In the news 15-16 May 2014

08:41:04 local time map of china CHINA

* Real wages for China’s migrant workers stagnate as cost of living escalates:

The average monthly wage for China’s rural migrant workers in 2013 stood at 2,609 yuan, an increase of 13.9 percent over the previous year.

However, living expenses increased at a much faster rate, effectively cancelling out any gains made, according to official statistics.

A new survey by the National Bureau of Statistics, published 12 May, shows that per capita living expenses increased by 21.7 percent on average in 2013 to reach 892 yuan per month. The main driving force behind the higher living expenses was a 27 percent increase in accommodation costs, which now make up about 50 percent of total living expenses for migrant workers.
read more.

* New day dawns for labor rights in Pearl River Delta:

In the face of changing demographics, new rules are on the horizon to empower factory workers in disputes with employers in Guangdong, Emma Dai reports

For factory owners in Guangdong province, China’s manufacturing hub, the latest attempt by authorities to address labor rights is nothing new. Since the Labor Contract Law took effect in 2008, giving workers a say in collective bargaining has been building. This time, however, it looks quite real.

“Workers already have a lot of welfare. I don’t understand why Guangdong province has to implement the new labor regulation. This is very unfair to us manufacturers,” said Edward Tsui Ping-kwong, vice-president of the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong. Tsui’s company, Shing Hing Industrial Ltd, produces a spectrum of screws, and targets automobile and aviation industries as major customers.

The ordinance, expected to go through the local legislature this year, highlights collective bargaining rules empowering factory workers in negotiations over payment, holidays, extra insurance, training, layoff plans and other key issues. The draft indicates that when a proposal is agreed to by more than one-third of the staff, the labor union would be responsible for initiating negotiations with the company. Negotiations and relevant preparations should be counted as working hours and paid to labor representatives.

On April 14, many workers at Yue Yuen Industrial (Holdings) Ltd factories, a Taiwanese shoemaker operated by Pou Chen Group, put down their pliers and glue, and raised banners and placards after learning that the company had failed to fully pay their social benefits for as long as a decade.

The factories make sports shoes for more than 20 international brands, including Nike, Adidas, Reebok and Timberland. On April 21, another 2,000 workers at the company’s factory in Jiangxi province in eastern China echoed their peers in the south.
read more.
ChinaDAILY new

* China, ‘world’s factory’, lacks skilled workforce:

China’s skill gap could derail its economic upgrade, Long Guoqiang, a member of a cabinet-level think tank, said.

Filling the gap is strategically important for China as it tries to leave behind its role as the “world’s factory” and move up the global value chain, said Long, director-general of the general office of the Development Research Center of the State Council.

Long’s comments came amid concerns that China is rapidly losing its comparative advantages – such as being a source of low-cost labor – that drove the nation to be the world’s second-largest economy and biggest merchandise trader.

The advantages have faded. Long cited an international study that showed that 20 years ago, Thailand’s average wage was 2.3 times that of China’s. By 2012, the situation had reversed. Thailand’s average wage was just 70 percent of China’s.

It’s good for workers. Millions of manufacturers in China have seen their international competitiveness erode. They have relocated factories to sites with cheaper costs or produced less labor-intensive goods as a result.
read more. & to read.

07:41:04 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Hundreds of workers poisoned in Thanh Hoa:

20140515 VNNetPatients lie on the floor of a hospital in Thanh Hoa.

After drinking water at the factory before starting work in the early morning, many workers subsequently came down with symptoms of poisoning, such as dizziness, foaming at the mouth, vomiting and fainting.

The number of workers with similar symptoms increased very quickly. The factory’s health station had to ask for assistance from the Department of Health of Thanh Hoa Province. Dozens of ambulances were sent to the factory to take workers to hospitals.

Because of the incident, all hospitals in the city of Thanh Hoa were quickly overloaded. The Hop Luc Hospital alone received up to 500 people. The lobby of the first floor and the hallways in the hospital became patient rooms. After detoxification treatment, some patients were awake but many were still unconscious. The hospital hall was in turmoil when relatives of workers came to find their family members.

Outside the Hongfu Vietnam factory, which has about 10,000 workers, traffic was congested. Workers stopped working to go into to the street. The authorities sent security forces, traffic police and mobile police to the factory to restore order.
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* Vietnamese labor productivity lags behind ASEAN neighbors: report  :

20140515 THANHNIENews labor_hdqd

One year before the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is set to bring greater mobility to the region, Vietnamese labor productivity has been found lagging behind its neighbors.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) recently announced that labor productivity in Vietnam is among the lowest in the Asia – Pacific region.
A survey conducted last year by the organization found that Singaporean productivity was nearly 15 times that of Vietnam’s, while Japan’s was 11 times higher and South Korean 10 times higher.
Vietnam’s productivity was just one-fifth of Malaysia’s, and two-fifths that of Thailand, according to the ILO study.
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* PM orders strengthening security, social order:

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has asked ministries, agencies and centrally-run localities to take urgent measures to ensure security and social order and dully punish extremists causing social instability.

The PM’s request comes after several extremists, joining gatherings in several localities in protest against China’s illegal placement of its drilling rig Ocean-981 in Vietnam’s territorial waters, incited workers to damage properties of companies, including those owned by foreign investors, and resist against on-duty law enforcement officials.
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20140516 * HCM City vows to protect foreign investors:

Ho Chi Minh City will do its utmost to protect the safety and property of foreign investors, the city’s top politician has said. 

Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Le Hoang Quan held a May 15 working session with representatives of some foreign consulate generals based in the city regarding recent incidents in Ho Chi Minh City and surrounding localities during which some extremists had destroyed the property of foreign enterprises.
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* Ministry ensures security, order at industrial zones:

The Ministry of Public Security has instructed police in southern Binh Duong province to work with other forces in ensuring security and order at industrial zones and safety for foreign workers there.

Deputy Minister Lieut. Gen. To Lam made a fact-finding tour of industrial zones in the province on May 15.

He also directed the force to provide necessary support for businesses to resume production activities.
read more.

20140516 * Law breakers punished following damaging disturbances:

The Police Agency of southern Binh Duong province has arrested more than 800 suspects following disturbances at industrial zones in the locality. 

Those people were investigated on charges of causing public disorder, appropriating and destroying assets and taking actions against on-duty officials, according to Major Vo Thanh Duc, Director of the agency.Following legal proceedings, over 300 of them have now been found guilty of criminal violations that will be strictly punished under the law, he said.The local authorities and police are doing all they can to protect the safety of foreign workers and assets belonging to foreign businesses, he said, stating that Vietnamese law protects all people regardless of nationality.The police are intensifying measures to ensure security at industrial zones so that factories can operate normally while the authorities are providing a high level of assistance for businesses working in the province.

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20140516 * China lodges protest over Vietnam mob attacks:

20140516 CHINAorg
Rioting destroyed this Chinese-owned shoe factory in the southern Vietnamese province of Binh Duong on Wednesday. [Agenices via China Daily]

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi strongly condemned the violent attacks in an urgent phone call with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh Thursday evening.

