In the news 10 April 2014

16:21:12 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Workers hit gov’t think-tank’s pitch for wage cuts:

Workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) picketed the office of a government-linked think-tank in Makati City this morning to condemn its statement that the minimum wage prevents Filipinos from being employed and therefore contributes to poverty.

The labor group said the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) incorrectly blames the minimum wage for worsening unemployment and poverty and provides big capitalists with an excuse to cut workers’ wages.

After the PIDS made the statement at its “Jobs Expansion and Development Initiative” forum last Thursday, the Employers Confederation of the Philippines immediately proposed that workers be given the option to receive wages lower than the minimum.

“We are revolted by the PIDS’s attack on the minimum wage. The minimum wage in the country is already at poverty and starvation levels and cannot be blamed for unemployment and poverty. It should be increased, not cut,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
read more.

* 4 Philippine products benefit most under no-duty EU-GSP+ program:

Four domestic industry sectors — textile and garments, bicycles, processed fruit, and fisheries — will benefit the most starting early January 2015 as the European Union (EU) approves the Philippines’ eligibility under its zero-duty as EU-GSP+ program for developing countries.

Walter van Hattum, Head of Economic and Trade Section of the EU Delegation to the Philippines, told reporters during an informal briefing the EU-GSP+ is more beneficial than the existing EU GSP scheme where the Philippines  is also one of the beneficiary countries.
But the EU-GSP+ will have the strongest economic impact because it offers zero tariff on eligible products.

In the case of textile and footwear, Van Hattum noted the Philippines, which used to be strong in this sector, is expected to win back textile and garment manufacturers because of the zero tariff under the GSP+ because they can export to the 28-member EU countries duty-free.

In 2013, the Philippines exports of textile and garments to EU stood at 150 million euros, including 75 million euros of apparel or a total of 150 million euros out of the country’s total exports of 5 billion euros. These products carry a tariff range of 8-10 percent.
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15:21:12 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Improved labour relations expected to curb strikes:

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs is drafting a six-year plan beginning this year to improve labour relations and curb illegal strikes.

The draft, which is expected to be approved in June, will be carried out in Ha Noi, Hai Phong, HCM City, Dong Nai and Binh Duong.
The plan is aimed at developing and strengthening labour relations in line with the revised Labour Code 2012 and the Law on Trade Unions 2012.
The model focuses on improving co-operation between Government bodies and trade unions to promote negotiations and labour agreements.
read more.
VNNews new

15:21:12 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Unions drum up strike support:

20140410 PPP union-leaflet
Union members head out information leaflets about scheduled workers strikes in front of the Canadia Industrial Park on Veng Sreng Boulevard yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photo by Heng Chivoan.

At the site where security forces shot dead at least four people during a nationwide strike on January 3, union leaders yesterday passed out fliers encouraging workers to join a stay-at-home strike after Khmer New Year.

When workers filed out of Canadia Industrial Park’s gates for their 11am lunch break, Seam Sambath, president of the Workers Friendship Union Federation, made his case to passing garment workers – action similar to that which resulted in a unionist being detained in Svay Rieng province on Sunday.

“We must work together in order to help workers earn higher wages and enjoy better living conditions,” he said.

Authorities did not interfere with the group, from at least three unions, as it handed out fliers about the strike, scheduled for April 17 to April 22, to workers at several factories along Veng Sreng Boulevard.

The 18 unions that signed the flier demand the Ministry of Labour raise the $100 minimum monthly garment wage to $160 and drop charges against 23 people arrested during demonstrations on January 2 and 3.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia say the Labour Ministry already set the 2014 minimum wage, and that cases against the 23 defendants – 21 of whom are still detained – are a court matter.
read more.
PPP new

* Unions Spread Word of Strike Through Radio, Web:

With new garment factory strikes only one week away, union activists are using new means to spread the strike call, trying to duck harassment from factories and arrest by police.

Union leaders say members have been fired for handing out leaflets promoting the April 17 to 22 stay-at-home strike. They say police have detained others or confiscated their supplies. While those detained were soon released, police and government officials continue to warn of arrest if pamphleting continues.

