surged 21.9 per cent to US$4.5 billion.
The ministry said many garment and textile producers had won export contracts extending to the end of Q3, with some scoring contracts lasting until the end of the year. All producers are also using designated production capacity to meet the spike in demand.
Preparing to seize opportunities from trade agreements including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that are expected to be signed this year, local textile and garment producers have also sped up their investments in fibre production, knitting, dyeing and garment production.
read more. & read more.
18:31:17 local time THAILAND
20140326 * Mae Sot migrants demand labour rights:
Nearly a thousand Burmese migrant workers staged a rally outside their garment factory in northern Thailand, calling for improved labour rights.
Workers at the Thai-owned Yuan Jiou Garment Co Ltd in Thailand’s border town Mae Sot are striking over unpaid wages and long working hours.
A factory worker told DVB they are punished for not keeping up with demands.
“We have to work from 8 am until 10 o’clock at night and make 120 garments. If we cannot make them we are all scolded. If we can make 120 garments, they ask for 140 garments the next day,” he said.
The minimum wage in Thailand is 300 baht (US$9) per day. However the migrant workers said they are not receiving that amount, and are forced to lie during inspections of the factory.
read & see more (video report).
18:31:17 local time CAMBODIA
* SL protesters appeal for bail:
Two suspects arrested during a deadly garment-worker demonstration in November appealed for bail at the Supreme Court yesterday.
Vann Ny and Vann Norn have been detained since an intended march of striking SL Garment factory workers devolved into a riot on November 12, at which participants burned police vehicles and trapped police in a pagoda building until police opened fire on the crowd with live ammunition, killing a food vendor.
“If they burned the car, why would they walk into a crowd of police?” defence attorney Sereyvuth Chakrya asked in court.
A third suspect was previously granted bail on December 25. The men worked at a construction site near the Stung Meanchey Bridge, where a police blockade stopping the group from marching to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house sparked a clash, which led to violence, Chakrya said.
* Nearly 100 Garment Workers Faint in Separate Incidents:
Ninety-one workers at two garment factories in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district fainted at work Wednesday, a local official said.
One fainting incident took place at the Yu Wi factory, where 20 workers had also fainted on Tuesday afternoon.
On Wednesday, an additional 31 fainted, according to district governor Hem Darith. He attributed the collapses to fumes from freshly painted walls at the factory.
“The workers at Yu Wi factory will not be allowed to work until the paint fumes have gone away,” Mr. Darith said.
At the San Chov factory, 61 workers passed out on the factory floor Wednesday morning and were sent to a private hospital for treatment.
Mr. Darith attributed the fainting to the fact that the workers overindulged in food and drink at a party they attended the previous night.
“They fainted because they drank beer and danced until late last night,” he said.
* Insecticides blamed for faintings:
Nearly 100 garment workers employed by the New Wide garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district have fainted since Tuesday evening after company representatives’ allegedly sprayed insecticide throughout the factory, a local official and a worker said.
Workers are likely fainting from the potent combination of pesticide fumes and poor ventilation, according to district governor Hem Darith.
“About 50 fainted on Tuesday evening and [more than 37] Wednesday morning,” Darith said, adding that the sick had been sent to recover at Visak Sok and Independence clinics.
“We smelled the chemicals the factory sprayed to kill insects and then we felt weak and dizzy,” So Chan, a 26-year-old factory worker, said.
In a separate incident on Tuesday, about 61 workers employed at a garment factory owned by Shenzhou International, located in the same district, allegedly fell ill after eating a factory-funded Khmer New Year feast.
Factory officials could not be reached.
* CCAWDU Leaders Deny Corruption During Questioning at Court:
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday questioned three senior officials from the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU) who stand accused of embezzling $92,929.
Speaking after questioning under the court’s deputy prosecutor Ek Chheng Huot, union president Ath Thorn denied siphoning off the money, which was intended as a settlement payment for workers embroiled in a dispute with their bosses at a garment factory.
“I didn’t commit what I have been accused of,” he said. “We helped workers to be reinstated and demanded that the money be given to them.”
He said he is unsure what the court’s next step would be.
* Union bosses grilled:
A Phnom Penh municipal judge questioned Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) president Ath Thorn, vice president Kong Athit and secretary-general Ek Sopheakdey for about five hours yesterday regarding a complaint from 30 C.CAWDU members at the E Garment factory alleging the three stole $93,000 in back wages.
