19:56:55 local time VIET NAM
* Vietnam to enhance the Chinese textile industry through its TPP agreement:
Vietnam to only further enhance the Chinese textile industry with the lifting of tariffs on garments made by TPP members from the yarn stage forward expected to come through soon as the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation is going on between Vietnam and 11 other countries including big economies like the US, Canada, Japan and Australia.
Most of the Vietnam’s textiles and garments are mostly made from Chinese yarn. Vietnamese textile investors are going to lose out the chance at tariff cuts from the TTP agreement as they lack money and group power to invest in yarn factories as required.
As developing yarn factory remains beyond the means of local producers, and that as a TPP member for Vietnam. According to experts, a yarn, textile and dyeing project costs many times more than a garment project, without factoring in the cost of training the requisite staff.
20140520 * 30,000 joined Vietnam riots: witnesses:
Despite the fact that the Vietnamese foreign ministry said some 19,000 protesters participated in the recent riots in southern Vietnam’s Binh Duong Province, witnesses told the Global Times the actual number had reached 30,000.
As of Monday, the week-long protests-turned-riots which burned down factories and killed at least two Chinese have temporarily died down.
However, Chinese nationals who have not left the region told the Global Times that the traumatic influence remains. They were told to stay at home as some anti-China protesters vowed to continue attacking Chinese people if they find them. Some said they would avoid speaking Chinese if they have to leave the house.
Riots in Vietnam’s Binh Duong Province first broke out on May 12, a day after a large-scale anti-China protest took place in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi. By May 13, the protest had grown so violent that protesters began to attack local Chinese enterprises.
Witnesses told the Global Times that mobs broke into local Chinese factories, beating Chinese nationals, looting goods and valuables, smashing furniture and appliances in the offices and dormitories before setting fire to the buildings.
20140519 * Foreign businesses in HCM City reopen after riots:
All foreign businesses in HCM City’s export processing and industrial zones, including Taiwanese resumed production on May 19, following recent anti-Chinese protests.
Taiwanese-invested Freetrend Company in Linh Trung 2 industrial zone stabilised and restarted operations to ensure the supply of products under the signed contracts after two days of civil unrest against China’s illegal actions in the East Sea Local authorities’ have pledged their commitment to supporting businesses and addressing difficulties to ensure a safe investment environment.
read more. & read more.
* Taiwan seeks compensation as Vietnam factories restart :
The resumption of operations by companies including Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp. and China Steel Corp. have eased some fears that the riots would crimp global supply chains and hurt the Southeast Asian nation’s economic growth.
20140517 * Binh Duong apologizes to foreign firms for the recent riots:
Vice Chairman of Binh Duong – Mr. Tran Thanh Liem – on Friday apologized to foreign businesses for the recent unfortunate incidents and committed to ensure safety for their operations.
On Friday Liem and officials of the southern province of Binh Duong paid a visit to foreign investors in the industrial parks of Vietnam Singapore, Viet Huong and Dong An where many foreign firms were affected in the riots a few days ago.
Liem, on behalf of Binh Duong authorities, apologized to foreign investors for the unfortunate incidents. He said the province and the Ministry of Public Security were deploying solutions to ensure security for investors.
“Binh Duong Province pledge to take all necessary measures to ensure maximum safety for businesses and to help businesses resume normal operations as soon as possible,” Liem said.
20140516 * Workers say got paid to join protest-turned-riots :
20140516 * Roundup: Riots in Vietnam threaten foreign investment:
The violent protests targeting mainly Chinese companies in Vietnam this week have damaged 400 factories and forced 1,100 others, including South Korean, Japanese and Singaporean factories, to shut down, threatening future investment in the country.
The protests in Binh Duong province, some 1,120 km south of the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, turned violent Tuesday when thousands of protesters broke into foreign factories, looting and burning assets and facilities, workers and businessmen from Chinese mainland and Taiwan told Xinhua.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has lodged a solemn protest Thursday with Vietnam and voiced strong condemnation of the attacks after the violence has left a Chinese national dead and more than 100 others injured.
19:56:55 local time CAMBODIA
20140520 * Trial for 23 to resume amid rally:
The trial of 23 men arrested at violent demonstrations in early January continues at 8am today, and unionists are planning on rallying outside the court in a show of solidarity.
About 100 union members will join staff from the Cambodian Labour Confederation and the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, where the trial will continue after two separate hearings spread out over the past month, C.CAWDU staffer Sun Lyhov said.
Defendants face charges ranging from incitement to intentional violence with aggravated circumstances after their arrests during a garment strike on January 2 and 3.
On the second day, authorities opened fire on crowds on Veng Sreng Boulevard, killing at least four. A fifth person who was severely beaten that day died over the weekend.
Unionists’ attempts to gain access to the courtrooms were unsuccessful on April 25 and May 6, the dates of the two previous hearings, but they will try again today, Lyhov said.
20140520 * Five Months On, Witnesses Recall Muon Sokmean’s Beating:
Muon Sokmean, a 29-year-old garment worker, scrambled off Veng Sreng Street on January 3 with military police in violent pursuit, brandishing their batons.
What had been a militant protest for a $160 minimum wage in the garment sector—with many protesters lobbing rocks and crude Molotov cocktails at military police—had devolved into a pitched battle on one of Phnom Penh’s main industrial boulevards.