Undeterred, the eight unions planning the strike for higher wages are turning to radio and social media to thwart the threats.

The unions’ main demands, outlined in their leaflets, include a boost to the garment sector’s minimum wage from $100 a month to $160, and the immediate release of 21 men still in jail after a wave of arrests during the last strikes, in early January. Those strikes came to a violent and abrupt end after military police shot into a crowd of protesters on January 3, killing five and injuring dozens more.

Despite their turn to the airwaves and Internet, the unions aren’t giving up on old-fashioned fliers.
Mr. Thorn said the eight union groups have printed about 100,000 fliers in all and still have roughly 20,000 left to hand out.
read more.

* Cambodian opposition-aligned trade unions call for strike after Lunar New Year:

20140409 XINHUAnet
Union activists hand out flyers to garment workers in front of the Canadia Industrial Park on the outskirts of capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 9, 2014. Representatives of 18 opposition-aligned trade unions and associations on Wednesday called a weeklong strike scheduled for April 17-22. (Xinhua/Phearum)

Representatives of 18 opposition-aligned trade unions and associations on Wednesday called a weeklong strike scheduled for April 17-22.

Dozens of union activists handed out leaflets to workers in front of the Canadia Industrial Park on the outskirts of the capital on Wednesday during a lunch break.

According to the leaflets, the strike organizers demanded a 160 U.S. dollars minimum wage for garment workers and the release of 21 detainees who were arrested in early January during violent protests.

Sar Mora, president of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation, spoke to reporters that the 18 unions and associations were urging workers to go on strike following Lunar New Year holidays from April 14 to 16.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said the opposition-aligned trade unions represented over 100,000 out of 600,000 workers in about 900 garment and shoe factories in the kingdom.

A 23-year-old garment worker at the Canadia Industrial Park said he might not join the strike for fear of job loss.
“Of course, we want higher wage, but job stability is more important,” said Nuch. “If I have no job, I have no money to support my family.”
Current monthly minimum wage for garment workers is 100 U.S. dollars, up from 80 U.S. dollars last year.
read more. & to read.

* BetterFactories Media Updates 10 April 2014, Unions spread word of strike through radio, web:

* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:

2014-04-10 Unions drum up strike support

* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:

2014-04-10 Unions spread word of strike through radio, web

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.

14:21:12 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* Fire at Ashulia factory:

At least 10 people were injured as a fire broke out at Rangdhanu Spinning Mills garment factory in Balibhadra area of Ashulia, outskirts of capital Dhaka, on Wednesday night.

The fire originated at 8:15pm.
Factory workers made an instant attempt to douse the flame and later they informed the fire fighters as the blaze spread out.
Two fire fighting units are trying to douse the blaze.
Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) Fire Service Station official Abdul Hamid said, “The fire are about to be controlled and two fire fighting units are working on.”
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more.

* More risky garment factories shut:

 Bangladesh authorities have closed four garment factories and partially shut down two others after engineers hired by Western retailers detected major structural flaws in the plants, an official said Wednesday.

The move came amid increased inspections from retailers who are checking 1,500 factories in an effort to prevent a repeat of the disasters that have killed thousands of workers in recent years.
A top government official told AFP that a government panel ordered the closure of four factories in a multi-storied complex in the port city of Chittagong and two floors of separate factories in the capital Dhaka.
“We’ve found serious structural flaws in the Chittagong building complex. It was too risky. So we have shut down the building,” said Syed Ahmed, head of the department of factory inspections.
read more.

* Factory inspections cost 11,500 jobs:

A total of 11,500 workers have so far lost their jobs after authorities were forced to close down nine garment units over safety concerns following bad inspection reports.

Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said the factories — five in Dhaka and four in Chittagong — can reopen after appropriate remediation, which can take six to twelve months.
The remediation can take up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for each factory, so the BGMEA has sought for financial assistance from the international retailers.
Mikail Shipar, secretary to the ministry of labour and employment, said the steering committee of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a platform of around 150 retailers mostly headquartered in Europe, met with him yesterday to discuss the matter of financial assistance.
“The Accord officials said they are ready to assist the garment owners for remediation of buildings, but the question they raised is how they would remit such a huge sum of money to Bangladesh.”
read more.
daily star bd

* RMG retailers call for lifting duty on safety equipment:

Six associations of US and Canadian retailers yesterday urged the prime minister to immediately withdraw the high duties on import of essential safety equipment that can undermine the current efforts to improve worker safety.

