In the news 21 May 2014


* The deadly business of the bargain garment industry:

Vietnam’s foreign factory burnings gripped the news headlines last week as a wave of anti Chinese sentiment was sparked by a Chinese drilling rig’s encroachment in the South China Seas, but it can’t be hard to enrage impoverished factory workers struggling to feed themselves on wages that don’t meet their basic needs.

Similarly, labor activists in Cambodia have been keen to point out the new minimum wage of $100 per month falls short of the bottom end of the living wage of $160 they have been asking for.
On Tuesday, May 20, labor activists went to the courthouse in Phnom Penh in support of the remaining 21 imprisoned labor activists, garment workers and bystanders arrested during the violent crackdown on protestors that claimed five workers’ lives in January.
Hundreds of supporters gathered calling for their release on Tuesday.  The trial continues today as the International Trade Union Confederation published its global rating report, ranking Cambodia as one of the worst countries for labor rights, one rank above the “no rule of law” status awarded to countries like the Ukraine and Syria.

Tola Moeun, head of the Labor for Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) in Cambodia, recently traveled to the US and Europe to campaign for the rights of garment workers.  He wrote an open letter to US brands like Wal-Mart and GAP, calling them out on their exploitation.

“The low-cost garment model is a product of inequality – both in the US and in Cambodia,” he wrote.

However those profiting from the low wages disagree.  Bruce Rockowitz, CEO for Li & Fung Ltd., the largest sourcing companies for Western brands, told the New York Times last year that, “Consumers have just not been willing to accept higher costs.”  The Hong Kong based company has come under fire for its ruthless bargain contracts for brands like Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart retail workers in the US earn some of the lowest wages in the retail industry, 12.4 percent less than retail outlets overall, according to the Center for Labor Research and Education at University of California, Berkeley.
The corporate giant has made headlines for paying workers wages so low they must apply for food stamps.  Yet Wal-Mart has resisted calls to raise its wages, saying its appeal is centered on low cost goods for its customers which includes those with low incomes.

However Berkeley’s labor report has shown raising retail workers’ wages at Wal-Mart would not affect consumers much, just $0.46 cents more per shopping trip. The report found if workers in the US were paid a living wage of $12 per hour instead of the minimum wages many have been making, prices would go up just $12.49 a year per customer, according to market research data used to tabulate costs on the average shopper.  And this is if the consumer were absorbs the costs 100 percent.

How would these price increases translate for workers in Cambodia and Vietnam earning far less?
read more.

* Sports brands found using toxic chemicals in products:

Soccer wear and shoes from three international sports brands, all of whom are major producers of apparel for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, were found to contain toxic chemicals, according to a report issued by Greenpeace on Monday.

In its report, the environmental organization said it bought sporting goods from Nike, Adidas and Puma in 16 countries and regions across the world and conducted tests on them from March to May. It found that 81 percent of the three brands’ soccer shoes and 35 percent of their soccer performance shirts had chemical residues, including plasticizer and perfluorinated compounds.

Among the tested products, the perfluorooctanoic acid index of an Adidas soccer boot named Predator had more than 15 times the standard amount of the acid, the report said.

The perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, is often used to make textiles waterproof and difficult to degrade, said the report, which added that the chemical could impact fertility after a long period of human contact.

The chemical has been listed as a high-profile substance under European Union rules. Animal tests have also shown that PFOA may cause cancer, according to the report.

Li Yifang, director of Greenpeace’s project to prevent pollution, said the chemical is currently banned in some countries and regions, including Norway. A few companies, such as Adidas, have said that they had already eliminated the toxic substance from production.
read more. & to read. & read more. & read more.

* Greenpeace investigation reveals toxic scandal with World Cup merchandise:

Football merchandise produced by adidas, Nike and Puma ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil has been found to contain hazardous chemicals according to a new investigation by Greenpeace Germany.33 items including boots, goalkeeper gloves and the official ‘Brazuca’ ball were tested for a range of substances. adidas’ iconic ‘Predator’ football boots were found to contain very high levels of toxic PFC at 14 times the company’s own restriction limits.