Wang said Vietnam bears unshirkable responsibility for the violent attacks against Chinese companies and nationals. He demanded Vietnam immediately take resolute and effective measures to stop all violence and ensure the safety of the lives and property of all Chinese nationals and companies there.

He also urged for proper arrangement of those companies and nationals, all-out efforts to treat the injured, immediate investigation into the violence, harsh punishment of all perpetrators and compensation for the companies and nationals.
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20140515 * Agitators arrested for provoking workers in protests against China:

Tens of thousands of workers in many industrial zones in the south took to the streets to protest China’s aggression in the East Sea. Some agitators took advantage of the situation to incite workers to burn factories, and assault guards and foreign staff of many foreign-invested firms.

On Tuesday morning, with the national flag in hand, about 7,000 workers of the Thong Dung Shoe Company in the An Phu Ward of Thuan An Town, Binh Duong Province, began a march from the company headquarters through many roads and chanted slogans protesting China’s illegal installation of its HD-981 oil rig.

Many workers insisted that they would only return to work after China removes its rig from Vietnam’s waters. According to the workers, those who participated in the strikes are employees of Chinese or Taiwanese companies. The demonstration at first took place within the area of the Thong Dung shoe company, but whenever the group passed factories with Chinese characters, they stopped and chanted anti-China slogans.
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20140515 * Authorities move to restore order after unrest at IPs:

20140515 VNNews binhduong
Local officials instructed relevant forces to protect the foreign-invested companies and restore order. — Photo VNE

Authorities in several southern cities and provinces took measures to stabilise the situation in industrial parks (IPs) and export processing zones (EPZs) where extremists incited workers to break social order and security.

In recent days, workers at IPs and EPZs in HCM City and the provinces of Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc and Dong Nai held rallies to protest China’s illegal placement of its oil rig in Viet Nam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
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* Riot in central Vietnam leaves one dead, 149 injured:

Violence in Vung Ang industrial park in Vietnam’s central Ha Tinh province left one people dead and 149 others injured, Vice Chairman of Ha Tinh Provincial People’s Committee Dang Quoc Khanh said on Thursday.

Khanh made the statement in an interview with Vietnam’s state- run television VTV.
Khanh blamed the conflict between Vietnamese and Chinese workers for the violence.
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* 2 Chinese killed, over 100 injured in Vietnam mob attacks:

At least two Chinese nationals have been killed and over 100 Chinese hospitalized after rioters attacked Chinese companies in Vietnam, sources told Xinhua on Thursday.

10 Chinese remained unaccounted for following the attacks.
“The protests were held throughout Wednesday. The rioters attacked our four Chinese companies constructing an iron and steel complex invested by China’s Taiwan,” a Chinese manager in Ha Tinh, which is some 300 km south of Vietnamese capital Hanoi, told Xinhua.

“They broke into our offices, wrecking and looting the properties, and burned our dormitory building before leaving,” he said, requesting anonymity for fear of retaliation.
Among the four Chinese companies there, China 19th Metallurgical Corporation (MCC19) was the most seriously hit.
“So far, around 10 staff lost contact with us and at least 55 workers were wounded,” an official with MCC19 told Xinhua on Thursday morning.
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* 10 Chinese unaccounted for after Vietnam’s mob attacks:

Around 10 Chinese remained unaccounted for on Thursday after violent rioters attacked Chinese companies in Vietnam’s central Ha Tinh Province, with casualties feared, sources said.

“The protests were held throughout Wednesday. The rioters attacked our four Chinese companies constructing an iron and steel complex invested by China’s Taiwan,” a Chinese manager in Ha Tinh, which is some 300 km south of Vietnamese capital Hanoi, told Xinhua.

“They broke into our offices, wrecking and looting the properties, and burned our dormitory building before leaving,” he said, requesting anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Among the four Chinese companies there, China 19th Metallurgical Corporation (MCC19) was the most seriously hit.

“So far, around 10 staff lost contact with us and at least 55 workers were wounded,” an official with MCC19 told Xinhua on Thursday morning.
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20140515 * Vietnam’s anti-China riots ‘hurt its image’:

Mobs chanting anti-Chinese slogans have set at least 15 foreign factories on fire in southern Vietnam.

An analyst said the incidents were among the country’s most serious riots and would tarnish its image as an investment and tourist destination.

The rioting started late on Tuesday when about 19,000 workers protested at a Singapore-run industrial park and others nearby in Binh Duong province, 1,120 km south of Hanoi, the capital.

Authorities said rioting and looting forced the closure of 1,000 factories, but no casualties were confirmed. About 500 people were arrested.
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CHINAORG people rood SouthchinaMORNINGPOST asia

20140515 * More than 20 dead as anti-China riots spread in Vietnam:

More than 20 people were killed and rioters attacked Vietnam’s biggest steel plant overnight as violent anti-China protests spread to the centre of the country a day after arson and looting in the south, a doctor and newspapers said on Thursday.

A doctor at a hospital in central Ha Tinh province said five Vietnamese workers and 16 other people described as Chinese were killed in the rioting, one of the worst breakdowns in Sino-Vietnamese relations since the neighbors fought a brief border war in 1979.

“There were about a hundred people sent to the hospital last night. Many were Chinese. More are being sent to the hospital this morning,” the doctor at Ha Tinh General Hospital told Reuters by phone.

Hundreds of Chinese had fled Vietnam, either by air or by crossing into neighboring Cambodia, reports said.
read more.

20140515 * Dozens killed in Vietnam anti-China protests:

At least 21 killed in latest incident of rioting over the Chinese construction of an oil rig in disputed waters.

At least five Vietnamese people and 16 others described as Chinese have been killed in the latest incident of rioting, Reuters news agency has reported, as tension between Beijing and Vietnam escalates over the disputed territory in the South China Sea.

Wednesday night’s violence comes hours after mobs burned and looted a number of foreign-owned factories at industrial parks near the capital Ho Chi Minh City. The protests by workers are against China’s recent placement of an oil rig in the disputed Southeast Asian waters.

Vietnam has sent ships to confront the rig which are engaged in a tense standoff with Chinese vessels protecting it.

At least 20,000 workers began rioting in Binh Duong province on Tuesday. Smaller groups of men attacked factories they believed were Chinese-run, but many were Taiwanese or South Korean, the provincial government said in a statement.
read & see more (video report).

20140515 * Li & Fung’s US clients face delays as Vietnam plants shut amid rioting:

US clients of Li & Fung, the world’s largest sourcing firm, face delays of about a week, as violent anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam have forced most factories in Ho Chi Minh City to cease production.

However, the Hong Kong-based company, which counts Wal-mart Stores, Target and Gap among its customers, said its suppliers have so far been minimally damaged.

“We’re talking about a week type of delay, not months. I truly believe that not only the factories but the government will not allow this to happen,” chief executive Bruce Rockowitz said at the supply chain giant’s annual general meeting on Thursday.

“It’s mostly our American clients [that may be affected],” Rockowitz said.
“The good news is that this is a bit early for back to school [business]. When you get closer to the end of June and into July, then it becomes a lot more critical.”

Protests erupted on Tuesday in Vietnam, which accounts for about 7 per cent of Li & Fung’s sourcing base, after China placed an oil rig in a region of the South China Sea claimed by both countries.
read more.