“Regrettably, the current high duties on Bangladeshi imports of key safety equipment can make what is already a costly but very necessary investment in remediation next to impossible,” said a letter signed by the leaders of the associations.
To improve workplace safety, it is predicted that “tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars” is needed per factory to improve the exits, install fire safe doors and sprinkler systems, restructure the factory and so on.
But the 61.09 percent duties and other taxes on fire doors and 31.07 percent on sprinkler systems would dissuade the factories from making the necessary investment and also drain away much needed capital from the common goal of improving worker safety, the letter said.
read more.
daily star bd

* Human rights disclosures and RMG sector :

The readymade garment sector (RMG) has been the backbone of the country’s economy for a considerable period of time.

The garment manufacturers in Bangladesh have time and again proved their entrepreneurial capabilities and innovative management skills.

Consequently, the sector has flourished despite frequent political turbulences and natural calamities. Bangladesh is currently the second largest exporter of readymade garment products in the world.
If the trend continues, the country is expected to take over the leading manufacturer’s mantle from China in due course of time. However, to sustain this phenomenal success, the RMG sector has to respond to concerns raised by foreign buyers regarding supply chain management.

Arguably, Bangladesh has the capacity to produce the cheapest RMG products among its competitors.
However, this competitive advantage is sometimes potentially offset by a few shattering incidents that are capable of creating negative perceptions in the minds of the foreign buyers.
Perceptions are important, especially for the big multinational companies which use Bangladesh as an important supply chain.

Investors, who provide the capital for the large multinationals, are often wary of ethical trading norms, especially when it comes to dealing with manufacturers from developing countries.
From the buyers’ point of view, therefore, it is important to be able to assure their investors that their supply chains are managed ethically, and this is where incidents such as Rana Plaza collapse certainly do not help.
If the foreign buyers perceive the risks of buying products from Bangladesh to be higher than the benefits received from cheap outsourcing, they may simply go elsewhere.
The onus, therefore, is on the Bangladeshi manufacturers of RMG products to address the concerns about ethical issues so that the buyers are more confident of a sustainable supply chain. This is where extended financial reporting can make an important contribution.
read more.
FE bd

* Text to Text | Bangladesh Factory Safety and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire:

20140409 NYT
A report blamed the mayor for wrongly granting construction approvals and recommended charges for the owner of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh.

Can disasters make life better for future generations?

As the world notes the first anniversary this month of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, which killed 1,129 workers, we offer a historical parallel. Some 102 years earlier in New York City, a fire at theTriangle Shirtwaist Factory killed 146 low-wage garment workers.

In both cases, inspectors visited and filed critical safety reports, but scores of people still died while making clothes for others. The American disaster is now hailed as a turning point that led to safer workplaces and broad support for a minimum standard of workers’ rights, while the Bangladeshi disaster’s impact is less certain.

In this Text to Text, we pair two Times articles, from the aftermath of each disaster.
read more.

* The International Labour Organization response to the Rana Plaza tragedy:

How has the ILO responded?
The ILO responded quickly to the tragedy on April 24 2013 with a high level mission to Dhaka at the start of May, which agreed immediate and medium term actions with the Government of Bangladesh and employers’ and workers’ organizations.

These formed the basis of a National Tripartite Plan of Action on fire safety and structural integrity (NTPA), which integrates measures already underway as part of an earlier NTPA following the Tazreen factory fire in 2012.

The ILO has since launched a US$24.2 million, three-and-a-half year programme to support implementation of the NTPA and improve working conditions in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector. Key elements are already being implemented, including building and fire safety assessments; labour inspections; and occupational safety and health, rehabilitation and skills training.

Is the ILO inspecting factories?
No. The Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) is responsible for inspecting factory buildings both for structural integrity and fire and electrical safety. The ILO helps to coordinate inspections and has provided technical support, including training and equipment. A first batch of specialized equipment has been provided to BUET by the ILO, with further equipment currently under procurement.