Afterwards, one of the union leaders threatened a countersuit against former members believed to be behind the embezzlement accusations.
“The workers sued us, despite the fact that we paid all their money, because they were provoked by [former C.CAWDU members] Um Visal and Roeun Chanthorn,” Athit said as he left the courtroom yesterday afternoon. “I think [Visal and Chanthorn] wish to damage my reputation and C.CAWDU’s reputation.”
Thorn and others in C.CAWDU’s leadership say Visal – a founding member – and Chanthorn voluntarily left after they declined to re-sign their employment contracts. But Visal says they were fired for raising allegations that Thorn, Athit and Sopheakdey pocketed part of a settlement they reached with E Garment to rehire 30 workers with 46 months’ back pay.
Although he provided assistance to the workers who filed the complaint, Visal said, it was the plaintiffs in the case who wanted to sue.
“I never forced or told the workers to file the complaint, they asked for my help,” Visal said yesterday. “I just prepared the documents for them.”
C.CAWDU has not taken legal action against Visal and Chanthorn, but Thorn yesterday said that the union will sue them for defamation if they continue their allegations.
* Social Security Fund Starts New Insurance Scheme:
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) on Monday launched an initiative to provide health insurance to the nation’s workforce, a plan that the country’s largest employers’ associations said was premature.
NSSF director Ouk Samvithya said that by the middle of this year, enterprises in the country with more than seven employees will be required to pay into the fund to support the health care initiative.
The NSSF counts more than 880,000 employees at 6,107 firms as members. Mr. Samvithya said he hopes 900,000 will be part of the health care scheme.
“We have been processing workers’ compensation claims for five years in 24 provinces and Phnom Penh, and now we are moving to stage two: health insurance,” Mr. Samvithya said in a speech at NSSF headquarters in Tuol Kok district.
Phase two of the NSSF’s plan to raise social welfare standards through compulsory health insurance would hypothetically see staff covered by the fund, without limit, for all ailments that prevent them from carrying out their duties at work.
The cost of insurance would be shared evenly between companies and workers.
Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), which represents some 450 garment and footwear factories that employ upwards of 500,000 workers, said that NSSF’s initial estimate of the cost of health insurance was exorbitant.
“The original proposal was 3 percent but we have run a pilot project in the mold of the NSSF program and found that the figure should be closer to 2 percent,” Mr. Loo said, adding that he would push for the rate to be lowered.
If employers and employees were required to pay a combined 3 percent of monthly wages toward health insurance, based on the minimum wage of $100, the NSSF would collect at least $2.64 million each month.
This figure was later revised down to 0.8 percent after lobbying from GMAC and the Cambodian Federation of Employees and Business Associations (CAMFEBA) in 2008.
The NSSF’s workers’ compensation plan pays out between 5 and 6 million riel, or about $1,250 to $1,500, in the event that an individual’s working capacity is reduced by 20 percent or more, and guarantees lifelong support should a member become completely incapacitated.
But according to Dave Welsh, country director of the Solidarity Center, a U.S.-based labor rights group, actually getting NSSF to compensate injured workers is a struggle.
When a section of the Taiwanese-owned Wing Star shoe factory in Kompong Speu province collapsed in May, killing two workers and hospitalizing nine, the NSSF was less than accommodating to its members, he said.
* Lack of Skilled Labor Greatest Obstacle to Growth:
Following a year of turbulence, political and labor unrest will continue to drag on the economy in 2014, the Asian Development Bank said in a recent report.
But for manufacturers planning to create crucial value-added jobs, Cambodia’s biggest obstacle to growth is a lack of skilled workers.
Factory owners in Phnom Penh’s Special Economic Zone (SEZ) say political instability in the wake of July’s national election and nationwide strikes in the garment sector have not significantly affected business.
But as Cambodia’s industrial sector tries to diversify beyond garment factories, a widespread lack of capable workers presents a big hurdle.
Yasuyuki Inoue, vice president of Minebea (Cambodia) Co. Ltd. said companies are flocking to Cambodia because of low labor costs, but they struggle to find able workers. His company employs 4,000 workers to make machinery components and electronics devices.
“Costs in Thailand are too high, so we can’t expand there anymore and China’s are also high,” Mr. Inoue said. “There are no other countries where it is financially viable for expansion so we came here.”