20140514 * Thousands protest China’s East Sea incursions:

 >>  East sea tension triggered by China is viewpoint of many countries
 >>  NGOs concern about China’s illegal acts
 >>  Chinese continue firing water cannons at Vietnamese ships

Thousands of workers in HCM City as well as Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces on May 13 demonstrated their opposition to the illegal oil rig in Vietnamese waters.

Workers at Tan Tao Industrial Park in Binh Tan District, HCM City, used their lunch hour to gather in support of Vietnam and against Chinese infringements.
They carried signs such as, “Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands belong to Vietnam”, “Unity is strength” and “We will protect our national sovereignty”.

On the same day, around 1,000 workers at Cu Hung Ltd. Co., in Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai Province, made a similar demonstration, beginning at their company headquarters and then traveling across Dong Khoi towards the stadium.

Such protests have been reported in numerous locations, including the King Makerrong Company, located in the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park No. 1, and a number of Taiwanese and Chinese firms, such as the Shyang Hung Cheng Company and King Footwear Company.
These incidents were not isolated, and authorities asked that management make efforts to stabilise the situation so as to avoid any damages to persons or property.
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DTI VNNews new

20140514 * Vietnam police detain over 600 rioters in southern localities:

20140514 TUOITREnews2
Workers peacefully rally in Dong Nai Province on May 14, 2014 to oppose China’s illegal deployment of an oil rig in Vietnamese waters on May 1.

Police in southern Vietnam’s Binh Duong Province have captured hundreds of aggressive people who are suspected of taking advantage of peaceful marches against China’s illicit placement of an oil rig in Vietnamese waters to cause public disturbance and destroy property since Tuesday, Vo Thanh Lap, an industrial park management chief told Tuoi Tre on Wednesday.

More than 440 such violent people have been nabbed since riots erupted in the province yesterday, Lap said, adding that these hooligans damaged corporate assets, looted property, and even attacked police officers.

Lap is the head of the management board of industrial parks in the southern province of Dong Nai. He revealed the number after meeting with Taiwanese, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese investors the same day.

Riots spread from Binh Duong to Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Nai Province, he said, divulging that over 100 have been arrested in the former and 86 others nicked in the latter.

The Binh Duong authorities have called on people to keep calm, act with restraint, and not to be incited to commit illegal acts, the provincial People’s Committee said in a statement released today.

The committee has also instructed that local police resolutely crack down on those who made use of the peaceful marches to cause public disorder and damage property of residents and enterprises.

According to the statement, hundreds of enterprises in Binh Duong – most of which are owned or managed by Chinese, Taiwanese, and South Koreans – had their assets destroyed during the chaos as of 1:00 am on May 14.

At least 15 factories were set on fire, causing losses worth billions of dong, and leaving thousands of workers at risk of losing their jobs.
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201401514 * Vietnamese protests hit Chinese factories:

Thousands of anti-China protesters in Vietnam targeted and trashed foreign factories in southern region of the country over China’s recent installment of an oil rig at the South China Sea.

So far, over 1,000 factories have shut down and over 15 factories have been burnt down by the protesters. Most of the factories hit were Taiwan-invested companies, said local Chinese.

The Vietnamese government has confirmed the move was illegal. Tran Van Nam, vice chairman of Binh Duong Province People’s Committee, said in a interview on Wednesday that Binh Duong is determined to suppress those who force others to take illegal actions.
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20140514 * Protesters torch factories in Vietnam:

Mobs torched and looted scores of foreign-owned factories in Vietnam following a large protest by workers against China’s recent placement of an oil rig in disputed Southeast Asian waters, officials said Wednesday. 

The unrest at industrial parks close to Ho Chi Minh City is the most serious outbreak of public disorder in the tightly controlled country in years. It points to the dangers for the government as it tries to manage public anger at China while also itself protesting the Chinese actions in an area of the South China Sea it says belongs to Vietnam.

Vietnam has sent ships to confront the rig which are engaged in a tense standoff with Chinese vessels protecting it.

The rioting Tuesday into Wednesday in Binh Duong province followed protests by up to 20,000 workers at the industrial parks. Smaller groups of men attacked factories they believed were Chinese-run, but many were Taiwanese or South Korean, the provincial government said in a statement.
Taiwanese-owned athletic shoe manufacturer Yue Yuen, which makes shoes for Nike, Adidas and Reebok, said it had closed its three complexes close to Ho Chi Minh City as a precautionary measure. ”We believe that this should be solved very soon, that somehow ultimately it will be up to the government authorities to guide the overall sentiment,” company spokesman Jerry Shum said.

Low wages have attracted foreign investors from across the world to Vietnam in recent years.

In 2013 Chinese invested US$2.3 billion, a sharp rise from the previous year, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment. The country is also Vietnam’s biggest trading partner, exporting billions of dollars of materials each year for factories producing goods including clothes, shoes and smartphones.
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bangkokpostBusiness NEWAGEnew

20140514 * Anger Grows in Vietnam Over Dispute With China:

Thousands of workers rampaged through an industrial area in southern Vietnam on Tuesday in what reportedly began as protests against China’s stationing of an oil rig in disputed waters off of Vietnam’s coast.

The riots were some of the worst civil unrest in recent years and appear to have prompted  restraints on the local media by Vietnam’s authoritarian government. An article about the protests that was posted online by a Vietnamese state newspaper on Tuesday was removed by Wednesday morning.

The Chinese Embassy in Hanoi issued a notice on Wednesday that urged Chinese living in Vietnam to “minimize unnecessary outings.”

A staff member at the Chutex Garment Factory north of Ho Chi Minh City said 8,000 to 10,000 workers were involved in the rampage at his factory.
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NYT  reuters

07:41:04 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Thailand losing trade competitiveness:

Thailand is losing its export markets to other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) because of the Asean+3 trade agreement and the continuing political problem, according to Aat Pisanwanich, director of the Centre of International Trade Studies at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, 

Between 2007 to 2013 Thailand had lost export markets worth about 180 billion baht to other Asean members. During that period it also signed a trade agreement under the Asean+3 grouping that includes China, South Korea and Japan, Mr Aat said on Thursday.

The lost markets included rubber, automobiles, auto parts, transport equipment, wooden products, electrical appliances, rice, palm oil and garments – industries that make up about 50% of Thailand’s exports.
read more.

07:41:04 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Wage talk for workers to be resumed next week:

Talk to discuss minimum wage for footwear and garment factory workers will be resumed next week, an official said.

The source said the final wage talk may be held in late 2014 to decide on minimum wage for the workers.

The meeting between representatives from factories and unions as well as government officials last month produced five points of agreement including annual and gradual wage increase.

The garment and footwear factory workers have begun protesting since late 2013 and early 2014 to demand wage increase to US$160 per month.
read more.

* Workers fired after strike:

Two factories in the Manhattan Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town have fired more than 40 workers since thousands-strong strikes ended early this month, unions say.

Terminations at Best Way and Fico garment factories were bosses’ way of exacting revenge for the large-scale strike that closed entire SEZs for days, Meas Sokna, an official from the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said.