“Brands like adidas may equip some of the world’s greatest players and claim to be championing the beautiful game but our investigations have revealed they are playing dirty.
With their profits set to soar during the World Cup, we demand that these brands stop fouling football and clean up their game,” says Manfred Santen, Detox Campaigner at Greenpeace Germany.

Independent laboratories found chemicals like perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), nonylphenolethoxylates (NPEs), phthalates and dimethylformamide (DMF) in products from all three companies and purchased across three continents.
These hazardous substances can leach from the products into the environment or get into the food chain.
Some of them potentially cause cancer, disrupt the hormonal system or can be toxic to reproduction.
read more.

* Rote Karte für Sportmarken:

Die vorliegende Studie erfolgte im Anschluss verschiedener frühere Untersuchungen, die Greenpeace im Rahmen seiner Detox-Kampagne veröffentlicht hat.Die Kampagne hatte ans Licht gebracht, dass viele Textil- und Lederprodukte giftige Chemikalien enthalten, die während ihrer Herstellung eingesetzt wurden.
Die vorliegende Studie ist die erste, die sich speziell mit Fußballprodukten beschäftigt – alle getesteten Produkte wurden anlässlich der Fußball-WM 2014 hergestellt, die vom 12. Juni bis 13. Juli in Brasilien stattfinde
read more.(German report) & read more. (English).

07:36:04 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Hundreds of shoe workers in Thanh Hoa hospitalized again:

After a mass poisoning on May 15 that sent over 700 workers to the hospital, hundreds of workers of the Taiwan-invested Hongfu Group were again hospitalized on Monday with poisoning symptoms.

Over 15,000 workers of the three shoes factories of Hongfu, Hong My 1 and Hong My 2 of the Hongfu Group, returned to their jobs Monday after three days off due the poisoning last Thursday.

Mr. Nguyen Dinh Xung, Vice Chairman of Thanh Hoa Province, along with officials of the local Department of Health, Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs and Department of Public Security, paid a visit to the factory to encourage the workers.

At around 9:30 am, a number of workers in the three factories began to show signs of poisoning such as dizziness, vomiting and fainting. The number of cases increased quickly, causing panic. Factory managers had to permit the staff to stop working and asked for emergency help from the local health sector.

“Several hours after we began the morning shift, many female workers felt weak, lightheaded and dizzy, and fainted,” said a worker named Le Thi Tam, who said that amid fears of the safety of the drinking water at the factory, many people had brought water from home. However, although they did not drink water or eat anything at the factory, they still showed signs of poisoning.

By noon on Monday, Hop Luc Hospital had received more than 200 patients. Other hospitals like Hoang Hoa, Thanh Ha and Ham Rong were also asked to be ready to treat patients unconditionally.

Mr. Le Huu Uyen, from the Health Department of Thanh Hoa Province, said the patients had similar symptoms as those in the first poisoning case on May 15, and that an accurate number of patients had not yet been established.

A spokesman of Thanh Hoa Department of Health said the air in the factories might be not safe. That, combined with hot weather, could have caused this situation.
read more.

Vietnam vows to ensure safety for businesses:

20140521 VNNet
Photo by VNNet.

The Vietnamese Government firmly takes every necessary measure under the law and international commitments it made to ensure security, safety and legitimate rights of foreign organisations, businesses and individuals in Vietnam.

President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc made the affirmation at a meeting in Hanoi on May 19 with representatives of foreign businesses operating in Vietnam to listen to their opinions on recent extremist actions taken by some individuals in Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Ha Tinh provinces that damaged the country’s image.
read more. & read more.