* BetterFactories Media updates 1-2 April 2014, Unions, GMAC tussle over new year strike:
* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-04-01 Social security fund starts new insurance scheme
2014-04-01 Workers hold machines ransom over wages
2014-04-02 ADB predicts economic slowdown due to social unrest
2014-04-02 Fourth bail hearing, trial date set for Vorn Pao
2014-04-02 Garment workers faint in newly painted factory
2014-04-02 Unions, GMAC tussle over new year strike
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
* BetterFactories Media updates 3 April 2014, Lack of skilled labor greatest obstacle to growth:
* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
204-04-03 Nearly 100 garment workers faint in separate incidents
2014-04-03 CCAWDU leaders deny corruption during questioning at court
2014-04-03 Lack of skilled labor greatest obstacle to growth
* to read in the printed edition Koh Santepheap Daily (Khmer):
2014-04-03 CCAWDU leaders questioned over embezzlement
2014-04-03 Workers in two different factories faint, the owner suspend production
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
19:31:17 local time INDONESIA
20140320 * Battle for lashes:
The price of Western beauty may be too high for the 100,000 workers who toil in central Java’s lucrative false-eyelash industry
Flashbulbs fire. The audience rises as one. The model departs to an ovation. But behind every eyelash flutter in the fashion industry and beyond lie the untold stories of invisible low-paid workers.
In Purbalingga, central Java, numerous small workshops represent the first step in a global supply chain.
Almost all workers are women, all of them scraping a living by measuring and cutting artificial hair to the requisite size for false eyelashes, and then knitting them onto a thin plastic thread.
The job requires intense concentration, often leaving workers with sore eyes and backs. Their financial remuneration for such monotonous work is about $0.04 per pair, sometimes lower. By the time the product reaches Western consumers, the price they pay has often reached $10 a pair – a mark-up of 2,400%.
According to the Guardian, factories in Purbalingga supply some of the world’s biggest beauty and cosmetic brands, including L’Oréal, Mac and Maybelline.
Indonesian eyelash exports were estimated to be worth $210m in 2012, with Purbalingga very much the operational hub. The town has a population of about 850,000 people, but is home to almost 20 major factories, with about 100,000 locals employed in the industry, a third of them reportedly being paid far less than the local minimum wage of $73 a month.
17:31:17 local time BANGLADESH
* Find killers of labour activist: HRW:
Urges govt to explain efforts to investigate the April 2012 murder
Human Rights Watch has asked the Bangladesh government to publicly explain efforts made to investigate the abduction, torture, and killing of the labour rights activist Aminul Islam two years ago, “including alleged links to state officials”.
While police have filed charges against a missing suspect, there have been no apparent efforts to investigate allegations that members of Bangladeshi security forces were part of the conspiracy to kill the labour activist, HRW said today.
Islam, 39, a trade union organiser with the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) that supports the rights of factory workers in the garment and seafood industries, disappeared on April 4, 2012. His body, beating torture marks, was discovered two days later about 100 kilometres from where he was last seen.
“After two years and three investigations, neither his family nor the public know the truth about what happened to Aminul Islam,” said Brad Adams, Asia director.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Bangladesh: Find Killers of Labor Activist:
2 Years On, Union Organizer’s Death Unsolved
The Bangladeshi government should publicly explain what efforts have been made to investigate the abduction, torture, and killing of the labor rights activist Aminul Islam two years ago, including alleged links to state officials, Human Rights Watch said today.
While police have filed charges against a missing suspect, there have been no apparent efforts to investigate allegations that members of Bangladeshi security forces were part of the conspiracy to kill the labor activist.
Islam, 39, was a trade union organizer with the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), which supports the rights of factory workers in the garment and seafood industries. He disappeared on April 4, 2012. His body was discovered two days later, almost 100 kilometers from where he was last seen, and showed signs of torture under circumstances that raise concerns of involvement by Bangladeshi security forces.
* Factory fire injures 3 in capital:
Three people have been injured after a fire broke out at a warehouse of a perfume factory at the capital’s Chawkbazar on Wednesday evening.
The injured workers Kabir, 30, Azia, 31, and Mafizur, 40, were admitted to the Plastic and Surgery Unit at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH).
Anisur Rahman of the Fire Service and Civil Defense (FSCD) said the fire at broke out around 6:10pm and after over an hour of frantic effort, six units of the FSCD doused the fire.
Witnesses said the fire was originated on the 3rd floor of a six-storied building near Chhotokatara in Old Dhaka.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Injured worker succumbs:
A worker, who was sustained burn injuries in a perfume factory fire in the city, succumbed to his injuries Thursday morning.