All 40 dismissals occurred last week, and about 10 new workers replaced them, an official at Best Way said.
“It is not acceptable,” Sokna said. “After they joined the strike last month, the company fired a few workers each day until more than 40 had been sacked.”
read more.
PPP new

(note: ‘Best Way’ is a bicycle factory)

* Wing Star victim’s kin not paid out:

When an overloaded and illegally built storage level at the Wing Star Shoes factory in Kampong Speu province collapsed last May 16, officials went into damage control, promising to compensate victims using a relatively new state fund.

But one year after teenager Kim Dany and co-worker Rim Roeun, 22, were crushed to death at the factory – which supplies Japanese footwear firm Asics – the multimillion-dollar National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has yet to pay Dany’s family compensation beyond funeral costs.

The NSSF, established in 2007 to insure private-sector workers and their families in the event of injury or death, has not paid Dany’s parents a survivors’ pension, despite provisions for such benefits enshrined in ththe law.

“I don’t think the government will pay me,” Dany’s father, Korn Vet, 45, said this week. “So, I am not surprised. But I’m not feeling angry, because the company [Asics] has already paid – and I don’t want to think about it more, because my daughter has already died.”
read more.
PPP new

* Nearly 850 protests this year: police:

20140515 PPP Garment-Protest
Garment workers demand a minimum wage increase in the capital last year.
Photo by Hong Menea

Almost 850 demonstrations or strikes have occurred nationwide since the year began – a seemingly anarchic average of more than six a day, the General Commissariat of National Police announced this week, blaming politicians, NGOs and trade unions for helping to incite demonstrators and “complicating the security situation” in the country.

But rights groups and the opposition party say that the sheer number of protests proves discontent is widespread in the Kingdom and that instead of playing the blame game, the government should be doing more to address the root causes of dissatisfaction, such as poor labour conditions and rights abuses.

Issues including land disputes, eviction resettlements, human rights and labour issues have fuelled 842 protests so far this year, at times leading to violence, rioting and the blocking of public roads, Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun announced in a report released to coincide with the 69th anniversary of the founding of the National Police on Monday.
read more.
PPP new

08:41:04 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Divided labor force a dilemma for next Indonesian president:

The campaign rally by Indonesian presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto at Jakarta’s national stadium ahead of the April parliamentary election was a busy day for people selling snacks and cigarettes, including 35-year-old Nurjaman.

Six weeks later, Prabowo, a robust ex-special forces commander, was back at the stadium pledging support for a 30% hike in minimum wages at a Labor Day jamboree. It was a welcome development for the 100,000 unionized workers in the crowd, but not such good news for Nurjaman and the majority of the Indonesian workforce.

“I can make 3 million rupiah ($261) in a really good month,” says Nurjaman, who, like many Indonesians, goes by a single name.
“Other months, I can’t afford to buy food.
He starts work at 7 a.m. and finishes around midnight to support two children; and yet he has seen his income decline by about 15% in the last two years.
read more.

* Indonesia’s knitwear exports drop 2.34% in Jan-March’14:

The exports of knitted or crocheted apparel and clothing accessories (under HS code 61) from the Southeast Asian nation of Indonesia dropped marginally by 2.34 percent to US$ 844.7 million in the first three months of the current year, compared to exports of $864.9 million made during the corresponding period of last year, the data from Statistics Indonesia showed.
In March 2014, Indonesia’s knitwear exports stood at $269.3 million, showing a decline of 2.09 percent over exports valued at $275.1 million made in February 2014.
read more.

07:11:04 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Garment workers protest for 6th day:

20140514 ELEVEN
Workers staging a protest in the front of Star Tax garment factory. 

About 180 workers from Star Tax garment factory continued a sixth day of protest on May 13 over issues including mismanagement and ill treatment of workers.

The protest started in the front of factory, in Shwe Pyi Tha Industrial zone, on May 8 and have demanded the immediate sacking of the factory manager.
“We will be here until the factory manager gets sacked. Today is 6th day. The employer did not make further discussions with us until now,” said San Thi, a worker from the factory. 

“The employer did not come to the township office on May 12 to coordinate. There is only one demand from the workers,” said Khat Khat Naing, a protest worker.
That factory is owned by a Taiwanese woman, who workers say met with them on May 9 but has not fulfilled any of their demands. 

“This is a case between the employer and employees. It is impossible to settle this problem as their demand is not in conformity with the existing law,” said Myo Myint Tun, head of township factories and labour law inspection department.
to read.

* Water bears brunt of dyeing industry:

The waters of Wundwin, the centre of Myanmar’s traditional weaving industry, are to be cleansed. Last week the Mandalay Environmental Conservation Department proposed three solutions to clean up the waters polluted by fabric dyes.

The clean-up effort is also to be reinforced by stricter penalties against companies that pollute the water.

The various proposals were outlined at a meeting on May 2 on practical technological assistance for removing the pollution, which threatens surrounding farmlands in Wundwin township, about 130 kilometres (80 miles) from Mandalay.

There are about 600 garment factories in Wundwin, the centre of production of Myanmar traditional wear, each using 10 or 12 looms. The township is home to about 70 percent of the country’s production.

“The basic colour of the fabric is black, so we have to dye it to the colour of choice. Dyeing is done according to a traditional formula, involving boiling the fabric, beating it manually and soaking it in cold water. It wastes gallons of water,” said Wundwin businessman U Win Maung.

The solutions proposed involved treating the polluted water with alum before passing it through a series of pools, or physically transporting the water to a processing factory for cleansing. The first two are for relatively small volumes of water, and the third is said to be very expensive.
read more.

06:41:04 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* One-Year Anniversary of the Signing of the Accord:

One year ago today, 17 ready-made garment (RMG) industry global brands and retailers and 2 global unions and their national RMG affiliates signed an unprecedented agreement to make RMG factories safe in Bangladesh.


One year later, 172 global brands and retailers from Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia have joined the legally binding Accord. Together, we are building a safe garment industry in Bangladesh.

The work of the Accord is not complete until the RMG factories are safe. With its operations on the ground since mid-November 2013, the Accord has a full inspections program underway to identify fire, electrical, and building safety hazards at Accord brand producing factories.
With more than 550 factories inspected, the program is well on its way to achieve its goal to have 1500 factories inspected by the end of September 2014.

“Independent, engineering-based inspections of this many factories in this amount of time is unparalleled as is the public disclosure of the reports and corrective active plans of the initial inspections”, explains Rob Wayss, Executive Director Bangladesh Operations.
Hundreds more corrective action plans based on the completed Accord inspections are currently being finalized by factory owners, Accord brands, and worker representatives. These reports and corrective action plans will also be published on the Accord website in the next weeks.
read more.

20140514 * Accord Statement on United Trousers Ltd. Accident:

With great sadness the Accord has learned of the death of a worker employed as loader at United Trousers Ltd. in Ashulia.

The Accord is informed the worker was killed when a divider wall in a detached one-story storage / canteen building collapsed from the weight of fabric rolls being unloaded from a delivery vehicle. The collapse occurred early evening on Saturday 10 May.

The Accord expresses our sincerest condolences to the family and survivors of the worker, to his friends, colleagues, and co-workers. We offer our sympathies and concerns to the workers who are reported as injured. The Accord is working to confirm the number and extent of their injuries. Initial information suggests 5 workers were injured.