“I saw military police chase him into my restaurant and beat him with batons,” said Vy, 32, the owner of a restaurant on Veng Sreng Street, who declined to give her full name Monday for fear of her personal safety.
“They kept kicking him once he fell down. He was really severely beaten,” said Vy.
When Mr. Sokmean got up from his beating, he was disoriented and bleeding heavily from his head and one of his eyes, she said.
On Saturday, Muon Sokmean passed away from the injuries he sustained on Veng Sreng Street, according to his family. The spokesman for the military police, however, said on Sunday that there is no evidence proving that his forces caused what would be the sixth fatality from the crackdown—five others were shot dead by military police.
20140520 * Clashes break out, injuring four people as 23 protesters on trial:
Four people were injured in a clash between the protesters and the security guards as The Phnom Penh court is having hearings on 23 protesters.
A reporter of the Cambodia Herald reported from the scene that stones were thrown in the clash, injuring four security guards.
Many protesters including monks are gathering outside the Phnom Penh court where the 23 protesters are on trial.
20140520 * ”Free the 23” Trial – Day three:
20140519 * ”Free the 23” Trial – Day three:
Tomorrow morning, the trial of 23 workers and human rights activists will resume at the Phnom Penh Court. The trial has now reached its third day and proceedings are scheduled to start at 8am.
round up of events so far
In the case of the 10 men arrested in front of the Yak Jin factory, six defendants have given evidence. The seventh defendant, Sokun Sambath Piseth, was in the middle of giving evidence when the hearing was adjourned. In the hearing of the 13 men arrested on Veng Sreng Road, all 13 defendants have given evidence and the court has now moved on to the witnesses.
On both previous trial days, judges heard evidence from witnesses and defendants until mid-afternoon when proceedings were interrupted so that the defendants could be transported back to CC1 prison.
Workers show support for 23
This morning, Cambodia Express News reported that 500 workers at the Tong Zhe garment factory had gathered to show their support for the 23. As well as asking that the 21 remaining detainees be released and that charges against the 23 be dropped, they also made 18 demands for improved conditions including a fixed date for payment of salary, an end to compulsory overtime, and money for meals and transport.
read more & follow the Live Information Stream.
* Victim’s kin ‘no right to cash’:
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has defended its decision not to pay a survivors’ pension to the family of a teenager killed in a ceiling collapse at the Wing Star Shoes factory in Kampong Speu province last May.
On the anniversary of the collapse on Friday, the Post reported that the family of Kim Dany had received only funeral costs from the NSSF following her death, because they were under the age of 55.
Sum Sophorn, deputy executive director of the NSSF, said in interviews on Friday and yesterday that the fund would not pay out any parents younger than 55 if their children were killed at work.
* Cambodia among the worst countries on the new ITUC Global Rights Index:
The International Trade Union Confederation today released their Global Rights Index, ranking 139 countries against 97 internationally recognised indicators to assess where workers’ rights are best protected, in law and in practice.
The International Trade Union Confederation has been collecting data on the abuse of trade union rights around the world for the past 30 years. Now for the first time the ITUC Global Rights Index presents carefully verified information from the last 12 months in an easy-to-use format so that every government and business can see how their laws and supply chains stack up.
“Countries such as Denmark and Uruguay led the way through their strong labour laws, but perhaps surprisingly, the likes of Greece, the United States and Hong Kong, lagged behind,” says ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow.
“A country’s level of development proved to be a poor indicator of whether it respected basic rights to bargain collectively, strike for decent conditions, or simply join a union at all.”
read more. & read more.
20140519 * Worker Beaten on Veng Sreng in January Dies of Head Injuries:
A man who was beaten by military police during the lethal suppression of a nationwide strike of garment workers in January died of his head injuries on Saturday, his family said Sunday.
Muon Sokmean, 29, was demanding a $160 minimum wage with colleagues from the Canadia Industrial Park on Veng Sreng Street in Phnom Penh when military police armed with AK-47 assault rifles crushed the protest, killing at least five people and injuring more than 40.
The death of Muon Sokmean from injuries sustained on January 3 would bring the total killed to six. However, an autopsy was not performed before his wife Pok Heam cremated his body on Saturday.
Ms. Heam said Sunday that her husband had awoken at 3 a.m. Saturday, yelling in pain in their small Pur Senchey district room.
“I asked him why he shouted so loud, and he shouted and shouted and then we saw his eyes roll back into his head,” she said, clasping her three-year-old son.
Ms. Heam said she rushed her husband to a clinic but that he died on the way. She said she is certain his injuries from the strikes—a damaged eye and a brain contusion—caused his death.
20140519 * Protester injured at rally dies:
Before dawn on Saturday, family members of Moun Sokmean found him distressed and incoherent.
Over the past several months, Sokmean, who was left blind in one eye after being beaten by authorities during a January 3 garment sector protest, had complained of headaches and other ailments. But this time was different.
His father, Luch Pouy, and a cousin put the 29-year-old on a motorbike and rushed him to a doctor. When they arrived at Visal Sok clinic in the capital’s Chamkarmon district at 3:15am, it was too late, Pouy said. Sokmean had died on the way there.
“I took him by my motorbike to a private clinic, but when we reached the clinic, the doctor said he had already passed away,” Pouy said yesterday.
20140518 * Veng Sreng beating victim dies:
A garment worker who was severely beaten by police during a January 3 protest on Veng Sreng Boulevard at which police opened fire, killing at least four, died yesterday.