* Violence-hit foreign companies resume work:

20140520 SGPD
Esquel Garment Manufacturing Company in Vsip 1 Industrial Zone prepares to resume production in Binh Duong (Photo: SGGP)

Le Manh Ha, deputy chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City people’s committee, visited Taiwanese and Chinese companies at the Vinh Loc Industrial Zone and Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone, where all have restarted work.

Officials from some ministries and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) met with foreign entrepreneurs based in Vietnam the same day.

Vu Tien Loc, the VCCI chairman, said 80-90 percent of affected companies have resumed work with assistance from local authorities.

The Government has brought violence related to anti-China protests under control and showed determination to ensure the safety of foreign companies, he said, adding law breakers would be punished.
read more. & read more.& read more.

* Domestic fibres boost VN exports:

Domestic fibre supply has increased in recent years because local enterprises have expanded production to improve the competitiveness of garment products.

The Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas) announced that the domestic enterprises have many large projects to expand fibre production for the manufacturing of local garments and to reduce imports of fibre, reported Dau tu (Vietnam Investment Review) newspaper.

Last year, Nha Trang Textile and Garment Joint Stock Company, with a total charter capital of VND185 billion (US$8.8 million), invested VND80 billion ($3.8 million) in fibre production with a capacity of 16,000 tonnes a year, said company chairman Pham Xuan Trinh.
read more.
VNNews new

07:36:04 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* ”Free the 23” Trial – Day four:

The trial of 23 workers and human rights activists continues today at the Phnom Penh Court. The trial has now reached its fourth day and proceedings are scheduled to start at 8am.

read more and follow  the livestream.   Here you can find an overview of what happens in the courtrooms and oustide the court.

* Workers & Political Activists under Attack:

In court room 1, the judge is questioning Vorn Pao closely about his tuk tuk. Pao says that their were two loudspeakers on top of the tuk tuk as well as the IDEA flag, the Buddhist flag and two Cambodian flags.

The judge asked again if there were rocks in the tuk tuk and Pao said no. The judge then produced a photo of a tuk tuk with loudspeakers inside. The tuk tuk in the photo also contains rocks. Pao repeatedly denied putting rocks in his tuk tuk and his defence lawyers say they have never seen the photo before.

Pao’s tuk tuk can be seen in this video being wheeled away by military officers.
see video.

20140521 LICADHO

* Defendants cut off as 23’s trial goes on:

When union leader Vorn Pov was finally allowed to give testimony yesterday on the third day of the trial of 23 men arrested during a garment strike in January, he found himself cut off by an attorney ordering him to answer only the exact question he was being asked.

“I want to answer completely, so you can find justice for me,” the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) president said at Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

The exchange was indicative of the stance judges and prosecutors took towards the workers and unionists charged with crimes ranging from incitement to intentional violence.

Answers by four defendants arrested during a protest at Yakjin Garment factory on January 2 were repeatedly cut off by judge Keo Mony and prosecutor Ly Sophanna yesterday on the grounds that they were irrelevant.

In courtroom two, judge Leang Samnath agreed with the prosecution that its witnesses testifying against 13 men charged over a protest on January 3 – when authorities shot dead at least four people – needed limited cross examination.
read more.
PPP new

* Union Leader Details Beating By Soldiers:

20140521 CD cam-front-photo
Protesters hold a pair of dead chickens over a line of riot police on Tuesday near the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, where 23 men were on trial for their roles in a pair of garment worker protests in January. The chickens were sacrificed to drive away bad spirits from the court and bring the defendants good luck. (Siv Channa)

Taking the stand for the first time since his arrest at a garment worker protest that turned violent in early January, union leader Vorn Pao told the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday that he went to the protest only to make peace and was beaten bloody by soldiers for his efforts.

Mr. Pao, president of the Informal Democracy of Economy Association, was one of 23 men arrested on January 2 and 3 at a pair of protests for higher garment sector wages and charged with causing or inciting violence and property damage.
Military police shot and killed at least five people at the demonstration on January 3, where protesters were armed with stones, slingshots and Molotov cocktails.