* Uncertainty over payment, fear of labour unrest loom:
The recent production suspension slapped on some garment units has raised concern among many factory owners and workers as the issues relating to payment of wages and other benefits during the suspension still remain unresolved in the midst of the ongoing inspection programme, sector insiders said.
The ready-made garment (RMG) sector leaders are of the opinion that many owners do not have the ability to pay workers during the ‘production suspension’ and bear solely the costs of repairs. But the Accord officials are sticking to their stance that factory owners would have to pay their workers and maintain their ‘relations with the workers’ during the suspension.
In the meantime, citing production suspension at Softex, for which nearly 3500 workers became jobless, labour leaders have expressed fear that repetition of such action could lead to more job cuts in the sector, thus fuelling fresh labour unrest in the country’s apparel sector.
Last month, the Accord inspection team and the official review committee declared three apparel units, Softex Cotton Pvt Ltd, Fame Sweaters Ltd and Diamond, temporarily shut after detection of some structural flaws in the building they were located.
However, both the apparel and labour leaders said the Accord and the Alliance should come forward with a mechanism to solve the ongoing knotty issues for the sake of the workers and the industry.
Md Moshiul Azam Shajal, managing director of Fame Sweaters, said, “I don’t want any recurrence of Rana Plaza like tragedy. Until the Accord and the government say in writing that the building is safe, I won’t resume production in my factory.”
He said the Accord was now coming up with some remedial plans for strengthening the building structures in order to resume production, but it was yet to make clear its position on the funds needed for the repairs.
The Accord Executive Director Rob Wayss confirmed to the FE that they were holding discussion with the factory owners and brands to carry out the initial repairs, so that some parts of the factories could be reopened.
* Bangladesh factory workers worry about future:
Closures of garment factories deemed unsafe leave many workers without a stable source of income.
Workers in Bangladesh face an uncertain future as garment factories deemed unsafe by international inspectors are shut down in the wake of deadly accidents.
The garment industry is the country’s largest and the closures are leaving many workers without a stable source of income.
Under inspection agreements, factory owners are meant to continue paying affected staff while they repair their buildings to required standards. However, some employees worry that this is not always the case.
Al Jazeera’s Maher Sattar reports from the capital, Dhaka.
read & see more (video report).
* Accord teams suggest evacuation of six more RMG units:
The Accord inspection teams recommended immediate evacuation of six more garment units on the grounds of structural flaws, sources involved with the process said.
The factories are: Four Wings Ltd, Terry Pvt Ltd, All Weather Fashion, Elegant and Libas Textile located in Dhaka while Mens Apparel is located in the port city, they added.
Following the Accord’s recommendation, the review committee, comprising representatives from the government, the Accord, the Alliance, BUET, BGMEA and BKMEA have started scrutinising the recommendations.
The review committee already visited two units – Four Wings and Terry Pvt Ltd – Wednesday, Inspector General of Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments Syed Ahmed told the FE.
“The strength of columns of the two factories will be scrutinised and then a final decision will be taken,” he said adding that the rest four factories will be scrutinised accordingly.
* Factory inspections to boost country’s image:
Economist Intelligent Unit says retailers’ efforts may force necessary improvements in factories
Ongoing factory inspection by two foreign agencies will deflect reputational damage and ensure Bangladeshi manufacturers’ continued access to their biggest markets, although the initiative may increase production costs, according to a periodic research analysis by the Economist Intelligent Unit (EIU).
Despite Bangladesh’s seemingly dominant position in Asian garment manufacturing (excluding China), the collapse of Rana Plaza has not been entirely without consequence, said EIU, the research and analysis division of the Economist Group.
The main production platforms outside China are now in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, India and Pakistan. Other countries are about to join the club, such as newly liberalising Myanmar, the analysis added.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a legally binding five-year initiative by retailers and brands, may force necessary improvements on factories, according to the analysis.
“Some Bangladeshi manufacturers are concerned, arguing that none of their competitors abroad are coming under equivalent pressure and negative attention.”
Wages in Bangladesh are generally lower than in China, India, Cambodia or Vietnam, its main competitors with lower productivity and safety standards, EIU said.
Some four million workers produced garments with an export value of around $20 billion in Bangladesh in 2013 while Cambodian factories employed 450,000 workers to produce around $5 billion in exports.