This tragic event again highlights the urgency of assessing RMG facilities for safety and working in earnest to ensure such safety problems are properly corrected. This most recent tragedy demonstrates that while efforts are underway, we still have a lot of work to do. The Accord reaffirms our commitment to making RMG factories in Bangladesh safe.
to read.

* One year anniversary of the Bangladesh Accord:

One year ago today on 15 May 2013 history was made when a ground-breaking agreement brokered by IndustriALL Global Union and Uni Global Union to make a safer garment industry in Bangladesh was signed by 17 clothing brands.

The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety brought together the ready-made garment (RMG) industry and unions for the first time in a legally-binding agreement to inspect and improve the safety conditions of all factories supplying brands signed up to the Accord.

Jenny Holdcroft, Policy Director at IndustriALL, said: The Accord replaces the ineffectual and piecemeal efforts by individual brands of the past with a binding agreement with trade unions. This is global industrial relations applied to global supply chain violations of workers’ rights.
read more.

* Accord under fire for not paying jobless RMG workers:

The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety organised the meeting at its office in the city to share the progress report on the factory inspection

The RMG workers’ leaders yesterday came down heavily on the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh as it is yet to provide any compensation fund for the jobless workers during factory closures or suspension for remediation work.

Expressing their grave concern over the factory closures, which resulted in several thousand of workers jobless, the leaders also urged the Alliance officials to increase the workers’ compensation from the the existing two months to six months.

However, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety organised the meeting at its office in the city to share the progress report on the factory inspection.

The meeting, which aims at discussing about the possible paths for including the trade unions leaders in factory inspection, in workers training programme, in awareness building programmes for workers safety measures and also in maintaining the helpline.

The meeting also discussed on how to involve workers’ leaders in the remediation process and follow-ups and also to engage them in the decision making process of next course of action.

Accord is not paying the salaries to the jobless workers during factory closures for remediation work although it is shutting down factories one after another in the name of safety and security, Sirajul Islam Rony, President, Bangladesh National Garment Workers Employees League (BNGWEL) told the meeting.

“As around 10,000 workers have already become jobless since the inspection started, we will go for launching tougher movement if the Accord failed to pay the compensation for the jobless workers,” he warned.
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* Alliance lags in publishing factory inspection reports:

An alliance of North American clothing retailers has failed to publish its factory inspection reports and introduce hotlines for workers in time.

The platform of 26 US-based retailers and brands, Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, said it completed inspecting 80 percent of factories that supply clothes to its members.
The group was supposed to publish the reports on its website months ago, but “some technical problems” delayed the move.

“We now plan to post the assessment reports of 25 inspected factories in a day or two on the Alliance’s website,” said the group’s Managing Director Rabin Mesbah.
Accord, another platform of 150 retailers and brands, mostly European, has already published its first assessment reports on its website in the first week of March.
“From now, we will publish reports on 10 to 15 inspected factories periodically—perhaps once a month,” Mesbah said.

Regarding the hotlines or helplines, he said everything is ready to launch the services, but there are some legal matters to be solved first.

The Alliance has hired three firms—Good World Solution, Clear Voice and Phulki, a local nongovernmental organisation—to give advice to the workers through the hotlines. California-based Good World Solution provides hotline services in Vietnam and Cambodia.
read more.
daily star bd

* Alliance completes 80pc of RMG factory inspection:

The North American retailers have so far inspected 80 per cent of 626 garment factories that supply products to them and two of the factories were closed down on safety grounds as per their recommendations.

The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, the platform of the North American buyers, revealed the update of its inspection of garment units at a press conference at its Gulshan office in the city on Thursday.
The Alliance said that they found structural and electrical faults in most of the 508 garments they had inspected but they sent a list of five factories with severe faults to the government-formed review committee for closing down.

‘One factory has been closed down and all workers of the unit have been transferred to another factory owned by the same person. Another factory has been completely closed down and the owners of the unit and Alliance have given compensation equal to wages for two months,’ M Rabin, executive director of the Alliance said at the press conference.
Bangladesh Trade Union Centre general secretary Wajed-ul-Islam, Bangladesh Labour Federation general secretary Delwar Hossain Khan, Jatiya Sramik Leauge president Shukkur Mahmud attended the programmes, among others.

The labour leaders said that workers of the closed factories should be given compensation and benefits as per the labour law, which stipulates that a worker would get wages for three months and other benefits like gratuity after the factory closure.
They also criticised the EU retailers for not taking any responsibility of the workers who were losing jobs because of factory closure.
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* Accord and Buet close to consensus:

‘But we have not yet come to a consensus on core strength’

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh came to a consensus with Buet engineers on the required concrete strength of RMG factory buildings, apparently ending their dispute over the ongoing factory inspection.

The consensus emerged at meeting held in Dhaka yesterday among the technical experts from Bangladesh university of Engineering and Technology, Accord, Alliance and Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments.

As per the decision, the concrete strength of a factory building will be 2,370 pound per square inch (psi) for stone-made structure and 20,50 psi for brick-made ones.

International Labour Organisation (ILO) mediated the meeting to reach a consensus over the required concrete strength of a RMG factory building as a neutral body.

The meeting discussed some issues including core strength value for factory assessment, fact of safety (FoS) calculation, harmonising reporting formats of Accord, Alliance and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), thermographic inspection and technical differences of review panel decision.
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* BUET teams find 2 RMG units risky:

BUET teams, out of their assessed 200 units, have identified two garment factories risky in terms of structural integrity, sources involved with the process said.

The Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) teams Wednesday submitted their revised reports to the authority concerned. The reports included findings on structural integrity of 200 units and fire and electrical ones of 100.
They submitted reports of 50 units last month, where no building was identified as red.

BUET teams assessed about 252 garment units under a joint programme of the government and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Under it BUET teams are expected to asses about 1,300 factories that remain outside the purview of the Accord and the Alliance.
read more.
FE bd

* 12 RMG factories face closure after BUET inspection:

At least 12 readymade garment factories out of 252 inspected by the experts of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology may face closure as severe structural faults were found in those units.

The BUET experts said they had found structural flaws in 25 per cent of their inspected RMG factories while five per cent of the factories were highly risky and the number of the factories might be more than 12.
Under the arrangement of the government and in association with the International Labour Organisation, the BUET experts comprising of different teams started safety assessment in the garment factories on November 15, 2013.

Earlier, the BUET teams had submitted its findings on 50 garment factories to the government in April and findings on the rest are likely to be submitting today (Wednesday).
A BUET professor told New Age that they had graded the inspected factories in four categories based on colour code as per international standard.
read more.

* Take BUET advice on RMG inspections:

All parties share a common goal and should work together to ensure progress

Stakeholders in the garment industry must agree a clearer consensus on the way forward for safety inspections and sharing the costs for necessary remediation works.

The government, BUET, ILO and the two brand-led multi-stakeholder groups, the Accord and Alliance, all share a vital, common goal to improve safety standards throughout the industry.

