In the news 10-12 May 2014

20:34:33 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Wage hike exemption for firms hit by calamities:

Companies reeling from the devastation of major calamities could soon file for a longer wage exemption from the regional wage boards, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) said.

In a statement, Labor and Employment secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the National Wages Productivity Commission (NPWC), an attached agency of DoLE, issued a new resolution allowing disaster-hit firms a longer reprieve from wage increase and cost-of-living allowances from the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Boards (RTWPB).
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19:34:33 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Ministry okays textile growth plan:

20140511 VNNews
Viet Nam’s textile and garment exports have grown 15 to 17 per cent per year since 2007. — VNA/VNS Photo

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has ratified the textile and garment industry development plan 2020, with a vision for 2030.

The plan is expected to boost the industry’s growth, said deputy minister Do Thang Hai at a meeting early this week.
Under the plan, the industry aims to achieve 55 per cent localisation rate by 2015, which will increase to 65 per cent and 70 per cent by 2020 and 2030 respectively.
During the 2013-2020 period, the industry plans an annual production growth rate of 12 to 13 per cent.

According to the Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association, Vietnamese clothing products are being exported to 50 countries and territories. The US is the largest importer of Vietnamese textiles and garments, accounting for 48 per cent of the industry’s total export revenue.

Viet Nam’s textile and garment exports have grown 15 to 17 per cent per year since 2007, said Nguyen Van Tuan, deputy head of the Viet Nam Cotton and Spinning Association and deputy secretary-general of VITAS. The export turnover is estimated to reach $40 billion in the 2020-2025 period, requiring 12 billion square metres of fabric and five million workers.
read more. & read more.
VNNews new VIETNAMplus

* Apparel exporters face strict environmental criteria:

A small number of local exporters can meet the stringent requirements for environmental sustainability that Vietnam’s key export markets are applying to this product, Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) has warned.

Deputy general director Dang Vu Hung of Vinatex told a conference on environmental criteria for garments and textiles in HCMC on Monday that only 5-10% of the 200 affiliates of the group could meet those criteria that more foreign importers were placing an emphasis on.

“Meeting the criteria for environmental sustainability is considered as a passport for Vietnamese enterprises to send their goods to foreign markets. However, just a few local companies can do this,” Hung said.

Hung recalled the ‘laissez-passer’ for Vietnamese apparel enterprises in previous years was social corporate responsibility but importers were urging exporters to follow environmental requirements.

The criteria for environmental sustainability covered green production and wastewater treatment for finished products as well as dust and byproduct treatment for materials. “If local exporters did not meet these requirements, they would be kicked out of foreign markets,” Hung said.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 11/5 (13th item).

* Positive signs of textile, footwear exports:

20140511 VOV textiles

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) reports the textile and leather & footwear sectors achieved impressive growth in April buoyed up by numerous export contracts.

Impressive growth for textiles
MoIT statistics  show that garment and textile export earnings reached over US$5.9 billion by the end of April, up 20% compared to the same period last year.

Le Tien Truong, Deputy General Director of the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (VINATEX), says the sectors’ strong growth was projected at the beginning of this year due to large numbers of orders. Many businesses are currently operating at full capacity to meet orders till the end of the third quarter, even late this year.
read more.

* Apparel exports hit nearly 6 billion USD in four months:

The Vietnamese apparel sector earned nearly 6 billion USD from exports in the first four months of 2014, a 20 percent rise over the same period last year, according to statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Le Tien Truong, Vice Director of the Vietnam Garment and Textile Group (Vinatex), said the sector’s strong growth was foreseen right from the beginning of the year as their was a surge in the number of orders.

Currently, many enterprises have enough orders to keep them busy until the end of the third quarter or even the whole year, he said.
read more.

* Footwear exports soar in first four months:

Footwear exports reached 730 million USD in April alone, bringing the total export turnover of the products in the first four months of this year to nearly 2.9 billion USD, up 21.9 percent on year-on-year basis.

The export of bags, suitcases, umbrellas and hats climbed to 821 million USD in the reviewed period, up 48 percent against the corresponding time in 2013.

The earnings from footwear exports to the traditional markets of the US, Japan, Belgium, Germany and France soared stably in the January-April period, in addition to smaller importers, including Chile (up 80.85 percent), Israel (up 120.41 percent), Greece (up 78.2 percent) and Poland (161.7 percent).
read more.

19:34:33 local time map of laos LAOS

* ILO pledges to expand support in Laos:

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is committed to expanding its support to Laos on issues related to rural employment promotion, social protection and labour compliance in the garment sector.

The commitment was made during the ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Mr Yoshiteru Uramoto’s first visit to Laos recently.

During his stay, Mr Uramoto met senior officials of the ILO’s tripartite constituents in Laos, including representatives of the government, the Lao Federation of Trade Unions (LFTU) and the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI).

The aim was to discuss national social and labour issues as well as regional matters such as the developments within Asean.
read more.

19:34:33 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* 1096 days 1096 messages:

20140509 FREESOMYOT 3-years-somyot

Three years on from Somyot’s arrest the campaign continues over these next few months to maintain awareness of the political situation in Thailand and Somyots ongoing detention in prison.
Our online campaign theme over the coming months is “1096 days, 1096 messages”.
We will call people to write something to Somyot and aim to collect 1096 messages to represent his 1096 days (3 years) behind bars.Send us a message NOW!
read more.