At Tuesday’s hearings, the third in these trials, Mr. Pao said he was still suffering from the beating he received at the hands of soldiers—including members of the elite Brigade 911—who had been called in to suppress a protest outside the Yakjin garment factory on January 2.

“I was beaten on the head three or four times, and there was blood. I know the person who beat me. He was from Unit 911,” he said.

Mr. Pao denied doing anything to incite the violence that erupted between the soldiers and protesters.

“I just asked them to not use violence and not beat Khmer,” he said. “I prayed to RCAF [Royal Cambodian Armed Forces] to not use violence when they pointed their weapons at the workers and at me.”

Mr. Pao was the last man to be questioned Tuesday. Earlier, another of the 10 men arrested outside Yakjin on January 2, Sokhun Sambathpiseth, also denied attacking the soldiers and accused the soldiers of attacking him unprovoked.

“Before they arrested me, they beat me as if I were a thief,” he said. “Vorn Pao and I were arrested together, and I thought I would die and become food for the crocodiles.”
read more.

* Worker rights ‘stack up poorly’:

20140521 PPP Workers_Protest
Garment workers cheer and chant on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Boulevard in January during a protest demanding the industry’s minimum wage be raised to $160 a month. Photo by Pha Lina.

Cambodia is one of the worst countries in the world to work in, according to an International Trade Union Confederation report released on Monday.

The 2014 ITUC Global Rights Index – which focuses on the extent to which workers’ rights such as freedom of association, collective bargaining and freedom to strike are respected – says Cambodia is worse than Iraq, Myanmar and Pakistan when it comes to violations.

Following the deadly shooting by government forces of at least four people during a garment strike in January, Cambodia has been given a “5” rating and is considered to offer “no guarantee of rights”, putting it in the unenviable company of Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

“While the legislation may spell out certain rights, workers have effectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labour practices,” the report says of the rating.

Only a rating of “5+”, reserved for countries such as Syria and the Central African Republic, where rule of law has completely broken down, is considered worse. However, even in countries in that category, rights are considered no more limited than in those with a “5” rating.

Contributing significantly to Cambodia’s poor ranking were the fatal shootings on Veng Sreng Boulevard on January 3.
read more.
PPP new

* Training under fire:

After a series of government crackdowns on protests in Cambodia – at least one of which was known to involve an elite RCAF unit – a leading rights group yesterday lambasted the US for providing training to the country’s “abusive armed forces”.

In a statement released yesterday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) hit out at US military forces for providing “training that would assist Cambodia’s military in government crackdowns on the political opposition and civil society activists”.

The statement further suggests that the joint exercises may be in violation of US law, an assertion strongly denied by the US Embassy in Phnom Penh yesterday.

The training took place last month as part of Angkor Sentinel, an annual joint exercise between the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and the US military.

According to HRW, videos and photographs posted on Facebook show evidence of training exercises that “may violate US congressional funding requirements for military training and other forms of security assistance … except in limited areas of ‘global health, food security, humanitarian demining programs, human rights training for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, or to enhance maritime security capabilities.’”

“You have cases where there are people charging across fields with guns … storming buildings, kicking down doors. It is forbidden; it is against the law,” Phil Robertson, deputy director of HRW’s Asia division, told the Post yesterday.

“I don’t think they were actually even hiding it,” he said.
read more.
PPP new

* Rights Group Says US Military Support Breaches Congress Bill:

U.S.-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday released a report claiming that Washington’s ongoing support for Cambodian security forces is inconsistent with U.S. Congress directives regarding aid to Cambodia.

HRW charges that last month’s 10-day Angkor Sentinel military exercise, undertaken by members of the U.S. military and the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), breaches a bill signed by U.S. President Barack Obama in January.

