18:13:51 local time CHINA
* China’s cotton output likely to decline 10% this year:
17:13:51 local time THAILAND
* Striking Burmese Workers at Mae Sot Factory Win Concessions:
Protesting Burmese migrant workers in Mae Sot, Thailand, returned to work on Friday at the Yuan Jiao Garment factory after successful negotiations produced a resolution to the labor dispute there on Thursday.
More than 500 workers had staged a more than weeklong strike, demanding a wage increase and other labor rights and benefits, including more time off and a sick leave allowance.
Following protests that began on March 25, the employer warned striking workers to pack their belongings if they did not drop their demands and return to work, saying they would have until April 3 to comply.
But after negotiations between 17 employees’ representatives, factory management and Thai labor protection officials on Thursday afternoon, the bulk of the workers’ demands were met, said Zin Mar Thet, a labor activist of the Mae Sot-based Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association.
Zin Mar Thet said that the striking workers came up short only on the wage issue. Pay will be raised, but not to the level demanded.
“The increased wages are only 15, 17 and 20 baht per day [depending on an employee’s tenure at the company] to their current wage, which is about 175 baht per day,” she explained.
The owner agreed to give the workers Sundays off, and will allow them to take a maximum of 30 days sick leave annually. Overtime pay, which was previously calculated as 10 percent of workers’ daily salary per hour of additional work, will rise to 12.5 percent, Zin Mar Thet said.
* Burmese Workers in Mae Sot ‘Paid Only Half of Thai Minimum Wage’:
Hundreds of Burmese workers at a garment factory in Mae Sot on the Thai border with Burma have been on strike to try to win the minimum legal wage, said human rights NGOs.
The migrant workers, at a Thai-owned factory producing upmarket “Jack Wolfskin” German brand clothes, are in some cases receiving only half the minimum Thai daily wage of 300 baht (US$9).
Workers identity documents are held by the company, Yuan Jun Garment Limited, 14-hour working days are enforced and compulsory deductions made from wages, said noted activist Andy Hall in an email to The Irrawaddy on behalf of Burmese and Thai NGOs.
read more in Irrawaddy Business Roundup (last item).
17:13:51 local time CAMBODIA
* Labor Activists Call Out Nike, Adidas, Puma Over Faintings
A local human rights group with strong international ties called Friday on Adidas, Nike and Puma to take accountability for recent mass faintings in Phnom Penh factories that produce their sportswear.
“We call on international brands such as Adidas, Puma and Nike to take concrete measures to address wages that currently do not satisfy basic needs nor provide for a life with human dignity,” the Cambodian Legal Education Center (CLEC) said in a statement.
On Friday, 128 garment workers reportedly fainted in two separate factories. This brought to 337 the total cases reported for the week.
The faintings occurred at the Shenzhou, Daqian Textile and New Wide factories in Phnom Penh’s industrial Pur Senchey district. CLEC said that staff at these three factories sew garments for one or all of the foreign sportswear companies.
Joel Preston, a legal consultant for CLEC, said Friday that Nike, Puma and Adidas had an immediate responsibility to the workers that sew their garments.
“These companies have huge financial leverage with the Cambodian government,” Mr. Preston said, citing the $5.5 billion the garment sector injects into the country annually.
“It’s time they took some responsibility,” he said. “We don’t want—and the workers don’t need—words, codes of conduct or guidelines from the brands. We need to see tangible efforts to raise the standard of living.”
Representatives of the three brands fingered in the CLEC statement could not be reached for comment.
In the latest round of faintings on Friday, 60 workers reportedly fell ill at New Wide and 68 fell ill at Shenzhou. It was the third case in a week for each factory.
Van Sou Ieng, chairman of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said the fainting reports were exaggerated and that the brands had no responsibility to factory workers.
* Date set for wage-reform talks:
The first phase of promised minimum wage reform is set to begin later this month, when representatives of workers, employers and the government will hash out ideas on how to set a base salary for the garment sector, in a move meant to avert labour unrest like the kind that rattled the country in January.
In an announcement released on Friday, the Ministry of Labour invited members of its Labour Advisory Committee, union representatives and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) to participate in initial talks scheduled for April 24 and 25.
“In essence, this discussion isn’t something about the figure of the minimum wage, but rather focusing on the principles to be used to set the minimum wage,” said Tun Sophorn, national project director for the International Labour Organization (ILO), which the government commissioned as technical advisers.
Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng enlisted the ILO’s help to put in place a minimum wage-setting mechanism after a nationwide garment worker strike erupted following a ministry decision to raise the figure for the garment sector from $80 (including a $5 health bonus) to $100, rather than the $160 unions demanded.
* Labor Ministry, ILO Set Out Plan for Minimum Wage Reforms:
Facing public pressure from major garment brands and labor unions, the Ministry of Labor and the International Labor Organization (ILO) will cooperate in the coming months to reform the current system of setting the minimum wage in the garment sector.
The reform process will begin with a public seminar planned for April 24 and 25, which will mark the first tripartite meeting between the government, factory owners and union leaders since labor protests were violently suppressed in early January, according to ILO national coordinator Tun Sophorn.
“The aim of the meeting on the 24th and 25th is to have a discussion by all parties on the principles to set the minimum wage, rather than the figure. The purpose is for [the three parties] to set what formula will be used in minimum wage setting or minimum wage adjusting,” Mr. Sophorn said.
The Ministry of Labor released a statement Sunday announcing the seminar and inviting public involvement.
“The seminar will show the risk of setting the lowest minimum wage or the highest and evaluate limits to the minimum wage,” the statement says.
* Vorn Pao Denied Bail for the Fourth Time:
Boeng Kak activist Yorm Bopha is blocked by police as she screams in support of detained labor activists Vorn Pao and Sokun Sombath Piseth outside their bail hearing in Phnom Penh on Friday. (Siv Channa)
Labor leader Vorn Pao was denied bail for the fourth time on Friday, meaning that he and 20 other protesters will remain in a remote Kompong Cham province prison until trial on April 18 for participating in January’s garment factory strikes.
It was the second time he was denied bail by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Last week, the Court of Appeal also denied his bail request, even though Mr. Pao is suffering from health problems.
Mr. Pao, who is president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association, was not present at court Friday. Neither was Sokun Sombath Piseth, a member of the Center for Labor Rights of Cambodia, who was also seeking bail because of injuries sustained when he and Mr. Pao were clubbed and arrested by state forces during the strikes three months ago in Phnom Penh.
Mr. Pao has kidney problems. Mr. Sombath Piseth has a broken hand.
“It is injustice for my son,” said Mr. Piseth’s 53-year-old mother, Pan Sina. “My son has broken his arm, but the director of the Correctional Center said it is not big deal.”
“They did not allow my son to be bailed to get treatment in Thailand, and we have lost hope,” she continued. “We have sufficient evidence to prove that he needs the treatment but the court still denied it.”
* Union leader: Workers to hold protest after New Year:
Labor union leader expressed pleasure and welcomed the study of minimum wage for footwear and garment factory workers. However, he said that the workers will hold protest after the New Year.