* BGMEA working to comply with action plan:
The apex trade body in the apparel sector is implementing fast the Bangladesh Action Plan, as set out by the US, in a bid to get the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility revived in the US market.
A good number of initiatives had already been taken in compliance with the requirements under the action plan, including those concerning fire safety, building safety and labour standards, said sources with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
Regaining the GSP facility for Bangladeshi products in the US market “is the top priority and necessary steps have been taken to regain it,” said a source.
BGMEA sources said the trade body took initiatives for improving fire and building safety as well as labour standards.
* UK launches 3 projects for RMG sector in Bangladesh:
Visiting UK Minister for International Development Alan Duncan today identified rapid growth of Bangladesh’s garment sector beyond regulations as its biggest problem as he announced the launching of three projects to help improve working conditions and safety standards for RMG units in the country.
“The biggest problem is the size . . . they (RMG units) grew in huge number beyond regulations,” he told a press briefing while announcing the new British funding for improved working and safety standards for the sector.
He said the collapse of Rana Plaza last year had shone a spotlight on working conditions in the garment industry and all stakeholders must join hands to improve the scenario for continued investment to the sector.
“There has been some progress, but still we need a long way to go . . . this year has to be the year to improve the conditions of the sector, which grew over the last 25 years in Bangladesh,” Duncan said.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Rana Plaza disaster an opportunity to fix flaws: Duncan:
The Rana Plaza building collapse has created an opportunity for Bangladesh to improve working conditions, safety and security in garment factories, visiting UK Minister of State for International Development Alan Duncan said yesterday.
“This year has to be a year for Bangladesh to ensure standards in the garment industry. Factories have to be registered and inspected properly,” Duncan told reporters at a briefing at the British High Commission in Dhaka.
The UK minister arrived in Dhaka on Monday to check progress on health and safety standards in the garment industry.
Duncan said still there is a big gap in standards in the garment sector despite the passage of almost one year after the Rana Plaza collapse.
“The big problem is with the size of the garment industry that has grown far more than the regime and regulations in the country,” the minister said.
THE TAZREEN FACTORY FIRE
* HC rejects Tazreen owner’s bail:
The High Court today (Wednesday) rejected bail petitions of Tazreen Fashions’ owner Delwar Hossain and its Chairperson Mahmuda Akhter in a case filed over a deadly fire at the factory in November 2012, which killed 112 workers.
The HC bench of Justice Naima Haider and Justice Zafar Ahmed passed the orders, considering that their petitions were not placed before it as a state counsel vehemently opposed the petitions.
During hearing, Assistant Attorney General M Masud Alam Chowdhury told the HC that a Dhaka court on March 20 cancelled the bail of Mahmuda and asked her to surrender in 15 days before the lower court that granted her bail in the case in February.
But, since she did not surrender before the lower court, so she cannot be granted bail, he said.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Tazrin chairman sent to jail:
A Dhaka court has sent Tazreen Fashions Chairman Mahmuda Akhter Mita to jail rejecting her bail petition in a case over the factory fire that killed more than 110 workers.
Senior Judicial Magistrate Kazi Shahidul Islam passed the oder on Thursday morning.
Defence lawyer Md Golam Gaus filed the fresh bail petition for Mahmuda Akhter in the case.
On March 20, the court cancelled the bail granted to Mahmuda Akhter and ordered her to appear before the lower court within 15 days.
read more. & read more.
17:01:17 local time INDIA
* Weavers to let their votes speak:
A collective of the weavers in Balaramapuram and surrounding areas has decided to register their protest against the continued neglect by successive governments of their plight in the forthcoming elections.
“We will not boycott the elections, a method that many other sections of the society are adopting to show their protest this time, but we will make our votes speak for ourselves,” was as clear as they would be about their mode of protest during a press conference here on Tuesday.
* Sewer, weaver and river: Kejriwal’s mantra to take on Modi in Varanasi:
To outsmart Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal will come out with a Varanasi-specific manifesto. A team, which is working on it, has been collecting feedback from the locals on what should be included in the document.
The aim is to tackle the issues of “sewer, weaver and river” — the decrepit sanitation system, the resultant pollution of the Ganga and multiple problems of the silk weavers in Varanasi.
“We will look to revive the traditional silk industry, which forms a crucial element of people in Varanasi, and connect that to employment generation,” said Rakesh Sinha, party’s national executive member who is involved in the process.