19:34:33 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

Another Three Textile Union Reps Arrested:

Police arrested another three union representatives on Friday for allegedly inciting garment workers to strike and protest in front of their factory over the past few weeks, this time in Kandal province.

It follows the arrest last week of six representatives of another union ahead of a protest at the Wing Star Shoes factory in Kompong Speu province, also for allegedly inciting a strike.

The increasing intolerance toward protests in the garment sector comes amid escalating complaints from factory owners that the government has not been doing enough to prevent and suppress a wave of “illegal” union activity.

Kandal provincial police chief Eav Chamroeun said the latest arrests followed a complaint from the Quint Major Industrial factory, where several hundred workers have been protesting since April 23 for the reinstatement of 25 recently terminated employees.

“There were about three union representatives…who were inciting workers to protest,” Mr. Chamroeun said.
read more.

* Cambodia’s Low Cost Garment Industry: Sustainable for Whom? :

Most Cambodians have never even heard of Gap or Wal-Mart. For Cambodians they’re just labels that are sewn onto some of the millions of garments produced here.

But what labels they are. Cambodian garment exports were worth US$5.5 billion last year, around one third of the country’s GDP. Almost US$2 billion of this ended up in major US department stores.
Despite its reputation as a source of clean labor, the Cambodian garment industry is typified by poverty wages, forced labor and discrimination and violence against pregnant women and trade union leaders.

On any given day, we may see workers who have fallen unconscious at work due to lack of food and or sleep; individuals seeking to avoid involuntary 14-hour work days in 40-plus degree heat; women who have been terminated by their employer because they are expecting a child; or workers who are arrested, beaten or shot for trying to start a trade union to change the status quo.

US retailers know this all too well. In fact, one could say that it’s one of the reasons that they are here.

The minimum wage in Cambodia is US$100 per month making Cambodian labor some of the cheapest in the world. It’s barely a poverty wage, especially when you consider that nearly all Cambodian garment workers have children and elderly parents to support.

Perhaps even more shockingly, the $100 wage is only very recent improvement – one paid for in blood. In the last year alone, at least five people have been shot dead at garment factory protests calling for increased wages.
A 16-year-old boy who was last seen lying on the ground with blood pouring from what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his chest is still missing. He is likely the sixth fatality.

Three of those killed were sewing garments for Wal-Mart.
read more.

* Cambodian Garment Workers Call for Justice:

Video by Tola Moeun, Head of Legal Program, Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), Cambodia.
see more.

* Union Leader Ready to Pay Bulk of Bail:

Independent union leader Ath Thorn said Sunday he had collected enough money from supporters to pay most of his $25,000 bail to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, and would deliver it to the court Monday.

The court has charged Mr. Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, with inciting violence at a garment factory strike in September and ordered him to pay the bail in full by next Monday to avoid pretrial detention.

Mr. Thorn said he had collected about $10,000 from union members and other supporters, and another $10,000 from union and workers rights groups, including the International Trade Union Confederation.

“Although we do not have enough money, we can give them what we have collected,” he said. “We will continue collecting until we have enough.”
read more.

* Rights group slams SL case:

A trial for two teens charged with intentional violence from a Stung Meanchey riot in November was unfair to the defendants, a statement released yesterday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.

Calling the trial “deeply flawed”, HRW said the judge in the case showed open hostility towards defendants Vanny Vannan, who is 18 or 19, and Meas Nun, 14 or 15, and did not allow evidence that could prove innocence, the statement says. The trial wrapped up last Tuesday. A verdict is expected on May 30.

“[The judge] refused to allow a defense lawyer to introduce potentially exculpatory video evidence at the final hearing, declaring that to do so could threaten ‘public order in the courtroom’,” it says.

Police arrested both defendants at the scene of the November 12 march of striking SL Garment Processing workers, which devolved into a riot as demonstrators threw rocks at authorities and trapped police inside a pagoda building. Police opened fire, injuring at least nine and killing Eng Sokhom, a 49-year-old food vendor.

Each defendant was charged with aggravated intentional violence, damage and insult of civil servants. If convicted, they face up to 11 years in prison.
read more. & read more.
PPP new Cambodia_Daily_logo

20140510 * Fifth Bail Request Denied for Vorn Pao, 20 Other Detainees:

Any hope of bail for labor leader Vorn Pao and 20 other garment workers and unionists detained during strikes in early January was extinguished by the Supreme Court on Friday, after their fifth application to be released from prison was denied.

Vorn Pao, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association, is being tried alongside 22 others who were rounded up during garment strikes on January 2 and 3, and who were charged with causing intentional violence and damaging public property. The trial, which began on April 25, has been adjourned until May 20.

“The Supreme Court has decided to uphold the verdict of the Court of Appeal, because the current investigating judge has closed the investigation and the hearing is in process, so the defendants have to remain in prison to await their next hearing at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court,” said Presiding Judge Khim Pon.
read more.