“Congress made it clear in its last budget bill that it didn’t want training like this for Cambodia,” Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director, said in the statement. “The Pentagon needs to explain why it circumvented Congress and ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

The U.S. provides $80 million in aid to Cambodia annually, only a portion of which is given directly to the government. The January budget bill suspended all of the direct funding except that for humanitarian aid and human rights training for RCAF.

The annual Angkor Sentinel exercises are, ostensibly, training for multinational peacekeeping forces. Photos posted to the official Angkor Sentinel Facebook page show Cambodian soldiers armed with AK-47 assault rifles engaged in combat exercises.

“It’s shocking that the U.S. military is providing armed soldiers training in kicking down doors soon after Cambodian armed forces killed protesting workers in Phnom Penh,” Mr. Adams said, referring to the lethal suppression of garment sector protests in January.
read more.

20140520 * Cambodia: US Training of Abusive Military Exposed:

US military training to Cambodia’s abusive armed forces could easily be misused against the political opposition and labor unions and may violate US law.

The US military support was evident in official publicity material and personal pages posted on Facebook during the annual “Angkor Sentinel” exercises conducted from April 21 to 30, 2014.

“It’s shocking that the US military is providing armed soldiers training in kicking down doors soon after Cambodian armed forces killed protesting workers in Phnom Penh,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“While the ‘enemy’ the US is training Cambodia to defend against isn’t stated, these forces of late have only been used against opposition protesters and striking factory workers.”
read more.

20140520 * News flash: Cambodian trial continues tomorrow:

Clean Clothes Campaign and campaigners around the world continue to call for the immediate dropping of all charges and release of the 23 men arrested in Cambodia in January 2014. Today the third day of the trial was postponed again, to tomorrow.

Clean Clothes Campaign is disappointed to learn of the second adjournment in the trial of the 23 who were arrested during demonstrations about a living wage in January this year.

The trial which was due to begin on April 25 has already been postponed twice and hopes were high that as the trial began today, May 20,  it would give all those arrested the opportunity for justice.

However this postponement has been met with bitter disappointment by the men’s supporters, including human rights activists, monks and the men’s families.

Anne Dekker of Clean Clothes Campaign says “we demand a fair and free trial. It’s been far over a hundred days that they have been inprisoned unlawfully. Workers asking for a wage they can live on can not be treated like criminals. We call on the Cambodian Government to ensure that there are no further postponements.”
read more.

07:06:04 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Burma Faces Foreign Investment Competition From Cambodia, Laos:

20140521 IRRAWADDY
Employees work at a garment factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Analysts predict that Burma’s garment sector is set to expand, but the country will have to compete with other regional states for foreign investment. (Photo: Reuters)

Burma, Cambodia and Laos are the potential “hidden markets” of Southeast Asia for investment opportunities, a business study said, but they could end up competing against one another.

Burma and Cambodia are both developing tourism and textile manufacturing industries which could see competition for foreign investment.

In Burma’s case, “it’s very important that the government is able to maintain its reform momentum” in order to achieve the “vast economic potential,” said the study by Business Monitor International (BMI) which identified textiles, tourism and financial services among promising areas for investors.

Cambodia already has a textile industry, catering to the low-end market, which attracted capital from Hong Kong and Taiwan while Burma was politically and economically isolated. But now that Burma is opening up it is also beginning to attract investors into the sector, said BMI.

“Myanmar’s textile industry, which was once a regional power house, has fallen into disrepair in recent years. With sanctions lifted I really see potential in the garment industry, but once again infrastructure is going to be a major issue as the country still has an extremely low electrification rate as well as a seriously limited transport network,” said analyst Andrew Wood in a BMI podcast with two other regional experts.

“In order to address this we will need to see more efforts from the government in attracting more foreign investment as well as clarifying investment laws and generally fortifying the legal system. As long as there is strong progress in these areas I think that the textiles industry in really set to take off in Myanmar.”