Pav Sina, President of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, expressed satisfaction after Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training announced to work with International Labor Organization (ILO) to study the minimum wage for workers.
However, Sina was also unhappy because the ministry would take a lot of time to study and discuss the wage.
* Leaflets get unionist in hot water:
Police in Svay Rieng province yesterday afternoon arrested a union worker who was delivering flyers supporting a stay-at-home strike scheduled to begin after Khmer New Year.
While delivering about 1,100 fliers to union members at Full Fortune Knitting, Kem Chamroeun, a 25-year-old Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) employee, called union president Pav Sina to say that police were following him, Sina said yesterday.
“Kem Chamroeun brought the leaflets about the stay-at-home strike to our units at Full Fortune so they could distribute them to workers tomorrow,” Sina said. “But the authorities stopped and arrested him, taking his phone and leaflets.”
* Rain Mires Massive Khmer New Year Party at Site of Strikes:
Torrential rain on Saturday night ruined a large Khmer New Year staff party and concert at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone (PPSEZ), one of the main sites of the nationwide garment sector strikes in late December and early January.
The event, which organizers hoped would attract 10,000 workers and feature performances by pop star Meas Soksophea and comedian Team Peakmi, was over almost before it started, as a lightning storm just after 8 p.m. sent attendees running for shelter.
The crowd, who had been watching the opening of a beauty competition to win the “Star of PPSEZ” crown, sought cover from the rain in the large field, with most hiding under sheets of plastic or the canopies of merry-go-rounds set up in a small nearby fairground.
|With a lull in the rain at about 9:30 p.m., the event’s M.C. reappeared with the news that the event would restart. Ms. Soksophea had arrived and Mr. Peakmi was 10 minutes away, the M.C. said.
As if on cue, the torrential rains restarted.
The event was finally called off after a third attempt to restart proceedings a half hour later was followed by even more rain. An organizer for the event said that next year’s party would be held in January or February to avoid the rain.
20140404 * More mass fainting occur at Cambodian garment factories:
At least 102 workers fainted at two garment factories in Cambodia Friday morning, a day after about 118 workers fell sick in two other factories, a local police chief said.
Yim Saran, police chief of Phnom Penh City’s Por Senchey district, where the incidents happened, said some 52 workers fainted at New Wide factory and other 50 fell ill at I.C. factory.
“They have been sent to hospitals soon after the incidents,” he told Xinhua. “No one died. Some have recovered after receiving medical treatment and returned home.”
He said insecticide was blamed for the mass fainting at New Wide factory, which has occurred three straight days since Wednesday, while the fainting at I.C. factory was probably caused by poor environment workplace in combination with hot weather.
* Linking the Worst Factories With the Labels:
The building that housed USA Fully Field Garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district stands empty now. The grounds are littered with garbage and boxes full of dusty brand labels that were stitched onto clothes by almost 400 workers before the factory owner fled in December and work ceased.
Discarded amid piles of shredded cloth were labels from Joe Fresh, “Canada’s number one apparel brand,” European fashion house Vero Modo, and Italian sportswear label Givova, which supplies the uniforms for a host of professional football teams as well as Malta’s national team.
The Chinese-owned USA Fully Field was listed as one of the 10 least compliant factories in the Transparency Database published by the International Labor Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) program. The database, launched last month and set to expand throughout the year, exposed a raft of labor law violations within the industry relating to work safety, staff payments and unfair dismissals.
* Garment worker gets six years for beating:
A 20-year-old woman was sentenced by Phnom Penh Municipal Court to six years in prison on Friday for beating and robbing an acquaintance in the capital’s Russey Keo district last year.
In addition to the lengthy jail sentence, El Ror Fi Ah was also fined about $3,750 for attacking fellow garment worker Kim Sorphoan, 19, in a rental room in Russey Keo district, presiding judge Kor Vandy said.
* Co-worker jailed over sex attack:
A garment worker was sentenced to three years’ jail and fined two million riel ($500) for the attempted rape last year of a female co-worker, according to a sentence read on Friday.
Kor Vandy, presiding judge at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, found Kang Sith, 24, guilty of attempting to rape Ouk Sara, 31, in Sen Sok district’s Teuk Thla commune last November.
18:13:51 local time MALAYSIA
* 60,000 Contract Workers Yet To Receive Minimum Wage – MTUC:
More than 60,000 contract workers in schools nationwide have yet to receive minimum wages, said Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) president, Mohd Khalid Atan.
These workers, who included cleaners, gardeners, security guards and traffic wardens, were still being paid old wages averaging between RM400 and RM600 per month, he told Bernama here Friday.
He urged the Education Ministry to look into their plight urgently as they were facing great hardship due to the increasing cost of living.
The minimum wages policy of RM900 per month for Peninsular Malaysia and RM800 per month for Sabah and Sarawak came into effect on Jan 1 2013, but was only fully implemented in January this year.
* Enforce minimum wage law, Education Ministry urged:
The Education Ministry must be responsible for third-party contract workers in schools not earning the minimum RM900 wage monthly, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said yesterday.
MTUC president Khalid Atan, who raised the matter recently, said at least 60,000 workers, mainly locals hired as guards, cleaners and gardeners, in schools had been affected since the policy was implemented last year.
Khalid said the workers only received between RM400 and RM600, which was not enough for them to pull through the month.
“Although the ministry does not directly employ the workers, it gives the authorisation to the third party to hire these workers. Therefore, something should be done to ensure they are not cheated,” he said.
18:13:51 local time INDONESIA
* England’s £90 World Cup shirt made by Nike’s Indonesian workers earning just 30p an hour:
There has been anger in Britain at the price of the dearest version of the new Nike shirt but campaigners overseas point out there is an even bigger scandal involved
With the Three Lions in their hearts and on their chests, thousands of diehard England fans will be roaring on Wayne Rooney and co at the World Cup in Brazil in June.
Many will be decked in the new 2014 England shirt, brought out by Nike for £90 each this week in plenty of time for the tournament. But the reality behind the shirts is as far from the magic of Rio’s Maracanã stadium as can be.
A look at the label reveals the kits are made in poverty-hit Indonesia, where an estimated 171,000 people keep Nike’s huge supply line going in 40 factories.
World Cup shirts are, according to rival French manufacturers Ultra Petita, made for around £4 in Far East countries like Indonesia. The company said it would cost £17 to make the same shirt in Europe.
And while Rooney makes £300,000 a week for kicking a football, those who make the shirt on his back take home the average hourly rate of 5,642 rupiah – just 30p.
Graciela Romero, from anti-poverty charity War on Want, says: “Nike factory workers, struggling to raise their families on far below a living wage, will see the £90 price tag on England’s World Cup shirts as a kick in the teeth for them and their supporters.”
Nike justify the price by pointing to the research and development that goes into the kits and technology that includes using material from eight recycled plastic water bottles in each shirt. A £60 version is also available.