* Hun Sen asks Labor Ministry, factory employers to provide housing for workers:

Prime Minister Hun Sen suggested that Labor Minister should cooperate with factory employers to provide housing for factory workers.

The premier made this statement during a cabinet meeting to discuss draft laws on national policy for housing, and on management of entertainment spots for adults.
to read.

20140509 * Cambodian top court denies to free 23 detained protesters on bail:

Cambodia’s Supreme Court on Friday denied bail requests for the 23 labor activists and garment workers who were arrested following violent clashes four months ago.

“The court decides not to grant bails to the detainees because the Phnom Penh Municipal Court has been proceeding with the trial of the defendants,” said the verdict read by the Supreme Court’s Presiding Judge Khim Pon. “Therefore, the presence of the defendants is necessary.”

Outside the court, dozens of labor and human rights activists protested against the court’s decision.

The detainees, who are charged with intentionally causing violence and destroying property, were arrested during clashes between anti-riot police and protesters in January when they held violent protests to demand a higher minimum wage of 160 U.S. dollars a month for the garment sector.
read more. & to read.

19:04:33 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Deputy Labour Minister holds meeting in Thailand’s Mae Sot:

Deputy Labour Minister Htay Aung met on May 8 with a number of non-governmental organisations in charge of protecting the rights of Myanmar migrant workers.

The meeting took place at the Office of Thai Immigration Police in Tak’s Mae Sot district bordering Myawady.
In his opening speech, Htay Aung said for Myanmar workers in Thailand and Malaysia were entitled for certain rights and for social security provided to local citizens.

Then, Director General of Labour Department, Myo Aung talked about how Myanmar migrants in Thailand to extend the duration of work permit and about the assistance provided by embassies of the two countries for those without proper documents.

Nine Thai districts, including Mae Sot which is nearest to border city Myawady, have employed more than 400,000 Myanmar migrants who do not get even the minimum wage of Baht 300 per day.

Myanmar workers often fall prey to Thai gangsters. Certain Thai policemen extort money from them by force, said Moe Kyoe, member of Labour Affairs Committee, Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok.
The talks touched on the situation of migrant workers in Mae Sot and schools for their children.
to read.

* Foreign investment in Myanmar flows to the production with piecework system:

20140511 ELEVEN
Domestic garment industry enjoys continuing inflow of foreign investment (Photo – EMG)

The amount of investment from Hong Kong within three years has increased by more than US$ 589 million while the majority of funds flow to the production operated under the piecework system. 

Within three years under the new government’s term from the fiscal years 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13, Hong Kong investment rose from more than $ 5.9 billion in the fiscal year 2010-11 to more than US$ 6.5 billion in the fiscal year 2012-13, a net rise of $589 million, according to the Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration.

The investment money flows into the majority of production firms operated on piecework system as Myanmar Investment Commission permitted these firms as per investment proposals from Hong Kong.
read more.

18:34:33 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

20140510-11 * RMG worker dies- 3 hurt in Ashulia factory wall collapse:

At least four people were injured as wall of United Trouser Limited collapsed in Gouripur area in Ashulia, outskirt of capital Dhaka, on Saturday evening.

The injured workers are Amir Hossen, Akhter Hossen, Kalu Mian, and M Hasan.
Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) Fire Service and Civil Defense Unit senior station officer Abdul Hamid confirmed the matter to banglanews.
Hamid said, “Heavy weight rolls of cloths caused the wall collapse, trapping many workers, leaving four injured.”

Fire fighters and the locals rescued the trapped workers, he added.
The injured were admitted at the local clinics.
The collapse created a panic among the workers.
Law enforcement agencies officials visited the scene.
to read. & read more.
banglanews24NEW daily star bd

20140509 * 2 workers burnt to death in Ctg fire:

Two workers were burnt to death in a fire which broke out at a socks factory in Oxygen area under Bayazid Bostami police station of the port city early Friday, reports UNB.

The victims were identified as Arafat Rony, 23, and Iftekhar Mahmud, 30.
According to local sources, the fire originated from an electric short circuit at the factory at about 3:30 am and it soon engulfed the entire factory.
On information, two fire fighting units rushed to the spot and doused the blaze after two hours of frantic efforts with the help of local people.
All the eight workers of the factory, except Arafat and Iftekhar, who were then asleep, managed to come out of the burning factory unharmed.
Critically injured Arafat and Iftekhar were rushed to the Chittagong Medical College and Hospital where doctors declared them dead.
Officer-in-charge of Bayazid Bostami police station Shairul Islam confirmed the incident.
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NEWAGEnew UNB INDEPENDENT  banglanews24NEW DHAKATRIBUNE FE bd daily star bd

20140509 * RMG factory, houses gutted in Ctg fire:

A readymade garment factory, four houses and a rickshaw garage were gutted in two separate fire incidents in the port city early Friday.

Fire Services and Civil Defenses control room operator Biswantor Barua told banglanews that the fire originated from an electric short circuit around 2:45am at Fashion Park International Limited in Chalk Bazar area.

On information, two fire fighting units rushed to the spot and brought the blaze under control after one and half an hour efforts.
read more.