Family members of Moun Sokmean, 29, say his death was the result of a brutal assault by authorities, which caused head trauma that blinded his left eye and rendered him unable to work or care for his 3-year-old son.
“The government should not ignore this case,” Luch Pouy, Sokmean’s father, said this morning. “The government must take responsibility for the violence they committed against my son and other workers.”
Sokmean had been beaten near the Canadia Industrial Park, where he worked at a garment factory, during a nationwide strike for a minimum garment wage of $160 per month, Pouv said.
After Sokmean began complaining to his wife of severe pain in his head early on Saturday morning, his father and cousin put him on a motorbike and took him to Visal Sok clinic in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district at about 3am, Pouv said. He died on the way there.
No official cause of death has been released, but rights groups have called for an investigation into Sokmean’s demise.
20140517 * Injured garment worker beaten during January’s clampdown died early this morning from unknown causes:
This morning at 3.15 am, Moun Sokmean, a 29 year old man who suffered from serious injuries on January 3, died whilst on his way to hospital.
The day of the clampdown on garment workers on Veng Sreng Road, he was hospitalized after receiving trauma to his body, head, and face.
Yesterday evening his family found that he was restless and incoherent so they took him to hospital but he died on the way.
19:26:55 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Thilawa SEZ to allow construction of factories this month:
The Thilawa Special Economic Zone is to commence the construction of factories by this month, according to Win Aung, chairperson of Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings.
“Factories construction will be allowed late this month. The aim is to prevent the resale of plots bought in the zone. We sell plots to buyers according to their proposals and plans. We prefer environmental friendly businesses,” said Win Aung.
Companies, mostly from Japan, Hong Kong and the EU, have proposed to build their factories for garment and food products in the zone.
“They will be only allowed to take out a lease for lands in the zone to build factories according to their business plan. We will see what kind of factories they build, how many work forces they employ, and their production stages,” said Win Aung.
18:56:55 local time BANGLADESH
20140519 * Gate collapse kills RMG guard:
A security guard of a readymade garment factory was killed as a heavy part of the main gate collapsed on his head in Ashulia Industrial area on Monday.
The deceased was identified as Motahar Hossain, 40, son of Late Kaium Ali and hailed from Tangail.
Locals said that a heavy part of the main gate collapsed on him while he was opening the gate in the morning, leaving him injured critically.
* Is RMG becoming unattractive to rural women workforce? :
One of the key contributions that the readymade garments (RMG) industry has made over the years is the empowerment of women (some even tend to claim that the industry has liberated the country’s womenfolk).
The non-governmental organisations (NGOs), with the Grameen Bank (GB) playing the lead role, started the job of empowering the women in rural areas. From the early 80s, the RMG industry lured the rural women to come out of the shell, migrate to major urban centres, including Dhaka, and take up employment in RMG factories. And it has achieved a resounding success.
The procession of rural women seeking jobs at the RMG factories became longer and longer. The RMG industry now employs more than 4.0 million people. More than 80 per cent of them are said to be women.
The very sight of women workers marching in their thousands towards their workplaces in major RMG hubs in Dhaka city early in the morning elates many minds.
Despite the low wage and other small benefits the poor RMG workers are entitled to, they hide all their difficulties and pains behind the smiles they always wear either on the streets or at their workplaces.
But the jobs in RMG industry do not apparently attract any more the rural women like the previous time mainly because of low wage and poor workplace safety. They are entering the farm labour market in large numbers these days. And those who can afford recruitment expenses are taking up jobs abroad.
According to the latest labour survey conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), in 2010, out of the estimated 25.6 million farm labourers in the country, 10.5 million were women, meaning that 6.7 million women joined the farm labour market over a period of ten years.
During the last 22 years, more than 276,000 female workers took up jobs abroad. The share of women in total Bangladeshi remittance earners is still very low. But there has been an uptrend in recent times.
The question is: will the RMG industry start facing labour shortage soon? Since unemployment rate is high in the country, the industry is unlikely to face any major shortage of labour. But such a possibility cannot be ruled out.
The RMG industry is losing its shine to the female workers, mainly because of the low wage.
The farm sector has emerged as a very prospective alternative sector of employment for rural womenfolk. With more and more male farmhands migrating to urban centres to take up better paying jobs or rickshaw pulling, a void has been created in the rural farm labour market.
The women have started to fill up the vacuum since the daily wage of a farm labourer is higher than the average daily wage of a RMG worker.
* ADB to assist in upgrading workforce:
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will lend $350 million to Bangladesh to help public and private institutions scale up skills-training for 1.25 million young workers to equip them to find jobs and meet the changing needs of today’s labor market.
The total cost of the government’s Skills for Employment Investment Program is estimated at $1.07 billion. ADB loans for the program will be released in three tranches as part of a seven-year financing facility, said a press release.
It is expected to be complemented by $200 million in cofinancing from the Government of Bangladesh, $30 million from the Government of Switzerland, $400 million from other development partners, and $90 million from the private sector.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20140517 * Alliance finds 10 challenges to RMG fire safety:
The Alliance engineers have identified 10 challenges, including improper electric wire connections, insufficient exit facilities and lack of smoke detectors, for ensuring fire safety in the country’s readymade garment industry.
The other challenges are – inadequate flammable liquids management, insufficient hose system and water-flow condition, and absence of adequate boiler rooms, aisles, assembly points and housekeeping arrangement.