Engineers from BUET are due to meet the Accord and Alliance on Thursday to review their recommended standard for the required concrete strength of RMG factory buildings.
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* Raushan seeks Chinese support for training of women garment workers:

Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Raushan Ershad today sought the Chinese government’s cooperation for training facilities of women working in the Readymade Garment (RMG) sector.

She sought the Chinese support when Vice-Chairperson of Chinese Peoples Congress Yan Iunqi made a courtesy call on Raushan at a city hotel, said a Jatiya Sangsad release.

Chinese Ambassador in Dhaka Li Jun, Jatiya Party lawmaker Fakhrul Imam and Raushan Ershad’s Political Secretary Golam Mosiha were present on the occasion.
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* Project launched with ILO for building qualified workforce:

The government and the International Labour Organization (ILO) on Thursday launched a major initiative to achieve the goal of building a better trained and qualified workforce for key industry sectors with a project involving Canadian dollar 19.5 million.

The project titled ‘Bangladesh Skills for Employment and Productivity’ (B-SEP) was launched at a ceremony in the city.
Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid, Canadian High Commissioner Heather Cruden and ILO Country Director for Bangladesh Srinivasa B Reddy were present at the function, said an ILO media release.
read more. & read more. & read more.
UNB FE bd daily star bd

* GSP suspension not to be harmful:

Alamgir tells banglanews

The country is now in deep crisis. Law and order situation is now at its lowest ebb. It is urgent to come out of the situation like this now prevailing.

Otherwise stability will not come in country’s economy that will hamper development. The whole economy might be at risks. However, the GSP suspension will not cause any harm to our economy.

This was the opinion of ACI Executive Director (EC) Syed Alamgir better known in country’s corporate circle as the Bangladeshi Philip Cotler. He has taken the retailing business to an envious position.

He told that garments industry is one of our main strength of economy. This is a big sector for earning foreign remittance. This sector is keeping our economy moving forward. A large number of workers are working in this sector. They are contributing lot in our economy.

He mentioned that the suspension of GSP in readymade garments will not create any adverse impact because due to GSP we cannot make any sizeable profit; the buyers extract commission from the range of 10 to 15 percent from the Generalized System Preference (GSP) facilities.
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* Ensuring workers-friendly environ that really matters for RMG: Mozena:

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan W Mozena on Thursday observed that ensuring the workers-friendly environment is what really matters for the readymade garment (RMG) sector of the country.

Responding to the reporters’ queries at a press conference at the local Circuit House, he said resumption of the GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) facility is not a big concern, but his country is looking forward to the progress made in ensuring workers-friendly environment in Bangladesh.
read more. & to read.

* AL govt revives jute sector: Amu:

Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu said that the government revived the jute sector, which was destroyed during the past governments.

The minister said this while inaugurating the second unit of Bakshiganj Jute Spinners Limited in Bakshiganj upazila in the district on May 14. The minister said after 2001, BNP government shut down many jute mills, including Admjee Jute Mills, in the country leaving many workers jobless.
He said the present government re-opened many closed jute mills and earned large amount of foreign exchange from export of jute. Besides, the government has many achievements in various sectors, including agriculture.
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* Leather units to be relocated in 3 months after CETP is completed:

Exporters of leather goods Thursday said 70 per cent of present pollution from the tanneries situated at the capital’s Hazaribagh area can be cut by partial relocation to Savar Tannery Estate within this year.

They also said relocation of the tanneries is a must for the survival of the industry, export growth of leather and leather goods and welfare of workers engaged in the industry. They said the tanners are ready to shift to Savar as soon as construction of the central effluent treatment plant (CETP) by the government is completed.

They were speaking at a press conference organised on the occasion of a national seminar on ‘Environmentally Friendly Leather Industries in Bangladesh: A Roadmap to Competitiveness and Sustainability’ at the conference room of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) in the city. The EPB and the RMM Leather Industry jointly organised the press conference.
read more.& read more.

* Turning the world inside out!  :

The disaster in Rana Plaza on 24 April 2013, where at least 1,138 Bangladeshi garment workers died, has spurred more people to fight for better conditions for the world’s 75 million garment workers.

On the one-year anniversary, fashion industry figures organised the first annual and international “Fashion Revolution Day” (FRD). UK events included a debate in the House of Lords; “fash mob” in Carnaby Street by London College of Fashion students; and Twitter Q&A with experts, including the IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary talking about a new trade union organising drive in Bangladesh: “The stronger the union, the safer the factory!”

FRD encouraged people to tweet a photograph of themselves wearing their clothes inside-out to their garment’s manufacturer and ask them: “Who made my clothes?”

For the FRD organisers, wearing clothes inside-out — showing the stitching and the label — helped people to think about what goes on behind the scenes of the fashion industry:

“We need to… reconnect the broken links in the supply chain. At the moment of purchase, most of us are unaware of the processes and impacts involved in the creation of a garment. We need to reconnect through a positive narrative, to understand that we aren’t just purchasing a garment or accessory, but a whole chain of value and relationships.

“…It takes a lot to make a garment. Not just the bits we hear about — the designers, the brands, the shops, the catwalk shows and the parties — but also the farmers who grow cotton, the ginners, spinners, weavers, dyers, sewers and other factory workers without whom the industry would not exist. These people, the people who make our clothes, are hidden from us, often at their own expense.
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* A real fashion revolution:

Can consumer activism have an impact on the global apparel industry?

20140515 DHAKATRIBUNE rmg

There are few industrial disasters in recent memory that has shaken up the public conscience the way that the Rana Plaza tragedy has.

The death of 1,133 workers on April 23, 2013 focused attention on the high human cost of cheap fashion. Outrage has poured in from every corner of the globe on the appalling conditions that workers have to endure and the outrage has been accompanied by a call to action from all quarters. There was a consensus that all parties involved – international brands, governments, factory owners, trade unions and even consumers  –  need to take action to change the status quo.

This year April 24 was declared “Fashion Revolution” day, an international day of public action with simultaneous events taking place in 51 countries around the world. The main purpose of #fashionrevolution was to commemorate the Rana Plaza tragedy and to raise awareness of the conditions in the global garment supply chain.

The slogan for the event was “meet your maker,” a rather unfortunate choice of words, but the intent is clear enough – get to know the people who are making your clothes. Public education and awareness raising events included screening of documentaries, speaker events with experts, raising funds for the victims and in some places demonstrations and human chains.

However, the rhetoric of  the Fashion Revolution day was far more ambitious than just raising awareness.

To quote from the website: “Together we can use the power of fashion to catalyse change and reconnect the broken links in the supply chain. Wear your clothes inside-out to help start the beginning of an industry-wide transformation towards a more sustainable future.” This call to action to wear your clothes inside out resulted in an avalanche of #insideout hipster selfies on the website, Facebook and Twitter.

While this demonstrates a certain level of interest among consumers and perhaps even solidarity with garment workers, it is doubtful that the campaign will generate any kind of real impact on the lives of garment workers in developing countries or the global garment supply chain.

Squandering the consumer good will
If the revolution fails then certainly the blame can’t be attributed to the consumers. Boycotting is the single most powerful tool consumers have to let companies know that the way they run their business is unacceptable. However, ever since the Rana Plaza strategy, consumers have been consistently told to not boycott clothing from Bangladesh for fear of putting poor people out of their jobs. But what other options are available then?