* 49% RMG units engage workers for extra hrs without DIFE nod:

About 49 per cent of the apparel factories are engaged in operation without taking prior permission from the authorities concerned for the extra hours put in by their workers, according to a report.

Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) prepared the report based on its survey which it had conducted on a total of 317 ready-made garment (RMG) units during the January-March period of 2014.

Out of the surveyed units, 206 are members of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), and 32 are members of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), while the remaining 79 are not affiliated with any of the two associations, the report has revealed.

Under the existing rules, a factory authority requires taking approval from the DIFE as to how long it will engage its workers in production beyond their normal working hours, according to the DIFE officials.

As per law, eight hours are regular working hours for garment hands, while two hours of overtime are normally permissible, they say adding a factory owner could increase the overtime hours, if necessary, upon prior permission from the DIFE.
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* 176 garment factories closed in post-Rana period:

20140511 DHAKATRIBUNE FRONT-garments-closed-infographic-resized30% factories were subcontractors, according to BGMEA. Graphic by DhakTribune.

Nearly 176 garment units have been closed in the aftermath of Rana Plaza complex collapse, a senior industry leader said.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said non-compliance, western retailers’ audit, recent wage hike, and last year’s political turmoil have negative impacted on orders, resulting in the shutdown of the apparel units.

“Since April 2013, specially after the Rana Plaza incident, a total of 176 garment factories have been closed,” Shahidullah Azim, a vice president of BGMEA, said Saturday.

“Buyers are no longer placing orders in units located in shared or rented buildings,” he added.

The industry apex body feared that many factories might face shutdown following the assessment programmes by Accord and Alliance, the private initiatives of North American and European retailers.

Some of the owners willingly closed their manufacturing units as they could not afford to run their businesses, Mr Azim said.

He noted that many of the owners failed to meet the compliance requirements and had to bite the bullet.
read more. & read more.

* Workers at high risk for toxic chemicals :

Work forces of Bangladesh are at high risk due to use of toxic chemicals at almost every workplace, said experts.

“In our country indiscriminate use of chemicals at almost every workplaces is a common phenomenon . hundreds of people die annually due to their hazardous work particularly in ship- breaking, tanneries, chemical industries and farming which are in the top death ranks,” said National expert on Chemical Safety Dr Shahriar Hossain.

According to a survey conducted by Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE) reported at least 63 people died in Bangladesh due to toxic chemicals in last three months from February to April this year.

As per an International Labour Organisation (ILO) report, about two million people die annually across the world due to chemical related diseases while about 160 million people are affected by such diseases. In one-third of these cases, illness causes loss of working days and increases number of accidents at work places.
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20140510 * Local, foreign experts engage in fresh row:

Outcome of the ongoing inspection programmes has come under doubt following a fresh row between the local experts and those appointed by the retailers over the required concrete strength of apparel factory buildings, sources involved with the process said.

The review committee has stopped visiting the ready-made garment (RMG) factories that have been identified as risky ones by the Accord and the Alliance inspection teams, they mentioned.

The committee has also decided not to take any decision regarding closure or suspension of production at RMG units until the engineers reach an agreement over the disputed issue, they added.

They said such a situation would further delay the remediation of non-compliant garment factories affecting the overall improvement in workplace safety programmes, which are continuously facing different hindrances.

Some issues are yet to be resolved including payment of workers, a comprehensive exit plan for the factory owners who are forced to shut down their units, while legal complexities have arisen after the shutdown of Softex, a garment factory, following Accord’s inspection.
read more.
FE bd

20140511 * Pests attack destroys jute in Meherpur:

Affected by severe draught jute in the fields is now facing the onslaught of pest attacks that have destroyed the cash crop on hundreds of hectares of land in three upazilas of the district.

Jute growers of the districts fear huge losses due to the extensive damage caused to jute plants by pest attacks.
According to District Agricultural Extension Department, 17,350 hectares of land were brought under jute cultivation during the ongoing season in the district.
Already fourth week into Bangla month of Baishakh the farmers have not experienced any rain.
They see the jute plants, already hit by a lingering draught, have been attacked by pests massively.
read more.

* Tannery traders, workers demand space in Savar Leather Estate:

A group of small traders, workers and tannery technologists yesterday demanded space at Savar Leather Industrial Estate to run their business activities properly without polluting the environment. 

They also demanded setting up residential buildings for tannery workers and setting up schools, colleges and playground for children and hospitals for them at the place.

The demands came at a human chain organised by the coordination committee of six organisations of tannery industry in front of the Hazaribagh tannery intersection in the city.
They said that the tannery industry is contributing 42 per cent of the income from leather export. So, there cannot be any tannery industry without facilities for the workers and small traders, they added.
read more.

* Drawing lessons from RMG export success:

The April export numbers are in. Once again, the results are baffling to some analysts who were expecting the worst in view of two catastrophic events in 2013 – Rana Plaza tragedy and year-long political turmoil — that should have left exports in a quandary.

But belying many pessimistic projections the export story seems to be headed towards a happy ending for the fiscal year. Ten months into the year, exports have clocked a growth rate of 13.2% for the year, very much on target, and, what is more important, month-on-month exports registered a turnaround in April after declining every month since November 2013 as an aftermath of the political turmoil that intensified at the close of 2013.
Chances are that we might end the year with “export resilience” being the lead economic story of the year of which barely two months remain.