“Out of the 626 Alliance-listed factories, about 80 per cent have so far been assessed. Of which, structural flaws have been found in five units, while only one faced closure,” Alliance managing director M Rabin said at a press conference at its office in the city Thursday.
The Alliance has recommended the review committee to take necessary actions in this regard. It has paid one month’s wage to the closed factory workers. Besides, the factory owner paid one month’s wage as compensation, he said.
20140517 * Alliance reveals flaws in 30 garment factories:
Engineers of 26 US retailers and brands under the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety have so far closed down one factory in Chittagong, a year after the Rana Plaza collapse killed 1,138 people.
The platform has suggested the review panel close down five more garment factories.
The Alliance that started with seven teams on March 12 inspected 508 out of the 626 factories in Dhaka and Chittagong.
“We are at the final stages of our inspection,” said Rabin Mesbah, managing director of the Alliance, signalling that inspections would be complete by July 10.
“Alliance and Accord members have 300 common factories to buy clothes from. We have agreed to avoid repetition.”
The platform published the inspection reports on its website on Thursday, stating the findings of the investigation on 30 garment factories and suggestions for further remediation.
* Apparel makers to choose steel buildings to relocate plants:
Garment makers plan to use locally-assembled steel structure for relocating their faulty factories to purpose-made buildings, which may propel growth in the steel building industry.
“We will set up the factories with support from local steel building makers,” said Shahidullah Azim, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Factory owners will import necessary raw materials, and steel building makers will set up the factories, if the government waives duties on the import of the prefabricated building materials, he said.
It has been an urgent need to relocate the factories housed in shared buildings as many retailers are pulling out work orders from factories with poor safety standards, said Azim.
After the Rana Plaza collapse, international retailers have so far withdrawn more than $150 million of orders from different factories, he said.
Garment makers use three types of buildings: converted, shared and purpose-built.
Of the 3,600 garment factories now in operation in Bangladesh, 45 percent are housed in shared and converted buildings employing around 15 lakh people; the rest operate in purpose-made buildings, according to Azim.
* Duty-free import of safety equipment logical, say economists:
The facility could be given for a certain period like 1-2 years only to those factories closed or to be closed under safety concerns
While the factory owners have recently demanded duty-free import of fire safety equipment and pre-fabricated building materials, policy analysts think the demand is logical given the current safety situation.
When contacted, former caretaker government adviser and economist Dr Mirza Azizul Islam said the facility could be given for a certain period like 1-2 years only to those factories closed or to be closed under safety concerns.
The materials will be used to reconstruct or relocate factory buildings. The duty-free import is believed to largely facilitate the safety improvement works in the country’s apparel sector.
“Some flawed factories have already been closed. Some may face closures. In these circumstances, the duty-free import of necessary safety materials could be allowed, but for a certain period like 1-2 years,” said Dr Aziz.
* 600 illegal RMG factories asked to get approved soon:
The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments has asked over 600 unauthorised RMG factories across the country to get approval as soon as possible.
It also warned that legal actions would be taken if the order was ignored, said officials concerned.
The DIFE also asked its 23 offices across the country to find out the factories in all sectors that were operating illegally and to push them to get licence.
‘The primary notice has already been served to the authorities of every illegal garment factory to come under the legal framework in shortest possible time,’ Syed Ahmed, inspector general of the DIFE, told New Age recently.
‘If the factory authorities fail to take steps in time, the DIFE will serve further notice with a timeframe to come under the legal framework. If the authorities ignore the second notice, they will have to face legal action,’ he said.
Ahmed said no factory or establishment could run its activities illegally in any sector as the government was committed to ensure workers’ rights and workplace safety.
* Hundreds of new industries fail to go into operation for lack of gas connection:
Hundreds of industrial units failed to go into operation due to alleged inaction by the government-formed special committee to deal with the fresh gas connections. Such a situation raised concern among the entrepreneurs, investors and officials said.
Such inaction has put the potential investors in extreme anxiety as they are repaying high rate of bank interest against the loans they took before setting up industries with state-of-the-art machinery.
According to the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), more than 500 new plants including 200 textile and readymade garment (RMG) units are in trouble due to non-availability of gas connections.
“New connections to the bulk gas consuming industrial units are almost halted in last one year in absence of the activities of government authorised committee”, Mohammad Shahjahan Khan, President of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) told the FE.
He said several hundred newly set-up industrial units that are ready to go for production are suffering due to non-availability of gas connection. As a result, they are paying high interest against bank loans sitting idle for months.
He said the owners of industrial units including ceramic, textile and readymade garment (RMG) mostly in Dhaka, Savar, Gazipur and Sreepur are now burdened with debt following delay in operation of their factories. On an average, the newly built factories remained inoperative for the last three years.
* Govt moves to identify non-RMG units, create sector-wise database:
The government has initiated a move to identify non-RMG factories and other establishments and create sector-wise database of those units, sources said.
The database would have sector-wise factories information, names and addresses of such units, number of workers and other related matters, they said adding so far the government has established a database only for the garment sector.
There are more than 45 formal industrial sectors including the readymade garment in the country but there is no specific database or information how many factories are running across the country with people employed there and their compliance status, they added.
The move also came to identify the factories that are doing business without Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) licence, they added.
According to DIFE, more than 600 garment factories are doing business without DIFE’s licence. This was disclosed following the year long inspection carried out by the 23 special teams after the tragic Tazreen fire incident in 2012.