One of the “action points” on the Fashion Revolution site is to “demand transparency.” That seems like a worthy goal and a reasonable place to start. However, it’s not clear how consumers are supposed to demand transparency and from whom.

The global garment supply chain is complex and involves a multitude of players and issues that include production of the fibre, textile, manufacturing of the apparel and then the marketing and retailing of it.
All along the supply chain there are considerations of environmental and labour rights. A brief survey of the Fashion Revolution events around the world shows that while most consumer focus right now is on working conditions in the manufacturing part, they are also concerned with other issues along the supply chain. Environmental concerns, in particular, loom large.

International brands themselves have done very little so far to make their operations more transparent. Sustainability sections of major retail brands such as H&M and Inditex (owner of Zara, among other labels) is full of inspirational rhetoric about what they’re doing to improve the conditions of workers and the environment. While glossy marketing copy describes their “generous” programmes in detail, they are completely mum on the actual results of how these programmes are working.

Some brands on the other hand are trying to capitalise on rising consumer interest in sustainability, to market new product lines. However, consumers need to take a leap of faith, and “trust” that this is not just a marketing ploy as opposed to a real change in manufacturing practices.

If the brands are not required to produce hard evidence that what they are doing is actually improving working conditions or reducing environmental impact, then it becomes all too easy to white-wash the problems that cost money or are difficult to deal with.
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* Traumatised rescuers struggle with life:

When the nine-storey Rana Plaza crumbled last year, trapping over 2,000 people under the debris, several hundred untrained civilians volunteered in the rescue mission. And their service to humanity cost them dearly–dozens got mentally scarred at the horror that unfolded for 20 days.

Many rescuers became so traumatised and physically ailed that they are yet to get back to their profession. Consequently, the loss of their source of income coupled with the expenses of lengthy treatment has left them financially broke.
“I know more than 20 rescuers who are living in inhuman conditions after failing to return to their professions due to physical ailments and trauma,” said Abdur Rahman, one of about 100 civilian rescuers who gathered at the Rana Plaza site in Savar on Wednesday to mark one of year of the end to the rescue operation.

Housing five garment factories and some other offices and a market, Rana Plaza collapsed on April 24 last year, leaving more than 1,100 killed and hundreds wounded or maimed.
A 20-day rescue operation followed under the leadership of Bangladesh Army.
Two rescuers, Md Kaykobad and Md Omor Faruque Babu, died while the rescue mission was going on.

Within half a month after the mission ended on May 14 last year, Md Rafiqul Islam, 35, a mason, was admitted to the National Institute of Mental Health in Dhaka.
“The doctor asked me to stay in the hospital for more days, but there was none to look after my family back home. So I went back,” he told The Daily Star.
“My 19-year-old eldest daughter is the only bread earner in my six-member family now.”
read more.
daily star bd

06:11:04 local time map of india INDIA

* Indian handloom sector’s negative growth worries govt:

Indian handloom sector has been experiencing negative growth which is a cause of serious concern, said Textiles Secretary Zohra Chatterji, during the recently held Buyer-Seller Meet for handloom products in Mumbai, reports the Hindu Business Line.

Ms. Chatterji said during the event that the handloom sector in the country provides direct and indirect employment to more than 4.3 million weavers and allied workers, and currently the share of handloom products in total clothing production is only 11 percent, whereas, powerlooms account for 60 percent of the total clothing production.

The Textiles Ministry official explained that competition from powerloom and mill sector, availability of cheaper imported fabrics, changing consumer preferences and alternative employment opportunities are some of the factors negatively affecting the handloom sector in the country.
read more.

05:41:04 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Short-circuit: Man suffocates to death in factory fire:

20140516 TRIBUNEFirefighters remove debris from the garment factory that was gutted by fire on Thursday morning. The biggest obstacle for the firefighters was getting close to the fire as there was no clear path leading to the basement where the factory was located. PHOTO: ONLINE

A man suffocated to death on Thursday when a fire engulfed a garment factory located in Nazimabad, within the limits of Nazimabad Police Station.

According to the fire department officials, the fire broke out at around 5am at a hosiery garment factory in Nazimabad No. 4, near Hadi Market. The factory is located in the basement of Mehreen View apartments.

The incident created panic in the building and residents of the apartment block rushed to the street as the smoke filled their rooms. The police rushed to the spot and two fire tenders also reached the site to extinguish the fire. They were later joined by seven more fire trucks and a water tanker of the fire department.

It took the firefighters around seven hours to extinguish the fire. The fire department officials said that the factory was located in the basement of the building and had no proper path for the fire tenders to get close to the fire.

An unconscious man was found in the factory and was taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where he died during treatment. The deceased was later identified as Afroz, the watchman who used to live inside the factory and could not get out in time. The police shifted his body to the Edhi morgue after completing legal formalities.
read more.

* Waiver of ban on textile imports likely:

US Deputy Counsellor for Economic Affairs Susan McFee on Thursday called on the Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi, wherein they discussed implementation of international labour standards in Pakistan in detail.

The Deputy Counsellor added that Pakistan was not the only country adversely affected by the labour standards certification. The country should immediately come up with a comprehensive strategy on labour standards in order to meet the ILO requirements.

The Federal Minister stated that the Ministry was already in consultation with the Ministries of Commerce and Finance on policy regarding labour standards and soon the federal government would finalise a comprehensive labour policy in collaboration with the provincial governments.
read more.

* Pakistan hopes: Walt Disney will ease export curbs:

Pakistan has taken up with the US the ban on textile imports imposed by Walt Disney Company and hopes that the company will provide some relief as the country is working diligently on addressing worker safety issues.

The move by Walt Disney, a US entertainment giant which has dropped Pakistan from the list of “Permitted Sourcing Countries”, came up for discussion during a meeting between US Deputy Counsellor for Economic Affairs Susan McFee and Federal Minister of Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi.

They talked in detail about implementation of international labour standards in Pakistan.

Walt Disney claims to be the world’s largest provider of licences since consumer products of Disney brand are being produced by thousands of independent vendors in manufacturing facilities around the world.

The US deputy counsellor, while pointing out that Pakistan was not the only country hurt by certification of labour standards, said it should immediately come up with a comprehensive strategy in an attempt to meet requirements of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

She assured the textile minister that Washington would support the measures taken by the government of Pakistan to comply with ILO standards.
read more.

* New textile policy to soar exports upto $26 b: Afridi:

The five-year Textile Policy (2014-19), featuring a special focus on value addition to enhance textile exports upto US$ 26 billion over next five years would be finalized by June 30.

This was stated by Minister for Textile Industry, Abbas Khan Afridi while briefing the media here on Wednesday. He said the proposed national textile policy also envisages offering tax incentives to import of modern and innovative technologies to promote textile industry in the country.

Abbas Afridi said the government was determined to enhance textile exports up to US$ 26 billion during next five years by paying special attention to the value addition products and removing other bottlenecks in exports.

He said that Pakistan was among five countries having all textile value chain from cotton production, ginning and textile manufacturing adding that despite that vast scope, textile sector could manage to export 13 items as compared to 950 value added products exports by any other country of the world.
The textile sector, which is the largest contributing in local exports, was ignored during the previous regimes due to which country had to suffer huge loss in terms of exports and industrial growth, he added.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.