BMI’s Head of Asia Country Risk and Financial Markets, Stuart Allsopp, told the podcast that Cambodia also had a lot of potential to expand its garment industry. Up to now foreign investors have focused on the low end of the production market in Cambodia, but the Phnom Penh government is trying to push the sector up the value chain, he said.
read more.

06:36:04 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* Safety in garment factories not as bad as thought:

20140521 DAILYSTAR rmg-safety

A significant proportion of garment factories abide by workplace safety standards but there are still some critical safety concerns that need urgent attention, a recent survey found.

Following the recent spate of accidents in the sector, the ministry of labour and employment commissioned the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the current state of the garment sector with respect to industrial relations, workplace safety and compliance.

The study found that about 80.8 percent of the buildings had approved structural designs and 85.9 percent approved factory layouts.
It has been found that 92 percent of the factories have updated fire safety licences. Almost all the factories do have valid fire extinguishers and maintain records of fire-fighting demonstration.

Around 93 percent and 99 percent of the factories respectively had the necessary number of hose reels for fire fighting and alarm system for fire or other disasters. Additionally, 87.9 percent of the factories had water reservoir in the roof to fight fire.
Faulty electric lines often cause fire. Moreover, location of electric generator, main switch board, cut-out systems and so on are also important for avoiding fire from electric lines and generators.

It has been observed that electric generator is located outside of the factory in case of 55 percent of the factories.
However, only about 19 percent of factories have a separate emergency exit, while others maintain that they have more than one stairs and some of these build-in stairs perform as emergency exit.
read more.
daily star bd

* All factories need to be improved:

The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a group largely made up of American retailers, has revealed factory inspection reports for the first time ever.

The organization, created last July to help advocate for better working conditions in the Bangladesh apparel industry, has been working in the wake of the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse tragedy.

According to WWD, the alliance members include some of the most well known brands in the world, such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Gap Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp., J.C. Penney Co. Inc.,VF Corp., Fruit of the Loom Inc. and Sears Holdings Corp.

Ian Spaulding, the alliance’s senior adviser, spoke of the organization’s efforts in the loom of its one year anniversary.

“The alliance is committed to publish all inspection reports publicly. As such, we have released inspection reports from more than 25 factories on our Web site. We will continue to release additional reports in the weeks and months to come.”

The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety published a public list of factory reports on its website for 508 factories inspected so far, planning to inspect 626 factories in total by July 10.

“All factories that we have inspected have issues that need to be improved,” Spaulding said. “Common issues include inadequate fire-suppression equipment, lack of fire doors and poor electrical wiring. From a structural perspective, while the majority of buildings are safe, there are a few instances when the building is overloaded and the factory needs to take immediate action to reduce the load and reinforce columns.”
read more.

* Bangladesh gradually ensuring garment workers’ rights:

Ambassador Akramul Qader meets Congressman Whitfield in Washington

Bangladesh has been steadily implementing the commitments made and suggestions elaborated by the US, EU and development partners on workers’ rights and safety in the garment sector.

“Yet, it remains a continuous process. Present government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is steadfast to sustain the changes to make the RMG sector a clean, dignified and productive sector,” said Akramul Qader, Bangladeshi ambassador to the US.
He spoke at a meeting with Congressman Ed Whitfield, chairman of the US Congress Subcommittee on Energy and Power, at the Capitol Hill, Washington DC on Monday.
The ambassador also requested the congressman to support Bangladesh’s efforts to restore the GSP benefits.
Qader said Bangladesh is maintaining over 6 percent growth for more than a decade having a population of nearly 160 million.
read more.
daily star bd

* Local denim exporters shining as retailers lean on Bangladesh:

Diversion of orders from Bangladesh’s rivals has opened up new opportunity for local denim goods producers, potentially helping the country to replace China as the world’s No. 1 exporter, industry insiders said.

To cope with the increasing demand, the country’s denim industry is poised to go for expansion and upgradation, they said.

Bangladesh, the second largest producer of denim products after China, ships around 180 million pieces of denim jeans around the world annually, and has more than 5,000 factories concentrated around Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong.