* US to assist in RMG sector:
US congresswoman Grace Meng assured every possible assistance to Bangladesh garments industries.
She came up with the assertion in a meeting with Dr AK Abdul Momen, Bangladesh Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York on Thursday.
* RMG accessories makers assured of policy support:
State minister for finance MA Mannan gave the assurance while inaugurating a project titled Bangladesh INSPIRED
The government would provide policy support to garment accessories and packaging manufacturers to help the sub-sector grow parallel to the apparel industry, one of the mainstays of the country’s economy.
State minister for finance MA Mannan gave the assurance while inaugurating a project titled Bangladesh INSPIRED (Integrated Support to Poverty and Inequality Reduction through Enterprise Development), funded by the Bangladesh government and the European Union, which aims to develop SMEs in the country.
“The industry is a promising one and will get every policy support for growth like apparel industry,” the minister said.
* Training, testing facilities soon:
A training institute and a testing lab will be set up for garment accessories and packaging sector under the Bangladesh Inspired Programme.
The programme was launched by Bangladesh Inspired Project of the Bangladesh Garments Accessories and Packaging Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGAPMEA) at a city hotel Saturday.
The Bangladesh INSPIRED (Integrated Support to Poverty and Inequality Reduction through Enterprise Development) Programme aims to reduce poverty by supporting development of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) in the country.
For strengthening national capacity to plan and implement SME development, an SME Competitiveness Grant Scheme of €6.5m will be provided to Business Intermediary Organisations (BIOs) such as chambers of commerce and industry or cluster associations to work with groups of SMEs to improve their competitiveness in the sectors of agro-processing, leather, furniture and textiles.
* Leather sector should capitalise China business shifting: seminar:
Can fetch $16b a year in a decade
Bangladesh should capitalise business shifting of Chinese leather industry which could increase manifold the export earning from the sector, said speakers at a seminar in Dhaka on Sunday.
If Bangladesh can attract merely 10 per cent of business shifting from China, its yearly export earning from the leather sector will hit $16 billion in the next decade, they said.
The export earnings from leather sector in July-April period of the current financial year 2013-14 amounted to $1.06 billion against $980 million in the same period of the FY13.
Leather goods manufacturers in the seminar pointed out that the lack of coordination between public and private initiatives to implement eco-friendly leather industry was one of the key challenges on the way of sustainable business.
* Prospective leather industry faces hurdles:
Shortage of skilled workforce, absence of integrated policy and lack of environment-friendly technologies are the major obstacles to further growth of the leather industries in Bangladesh.
Speakers came up with the observation yesterday at a seminar styled “Environment-friendly Leather Industries in Bangladesh: A Roadmap to Competitiveness and Sustainability,’’ which was jointly organised by Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) and RMM Leather Industries Limited at a city hotel.
Addressing the seminar, the speakers opined that Bangladesh had the brightest prospect to grab the global leather market worth US$110bn, taking the stock of rising wages in China. Many Chinese leather entrepreneurs were looking for relocating their industries in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia, Pakistan, India and Myanmar.
Leather industry could be the second largest foreign exchange earner for the country after RMG, said Md Saiful Islam, managing director of Picard Bangladesh Ltd.
“But we need to address some barriers, including absence of environment-friendly leather industries, lack of skilled workforces, difficulties in having access to finance and the problems in getting bank loans for setting up the Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP),” he said.
“Global chain is aggressively pursuing footwear sourcing opportunities with local factories and Bangladesh can take this opportunity as it is competitive because of its raw materials and workforces.”
Managing director of RMM Leather Industries Aniruddah Kumar Roy noted that if Bangladesh was able to attract at least 10% of the existing market of Chinese leather and leather goods, the country’s export earnings from this sector would jump to $16bn from the existing $1bn within a short period of time.
Countries like Italy, China, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand export leathers goods by importing raw materials from Bangladesh, but just for the lack of CETP, Bangladesh fails to take the opportunity to grab the global market, he added.
* Export of leather products can earn $16 billion a year:
Bangladesh needs to adopt short, medium and long-term plans of action to give a boost to the leather sector aiming to grab a significant share of global market, industry circles said.
The country has the potential to raise its export earnings from leather and leather goods to US$ 16 billion from the present level of US$ 1.0 billion by ensuring environment-friendly infrastructure and diversification of products.
The observations came at the inaugural session of a daylong national seminar Sunday on ‘Environmentally-friendly Leather Industries in Bangladesh: A Roadmap to Competitiveness and Sustainability’ jointly organised by the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) and the RMM Leather Industries Limited at a city hotel.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Tanners seek Tk 2.50b at low interest for relocation:
Tanners have sought an allocation of Tk 2.50 billion from next budget so that they get loan from banks at lower rate of interest as subsidy, officials said.
The Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods & Footwear Exporters Association (BFLLFEA) sent a letter to Fazle Kabir, Secretary of the Ministry of Finance (MoF), seeking the fund.
“We badly need long-term loan with lower interest rate for relocation to Savar. It is quite impossible to bear all costs of relocation,” industry insiders said.
The entrepreneurs of the sector are worried over relocation of tanneries without long- term loan. The term should be of 20 years with grace period, they said.
Rate of interest should be 4 per cent like special agricultural credit that is disbursed for cultivation of pulses, oil seeds, spices and maize in the current fiscal, sources concerned said.