16:13:51 local time BANGLADESH
* Bangladesh garment workers still face dangerous conditions:
Recent reports on building safety and working conditions in Bangladesh reveal that little has changed for tens of thousands of garment workers since last year’s Rana Plaza tragedy at Savar, just outside Dhaka.
Last April 24, over 1,120 people were killed when the shoddy, eight-storey Rana Plaza building, containing garment factories, shops and other businesses, collapsed in one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.
A report published last month by the Bangladesh Accord Foundation (BAF) reveals that major safety and construction flaws, such as lack of adequate fire doors, sprinkler systems and dangerously-high weight loads on buildings, still exist in hundreds of Bangladesh factories.
BAF, which was formed by US and European retailers with the support of the Swiss-based UNI Global Union (UNIGU) and IndustriALL Global Union (IAGU), claims that its inspection program will expose dangerous construction and working conditions in Bangladeshi garment factories.
The organisation, however, only plans to examine about 1,500 of Bangladesh’s 5,000 plants by September, looking for fire, electrical and structural deficiencies. Under its inspection scheme, international retailers and their local contractors will be shielded from legal liability. There is no guarantee that factory owners will rectify any of the identified problems, and they will be notified in advance of the inspections.
Despite the limited number of inspections, BAF teams have already found extensive fire-safety problems, including factory exits locked or used for storage and cracks in building beams. BAF chief safety inspector Brad Loewen said the lack of safety doors remained a common problem throughout Bangladesh.
After months of silence, the Rana Plaza Compensation Coordinating Committee finally announced that it will issue previously promised 50,000-taka ($US644.33) compensation payments by April 15, just nine days before the tragedy’s first anniversary.
The UNIGU and IAGU trade union federations are members of the committee’s trust fund and the UN’s International Labor Organisation is the trustee. While $40 million is needed to pay compensation to the 3,000 workers and the families of those killed in the tragedy, only $8 million has been donated by international retailers. Benetton, the Italian group, has reneged on a promise to compensate victims. Its annual revenue was $US2.8 billion in 2011.
* Family, labour leaders question charge sheet:
Family members and labour rights organisations have protested the charge sheet submitted in Aminul Islam murder case, saying that it does not contain the names of intelligence officials who, they believe, were involved in the killing.
Despite repeated allegations of family members and colleagues, no intelligence agency personnel have been named in the charge sheet of the labour rights activist murder case.
The charge sheet submitted by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to a Tangail court last November has shown Mustafizur Rahman, a source of the National Security Intelligence (NSI), as the prime suspect for Aminul’s murder. Mustafiz has been absconding since the murder.
Though nearly six months have passed since the charge sheet was submitted, the matter came to media’s knowledge only recently. In fact, even Aminul’s family members were not aware of the charge sheet until this correspondent informed them.
Aminul, an organiser of Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidarity (BCWS) for Savar-Ashulia area and also a leader of Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers’ Federation (BGIWF), went missing after he was taken away from his Ashulia office by Mustafizur on April 4, 2012.
* Foreign labour groups for proper probe into Aminul murder:
Five international organisations have appealed to the Prime Minister for a fair investigation into the murder of labour union leader Aminul Islam in 2012.
Committee for Justice for Aminul coordinator, Kalpona Akter, told The Independent, yesterday, that three organisations—Industrial Global Union (IGU), Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and UNI Global Union (UNIGU)—had sent a joint letter to the PM’s official email address on Thursday night.
Two other emails were sent by Washington-based International Labour Rights Forum (ILRF) and Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), yesterday morning, Akter added.
The joint appeal was signed by IGU general secretary Jyrki Raina, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow, and UNIGU general secretary Philip Jennings.
A copy of the email was obtained by The Independent.
They wrote, “Strong evidence indicates that Aminul Islam was targeted for his indefatigable work as a labour organiser and human rights advocate, and that the perpetrators of this crime include members of the government security apparatus.
“We are extremely disappointed that, two years later, so little progress has been made and no one has yet been held accountable. We, therefore, call on the government of Bangladesh to reopen the investigation, to ensure that all the perpetrators are identified, charged and brought to justice.
“At a time when Bangladesh is seeking to regain its duty-free status with the US government for non-RMG exports, the Bangladesh government would do well to address these concerns and demonstrate its commitment to basic human rights and a socially-responsible garment industry by ensuring that Aminul Islam’s murder is fully investigated and his killers punished.”
* This Activist Gave His Life to Sound the Alarm on Bangladesh’s Labor Crisis:
Sometimes the worst disasters come with warning signs, but we realize them only in retrospect. Months before the historic Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911, workers protested oppressive and unsafe working conditions in New York garment factories, but their outcry was continually ignored by employers until the preventable tragedy erupted and extinguished scores of lives.
Fast forward a century to 2012: Roughly a year before Bangladesh was hit with its worst modern industrial disaster, the murder of a trade unionist portended the lethal dangers looming over the country’s booming garment industry.
This month, labor advocates are commemorating the one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed and injured thousands of garment workers and shook the global fashion industry.
And they’re also mourning the two-year anniversary of the death of Aminul Islam, which should have been seen as an early sign of the human rights crisis roiling in Bangladesh’s factories.
Islam’s murder was emblematic of the oppression besieging Bangladesh’s labor movement, as well as the collusion between the state and the booming garment export industry.
He was a prominent advocate for workers in the factories of the Savar and Ashulia areas of Dhaka and an organizer with the internationally-renowned Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS). On the eve of his death, he was helping to organize workers embroiled in a labor dispute with suppliers for global brands like American Eagle.
* Int’l TUs call to reopen Aminul murder probe:
Leaders of three global trade unions (TUs) have expressed their resentment over progress in the labour leader Aminul Islam’s murder case.
They have called upon Bangladesh’s Prime Minister to reopen investigations into the killing incident.
“We are extremely disappointed that two years later, so little progress has been made and no one has yet been held accountable,” they said in a joint letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Thursday.
Signed by general secretaries of International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), UNI Global Union, and IndustriAll Global Union, the letter further said: “We, therefore, call on the government of Bangladesh to reopen the investigation to ensure that all of the perpetrators are identified, charged and brought to justice.” At a time when Bangladesh is seeking to regain its duty-free status with the US government for non-RMG exports, while maintaining the duty-free status with the EU, the Bangladesh government would do well to address these concerns and demonstrate its commitment to basic human rights and a socially-responsible garment industry by ensuring that Mr. Islam’s murder is fully investigated and his killers prosecuted, the letter mentioned.
* Aminul Islam’s brutal murder:
The death of labour leader and trade unionist Aminual Islam has drawn attention from international media. Aminual was president of a section of the Bangladesh Garments & Industrial Workers Federation and a leader of the Bangladesh Centre of Worker Solidarity and advocated improved working conditions and higher wages in 2010.
Despite passing two years, his murder has remained shrouded in mystery and the international human and labour rights groups have expressed their dissatisfaction over the trial process. If the murder case is not solved and the perpetrators are unpunished, the ruling party cannot avoid its responsibility.
I hope the government will be honest enough in solving this murder case.