BUET undertakes inspections of factories that are not covered by inspection programmes under the Accord for Building and Fire Safety in Bangladesh and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. By early April 2014 approximately 200 factories had been inspected by BUET, with inspection of the remaining factories due to be completed by the end of the year. All inspections are carried out using a uniform set of minimum inspection standards.

How does the ILO work with the Accord and the Alliance?
The ILO serves as the neutral chair of the Accord, which brings together more than 150 international brands and retailers who have suppliers in Bangladesh, and two global unions (IndustriALL, UNI Global). In total the Accord covers 1,639 of the 3,498 Bangladesh factories making garments for export. The Alliance is a group of 26 North American retailers and brands. It covers a further estimated 770 factories.

How are these and other initiatives coordinated?
read more.

* Govt finalises progress report on Action Plan next week:

Revival of GSP facility in US market

The government will finalise the progress report on ‘Bangladesh Action Plan 2013’ on April 13 before sending it to the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) by 15th of the current month in a bid to regain a suspended trade facility in the US market.

An inter-ministerial meeting will be held on April 13 for finalising the progress report. Revival of the generalised system of preferences (GSP) by the US administration for Bangladeshi products in the former’s market depends on the report.

“We will finalise the country’s progress report in the inter-ministerial meeting on April 13, 2014. We hope we will be able to send it (the report) to the US government by April 14, 2014, just a day before the deadline,” a high official of the ministry of commerce, involved in preparing the report, told the FE.
Most of the conditions were fulfilled by the government. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said recently that Bangladesh would fulfill all the conditions required for revival of the GSP facility soon.

Improvement of working conditions, amendment to the existing labour law, appointing inspections and introduction of a data base on workers are the areas of progress the country has made so far.

Officials say the report is vital to regain the country’s GSP facility in the US market. On receipt of the progress report, the US government will conduct its next review of the GSP Action Plan in May.
read more.
FE bd


* More funds sought for Rana Plaza victims:

Only a third of its target of $40m is raised till date

Campaigners demanded the Western brands to pay into a compensation fund for victims of Rana Plaza collapse.

Global trade unions IndustriALL and UNI and labour rights network Clean Clothes Campaign in a joint statement said a fund for victims of Rana Plaza had raised only a third of its target of $40m to date, reports Reuters.
The garment factory collapse killed more than 1,100 people and injured over 2,000 people a year ago.

They said only half of the 29 brands that sourced goods from factories in the Rana Plaza complex have contributed to the fund run by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and want the rest to pay by the first anniversary of the April 24 disaster.

“The workers who survived this catastrophe and the families of those who did not are in desperate need. The last year has seen medical expenses, lack of income and the horrors of that day relived,” said Jyrki Raina of IndustriALL.

Some of the brands supplied from the Rana Plaza complex say they will not contribute as their production was outsourced to the factory without their knowledge, or ended some time ago, while others prefer to pursue their own compensation plans.

Ineke Zeldenrust of Clean Clothes Campaign said the 29 brands have combined profits of more than $22bn a year.
“They are being asked to contribute less than 0.2% of these profits to go some way towards compensating the people their profits are built on,” she said.
read more.


Two weeks before the first anniversary of the devastating building collapse, clothing brands contributions to Donor Trust Fund remain shockingly low.

As the first anniversary of the tragic collapse of Rana Plaza approaches global unions IndustriALL and UNI and leading labour rights network Clean Clothes Campaign today demand all brands associated with Rana Plaza pay up and ensure the survivors and victims families receive the much needed support before the first anniversary on April 24.

The Donor Trust Fund, which provides a central coordinated approach to collecting claims and distributing the money, needs US$ 40 million in contributions to ensure that the 1,138 victims families and over 2,000 survivors receive much needed payments for loss of income and medical expenses.

To date just half the companies who have been connected to a factory in the building have made commitments, and the fund has just one third of the funds required.

 “Currently 15 brands, including Benetton, Matalan, Adler Modemarkte and Auchan, have failed to even make an initial contribution to the Donor Trust Fund,” says Phillip Jennings of UNI Global Union, “we call on all of them to immediately make a significant donation to the Donor Trust Fund – the only inclusive, transparent and ILO-recognised compensation programme for Rana Plaza victims.”