* Reopening of closed jute mills demanded:
Private-owned Jute, Yarn and Textile Mill Action Committee has threatened tough and greater movement to press home its demand for reopening of closed jute mills, payment of all arrears and purchase of jute to keep production going.
This threat came from a press conference held on Sunday at Khulna Press Club under the banner of the action committee.
Chief coordinator of the committee Professor Jahangir Alam Shabuj at press conference announced a seven-day programme from today to realise the demands.
He said in the press conference that production in Sonali, Ajax, Afil and Noapara Jute mills remained suspended for the last one year.
* Sewing machines distributed in Joypurhat:
A non-government organisation (NGO) JAKAS Foundation distributed sewing machines to 25 distressed women after completion of a month-long training programme.
The training programme was held at the head office of the JAKAS Foundation in Sabuj Nagar area of the district town. The month-long training programme concluded today.
The NGO JAKAS Foundation distributed the sewing machines under Ultra Poor Programme (UPP) to make the distressed women self-reliant by involving them in income generating activities.
European Union financially supported the programme and Pally Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) implemented it.
* Search for ways to bail RMG sector out of crisis:
The garments industries of Bangladesh appear to be on its way to becoming a political pawn of the European Union (EU) and the US.
In the aftermath of the Rana Plaza and the Tazreen Fashions disasters, a number of big overseas ready-made garment (RMG) buyers, on the plea of these unfortunate tragedies, have been raising absurd claims imposing bizarre conditions which are, in fact, very difficult for a Third World country, like Bangladesh, to implement.
And in view of this fact, they are perhaps exerting enormous pressure in a bid to compel the government to materialise their goals, apparently laced with political aspirations.
The US has suspended its preferential trade facilities i.e. GSP (Generalised System of Preferences), for Bangladesh, while the European Union (EU) has been putting many conditions. On the contrary, Pakistan has been brought under the purview of GSP facilities by the EU, and India is also under active consideration as per media reports.
Meanwhile, India has taken a number of aggressive measures to grab the RMG export market from Bangladesh. In order to make their apparels more competitive, the Indian government has declared a number of lucrative cash incentives and other facilities for their exporters.
They have also adroitly depreciated their currency to a great extent to make their apparel products more competitive to the buyers. Apart from these facilities, Indian banks and financing institutions have decided to provide the sector with low-interest finance.
On the other hand, the government of Bangladesh has declared a trivial amount of cash stimulus for its exporters at the rate of 0.25 per cent on FOB effective from January 01, 2014.
But the wages for the RMG workers have been increased substantially under the pressure of the government for petty political gains immediately before the national election on January 05, 2014, notwithstanding the fact that the buyers are reluctant to raise their rates at all.
At the same time, the prices of gas, electricity and fuel, as well as transport costs, have been enhanced abnormally and exorbitantly in Bangladesh.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Compensation, justice sought:
Several hundred victims of Rana Plaza rallied at its collapse site in Savar of Dhaka yesterday demanding adequate compensation and justice.
Under the banner of “Rana Plaza Garments Workers Union”, they were observing the union’s first founding anniversary.
The injured and the families of the deceased have been in severe distress since the disaster, they said, adding that the persons behind the collapse must be punished.
They alleged that the government was procrastinating to try the culprits to save them.
Housing five garment factories and some other offices and a market, the nine-storey Rana Plaza collapsed on April 24 last year, killing more than 1,100 and injuring hundreds.
18:26:55 local time INDIA
* Synthetic is the future of textile industry in India: S K Khandelia:
When global economic turmoil was on its peak shivering all industries, India’s Rs 120,000 crore synthetic textile industry sustained over five percent growth continuously driven largely by value added segments.
Since then, the industry has trebled growth percentage to rapidly narrowing the gap between use of cotton and synthetics in textile industry which shows that synthetic textile is the future of India, says S K Khandelia, Chief Executive Officer and President of Sutlej Textiles and Industries Ltd, promoted by K K Birla and one of the largest producers of value added dyed and mélange yarns in India in an interview with Dilip Kumar Jha. Edited excerpts :
Six months to December was a glorious period for textile industry. What changed suddenly so that trouble started brewing once again?
* Textile min plans global push for Indian silk:
17:56:55 local time PAKISTAN
* Raise in minimum wages demanded in budget:
The National Labour Federation (NLF) has written a letter to Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar proposing 13 points aimed at welfare of workers for upcoming federal budget to be announced on June 3.
In the letter, NLF President Shamsur Rehman Swati has suggested the federal government to fix minimum monthly wages of an unskilled worker at Rs15,000, and Rs20,000 for a skilled worker.
Swati also suggested that the salaries of government employees and retired persons should be enhanced in ratio with the price hike and inflation, and similarly a formula should be devised for increase in salaries every year. The increase in salaries should be made in a way that the low scale employees get maximum raise.
* Pyro training: Industrial workers taught fire safety:
The Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI), in coordination with the National Productivity Organisation (NPO), conducted a fire safety workshop for industrial workers on Sunday.
The workers were taught about the installation of necessary fire extinguishing equipment, alarms, exit doors, prevention of smoke inhalation and how to call emergency fire-fighting and medical help.
HCCI vice-president Turab Ali Khwaja said the labourers lack the knowledge of how to save lives and rescue others if a fire breaks out. Meanwhile, NPO director Muazam Ali Ghumro said that his organisation is training industrial labour across the country in fire rescue measures.