Our law enforcing agency is capable of solving critical cases but it is surprisingly showing clumsiness in this case. Bangladesh can seek help from foreign investigators to solve this mystery, if necessary.
* KALPONA AKTER – A Call for Solidarity with Bangladeshi Garment Workers:
The fire at the Tazreen garment factory in 2012 killed more than 110 workers. In 2013, the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory killed more than 1,100 workers, and injured 1,600 more.
These were not the first, nor, likely, the last tragedies to take place in Bangladesh’s garment industry. But their scale drew international attention, once again, to the working conditions and the exploitation of workers in Bangladesh.
Former garment worker Kalpona Akter is executive director of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity, which conducts labour rights and leadership training for garment workers, and advocates for their rights. Late last year, she visited major Canadian cities while on a national tour co-sponsored by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and the Maquila Solidarity Network.
With the holiday season approaching, Akter and her supporters recognized an opportunity to help educate consumers about what they were buying and who was producing it. “I’m going to connect you with those human faces who make clothes for you,” she told a Toronto audience. “You are on the top of the supply chain and the worker is at the bottom, and you two have a relationship that you may not know about.”
While in Toronto, the warm and engaging Akter sat down with me to share her experience of union organizing in Bangladesh and to offer her own hopes and challenges to Canadians around the role we might play in bringing greater justice and dignity to the lives of Bangladesh’s garment workers.
read the interview here.
* 10 things that have changed since the Bangladesh factory collapse:
Due to recent initiatives, within the next decade there will be nowhere left for unethical companies or suppliers to hide
On 24 April 2013, 1,200 people died in Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, in the worst single incident in the history of the apparel industry. The collapse was caused by the illegal addition of two floors on what was already likely a substandard building.
Often it takes a tragedy to deliver real change. The Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York in 1911, for example, transformed the US industrial landscape and resulted in a dramatic improvement in worker safety.
Did the unspeakable tragedy at Rana Plaza lead to the change we would hope? Almost one year later, many things have changed for the better:
1. Consumers are now far more aware of issues in the supply chain. Campaign organisations are playing a key role. Social media has shone a spotlight on this problem like never before.
2. More than 150 companies have signed the Accord on Fire and Safety in Bangladesh. This is a legally binding agreement between companies and unions where companies commit to independent inspections and transparent reporting, including developing strong worker-management committees in factories. Brands have committed to working with factories to fix the problems, and where necessary, contributing financially to do so. Meanwhile, 27 US brands have also set up their own non-legally binding industry-led version, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. Thanks to the efforts the accord, the alliance and the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, 675 factories have been inspected.
3. A number of brands operating in Rana Plaza have paid compensation to the victims, though many still haven’t.
4. The US has suspended, pending improvement in workers rights, Bangladesh’s preferred status under a trade policy known as the generalised system of preferences, affecting a range of non-garment exports. This is a powerful driver of change.
5. Membership organisations for garment workers, such as the Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidarity, which had been targeted by the Bangladesh government are now allowed to operate freely.
6. There is an understanding that a different set of skills and technical expertise is required to deal with fire, electrical and structural safety issues. Previously, there was little capacity in these areas.
7. The Bangladesh government has delivered a 77% increase in the minimum wage to $68 per month for garment workers.
8. Bangladeshi factory owners now recognise they face a threat to the “made in Bangladesh” brand if things do not change.
9. Brands are starting to shift from short-term transactions to fewer but more strategic, lengthier partnerships with manufacturers.
10. New investment models are being developed to upgrade factories in Bangladesh and beyond, making them productive, ethical and sustainable while lowering risk.
* 1200 sub-contracting RMG units yet to implement new wages:
The country’s 1,200 sub-contracting readymade garment (RMG) factories are yet to implement the new wage board even after more than four months of its announcement, which could spark violence in apparel industrial hubs, officials said.
The state-run Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment (DIFE) said nearly 99 per cent of the sub-contracting factories did not implement the new wages announced by a government-formed wage board in November last year.
The DIFE officials said implementation of the new minimum wage in sub-contracting garment factories located in Dhaka and Chittagong is very low— less then 1.0 per cent.
According to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), more then 1200 garment factories do subcontract jobs employing nearly 0.7 million workers.
“Almost all of sub-contracting RMG factories are yet to implement the new wage structure for workers,” DIFE Inspector General (IG) Syed Ahmad told the FE.
* Govt moves to form lawyers’ panel for protecting RMG workers’ rights:
The government has moved to form a panel of the lawyers for the workers, especially in the readymade garment (RMG) sector, to protect their legal rights, sources said.
Formation of the lawyers’ panel for the workers will facilitate, among others, accelerate disposal of the cases filed by them with the concerned labour courts, ensuring quick legal redress in respect of violation of their rights, they said.
“It (formation of the panel) will be a milestone step in providing legal aid services to the workers and disposing of their cases quickly, ensuring their legal rights,” Moshiur Rahman Chowdhury, law officer of the Labour Legal Aid Cell (LLAC), told the FE.
The LLAC is the country’s first government agency that is dedicated to provide legal aid services to the workers free of cost. It was formed after the devastating Rana Plaza collapse last year under the National Legal Aid Services Organisation (NLASO) of the Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs ministry.
The Labour Legal Aid Cell recently took the move to form the lawyers’ panel under the cell to protect rights of the workers.
* ILO urges global action on decent working conditions:
International Labour Organisation (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder said Rana Plaza collapse is a call for global action on decent working conditions.
He said this at a high-level meeting in Copenhagen on garment and textiles production in Bangladesh, according to an ILO press statement on Thursday.
The Rana Plaza building collapse in April 2013 claimed the lives of over 1,100 factory workers and injured many more.
“We cannot wait for future disasters before we act to make the worlds’ factories and workplaces safe and decent,” said Ryder at the event – Post Rana Plaza: a Vision for the Future – organized by the Government of Denmark in Copenhagen.
Ryder highlighted the actions taken with the Government of Bangladesh and employers’ and workers’ organisations, including building and fire safety assessments, labour inspections, and occupational safety and health, rehabilitation and skills training for survivors.
read more. & read more.
* Six-storied building in Ctg with four RMG units found faulty:
Production in four garment factories housed in a six-storey building in Chittagong was suspended serious structural flaws were found in one of the factories. The suspension followed a directive of the official review committee on Saturday, sources involved with the process said.
Earlier, the Accord’s inspection teams found structural flaws in the Men’s Apparel and recommended immediate evacuation of the unit for the sake of workers’ safety.
Following the Accord’s recommendations, the committee comprising representatives from the government, the Accord, the Alliance, the BUET, the BGMEA and the BKMEA started scrutinising those.
“We visited the Men’s Apparel Saturday and directed the authority to carry out a detailed engineering assessment within two weeks,” Syed Ahmed, Inspector General of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments told the FE.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Catch-22 encountered in RMG safety implementation:
The act of righting a wrong, on occasions, tends to create problem/s if the prevailing circumstances are hostile to a change for the better.