* Five-year textile policy on the cards:

The government aims to finalise a five-year textile policy by the end of next month to enhance textile exports to $26 billion by the year 2019.

The new policy will carry support schemes worth Rs80bn in a period of five years.
The first five-year textile policy was unveiled in 2009, but there were major constraints in its implementation. The new policy will focus on value-addition.
Textile Industry Minister Abbas Khan Afridi expressed the hope that every support scheme announced in the policy will be implemented in letter and in spirit.

“We will not wait for the releases of funds,” the minister told Dawn.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was given a detailed presentation on Wednesday by the textile minister and his team to seek support for timely implementation of the policy.
Mr Afridi said the new policy would give relief to importers of new machinery meant for value-addition.
read more.

* GSP Plus can up exports by $1b :

Pakistan could increase its export up to $1 billion from the facility given under the GSP Plus, needed special attention of the government by forming a monitoring cell to take the advantages of the status.

This was stated by former Vice President and focal person of GSP Plus FPCCI and former Chairman KATI, Gulzar Firoz in awareness seminar on GSP Plus held at Korangi Association of Traded and Industry.
He said that we should get benefit of decrease in rate of duty by 3-10pc on different items as compared to good exported from China, India, Thailand and Indonesia. Pakistan is a major supplier of leather goods and textile to European countries but keeping standard is a big challenge.
read more.
the NATIONnew

* Budget will have package for textile industry:

Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar has said the government will give solace to the textile sector in the forthcoming budget in terms of solving the problems it is facing right now and that necessary measures will be taken in the financial bill for 2014-15 to overcome the challenges being found by the textile industry to give impetus to the exports of the country.

He stated this while chairing a meeting to discuss economic issues related to textile industry here on Wednesday, says press release.
to read.

* Textile sector: PTEA opposes government move to increase tax rates:

Any attempt to increase tax rates on textile chain would negatively impact the textile exports and would cause to further squeeze industrial activities.

This will increase the cost of doing-business rendering our exports uncompetitive in international market, said Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood, Chairman and Adil Tahir, Vice-Chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA), here on Wednesday.

Reacting on indications of increase in tax rates on textiles in coming budget, they said that at a time when textile industry needed export friendly-policies and conducive environment to reap maximum benefits of GSP Plus, the efforts to retard the economic growth has been initiated.
read more.

* Borrowing cost: Reduced rate for exporters of textile proposed :

20140515 TRIBUNE
The proposal is part of a new five-year textile policy that the government wants to implement from July this year, said Afridi. PHOTO: FILE

The government is considering to significantly offset the cost of borrowing for value-added textile sector. The step is aimed at increasing textile exports by an additional $3 billion per annum by shifting it from raw material exports, said Textile Minister Abbas Khan Afridi.

The proposal is part of a new five-year textile policy that the government wants to implement from July this year, said Afridi, while addressing a press conference on Wednesday. Unlike the past, this time the focus of the incentives will be on the value-addition chain, he said.

The textile ministry is proposing a minimum 5% discount in interest rates for those bringing new investment in the value-added sector, said the minister. However, he said the final decision will be taken by the finance ministry as any proposal which is not backed by the economic managers will not be added in the policy.
read more.

* NPO blames textile, steel sectors for wasting energy:

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Productivity Organisation (NPO), a subsidiary of Ministry of Industries and Production, Dr Sher Muhammad, accused textile and steel sectors of wasting energy.

He based this assessment on energy audits which indicated that the two sectors are using excessive electricity; and Independent Power Producers (IPPs) may be working at 40 per cent efficiency.

He gave a detailed presentation on the functions and achievements of NPO since its inception. He stated that NPO organised international workshops in collaboration with Tokyo-based Asian Productivity Organisation (APO) and sent thousands of experts and industry representatives to attend workshops. However, he stated that most of the recommendations of international workshops have not been implemented.
read more.

map of Asia


The next bulletin will be published 20 or 21 May.
Or sooner… Well you know, when …

There are updates under ‘special reports’:

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


* Real wages for China’s migrant workers stagnate as cost of living escalates
* New day dawns for labor rights in Pearl River Delta
* China, ‘world’s factory’, lacks skilled workforce

* Hundreds of workers poisoned in Thanh Hoa
* Vietnamese labor productivity lags behind ASEAN neighbors: report
* PM orders strengthening security, social order
* HCM City vows to protect foreign investors
* Ministry ensures security, order at industrial zones
* Law breakers punished following damaging disturbances
* China lodges protest over Vietnam mob attacks
* Agitators arrested for provoking workers in protests against China
* Authorities move to restore order after unrest at IPs
* Riot in central Vietnam leaves one dead, 149 injured
* 2 Chinese killed, over 100 injured in Vietnam mob attacks
* 10 Chinese unaccounted for after Vietnam’s mob attacks
* Vietnam’s anti-China riots ‘hurt its image’
* More than 20 dead as anti-China riots spread in Vietnam
* Dozens killed in Vietnam anti-China protests
* Li & Fung’s US clients face delays as Vietnam plants shut amid rioting
* Thousands protest China’s East Sea incursions
* Vietnam police detain over 600 rioters in southern localities
* Vietnamese protests hit Chinese factories
* Protesters torch factories in Vietnam
* Anger Grows in Vietnam Over Dispute With China

* Thailand losing trade competitiveness

* Wage talk for workers to be resumed next week
* Workers fired after strike
* Wing Star victim’s kin not paid out
* Nearly 850 protests this year: police

* Divided labor force a dilemma for next Indonesian president
* Indonesia’s knitwear exports drop 2.34% in Jan-March’14

* Garment workers protest for 6th day
* Water bears brunt of dyeing industry

* One-Year Anniversary of the Signing of the Accord
* Accord Statement on United Trousers Ltd. Accident
* One year anniversary of the Bangladesh Accord
* Accord under fire for not paying jobless RMG workers
* Alliance lags in publishing factory inspection reports
* Alliance completes 80pc of RMG factory inspection
* Accord and Buet close to consensus
* BUET teams find 2 RMG units risky
* 12 RMG factories face closure after BUET inspection
* Take BUET advice on RMG inspections
* Raushan seeks Chinese support for training of women garment workers
* Project launched with ILO for building qualified workforce
* GSP suspension not to be harmful
* Ensuring workers-friendly environ that really matters for RMG: Mozena
* AL govt revives jute sector: Amu
* Leather units to be relocated in 3 months after CETP is completed
* Turning the world inside out!
* A real fashion revolution
* Traumatised rescuers struggle with life

* Indian handloom sector’s negative growth worries govt

* Short-circuit: Man suffocates to death in factory fire
* Waiver of ban on textile imports likely
* Pakistan hopes: Walt Disney will ease export curbs
* New textile policy to soar exports upto $26 b: Afridi
* Five-year textile policy on the cards
* GSP Plus can up exports by $1b
* Budget will have package for textile industry
* Textile sector: PTEA opposes government move to increase tax rates
* Borrowing cost: Reduced rate for exporters of textile proposed
* NPO blames textile, steel sectors for wasting energy

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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