Not all of the brands who have made donations have publicly stated how much they have contributed, however those that have have typically donated between US$500,000 and US$1 million.

Ineke Zeldenrust, of Clean Clothes Campaign says “The 29 brands that sourced from factories within Rana Plaza either at the time of the collapse or in the recent past have combined profits of well in excess of US$22 billion a year, they are being asked to contribute less than 0.2% of these profits to go some way towards compensating the people their profits are built on – the Donor Trust Fund has been open for two months now and it is still a long way off the US$40 million that is required.
The Arrangement clearly has the necessary buy-in: the current donor list includes some of world’s biggest brand names, from both Europe and the US, but they are coming in with frankly shockingly low levels given what they can afford. .

It is clear that with two weeks to go and over two thirds of the money still needed even those brands who have made contributions need to make further donations, to bring their contributions up to a more significant level.
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13:51:12 local time map of india INDIA

* ‘Candidates addressed mill workers after every eight-hour shift’:

About six decades ago, Coimbatore had 110 textile mills and several foundries. In several units a staff member stood outside the gate and asked those who passed by to join the unit for work. It was difficult to get workers and the facilities available for the workers at the units were also not much.

One of the textile mills, Kaleeswara Mills, had 1,300 workers, including about 350 women, in 1950.
K.P. Krishnan Kutty Menon joined Kaleeswara Mills in Coimbatore in 1948 at the age of 17.
He worked at the mill as a cloth examiner till 1986 and was also an executive member of AITUC.

He had participated in several talks with the textile mill managements, heard the talks of candidates during elections, and attended meetings of national leaders (which were held at the Coronation Park).

He says that on an average, a worker would have to travel 10 km by bicycle to come to the textile mill here and those who lived within three km or four km radius would walk to work in the 1950s. The workers’ expectations then included a permanent job, salary, housing facilities and amenities at the work place.

There were several struggles for wage revisions. Workers would not even get tea within the mill premises and they demanded canteen facilities.
read more.

* Cotton yarn exports face Chinese hurdle:

Since Jan, the rupee has been rising and the yuan falling, eroding our earlier cost aadvantage; also, direct import demand for Indian cotton from China seems set to fall

Indian textile exports, including those of , are facing a competition problem from .

The Chinese currency is depreciating at a time when the is moving up, giving China’s products a price advantage. And, direct export of cotton and cotton yarn to China is getting impacted due to a change in the earlier Chinese policy, of selling cotton from its reserves at a reduced price. It has cut direct import of Indian yarn in the past three months.
read more.

* Cotton planting in North India will be affected by delay in wheat harvest:

The delay in harvesting wheat in Punjab and Haryana is set to push back cotton planting in forthcoming kharif season. In Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, cotton planting starts in early May and this year it could be delayed by about a fortnight.

Cotton area up
However, cotton acreages are unlikely to be affected and on the contrary, they may see a marginal increase.

Poor returns from guarseed last year may prompt farmers to shift back to cotton in the coming season mainly in Haryana and Rajasthan and to some extent in Punjab. Industry sources said that cotton was planted on about 3.5 million hectares in the northern region last year.
read more.

13:51:12 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka president tells companies to ready for China:

Sri Lanka’s private sector should ready themselves to tap into new markets including China, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday assuring a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is nearing finalization with the fastest growing economy in the world.

Speaking to top rung private and public sector officials President Rajapaksa in an upbeat mood called for the private sector to equip themselves for challenges posed by new markets, especially from China, and avail themselves to new opportunities provided for by the government.

Sri Lanka’s government last year inked a preliminary agreement to install a FTA between the two countries and it is expected to be completed before December.
read more.

13:21:12 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Government to extend full support to textile sector: minister:

Federal Minister for Textile Abbas Khan Afridi during his visit to Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) on Wednesday has said that government would extend full support and assistance for strengthening textile sector.

“We are working on war footing to bridge the huge gap between demand and supply and a comprehensive strategy to overcome energy crisis,” he said.