This is found particularly true in the case of the ongoing efforts to remove structural and other safety flaws in a number of apparel units in the country. Correction of such flaws would necessitate suspension of work, leading to joblessness of many existing workers. Another issue raised by the apparel unit owners relates to the source of fund for carrying out the necessary repair work.
Last month, according to a report published in this paper late last week, an inspection team comprising representatives of the Accord, a platform of international buyers and the official review committee had declared three apparel units temporarily closed following detection of some structural flaws in the buildings where they were housed.
The factories are still closed and several thousand workers of these factories are jobless. The owners, who had paid wages for three and a half months while declaring the work suspension, say they do not have the ability to pay workers’ wages if their factories continue to remain closed. But the Accord wants the owners to pay wages to the workers as long as the factories remain temporarily shut.
It is most likely that structural and safety flaws would be detected in some more factories necessitating their work suspension. This has become a major concern for both workers and factory owners. A number of labour leaders and owners are worried over joblessness, temporary or otherwise, that might trigger unrest among workers.
* Alliance gets new backers:
About 12 Bangladeshi and international leaders have joined an apparel retailer group’s initiative aiming to aid its efforts to improve safety for Bangladeshi workers.
The ready-made garment (RMG) retailers’ group Alliance has been instrumental in shaping up the initiative, Bangladesh Worker Safety Board of Advisers, a statement issued by the platform says.
The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety Board of Advisors includes Heather Cruden, Canadian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, three local labour leaders-Sirajul Islam Rony, president of Bangladesh National Garment Workers, Employees League (BNGWEL), Sukkur Mahmud, president of Executive Committee of the National Labour League (Jatiya Srmaik League), and Wajedul Islam Khan, general secretary of Bangladesh Trade Union Kendra.
* BGMEA for duty-free import of fire safety equipment:
The duty-free import will help them ensure safety and security of the RMG workers by installing safety equipment as per the requirement of the global retailers
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) wants the government to allow duty-free import of fire safety equipment in the next budget.
It will place their demands at pre-budget meet with National Board of Revenue, said BGMEA leaders.
They said the duty-free import will help them ensure safety and security of the RMG workers by installing safety equipment as per the requirement of the global retailers.
* RMG workers vandalise two factories for arrears in Chittagong:
The injured were rushed to local dispensaries for primary medical treatment
At least 10 workers of two readymade garment (RMG) factories were allegedly beaten by goons backed by the factory owner when they were staging demonstration for their outstanding salaries in Chittagong city’s Aturar Dipo area yesterday.
In reaction, the agitated workers of Day Apparels and Day Fashions, owned by Abdul Wahab, vandalised most of the machineries and windowpanes of the factories and threw huge quantity of fabrics out of the factories.
Harun-ur-Rashid Hajaree, deputy commissioner (DC) of Chittagong Metropolitan Police (North Zone) told the Dhaka Tribune that around 1,500 workers blockaded the city road suspending all vehicular movement for an hour in front of their factories at 1:00pm yesterday to press home their demands.
Police rushed to the spot on information and dispersed the workers from the road while officials of Bangladesh Garments Manufactures and Exporters Association (BGMEA), factories owner and workers sat in a meeting over the issue.
But, about 50 men, allegedly employed by the owner, attacked on the awaiting workers in the fourth floor of the factories, leaving some 10 workers, including three women, injured, claimed the agitated workers.
* Ctg garment workers go berserk for dues:
Several hundred workers of two garment factories in Chittagong yesterday blockaded a road and vandalised their factories, demanding dues of March, as the owner has recently declared closure of the factories to meet the buyers’ demand.
The workers belong to Day Apparels Ltd and Day Fashions Ltd, situated on the third, fourth and fifth floors of a five-storey building in the city’s Muradpur.
The authorities decided to close the factories, as its buyers asked them to shift the factories from building due to poor structure, said Mohammed Mainuddin, joint secretary of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Chittagong.
According to the workers, the factory authorities locked the unit on the fourth floor and asked the workers to go home when they went out for lunch.
The workers feared that the authorities would not pay their salaries once the factories employing around 1,200 people are closed. When workers of the third and fifth floors of the factories heard about the chaos and closure of the fourth floor’s unit, they too joined the demonstration and blocked the Chittagong-Hathazari Road from 1:30pm to 2:00pm.
* Due wages- RMG workers’ demo-siege in Savar:
Workers of Adorn Knitwear Limited staged demonstration and laid a siegeto the factory at Chowrongi Super Market of Savar Bazar, on outskirt of
capital Dhaka, Sunday morning demanding payment of the due wages.
Protesters and Industrial Police sources said workers came to the
factory to join the work in the morning as usual and found the factory’s
main entrance locked. Then they began demonstration as their wages for
couple of months remained unpaid.
* Garment factory owner killed in Ashulia:
Police said they detained Azam’s business partner Golam Mostofa in connection with the killing
One of the owners of a garment factory in the industrial zone of Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital was hacked to death inside the factory by some unidentified assailants last night.
The deceased was Md Azam, a 30-year-old businessman killed in the office room of his factory – Jubayer Cap Company Ltd – located on the 2nd floor of Bhai Bhai Super Market in Ashulia Palli Bidyut area.
Police said they detained Azam’s business partner Golam Mostofa in connection with the killing.
The detainee, however, denied the allegation against him and his involvement in the murder.
Mostofa, rather, told police that while Azam and he had been talking together in the factory office, some masked men entered there and hit Azam in the head and later hacked him to death.
They alleged that Mostofa along with his cohorts were locked into an altercation with Azam over a business-related matter, and they left the office after killing Azam and locking the door from outside.
Some of the workers first saw Azam killed and later informed police, who recovered the body and took it to Ashulia police station.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Garment success will erode without better safety records:
British minister Alan Duncan urges Bangladesh to take factory standards to next level
Bangladesh will go a long way if it improves standards in the apparel industry. However, if it stumbles, the industry will shrink and its contacts will shift to other countries such as Nepal, Myanmar, China and India.
These are the views of the UK government on the Bangladesh garment industry, which is under pressure from the government and buyers in the West to improve working conditions in the factories.
Alan Duncan, UK minister of state for international development, shared these views in an interview with The Daily Star at the British High Commission last week during a three-day visit to Bangladesh.
“The Rana Plaza collapse was a wakeup call. Bangladesh has to be recognised as a high-standard garment manufacturing country and if that happens, the industry will never go backwards.”
The minister visited Dhaka to check progress in health and safety standards in the garment industry and to see how important the sector is for the economic and social development of workers in Bangladesh, including the number of women it employs.
* Garment exports to Japan on the rise:
Garment export to Japan is on the rise thanks to the Far East island nation’s attempts to reduce its import dependency on China.
As part of the move, the country’s garment manufacturers have been exempt from paying the 17 percent duty upon entry to Japan.
In fiscal 2012-13, the country exported $478.48 million worth of garment products to Japan, up 18.5 percent year-on-year, according to data from Export Promotion Bureau.
* Compensation only after tanneries relocate: Amu:
Industries minister Amir Hossain Amu on Sunday said the government would disburse money from the Tk 250 crore compensation funds only after the hazardous tanneries relocated outside the capital.