Make no mistake, this success story masks the fact that non-readymade garment (RMG) exports continued to remain in the doldrums, growing at barely 4.5% for the year, against RMG export growth of 15.5%. Thus our mono-product export basket continues to become more concentrated, with 80% of our exports in the RMG category.

Ask the man on the street and he will tell you that we should diversify our export basket. But that is easier said than done. Why?

First, let us look at the trend for the past 10 years. In fiscal year (FY) 2003, RMG exports made up 75% of total exports, the remaining 25% being made up of footwear and leather products, home textiles, ceramics, agro-processed goods, frozen food, jute goods, and others.
Though export diversification has been embraced as a policy priority for long, export trends show the opposite result.
By FY2014, export concentration has increased, though good progress has been made in geographical diversification. New regions and countries are growing in importance as destination of our exports, namely, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and Japan. But product diversification has gone nowhere.
read more.
FE bd

* Sewing machines distributed in Magura :

A total of 25 sewing machines was distributed free of cost among 25 fisherman families of Sripur upazila in the district today.

Sripur upazila fisheries department gave the sewing machines to help the fishermen augment their income.
Professor Dr. MS Akbar MP, distributed the sewing machines as the chief guest at a simple function arranged on the occasion at the upazila premises.
Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Mainul Hasan presided over the function while upazila chairman Badrul Alam Hiro, district fisheries officers Chandra Sekhar Nandi, upazila fisheries officers Faruk Mahalder and Sadar UP chairman Masiar Rahman were present.
to read.



* 500 Rana Plaza victims listed in workers’ project:

Some 500 workers, who sustained injuries in Rana Plaza building collapse, have been included in the “Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry” project.

Planning Commission sources said a revision is being made regarding the project to develop the skill of some 1,500 workers including that of 500 Rana Plaza victims.

Infrastructure of two institutions – Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed (CRP) and Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) – will be developed under the project.

The development will open the door to provide medical service more to the workers who will become victims of accident and assistance for their rehabilitation.
read more.

* Adequate compensation sought for Rana Plaza victims:

20140512 NEWAGE
Rana Plaza Garment Workers Union on Sunday forms a human chain in Dhaka demanding compensation according to ILO Convention 121 and urging for workplace safety. — New Age photo

Politicians and garment workers’ leaders on Sunday demanded exemplary punishment of the owners of Rana Plaza and other factories the collapsed building had housed.

Addressing a human chain in the city, Communist Party of Bangladesh adviser Manzurul Ahsan Khan said the government, garment factory owners and foreign buyers should raise the amount of compensation for the Rana Plaza victims and their families.
Activists of Rana Plaza Garment Sramik Union formed the human chain in front of the National Press Club in the morning to press for adequate compensation for the victims.
More than 1,100 people, most of them, female garment workers, were killed in the Rana Plaza collapse aat Savar a year ago.
Manzurul also demanded distribution of money from the prime minister’s fund raised for the Rana Plaza victims and compensations according to the International Labour Organisation law.

The owners of garment factories contributed a negligible amount to the fund, he said.
Bangladesh Trade Union Centre vice-president Mahbub Alam said that many of the Rana Plaza victims did not get sufficient compensations after even after the passage of one year.
read more.

18:04:33 local time map of india INDIA

* Moss on the mills:

An exhibition of photographs, videos and paintings offers a fascinating look at Mumbai’s once-glorious mills

Long after their passing, Mumbai still mourns the erstwhile mills. When land use regulation laws were amended in 1991, 58 mills closed and the famous din of industry faded. The 602 acres of land they occupied, leased at cheap rates by the British to promote mostly cotton textile production, were allowed to be sold to developers of modern offices, apartments and malls.
A few structures have remained abandoned, worn by the forces of nature and prolonged legal battles. They are surrounded by greenery but their seediness renders them inaccessible to the public. Artist Meera Devidayal’s new exhibition A Terrible Beauty reminds the viewer of these incongruities.

In another irony, before the Shakti Mills compound became notorious as the scene of two gang rapes last year, its soaring walls and dense foliage inspired numerous artists. Devidayal frequented it to gather material for three years from 2010 to early 2013 as it was the “most open and accessible” of all the mills.
She had taken a few pictures of mill edifices for a previous exhibition in 2000, which she decided to expand on while looking through old works for inspiration. The Shakti Mills complex is a part of several photographs, videos and paintings in her latest showcase. A former mill worker had even been her local guide, suggesting lesser-known locations for the shoot.
Among the installations is The Silent Wheel, a collage of images of rusting mill equipment.
read more.

* Textile market federations asks civic body to extend fire NoC deadline:

Following the Surat Municipal Corporation’s (SMC) ultimatum to textile markets to get the no-objection certificates (NoC) for the fire safety system from the fire and emergency department within 30 days, the Federation of Surat Textile Traders Association (FOSTTA) has urged the civic body to extend the deadline for 60 days.

FOSTTA office-bearers said that the fire fighting system in most of the textile markets are either out-dated or not installed at all. Market associations at Ring Road, Salabatpura and Sahara Darwaja represented to the FOSTTA to borrow more time from the civic body, so that they could qualify for the fire safety NoCs.
read more.