He assured that Textile Ministry will make all-out efforts for immediate payment of pending refund claims of textile exporters to ease their financial stress. Earlier, PTEA Chairman Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood welcomed the Minister and highlighted the core functions of PTEA. He termed GSP Plus scheme as a milestone achievement of the PML-N government.
read more.

* PTEA urges to ease in severe financial stress:

Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has urged the Government to ease severe financial stress as 25 to 30 percent working capital has been stuck up in various refund regimes.

Textile industry is the only hope for revival of country’s economy, which is currently jolted by high cost of doing business. Government should provide level playing field to double its existing share in global textile trade, he added.

Talking to media persons after chairing an emergent meeting of textile exporters here on Tues-day, PTEA Chairman Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood pin pointed the various bottlenecks plaguing textile exports and said that most ticklish issue is severe liquidity crunch as billions of rupees of textile ex-porters are stuck up in various refund regimes. Fi-nance is imperative to run the wheel of industry but without this, no one could even think to run indus-try, he added.
read more.

* Government presented sustainability, growth vision: APTMA:

Chairman APTMA Punjab S M Tanveer said APTMA has put forward sustainability and growth vision to the Chief Minister Punjab and Federal Textile Minister to compete with regional competitors fully supported with incentives by their respective governments.

He said the Punjab-based textile industry is incurring Rs 80 billion as additional costs over and above on energy consumption comparing with the industry in other provinces.
The consumption of Punjab-based industry on PEPCO network is around 84%, which means that the industry in other provinces is consuming gas-based captive power plants energy, costing them around Rs 7 per unit, he added.
read more.

* APTMA’s Vision 2018 gets support:

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) presented its sustainability and growth vision to Punjab chief minister and federal textile minister to compete with regional competitors fully supported with incentives by their respective governments, Chairman APTMA Punjab SM Tanveer said.

He said that the Punjab-based textile industry was incurring an additional Rs80 billion over and above on energy consumption compared with industry in other provinces.
The consumption of Punjab-based industry on PEPCO network was around 84 percent, which means that industry in other provinces was consuming gas-based captive power plants energy costing around Rs7 per unit, he added.
read more.

* ‘Next year will be more energy-condensed for textile industry’:

The year 2015 will be tougher for the industrial sector especially to the exporters of textile products in term of power and gas supply, so they should prepare strategy to counter the crisis.

Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi addressing the members of Council of Textile Associations (CTA) and textile exporters at Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PHMA) said zero rated status in sales tax to the textile sector would be restored soon on the basis of no payment-no refund formula.
Realising sheer benefits of Generalised System of Preference (GSP) plus status to Pakistan by European Union, problems of value added sector of textile industry would be resolved on priority basis.
He said if he failed to resolve the worries of textile industry, he would leave the Ministry. Commenting on the failure of last government’s policies he said the policies had not been made on rational basis as bureaucracy worked only for its own benefit.
read more.
daily times PK

* Bangladesh’s negative policy compels: Pakistanis to shift textile units back to country:

Pakistanis are shifting their textile units back to the country in the wake of Bangladeshi government’s ‘negative’ and `biased’ policies that triggered insecurity among the investors, industry sources said on Wednesday.

The political turmoil that culminated in hatred against Pakistan largely caused worrisome to the investors who had relocated their units from Karachi or other cities of the country to Dhaka, they said.

“Bangladeshi government also blamed Pakistan for overplaying the collapse of a textile factory building in Dhaka at global markets,” said Chief Co-ordinator Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (Prgmea), Ijaz A. Khokhar.
He said the Pakistani investors found the Bangladeshi government’s policies ‘hostile’ and its bureaucracy difficult to deal with since the political tension gripped the nation after trials and punishment of Jamaat-i-Islami leaders for 1971 war charges.
read more.

* ‘Yarn import ban considered’:

20140410 TRIBUNE
Gas supply to the textile sector would increase and more relief will be available to textile the industry. PHOTO: FILE

The government is actively considering imposing duty on yarn import from India. However, the final decision will be taken after consulting all stakeholders and keeping in view the national interests, said Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi while addressing members of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI).

“We should stop holding our predecessors responsible and work to take the country towards progress and prosperity,” he said. Afridi further said that the country’s economy was directly linked with the textile industry.