According to the party, when a handloom unit is mechanised at least 12 weavers lose their jobs. This was a serious livelihood issue in the town and the party would focus on it, an AAP insider said.
* ‘Extend anti-dumping duty on raw silk imports from China’:
To boost domestic silk production, Assocham has urged the government to extend anti-dumping duty on raw silk imports from China, which have grown by 7 per cent during the last 12 years, till December 2015.
The Government had imposed antidumping duty on imports of Mulberry Raw Silk of 2A grade and below from China in January 2003, which remained in force until January 2008 and was subsequently extended till January 2014 after a sunset review.
“Silk import restrictions have two facets; one is concern of sericulture farmers opposing cheap Chinese raw silk imports threatening their livelihood, while the other issue is of the weaving community which requires raw silk to meet the rising demand,” Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said.
read more. & to read.
17:01:17 local time SRI LANKA
* Lanka aiming to be a top 10 apparel exporter by 2020: Rishad:
In the aftermath of latest record apparel earnings, Sri Lanka is now entertaining bigger apparel dreams.
“Our internationally recognised apparel sector has shown strong performance, and has earned revenues of $ 4.3 billion in 2013. President Mahinda Rajapaksa now wants us to be among the world’s top 10 apparel export countries by 2020,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on 21 March.
Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the inauguration event of the newly established Leather & Footwear Industry Training Unit and the upgraded Engineering Workshop with mechatronics at the Sri Lanka Institute of Textile and Apparel (SLITA) on 21 March in Ratmalana.
The latest SLITA facilities are constructed exclusively with Treasury funding of $ 153,000 (Rs. 20 million), and are the only such industry training centres in Sri Lanka. The Leather and Footwear Centre will train new student intakes at vocational levels on design and manufacturing.
read more. & read more.
16:31:17 local time PAKISTAN
* Govt easing terms of worker unions:
Under pressure from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and labour unions, the Punjab government is withdrawing the condition of at least 50 employees for forming a workers’ union in an industrial unit.
The condition is being withdrawn by amending the Punjab Industrial Relations Act 2010, which was passed by the Punjab Assembly after labour was devolved to provinces under the 18th Amendment. Earlier, the law was called the Industrial Relations Ordinance and did not contain such a condition. No other province had introduced the clause while adopting their respective laws.
Amendment to the law was submitted in the provincial assembly in its last session, and sources said the standing committee to which it was referred to for a report, cleared it on Tuesday.
* Textile trade through another lens:
The government anticipates an increase in export earnings from the textile sector during the current fiscal year after the grant of the GSP plus status to Pakistan by the European Union.
Is concentrating on the traditional US and EU market enough? As leading players like Bangladesh have total garment exports of around $22.50 billion last year, in just these two markets alone.
Almost more than 60 percent of our exports are to the traditional markets; US, EU and Middle East. The brands and buyers in the traditional markets impose harsh conditions often on the textile manufacturers and exporters, and at the same time they bargain for cutting prices of products as the countrys export depends only on the US and EU markets.
“It is amazing that Pakistani textile exporters have never truly entered into African markets in an institutionalized manner,” says Majyd Aziz, former Chairman of Karachi Press Club. “It is the mindset of exporters to focus on EU markets. We have neglected the African market and just concentrated in North America and EU.
* Walt Disney bans import from Pakistan:
US licensor Walt Disney has dropped Pakistan from its list of ‘Permitted Sourcing Countries’ from April 1, sources in the textile industry confirmed on Wednesday.
The US entertainment giant banned any import from Pakistan as the country failed to satisfy the trading partner company of its intentions to improve what it considered “poor governance standards”.
“There is no ambiguity in the position taken by Disney. No shipment is permissible to any certified agent or vendor dealing in the brand of Walt Disney merchandise after April 31,” Azhar Majeed Sheikh, the chairman of Arzoo Textile Mills, told Dawn.
“Anyone (importer or exporter) found violating the ban will be liable to heavy penalties besides being blacklisted,” he said.
The US company’s decision has stripped Pakistan of $200-million exports of textile products.
The firm issued stiffer warning to Bangladesh when it decided to put Pakistan on its watch list because of repeated incidents of factory fires in textile garment units.
However, Bangladesh government managed to get a waiver by getting a placement in ILO/IFC ‘Better Work Programme’ that allows close monitoring of the country for social audit.
* Commerce Ministry clarifies Disneyland 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.
The 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.