* Cotton yarn exports in FY14 estimated at $ 4.70 billion:

Statistics by Texprocil show that India exported 1,082 million kgs of cotton yarns valued at $3.75 billion in the first 10 months of 2013-14

Country’s cotton yarn exports for 2013-14 are expected to be around 1,350 million kgs valued at $4.70 billion.

A study conducted by the Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council (Texprocil) has said that India’s cotton yarn exports are meeting their targets, in spite of seasonal fluctuations generally witnessed every April and high raw cotton prices.

Statistics by Texprocil show that India exported 1,082 million kgs of cotton yarns valued at $3.75 billion in the first 10 months (April-January) of 2013-14. It is estimated that yarn exports for the entire 2013-14 would be around 1,350 million kgs valued at $4.70 billion.
read more.

* Indian April apparel exports surge 14.33% to $1.3bn – AEPC:

Reacting on the apparel exports data, for the month of April 2014-15, Mr. Virender Uppal, Chairman AEPC, remarked, “This is the first month of the 2014-15 and Apparel Exports have recorded the growth of 14.33% compared to the April month of last financial year.The export for April 2014-15 is to the tune of US $ 1.3 billion compared to US $ 1.1 billion in the 2013-14 over April month of the previous year.”
Appreciating the role of garment exporters Mr. Uppal stated that, “Indian garment manufacturing sector has the highest potential and it needs to increase competitiveness to generate more employment and boost apparel exports from India. This could only be achieved by enabling facilitative business environment, given its critical role in fostering growth in manufacturing.
read more.

18:04:33 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Minimum wage necessary for Sri Lankan workers, says union grouping:

The National Trade Union Federation has stressed the need for a minimum wage, urged a halt to outsourcing or contract labour and backed calls for a pension scheme for the private sector.

These comments have been made through proposals submitted to the National Pay Commission by federation President K. Velayudam.

The federation comprises the Lanka Jathika Estate Workers Union, the Jathika Sewaka Sangamaya, the Public Service National Trade Union Federation, the National Estate Services Union, the Jathika Adyapana Sewaka Sangamaya, the National Health Services General Employees Union, the National Organization for Self Employed, the Migrant Workers Front and the National Building and Woodworkers Front.

Excerpts from the proposals:
I) Wages

a) The lack of a minimum wage causes conflicts since employers are in a position to pay whatever wages they chose and exploit the workers.

In the absence of a minimum wage, workers under the Shop and Office Employees Act, are paid different wages for performing the same or similar work.

Though Wages Boards decide minimum wages, the wage decided differs from trade to trade.

b) The minimum wage decided by Wages Boards is not duly updated and is much less than what prevails in the market. For instance the highest wage for a skilled worker of the Engineering Trade was Rs. 8,800 upto March 2013. It was then raised to Rs. 12,150. But, a skilled worker draws Rs. 18,000 upwards in the open market.
read more.

* Messy Lankan labour laws inhibit growth:

20140511 SUNDAYTIMES Labour-laws

Messy labour laws in Sri Lanka are affecting growth and making it difficult for existing businesses to grow while discouraging new ones from being set up, a labour law conference in Colombo was told last week.

Shyamali Ranaraja, Attorney-at-Law, speaking at the National Labour Law Symposium 2014, held at Water’s Edge on May 3-4, also detailed the problems with current laws, as well as their enforcement and administration.

The conference looked at the reforms needed in Sri Lanka’s labour laws and ways to give employers more flexibility while still guaranteeing workers their rights. The issues with specific laws were examined and solutions were proposed. Many areas need reform to meet international standards and to spur growth.
read more.

* ‘Apparel constitutes 60% of Sri Lankan exports to EU’:

Around 60 percent of the US$ 3.27 billion worth Sri Lankan exports to the EU made in 2013 were apparel, according to Sri Lanka’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen.
Addressing the second EU-Sri Lanka Trade Dialogue at a hotel in Colombo, Mr. Bathiudeen said, “In 2013, sixty percent of our exports to EU were apparel. The relationship built on apparel trade has become a strategic partnership with major buyers in the EU.”
“Today, Sri Lanka has become a value creator to its strategic partners. This significant development, in our exports to the EU is the growth in our apparel exports despite the loss of GSP plus facility in August, 2010,” he added.
read more.

17:34:33 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* PTEA asks government to help resolve textile industry”s crisis:

Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has urged the government to convene an emergent meeting of ministerial committee which the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had constituted to help resolve the crisis of Punjab-based textile industry.

“Export-oriented textile industry is unable to perform as sudden surge of around 12 per cent to 15 per cent in rupee value against the dollar has disturbed the business cycle of entire textile chain and put a direct inventory loss of Rs78 billion,” they said, adding that value-added textile industry had suffered on account of earlier export orders, which would now be honoured at prevailing exchange rate of Rs96 to a dollar.
read more.

* Govt deliberating to revive industries: textile minister:

The Textile Ministry is already deliberating on the revival of the sick industries, as it will play a major role in enhancing textile exports and harvesting the benefits of the GSP Plus status, Federal Minister for Textile and Industry Abbas Khan Afridi said on Sunday. 