“Pakistan will move ahead if the textile industry will grow and make progress, and we have decided to start a new journey for the welfare and betterment of Pakistan.”
He said that gas supply to the textile sector is being increased and more relief will be available to textile sector.
read more.

* Yarn import from India: ‘government mulling imposing countervailing duty’:

Federal Minister for Textile Industry, Abbas Khan Afridi, has said that the government is considering imposing duty on yarn import from India, however, final decision to this effect will be taken after consultation with all stakeholders and keeping the national interests in view.

Addressing the members of Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) here, he said that the time to blame others or their predecessors had gone and it was high time to work hard to take Pakistan towards new heights of progress and prosperity. He said that Pakistan’s economy was directly linked with the textile industry and if the industry grew, Pakistan would progress.
read more.

* Walt Disney shifts to India, China:

Walt Disney has diverted its business to India and China after dumping Pakistan, costing the country $200 million in export earnings.

The US company dropped Pakistan from the list of its sourcing destinations for its textile brand products from 1st April.

Azhar Majeed, a business leader, told Dawn that warning notices were issued simultaneously to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar for non-compliance of 27 UN/ILO conventions. Both other countries managed to retain commercial relationship with Disney but Pakistan government failed to do so.

“We have reasons to believe that competing interest in the region, India in particular, is lobbying to instigate other Western companies to blacklist Pakistan,” he said.
to read.

map of asia ASIA

* Priorities of Asia Floor Wage Alliance:

Asia Floor Wage Alliance has been working steadily to

* increase its credibility with governments & international institutions,
* develop strategies to take AFW to new levels of power…!
act in solidarity with garment workers’ struggles across Asia

AFW featured by Governments of Bangladesh & The Netherlands!
The governments of Bangladesh and the Netherlands organized an event on living wages during the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York on March 10th entitled “Decent Work for Women: the Case for Living Wages”.  AFWA was invited by the governments to present on AFW as a form of living wage.  The panel was multi-stakeholder with unions, businesses, governments and civil society organizations.

* Bangladesh trade unions have launched a Pay Up! Campaign calling on all clothing brands who source from Bangladesh to immediately pay into the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, which is collecting donations on behalf of the Rana Plaza Arrangement.  US$40 million is required to compensate those injured and the families of those killed for loss of income and medical expenses.

* Your actions have contributed to more Brands paying into the Fund but we still have ways to go. So keep your pressure up!  April 3rd was the Day of Action against Benetton who has not paid up at all!

* Jobs with Justice in the USA is organising a national week of April 21-24 leading up to the Anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy.  JWJ is targeting Walmart’s anti-labour practices within the USA and across its global supply chain; and is pushing Walmart to contribute $17 million into the compensation fund

National People’s Tribunal continue across Asia….. Indonesia is next!
June 21-24 are the dates for the next NPT to be held in Indonesia on Minimum Wages and Decent Working Conditions for Garment Workers as a Fundamental Right.
read more.


* SACTWU Bargaining Conference 2014 declaration: SACTWU also has a good story to tell!  :

The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) held its Annual National Bargaining Conference from 6 to 9 March 2014, in Durban.

We met under our union’s national theme for the next three years, as adopted by our 12th National Congress held in Augustlast year: “Unity, Cohesion & Radical Transformation for Sustainable Growth & Decent Work”

The Conference was attended by 430 delegates and unionofficials – double the amount of delegates in previous years.This followed our 12th National Congress decision to broaden worker participation and shopfloor democracy by expandingthe Conference to involve more worker leaders and workplaces in our collective bargaining processes.
Delegates were 400 shop stewards representing 99000 SACTWU members in the clothing, textile, leather, distribution and related sectors in all parts of South Africa.

Over the last month and a half, SACTWU has collected approximately 18 000 living wage demands from its members in just over 1 610 workplaces nationally.
These demands were reconciled provincially, and were collected in metro area-based workplaces as well as workplaces in non-metro areas.Our 2014 Bargaining Conference has now consolidated these living wage demands into more coherent national sectoraldemands, to be backed up by an aggressive national programme of action.