He cleared the government’s position while speaking at a roundtable on the relocation of tanneries arranged by the Daily Star in the city.
The government set aside Tk 250 crore as compensation package after the businessmen tagged the condition with the relocation of the tanneries from the city’s Hazaribagh to the proposed new site at Savar.
The government undertook the relocation project in 2003 to save the River Buriganga that received 25,000 tonnes of untreated wastes and 60,000 cubic metres of toxic chemicals everyday from around 250 tanneries.
* Propaganda against leather industry goes on, says Amu:
Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu said propaganda against Bangladeshi leather industry is going on in the export market to tarnish the image of the country’s leather industry.
“Regarding environment pollution, compliance issue and child labour, some vested quarters are carrying out propaganda against the country’s potential leather industry, which may pose a negative impact in the country’s leather export,” Amu said. The minister came up with the observation while speaking as the chief guest at a roundtable meeting on “Tannery Relocation: Progress and Possibility” at the auditorium of Daily Star Bhaban in the capital yesterday.
* Leather sector eyes $5b from exports:
Analysts stress environment and compliance issues
Bangladesh will be able to earn at least $5 billion in exports from leather, leather goods and footwear in the next decade if it can properly address health, environment and compliance issues in the sector, analysts said yesterday.
“We have all the elements, such as cheap labour and raw materials to grab more orders,” Bazlul Haque Khondker, an economics professor at Dhaka University, said at a roundtable..
But the country lacks environment friendly tanneries to process leather, posing as the main bottleneck to increasing exports, he said.
“So, it is an urgent requirement to start relocation of hazardous tanneries from Hazaribagh to Savar.”
Bangladesh now exports leather, leather goods and footwear worth around $1 billion a year, which accounts for only 0.005 percent of the global market worth $230 billion, said Shaheen Ahmed, chairman of Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA).
The leather industry stakeholders were speaking at the roundtable — Relocation of Tannery: Progress and Prospect, co-organised by BTA, Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leathergoods and Footwear Exporters’ Association, in partnership with the Asia Foundation and South Asian Network on Economic Modelling (SANEM) at The Daily Star Centre.
THE TAZREEN FACTORY FIRE
* Families of affected workers hold rally:
The families of the affected workers of Tazreen Fashion Limited on Saturday at a protest rally in the capital demanded proper compensations for the workers killed and wounded in the fire at the factory.
More than 111 workers were killed and several hundred wounded at a fire at the garment factory at Nishchintapur in Savar on November 24, 2012.
More 100 injured workers and family members of the workers killed took part in the protest rally in front of the National Press Club.
Jarina Khatun, an injured worker demanded exemplary punishments for the owners of the Tazreen, responsible for the fire and demanded proper compensations for the family members of the affected workers.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* List of 146 missing workers handed over to minister:
Bangladesh Garment Sramik Sanghati on Thursday handed over a list of 146 missing Rana Plaza workers to the state minister for labour Md Mujibul Haque at the ministry and demanded that April 24 should be declared as ‘workers safety and mourning day’.
The organisation published the list on March 29 and demanded that the government should pay compensations immediately declaring the missing workers dead.
The eight-member team led by Taslima Akhter, coordinator of the apparel workers’ organisation, placed their seven-point demand including publication of a full list of the workers killed, wounded or missing, identifying the remains of the workers found later and the graves according to the DNA reports, giving adequate compensation, cancellation of the bail of the building owner Sohel Rana and exemplary punishment for the people responsible for the building collapse.
Garment Sramik Sanghati member-secretary Julhasnain Babu, central leaders Harunur Rashid Mahmud and Dipak Roy, among others, attended the programme.
15:43:51 local time INDIA
20140404 * More powerloom workers on warpath for wage hike:
Production of unfinished fabrics in the country’s biggest man-made fabric (MMF) industry here may get hit as textile workers and powerloom weavers are on a collision course over the former’s demand for a wage hike.
More than 1,200 weaving units housing around 12,000 powerloom machines have come to a grinding halt in Pandesara as the textile workers have struck work for wage hike for the past two days.
Industry sources said there is a severe shortage of workers in the weaving units as more than 40 per cent of migrant workers from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha are yet to return from their Holi vacation.
The present workforce is made to work for extra hours without any wage hike. Two weeks ago, textile workers in Bhestan and Unn had struck work in more than 1,500 weaving units. After a week-long strike, the weavers accepted their demands by increasing the wages by around 25 paise per metre.
There are around 6.5 lakh powerloom machines installed in areas like Pandesara, Udhna, Limbayat, Sachin, Ved Road, Katargam and Varachha. The daily production of unfinished fabric is around 3 crore metre.
* Garment brands not transparent on tackling bonded labour in India:
Most Dutch and international companies importing garments from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu refuse to be transparent about if and how they tackle bonded labour at their suppliers.
An estimated 100,000 young children and teenage girls are victims of ‘bonded labour’ or ‘modern slavery’. These girls – mostly Dalit (‘outcaste’) – live in hostels, with little freedom of movement, underpaid for long working-days and working under unhealthy conditions.
This is an important conclusion of the paper Small Steps, Big Challenges – Update on (tackling) exploitation of girls and young women in the garment supply chain of South India that FNV Mondiaal (international department of Dutch trade union confederation) and the India Committee of the Netherlands have just published. The report discusses the current situation in Tamil Nadu, the limited improvements after previous reports and the responses of 21 Dutch and international garment brands on the question of what they do to combat the abuses. It also discusses the activities of various joint initiatives by companies and other organisations.
Hardly any supply chain transparency
Of the 21 garment companies approached only 8 have responded.
These were HEMA (Dutch), Impala Loft (Germany), O’Neill Europe, Migros (Switzerland) PVH/Tommy Hilfiger Europe, Scotch and Soda (Dutch), Van den Broek (Dutch) and Zeeman (Dutch). Companies that were contacted but have not reacted at all are Abercombie & Fitch (USA), Carodel (Belgium), Crew Clothing (UK), IKEA NL, LPP (Poland), Kiddo Fashion (Dutch), Teidem (Dutch), Sorbo Fashion (Dutch), TDP Textiles (UK), Tumble ‘N Dry (Dutch)and Walmart (USA).
Six companies acknowledge that violations of labour rights take place in Tamil Nadu, but only PVH/Tommy Hilfiger and Migros admit that bonded labour – in the form of the Sumangali Scheme (see below) – existed in their production chain. HEMA states it cannot share the information, but nevertheless emphasizes the importance of supply chain transparency. Apart from that, none of the contacted companies publish their list of suppliers, like e.g. Nike, Patagonia and H&M do. Nor did any of these companies consult relevant local organizations in India.
read more & download here.
* Textile industry comes to halt, output hit:
The ongoing agitation by textile workers over wage hike for the past three days in powerloom units in Pandesara has spread to Udhna and Bhatar industrial areas, severely affecting production in the country’s biggest man-made fabric (MMF) hub in the city.