“Though other segment of garment is facing dearth of orders, denim manufacturers are enjoying good export orders due mainly to an increase in denim consumption across the globe,” “Managing Director of Argon Denims Anwar-ul-Alam Chowdhury Parvez told the FE.

He said good price range and quality–the two factors, helping Bangladesh to fast replace China as the world’s biggest denim exporter.

Mr Parvez said Bangladesh has become one of the most important centres for denim apparel production and export across the world. In fact, it has come up as the second important exporter of denim apparel to the world market, experts said.
read more.
FE bd

* Budget and sustainable garment industry:

The readymade garment (RMG) industry is crucial to the economy of Bangladesh as a source of employment generation and export earnings.

The industry accounts for 80 per cent of the total export earnings of the country and is a source of livelihood for around 4.4 million workers, mostly poor rural women.  

Over the last three decades, our apparel industry has achieved a phenomenal growth due to policy support from the government, dynamism of the private sector entrepreneurs and extremely hardworking workers.
The export earnings reached US$ 23.5 billion in the last calendar year and people of around 130 countries of the world are the consumers of ‘made-in-Bangladesh’ knit garments and woven products.

Moreover, a more glittering future is waiting for the ready-made garment industry of Bangladesh.
At least facts and figures have made us believe so. A McKinsey report forecast export-value growth of 7 to 9 per cent annually within the next ten years, so the market will be double by 2015 and nearly triple by 2020.

But at present, the mightiest pillar of our economy is under threat and facing unprecedented challenges posed by some unfortunate incidents in the sector.
With challenges on one side and huge opportunities for further growth on the other, we are now at a crossroads.
One of the biggest challenges for the sector is to make our factories safer and ensure better working conditions for millions of garment workers.
However, following the unfortunate incidents a number of initiatives have been taken to improve building and fire safety of Bangladesh’s garment industry.
read more.
FE bd

* Exporters make a name with sports jerseys:

Bangladesh has become a lucrative destination for sports jerseys for its price competitiveness, exporters said.

The sector for jerseys and specialised sports garments, a knitwear sub-category, has abundant work orders as demand for jerseys is on the rise with mega sports events taking place all year round, they said said.
It is a growing trend for the youth in the West to wear sports jerseys casually as well.
Bangladesh sells a single jersey for $5 to $6, while the same costs much higher in China, the largest apparel supplier worldwide, according to industry insiders.

Bangladeshi manufacturers export jerseys to brands like Nike, Puma, Adidas, G-Star, H&M and M&S, said Mohammad Hatem, vice-president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

At least 20 factories in Bangladesh have exported jerseys for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, said Hatem. “Many factories export sports garment items all year round.”
Bangladesh earns more than $1 billion through the exports of jerseys and sports garments a year, Hatem added.
“I have already shipped 5.6 million pieces of jerseys to Brazil as the World Cup is about to begin next month,” said Shahdad Hossain Shameem, managing director of Stylex, a leading garments maker.
read more.
daily star bd

* ‘Stop washing Jeans, save the world’:

Levi’s CEO says a pair of jeans need not be washed

Jeans need not be washed, the chief executive officer of Levi Strauss & Co Chip Bergh has claimed.

Speaking at Fortune’s Brainstorm Green conference on Tuesday, the Levi’s CEO said the pair he was wearing was not “washed in the past year.”
He was speaking on the 141st anniversary of Levi’s 501 jeans.
“We are the ultimate sustainable apparel,” Bergh said. “If you buy (our jeans) they will last a lot longer than most people’s waistlines will.”

Levi’s is said to be producing a line of denim called “Waterless,” which uses significantly less water in the production process – what can be apparently continued by skipping rinse cycle after purchase.
The report said it takes about 2,500 gallons of water are used per pair of jeans.
read & see more.