We demand a living wage!
The Conference noted that SACTWU will this year negotiatein 3 national bargaining councils (clothing, textiles and leather), 2 provincial bargaining councils (canvass goods in Gauteng and laundry in KwaZulu-Natal), 8 company group level negotiations (including Service Products/Sheltered Employment) and in just over 100 plant level wage bargains.The outcomes of our negotiations will affect over 100 000clothing, textile, leather, footwear, distribution and relatedworkers.

The main purpose of the Conference was to consolidatenationally the union’s workplace-collected living wage demands for the 2014 round of substantive negotiations. The Conference successfully completed this task and re-affirmedour determination:

  • to step up the fight for a living wage
  • to smash the reactionary attacks on the union’s bargaining structures, such as bargaining councils and the extension of our industry-wide collective agreements
  • to strengthen centralised bargaining
  • to stamp out the scourge of non-compliance with bargaining council agreements and labour laws in our industry
  • to strengthen our fight against the scourge of HIV/AIDS
  • to step up our campaign against illegal imports and customs fraud
  • to strengthen the Buy Local and Proudly South African campaigns with a special focus on ensuring compliance by provincial governments and municipalities with government’s directive that all clothing, textile, footwear and leather goods purchased are made in South Africa
  • to concretise our solidarity support for other COSATU affiliates’ living wage, recruitment and organising campaigns
  • to unite COSATU and ensure the federation takes up an aggressive fight for decent work and a living wage for all workers
  • to crush  bogus cooperatives, set up to deliberately circumvent the provisions of our labour laws, including by using the new Cooperatives Amendment Act to ensure bogus co-operatives are exposed and workers’status as employees with worker rights are restored
  • to strengthen capacity building amongst our newly elected and re-elected shop stewards, to help with better service delivery for our members
  • to campaign and work tirelessly for a resounding victory by the ANC in the 2014 National Elections, as the best party to advance worker rights and interests in the upcoming general elections
  • to use the appropriate structures to address the introduction of the Employee Tax Incentive (ETI) Act without proper consultation and agreement at Nedlac
  • to monitor the implementation of the ETI Act to ensure employers who abuse it by firing older workers or employing ineligible workers are reported and fined

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map of Asia


There are updates under ‘special reports’:

* TAZREEN Fire Part 2 20 November 2013- NOW
* Minimum Wage-LIVING WAGE- PART 4: 20131223- NOW
* Cambodian Garment Workers: $160 We Need! Part 3 20140307-now
* 24 April 2013 THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE Part 4 20140314- NOW

* Workers hit gov’t think-tank’s pitch for wage cuts
* 4 Philippine products benefit most under no-duty EU-GSP+ program

* Improved labour relations expected to curb strikes

* Unions drum up strike support
* Unions Spread Word of Strike Through Radio, Web
* Cambodian opposition-aligned trade unions call for strike after Lunar New Year
* BetterFactories Media Updates 10 April

* Fire at Ashulia factory
* More risky garment factories shut
* Factory inspections cost 11,500 jobs
* RMG retailers call for lifting duty on safety equipment
* Human rights disclosures and RMG sector
* Text to Text | Bangladesh Factory Safety and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
* The International Labour Organization response to the Rana Plaza tragedy
* Govt finalises progress report on Action Plan next week
* More funds sought for Rana Plaza victims

* ‘Candidates addressed mill workers after every eight-hour shift’
* Cotton yarn exports face Chinese hurdle
* Cotton planting in North India will be affected by delay in wheat harvest

* Sri Lanka president tells companies to ready for China

* Government to extend full support to textile sector: minister
* PTEA urges to ease in severe financial stress
* Government presented sustainability, growth vision: APTMA
* APTMA’s Vision 2018 gets support
* ‘Next year will be more energy-condensed for textile industry’
* Bangladesh’s negative policy compels: Pakistanis to shift textile units back to country
* ‘Yarn import ban considered’
* Yarn import from India: ‘government mulling imposing countervailing duty’
* Walt Disney shifts to India, China

* Priorities of Asia Floor Wage Alliance

* SACTWU Bargaining Conference 2014 declaration: SACTWU also has a good story to tell!

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2