At least one lakh powerloom machines have come to a grinding halt in Udhna and Bhatar. Some of the workers leading the agitation have started moving around in other industrial areas of the city to garner support for the agitation. Industry sources said daily production of more than 1.5 crore metre of unfinished fabric has stopped completely.
Federation of Surat Textile Traders Association’s (FOSTTA) former president Devkishan Manghani said, “There is going to be an acute shortage of unfinished fabrics in the next few days as many weaving units are closed. This will increase grey fabric prices, which will ultimately be passed on to the traders.”
* Proposal to combine allowances with basic pay rejected; trade unions to
approach Election Commission:
Trade unions will approach the Election Commission against the government decision to reject the proposal to club allowances with basic pay for PF deductions.In a letter last week, the Labour Ministry has asked the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) not to go ahead with clubbing wages with basic pay.
The EPFO will soon issue a notification in this regard. “We will definitely protest against this anti-worker move. We will soon write about this to the Election Commission as well as the Labour Ministry,” All-India Trade Union Congress D L Sachdev told PTI.
“The government cannot do this as model code of conduct is in force. Splitting of wages has been a problem for a long time. Employers split wages into allowances to reduce their PF liability,” Sachdev, who is also an EPFO trustee, said.
* Pandesara units to use recycled water now:
Over 110 textile processing units in the city’s biggest GIDC industrial area would start receiving around 40 million litres per day (MLD) of recycled water from Surat Municipal Corporation’s (SMC) Tertiary Treatment Plant (TTP) at Bamroli by this month-end.
Pandesara GIDC would thus become the first in the country to use recycled water for processing unfinished synthetic fabrics, including saris and dress materials.
At present, the textile processing units in Pandesara are being supplied around 60 MLD of potable water drawn from Tapi river on a daily basis. This year, the processing units broke all the past records of the last one-and-a-half-decade by consuming water worth Rs 52 crore in 2013-14.
* Pakistani textile exhibition, a big draw in Mumbai:
A hundred Pakistani textile companies, including top brands such as Khaadi, Ittehad, Gul Ahmed and Alkaram and Lala Textile, are showcasing their products at an exhibition in Mumbai that is attracting large crowds, especially women.
The Made in Pakistan Expo 2014, the first solo exhibition of Pakistani textiles, was inaugurated by Abdul Basit Khan, Pakistan’s new High Commissioner in India, and Kamal Morarka, Chairman, World Trade Centre, Mumbai, on Friday. The exhibition is on till Monday.
“I like Pakistani lawn suits and have come here to buy as many as I can. They are different and make you special in a gathering,” said Aditi from Tardeo, South Mumbai. Word of mouth publicity has helped people find their way to the exhibition where leading Pakistani brands in textile fabric, fashion garments, lawn print suits (stitched and unstitched), designer footwear, onyx and herbal teas are on offer.
15:13:51 local time PAKISTAN
* Labour leaders demand reforms to benefit workers:
The Pakistan Workers Confederation, Punjab, has demanded the government introduce far-reaching economic and social reforms to benefit labourers.
Labour leaders demanded this in a meeting held at Bakhtiar Labour Hall on Sunday.Amongst the demands made to the government during the meeting were: formulation of a policy to decrease price hike of essential commodities and unemployment; a review of privatisation of national public utilities, including electricity, gas and railways; a tripartite labour conference to decide a provincial labour policy; increase in the wages and pensions of workers of government departments, autonomous bodies and private sector in accordance with the recent inflation trends.
Special measures to end child abuse and bonded labour and violence against women were also demanded.
They demanded enforcement of labour laws in conformity with ILO Conventions ratified by the government of Pakistan, ensuring safe working conditions and prevention of occupational diseases.
The labour leaders demanded the government fill vacant posts of members of National Industrial Relations Commission in Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi, Islamabad, Quetta, lying vacant for a considerable period causing delay in dispensation of justice to workers.
* Minister dashes to Lahore to pacify textile mill-owners:
Textile Minister Abbas Khan Afridi has to dash to Lahore to pacify the textile mill-owners that were showing signs of distress after lower gas supplies in summer than winter and unchecked dumping of Indian yarn in the Pakistani market, official sources said on Friday.
Sources in the textile industry said that 10 spinning mills that do not have gas supply facility have closed down in Punjab, as producing yarn from Rs16 per unit power supplied by the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) was not feasible.
Making yarn was nonviable even for domestic markets because mills in other three provinces produce the same yarn from gas-run generators that costs Rs7 per unit, a mill-owner said.
* APTMA urges Govt to hold compatible regional markets:
Muhammad Yasin Siddik, Chairman, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has urged upon the government to make cost of doing business of the export oriented industry compatible with the regional competitors like, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Sri-Lanka.
In a statement issued to the press, Yasin Siddik said that an important component of total business costs is the cost related to the socio-economic environment in which the business operates.
Due to inefficient and unfriendly socio-economic environment, the cost of operating a business in Pakistan is considerably high. Consequently, Pakistani businesses are at a comparative disadvantage in respect of operating costs as compared to their competitors in the region.
In spite of continuous representations by APTMA to the Government Policy Makers and Top Executives, no worthwhile effort has been made towards reducing the high cost of doing business in Pakistan, he added.
* Aptma plea to reduce cost of doing business:
The All-Pakistan Textile Mills Association has urged the government to make cost of doing business of export-oriented industry compatible with the regional competitors, like India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
In a statement, Aptma chairman Yasin Siddik said that an important component of total business costs is the cost related to socio-economic environment in which business operates.
Due to inefficient and unfriendly socio-economic environment, the cost of operating business in Pakistan is considerably high.
Consequently, he said Pakistani businesses are at a comparative disadvantage in respect of operating costs as compared to their competitors in the region.
read more. & read more.
* Textile industry: Govt vows smooth energy supply to support exports:
Federal Minister of Textile Abbas Khan Afridi has acknowledged that the government has no choice but to ensure smooth gas and power supply to textile mills in an effort to help maintain the 15% growth in exports that the industry has been posting since January.
Speaking to members of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) here on Saturday, he said the government was fully aware of the issues faced by the sector – top of them was gas and power supply – and it would resolve the matter immediately in consultation with the industries.
* Punjab textile units assured of gas supply:
A summary to provide uninterrupted gas supply throughout the week to Punjab-based textile industry has been forwarded to the cabinet for approval, Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi said on Saturday.
“A decision in this regard is likely soon,” the minister told newsmen after a meeting with the office-bearers of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma).
The government was contemplating on making closed textile units operational to utilise their production capacity. “We continued providing gas to the textile sector in winter and there had been 15 per cent increase in the textile exports during the last three months or so. The sector registered an 8pc increase in exports during the last three years,” he said. The textile sector had not been taken care of in the past though it had been contributing 45pc to the total exports and providing jobs to 40pc of the country’s workforce.
The textile industry required energy on priority basis as the sector has not been achieving but surpassing export targets for the last three years, Mr Afridi said, assuring Aptma officials that he would take up with the prime minister issues confronting the sector, especially the energy shortage.