06:06:04 local time map of india INDIA

* Poorly Paid Garment Workers Clothed in Worry:

Workers at a ‘Seconds’ garment manufacturing unit in Tirupur

With schools reopening in a few weeks, Veena (name changed), employed in a garment factory near Mysore Road, is a worried mother.

From the few thousands she will earn this month, she needs to buy stationery and uniforms for her two children in high school. This apart, she has grocery and travel expenses daily – all this to be met within `2,000.

“We live in a one-room kitchen and I pay around `4,000 as rent. My husband doesn’t work much. It is only when the children are sick do we buy medicines. For my husband and I, falling sick is not an option. Who has money for such a luxury?” she tells of her predicament.

The city has more than 5 lakh workers in garment factories. From April this year, they stand to receive `6,240 per month. From this amount, they can take home around `6,000. These wages are common for both tailors and helpers in the skilled category. Around 85 per cent of workers are women, with men occupying supervisory positions.

What Price to Pay?
According to Sudha (name changed), a garment worker for 23 years now, her earnings do not suffice to lead a “decent” life. “The government took just one night to increase the bus fares. Then why is it so difficult for them to increase our salaries?” she asks angrily.

Sudha earns `194 a day. Tell her about an increase of `58 in the daily wages and she smiles and asks, “Yes, I will get about `252 now per day. Does the government know how much it takes to live a decent life?”.

Both Veena and Sudha say they walk home after work. “Taking the bus is not an option. We try to save every rupee. Even that is sometimes not enough,” they explain.

‘Slaves’ for Hire
Veena says the workers in garment factories are treated like slaves. “I think twice before going to the bathroom during work hours. A minute away from the table translates into five shirts not completed. And the supervisor is quick to point this out in harsh words”, she narrates.
read more.

05:36:04 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Ineffective: PTEA concerned over decline in exports :

20140521 TRIBUNE
Exports of the country slid down 14.47% in April compared to the previous month, despite the GSP Plus status. PHOTO: FILE

The Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has expressed concerns over the sharp decline in exports and urged the government to enforce measures to resolve this issue.

Exports of the country slid down 14.47% in April compared to the previous month, despite the GSP Plus status.

Briefing the press after a meeting, PTEA Chairman Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood and Vice Chairman Adil Tahir said the association has repeatedly shown apprehension over the situation.

They said the industry’s problems will continue and become alarming in the coming months, adding that policymakers are not serious in resolving gas supply issues of the textile industry. “Instead, the available gas is being supplied to unproductive sectors and segments,” they lamented.
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* PTEA expresses grave concern over sharp decline in exports:

Exports of the country are heading towards disaster as it declined by 14.47 percent in April compared to previous month despite the availability of GSP Plus benefit.

Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has expressed its grave concern over the sharp decline in exports and urged the government to take serious cognisance of the matter.

Briefing the newsmen after emergent meeting of the Association, Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood, Chairman and Adil Tahir Vice-Chairman, said that PTEA is repeatedly showing concerns over the situation, but unfortunately all of its hue and cry was falling on deaf ears of the policy-makers. They deplored the government was not addressing the reasons behind the industrial crisis.
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* Gas allocation: APTMA’s Punjab chapter seeks amendment to formula:

All Pakistan Textile Mills (APTMA) Punjab has requested the federal government to amend gas allocation formula after seeking consent from the Council of Common Interests (CCI) as the textile industry in Punjab is facing a Rs 82 billion financial loss due to intra-province disparity.

A delegation of APTMA Punjab led by its Chairman S. M. Tanveer held a detailed meeting with Minister of State for Water and Power, Abid Sher Ali and Prime Minister’s Advisor on Energy, Musadak Malik on Tuesday.
APTMA Punjab argued that industry in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa is being supplied gas 24 hours a day whereas textile industry in Punjab is getting gas only for 8 hours per day.
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* Ineffective: PTEA concerned over decline in exports
* PTEA expresses grave concern over sharp decline in exports
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