He was talking to a delegation of textile exporters headed by Engr Suhail Bin Rashid, the president of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI), who briefed him on the importance of revival of sick industries in Faisalabad.
The minister said that the government was fully aware of the importance of value added sector, as it was not only a major foreign exchange earning sector but also providing huge number of jobs for the unemployed youth.
read more. & read more.
daily times PK thenewspk

* Sick industries’ revival to boost textile exports: Afridi:

Textile Ministry was already discussing the revival of sick industries as it would play a major role in increasing textile exports and harvesting the benefits of GSP Plus, said Federal Minister for textile industry, Abbas Khan Afridi.

He was talking to a delegation of textile exporters which was headed by Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s (FCCI) President, Engr. Suhail Bin Rashid, who also briefed the minister about the importance of revival of sick industries in Faisalabad.

The minister said that government was fully aware of the importance of value- added sector, ‘it was not only a major foreign exchange earning sector, but was also providing a huge number of jobs to unemployed youth.
He asked the FCCI to finalise their study on sick units with two or three viable options so that government and related ministries could approve the most appropriate option.
He assured that he will arrange a meeting of textile exporters with Finance Minister to specifically discuss and resolve the NPL (Non-Performing Loans) Clause that was main hindrance in getting required finance from the banks.
read more.

* 9MFY14: textile sector profits down 9%:

Textile sector posted a decline of 9 percent in earnings during first nine months of this fiscal year (Jul-Mar of FY14) due mainly to appreciation of Pak rupee against the dollar.

The overall decline in profits has been attributed to massive drop in earnings during third quarter of FY14 as PKR surged by 6 percent versus the US unit during the period, eroding yarn margins and weak textile exports which declined by 1.1 percent.

Topline Securities has conducted an analysis, which is based on listed textile firms (some 75 companies), which included textile units having a minimum Rs 250 million market capitalisation at KSE. However, for the sake of comparability, Topline omitted Azgard Nine and Amtex Ltd due to their volatile bottom-line.
Though the sample covers 60 percent of textile sector market cap, it is very small compared to total Pakistan textile industry.
read more.  & read more.

* Zero-rated duty, eight percent interest rate: MoTI suggests steps for textile exports boost:

The Ministry of Textile Industry has proposed the government to continue zero-rated duty on import of textile machinery and keep the interest rate at 8 percent to attract foreign investment and contribute to the textile exports growth, it is learnt.

Official sources revealed to , it has been conveyed to the ministry of textile industry that sales tax which is 2 percent on yarn, 3 percent on fabric and 5 percent on garments would be raised to 17 percent in next two years. Further import of textile machinery is currently covered under the zero-rated custom duty and sales tax regime, however by the end of June this facility is going to expire and the government is considering imposition of 17 percent sales tax on import of machinery.
read more.

* APTMA urges government for uninterrupted power supply:

Chairman APTMA Punjab S M Tanveer has urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Minister for Water & Power Kh Muhammad Asif and Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif to issue directions to DISCOs for uninterrupted power supply to textile industry on independent and grouped feeders.

He said the textile industry is enduring 10 hours a day load shedding, crippling the capacity to produce exportable surplus for earning foreign exchange for the country. Tanveer said the textile industry has been limited to operating on one-and-a-half shift out of three shifts per day, rendering thousands of textile workers jobless and fast eroding viability of the industry.
read more. & read more.

* Special tariff for textiles vital to benefit from GSP+  :

The government should introduce special power tariff for textile industry which must be regionally competitive, besides providing it uninterrupted gas and electricity to reap the benefits of the GSP Plus facility provided by the EU.

This was stated by All Pakistan Textile Mills Association Punjab chairman SM Tanveer while addressing a meeting called to review the prospects of industry in current severe power loadshedding in Punjab.
How the industry would remain competitive at such a high price of electricity, which is one of the basic industrial raw materials, he put the question.
“We have the highest tariff in our region as in India, the electricity tariff for industry is 10.5 cents, in Bangladesh 10.75 cents and in Sri Lanka it is again 10.75 cents, whereas in Pakistan the tariff is 15 cents, meaning that 45 percent higher as compared to the region.”
read more.
the NATIONnew

* Ruyi Group to invest in Apparel Park :

Jerry Liu, Vice president, Shandong Ruyi Group of China, at a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday agreed to provide technical assistance to Qauid-e-Azam Apparel Park and make investment in the project.

During the meeting, matters regarding promotion of cooperation in textile, garments and energy sectors, in addition to pace of implementation of the agreements reached between the Punjab government and Shandong Ruyi Group, also came under discussion.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister said that several Chinese companies were working in Pakistan and the growing collaboration between the Punjab government and Chinese companies was strengthening friendship between the two countries. He said China was a sincere and reliable friend of Pakistan and Islamabad was proud of friendship with Beijing. He said that investment by the Chinese companies in energy and textile sectors in Pakistan was increasing.
read more.
the NATIONnew

* Pakistan still pays 9pc duty on leather export to China under FTA regime:

Pakistan is not benefiting from Free Trade Agreement with China, as the leather industry is still paying around 9 per cent import duty on its export goods to China owing to non-implementation of zero-duty under FTA regime.