* Full support to textile industry for energy supplies: Afridi:
Fixes export target of additional $2bn in coming year
Ministry of Textile Industry would never like that 15 percent export growth achieved by the textile sector in February 2014 to fall.
Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Shah Afridi addressing All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA)’s members said the government would not let the textile industry to shut on account of energy constraints. The government has fixed the goal of exports by $2 billion in the coming year.
He said his Ministry would ensure provision of needed gas and electricity to the industry on priority basis, for which a summary has already been moved for consideration of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC).
He appreciated APTMA’s role in institutionalising the textile industry and for creating necessary linkages and for providing a platform for coordination between the government and the industry.
APTMA is appreciatable for its support for textile education and the Better Cotton Initiative of the government. Our industry need to work very hard and gear-up to compete with the world in general and comparative economies in particular, he added.
The government would be forthcoming and would support the textile industry as a main stay of industrial activities in country.
He said no textile unit would be allowed to shut on account of energy constraints and nor would the 15 percent increase in exports during February 2014 would be allowed to fall.
He said his purpose visiting APTMA office was to get first hand know how of the issues confronting textile industry and to comprehend and then support initiatives to achieve the full potential of the industry.
* Textile industry: Prime Minister urged to ensure uninterrupted gas supply:
Punjab Business Forum’s Multan chapter has appealed to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Federal Minister for natural resources to ensure at least six days a week uninterrupted gas supply to textile industry to meet the demand of European Union markets and other western countries.
Reacting strongly to the government’s act of not relaxing gas supply to the industry, President of the PBF M. Anees Khawaja, who is also president of D G Khan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and In-charge of APTMA, Multan, described it `anti-industry’ and `anti-worker’ approach.
* Painful loss for textile industry:
There was a time when the Pakistan textile industry was healthy, vibrant and profitable.
It is now a shadow of its former self and many of the textile manufacturers have relocated, some to Bangladesh. In large part, the reason for their flight was the ongoing power crisis, with shortages of both gas and electricity cutting the throats of the manufacturers.
Now there is more bad news — the US licensor of Walt Disney has dropped Pakistan from the list of “Permitted Sourcing Countries” as of April 1, 2014. The Walt Disney empire is vast with global reach and immense purchasing power, particularly of cotton goods made in Pakistan.
It has now banned any imports from us as we have failed to satisfy the Disney purchasers with regard to our goods as to the governance standards and working conditions within the cotton manufacturing industry; and this is going to cost us in the region of $200 million annually.
Globally there is a tightening of standards by purchasing/importing states of cotton goods and garments. A series of factory fires and building collapses in the subcontinent has brought calls for an improvement of working conditions and greater attention to matters of health and safety.
Pakistan was already on a “watch list” and Bangladesh had received an even stiffer warning than had Pakistan, but was able to avoid a ban by getting a waiver as it signed up to the ILO/IFC “Better work programme” that allows close monitoring as part of a social audit.
* Pak govt releases funds for textile Mark Up Support scheme:
* Government asked to rescue ginning sector:
Pakistan will have to spend $156.8 billion to import 14 million bales of cotton if the farmers did not cultivate the crop as a protest against unfair return of their produce.
This was stated on Sunday at a press conference jointly addressed by Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association’s (PCGA) vice chairman, Aasim Saeed Sheikh; Chairman of FPCCI’s managing committee on cotton, Haji Muhammad Akram and former office-bearers of the Association, Sheikh Muhammad Saeed, Shehzad Ali Khan and Zaid Ali Khan.
They warned that if the country will not import cotton then its textile and spinning mills, ginning factories would be closed and Pakistan will have to import cloth, garments, bed-wear, towels and other textile products, besides at least one million people would be rendered jobless.
* Sewing machines donated to 2,200 needy women:
International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) Saturday donated 2200 sewing machines for onward distribution among poor and internally displaced women of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Gilgit?Baltistan (GB) and the Punjab.
The sewing machines were handed over by Aljourah Abdullah A Alarifi, wife of Saudi ambassador in Pakistan here at IIRO office.
The ceremony was also attended by Managing Director Pakistan Baitul Mal Barrister Abid Waheed Shiekh Social Welfare Minister AJK Farzana Yaqoob, ex?Minister KP Sittara Imran, Ambassador of Lebanon and Regional Director General IIRO Dr Abda Bin Muhammad Ibrahim Atteen. Special delegate from Saudia Arabia Sheikh Al Zanati also attended the ceremony.
Addressing the ceremony Aljourah Abdullah A Alarifi lauded the efforts of IIRO and said that these were the right steps for empowerment of women. She said that for the first time, IIRO initiated
sewing machine project to help poor women and it would help people alot.She said this project will lead the society of the poor needy ones to a better tomorrow and enhance their financial status.
15:13:51 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Uzbek firm to begin production of medical textiles:
* Textile and apparel constitutes 32% of Tunisian industry:
There are a total of 1,826 textile and garment manufacturing units in Tunisia, which make up 32 percent of the total 5,701 industrial units in the country that employ 10 or more people, according to the recent statistics released by the Agency for the Promotion of Industry and Innovation.
* Hard-hitting CCC report names and shames brands for inaction on wages:
The Clean Clothes Campaign this week published a high quality report “Tailored Wages”, looking at the issue of living wages in the international clothing supply chain.
Research compiled over nine months was used to profile 50 leading European brands. The report could not award the “green” grade to any of the brands, meaning no company was found to be doing sufficient work to ensure that those workers making their clothes receive a wage large enough to live in dignity.
The four brands identified as having started innovative work toward making a living wage a reality were Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Switcher and Tchibo.
Download the Tailored Wages report in full here.
Report coordinator Anna McMullen said:
“A colour-coded assessment was developed to show the progress of each company towards a living wage. This assessment takes into account a variety of work areas which we feel are significant for achievement of the living wage goal: worker empowerment, commitment and practice, collaborative approach and strategy towards a living wage.”
The CCC says:
“In a handful of cases we were pleased to notice some interesting work initiated by brands that was actually increasing real wages in workers’ pockets.
However, overall, we were disappointed that progress is really still only at the trial stage, and work that is actually putting wages up is still rare. There are very few retailers who have tried to truly ingrain throughout their business work towards a living wage.”
* Global cotton consumption growth to fall 1.4pc:
Global cotton consumption growth will slow down by 1.4 percent in 2013-14 due to lower consumption by China, the largest apparel maker in the world.
Cotton consumption growth will remain relatively firm in Asia this fiscal year, while its global consumption will increase a bit in 2014-15, according to the latest report of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
The EIU forecasts are based on the assumption that China will abandon its current policy of stockpiling cotton in 2014-15, according to the report.
The EIU is the research and analysis division of the Economist Group, the sister company to The Economist newspaper.
China’s policy—initiated in 2011—of stockpiling domestic production and its cotton imports support global prices to spiral, but arguably undermine cotton’s relative competitiveness, which accelerated a shift towards manmade fibres, the report said.
“We expect the new policy to have an impact on demand in the medium term, but not to affect our current demand forecasts,” the report said.