* Pakistan’s share in world textiles remains unchanged:
Pakistan’s share in the world’s textile market remained the same at two percent during 2002-12, revealed a report on Monday.
In the same period, the shares of China, India and Bangladesh went up to 35 percent, four percent and three percent, respectively, in 2012. They were 17 percent, three percent and two percent, respectively, showed the report prepared by Switzerland-based consultants the Gherzi Textile Corporation.
In 2002, 29 percent of ring spindles were aged less than 10 years in India compared with 32 percent in Bangladesh, 38 percent in China and 16 percent in Pakistan. The number of same spindles in India came down to 27 percent and 32 percent in China in 2006, while they accounted for 67 percent in Bangladesh and 37 percent in Pakistan.
In 2012, India and Pakistan had 40 percent of spindles less than 10 years, while Bangladesh and China accounted for 50 and 44 percent, respectively, stated the report.
* Autonomous company for Apparel Park project :
An autonomous company would be set up for speedy implementation of Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Park project, decided a high-level meeting chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif here Sunday.
The Chief Minister said the apparel park project was important to promote textile sector and directed for speedy execution of the project spanning over 1500 acres of land near Motorway-2. He cited the project would accelerate economic activities in the province, besides providing millions of jobs and generating billions of rupees revenue annually.
Shahbaz said the Chinese company Shendong Ruyi Group making investment in the apparel park, would not only extend technical cooperation but also ensure technology transfer that would strengthen textile sector to get optimum benefit from GSP Plus status. In his briefing, the Punjab Industries Department Secretary said the process of acquiring land for the park had been completed. Punjab Industries Minister Chaudhry Muhammad Shafiq, MPA Dr. Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Punjab Chief Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary, Commissioner Lahore Division and officers concerned attended the meeting.
* GSP-Plus and labour compliance:
Previously a beneficiary of the tariff cuts under the Generalised System of Preference, Pakistan is one of the 10 countries which have been granted the Generalised System of Preference Plus (GSP-Plus) status by the European Union from January 2014.
The GSP-Plus allows developing countries tariff-free export of their products to European markets. Under this special incentive trade arrangement, presumably for ‘sustainable development and good governance’, Pakistan fulfils the criteria for vulnerability. As defined by the EU, vulnerable (in terms of trade) are the countries which lack diversification and insufficient integration within the international trading system.
The GSP-Plus is conditional to ratification of, and compliance to, 27 international standards and covenants on labour, human and women’s rights, environment, narcotics and corruption.
These 27 standards comprise eight ILO core labour conventions, six UN conventions/covenants on human rights, and gender and racial discrimination, nine UN conventions/protocols on environment and four UN conventions on narcotics and corruption.
The textile and clothing sector will be the biggest beneficiary from the GSP-Plus, though the economists warn that zero tariff is not the only factor that would lead to rise in export.
The factors crucial to materialising the advantage include higher productivity, stable prices of raw materials, quality control, customer confidence, standards compliance and certification.
The analysts believe that if the industry turns itself around from being supply-driven to demand-driven, it could create 200,000 direct and another 300,000 indirect jobs in the value-added textile sector.
The GSP-Plus has created a plenitude of responses in the country: euphoria among industrialists who foresee increased profits from tariff-free export; anxiety among state officials who lobbied for GSP-Plus in the European Union and now are at a loss how to ensure compliance; cautious optimism among labour and human rights activists who envisage the promotion of core labour standards and human rights; and cynicism among workers who think they are destined to toil in poor conditions, come what may.
Pakistan has ratified all eight ILO core labour conventions.
These standards relate to the right to unionisation and collective bargaining; minimum age for work; elimination of the worst forms of child labour; elimination of forced/bonded labour; gender equity in wages and elimination of discrimination in employment.
Relevant legislations in respect of six conventions are already in place.
Equal remuneration for men and women for equal work and discrimination in employment (on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin) are the two areas devoid of statutory legislation in Pakistan.
* US, Pakistan discuss labour standards in textile industry:
* Punjab-based textile industry: government fails to meet 135 megawatts power demand:
The government has failed to meet 135MW electricity demand of Punjab-based textile mills on independent feeders, presently facing 10 hours a day load shedding.
According to these mill owners, the number of power-dependent mills is not more than 55 mills across the Punjab but still the government is unable to meet a meagre demand of 135MW. Interestingly, the line losses of these mills are zero while they pay 100 percent electricity bills but still they have been forced to pay for the faults of other consumers.
Also, they said, the power tariff is exorbitant for them to survive and all their demands for a special tariff for Punjab-based textile mills have been falling on deaf ears of the National Tariff Commission.
* Textile sector: Add value and don’t hint at a bailout, says govt:
In view of power shortages and the Pakistan rupee’s appreciation against the dollar, the textile industry has demanded that the government must do ‘something’ to avoid an industry-wide shutdown.
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) – country’s biggest lobbying group of textile sector – has published advertisements in newspapers, reminding the government about the contribution of the industry and the problems of power outages especially in Punjab. About two weeks ago, Aptma urged the government to provide rebate to textile exporters whose profits have shrunk since January due to the rupee appreciation.
Aptma believes its demands are not tantamount to an effective bailout.
“No, this is not a bailout demand. We want the government to supply proper electricity and gas to textile industries which is our right,” Aptma Chairman Yasin Siddik told The Express Tribune.