“With a view to enhance bilateral trade, Pakistan and China, around 7 years back, had signed an FTA under which both the countries decided to facilitate each others exporters, exempting duty on their export.  This was stated by the Pakistan Tanners Association central chairman Sheikh Saqib Masood while talking to Commercial Counselor of China, Mr. Yan Jianming who along with Mr. Xu Runtao, visited PTA’s Central Office, Karachi.

Sheikh Saqib said that in first stage, import duty on Pakistani leather export to China was reduced to 9 per cent from 14 per cent but in second stage this 9 per cent duty was to be reduced to zero some two years ago, which is not being implemented so far, he complained. “Chinese authorities are creating hurdles in the way of Pakistan leather export to China on zero-duty under FTA regime and Pakistani government is also not supporting its industry to pursue the case for the last two years. On the other hand, Chinese companies are exporting several goods including leather and textile machinery to Pakistan on zero-duty under FTA regime.”
read more.
the NATIONnew

* Rise and fall of Dewans: The dream and journey begin :

In June 2006, Dewan Mushtaq Group’s (DMG) sales were over $665 million. It was under a long term debt of $175 million on the books and posted a net profit of $5.8 million. A year later it announced its first net loss ever recorded. And a year later it was Pakistan’s largest bank defaulter.

The scale of DMG was unprecedented. It was the largest manufacturer of polyester, produced cotton yarn, ran the biggest sugar mill, assembled Kia Classic, Hyundai Santro cars and Star bikes. It owned a cement company that had plants in south and north and its Dewan Petroleum was sitting on 235 billion cubic feet of gas reserves. The group was a distributor of BMWs and Rolls Royce and ran multiple businesses on the sideline including DMART shops. Sixteen thousand employees were on its payroll.

Dewan had never before defaulted on any loans. Its flagship Dewan Salman Fibre was the best rated private company in the country throughout the 1990s. In terms of industrial diversity, few Pakistani groups came close to matching them. They had nine listed companies.

“The question is if the drastic decrease in the group’s turnover 2007 onwards, which triggered the defaults, resulted from its failure to sell the produce or its inability to buy raw material,” remarked the ex CEO of a bank.
read more.



map of Asia


The next bulletin will be published 14 May.

There are updates under ‘special reports’:

* Minimum Wage-LIVING WAGE- PART 5: 20140307- NOW
* Cambodian Garment Workers: $160 We Need! Part 3 20140307-now
* 24 April 2013 THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE Part 4 20140314- NOW


* Wage hike exemption for firms hit by calamities

* Ministry okays textile growth plan
* Apparel exporters face strict environmental criteria
* Positive signs of textile, footwear exports
* Apparel exports hit nearly 6 billion USD in four months
* Footwear exports soar in first four months

* ILO pledges to expand support in Laos

* 1096 days 1096 messages

* Another Three Textile Union Reps Arrested
* Cambodia’s Low Cost Garment Industry: Sustainable for Whom?
* Cambodian Garment Workers Call for Justice
* Union Leader Ready to Pay Bulk of Bail
* Rights group slams SL case
* Fifth Bail Request Denied for Vorn Pao, 20 Other Detainees
* Hun Sen asks Labor Ministry, factory employers to provide housing for workers
* Cambodian top court denies to free 23 detained protesters on bail

* Deputy Labour Minister holds meeting in Thailand’s Mae Sot
* Foreign investment in Myanmar flows to the production with piecework system

* RMG worker dies- 3 hurt in Ashulia factory wall collapse
* 2 workers burnt to death in Ctg fire
* RMG factory, houses gutted in Ctg fire
* 49% RMG units engage workers for extra hrs without DIFE nod
* 176 garment factories closed in post-Rana period
* Workers at high risk for toxic chemicals
* Local, foreign experts engage in fresh row
* Pests attack destroys jute in Meherpur
* Tannery traders, workers demand space in Savar Leather Estate
* Drawing lessons from RMG export success
* Sewing machines distributed in Magura
* 500 Rana Plaza victims listed in workers’ project
* Adequate compensation sought for Rana Plaza victims

* Moss on the mills
* Textile market federations asks civic body to extend fire NoC deadline
* Cotton yarn exports in FY14 estimated at $ 4.70 billion
* Indian April apparel exports surge 14.33% to $1.3bn – AEPC

* Minimum wage necessary for Sri Lankan workers, says union grouping
* Messy Lankan labour laws inhibit growth
* ‘Apparel constitutes 60% of Sri Lankan exports to EU’

* PTEA asks government to help resolve textile industry”s crisis
* Govt deliberating to revive industries: textile minister
* Sick industries’ revival to boost textile exports: Afridi
* 9MFY14: textile sector profits down 9%
* Zero-rated duty, eight percent interest rate: MoTI suggests steps for textile exports boost
* APTMA urges government for uninterrupted power supply
* Special tariff for textiles vital to benefit from GSP+
* Ruyi Group to invest in Apparel Park
* Pakistan still pays 9pc duty on leather export to China under FTA regime
* Rise and fall of Dewans: The dream and journey begin

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

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