* Value-added textile sector: move to slap 5% ST on export opposed:
The value-added textile sector has resented at the federal government’s expected move to slap five percent sales tax on export, saying the heavy taxation will prove fatal to the export-manufacturing sector.
Talking to Business Recorder here on Friday, Pakistan Apparel Forum (PAF) Chairman Muhammad Javed Bilwani feared the government’s consideration for imposing sales tax by two to five percent is a negative economic approach.
“Increase in sales tax on exports from two percent to five percent will surely be one more nail in the coffin of exports of our nation,” he said, adding that “the value-added textile exporters are financially subdued from growing power, gas and water tariffs”. He said the government instead improving supplies of utilities to the industrial units, it was planning to increase sales tax to put the manufacturing sector to another financial disaster.
* July-March knitwear export up 10 percent:
Knitwear export grew by over 10 percent to $1.667 billion in July-March 2013-14, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) said.
Export of knitwear increased by $154 million in July-March 2013-14 as compared to $1.513 billion in the same period last fiscal year, the PBS said. The volume of knitwear export went up by 10,862,000 (15 percent) to 84,248,000 dozens in July-March 2013-14 as compared to 73,386,000 dozens in the same period last fiscal year, the official figures said.
On an annual basis, knitwear export mounted by $37.053 million (24.12 percent) to $184.571 million in March 2014 as compared to $147.518 million in March 2013, the statistics indicated. In terms of quantity, knitwear export surged by 2,076,000 dozens (25 percent) to 10,548,000 dozens in March 2014 as compared to 8,472,000 dozens in March 2013, the PBS said.
* Exports plunge by 10pc despite GSP+:
Pakistan’s exports trend started looking down after a gap of four months, witnessing a double-digit decline in April despite the preferential market access to the European market.
As a result, 20 per cent monthly trade deficit was observed, the highest in first 10 months of this fiscal year, suggested data compiled by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) here on Friday.
But an official of the textile industry said growth in exports will depend on improvement in energy supply to the textile industry in Punjab which has yielded the desired results.
* Textile: Training programme to benefit industry:
Ministry of Textile Industry will start a three-month training programme for youth during the next financial year to provide skilled labour to the textile industry.
An official of the ministry said that the youth would be trained for clean cotton picking to avoid crop pollution to boost exports and harvest benefits of the Generalised System of Preferences Plus status given by the European Union.
He said that a proper standardisation process would also be introduced to promote cotton exports from the country and to fetch more foreign exchange reserves for the country which would ultimately benefit the growers as well.
“The labour force would also be provided training of kniting, sewing and stitching for the development of textile value addition to enhance the range of products available for exporting to the international market,” he concluded.
* Pakistan jobless turn to Taliban in Swat (Silk industry & Taliban) :
Unions warn unemployment is forcing many in region towards violence, as tourism struggles to recover from conflict.
Business and union leaders in the Pakistani region of Swat Valley are warning unemployment could force many jobless people towards joining the Taliban.
The area, which was briefly ruled by the Pakistani wing of the armed group, is struggling to mend its economy after years of conflict.
Government promises to revive industries like silk making with subsidies have failed to materialise.
read and see more (video report).
Energy, economic growth are, in a way, important pillars for the garment and textile industry.
So here is an interesting video. Recommended:
* ‘There’s No Tomorrow’ :
‘There’s No Tomorrow’ is an animated film dealing with resource depletion, energy, growth and collapse. It is a primer on the energy dilemmas facing the world of the 21st century.
It should be noted that most people missed the point of the movie, which was not about peak oil or energy per se, but an attack on exponential economic Growth;
also, the title scared people, who assumed it means ‘we’re doomed’.
This is not the message of the film; reality is challenging enough without people imagining it to be even worse.
read ans see more. & read more.
* The new SOMO Factsheet offers brands and retailers ways to prevent child labour:
Child labour remains a major problem in the global clothing and textile industry. It occurs throughout all stages of the production process, from the cotton fields to the clothing factories.
SOMO is calling upon clothing brands to pay fair prices for their clothing and to take more responsibility for the entire production process. In a new factsheet, SOMO offers brands and retailers ways to prevent child labour in their production chains.
SOMO is currently developing a series of factsheets on working conditions in the clothing industry within the framework of the Wellmade project, which is a collaboration between the Fair Wear Foundation, CNV, Christian Initiative Romero (CIR), the Ethical Trading Initiative and SOMO. It gives clothing brand buyers and retailers insight into the problems that exist within their production chains and offers concrete advice on how to make improvements.
Current initiatives not effective enough
The issue of child labour is a long-standing problem in the clothing industry. Clothing brands have indeed introduced a number of improvement initiatives to address the issue, but none of these is effective enough to actually eradicate child labour.
Monitoring and improvement plans introduced by the companies are usually limited to the immediate suppliers – the clothing factories – while child labour is often found in the earlier production phases. Moreover, many orders are subcontracted to other factories and home workers, which makes it difficult to maintain proper supervision. Sometimes the brands don’t even know where their goods are actually being produced.
Facilitating child labour
According to SOMO researcher Martje Theuws clothing brands actually facilitate child labour: “Brands try to reduce their costs in every possible way, which means that factories feel compelled to reduce wages.
As a consequence, factories in some cases prefer hiring children instead of adults. Child labour will continue to exist as long as fair prices are not being paid. Brands also need to consider how their design choices affect the actual means of production. Only then can they prevent their clothing from being made by the hands of children.”