20:03:12 local time CHINA
* Action to urge Yue Yuen (0551.HK) to account for the debts on social insurance to the workers:
Today (30 May 2014), labour organizations in Hong Kong stage a demonstration at the Annual General Meeting of Yue Yuen (0551.HK) against the ambiguous arrangement on the compensation of social insurance to the workers.
Since the 5 April, more than a thousand of workers from the world’s largest footwear manufacturer Yue Yuen went on strike in its Gaobu Factory in Dongguan to protest against its violation of labor rights including the deduction on the contribution of social insurance and the labor contracts without legal effect.
Later, 50,000 workers joined the strike.
Though the strike was ended, Yue Yuen has not yet clearly explained the total social insurance payment in arrear to all affected workers. Moreover, it has not announced the payback schedule for that. Yue Yuen is reluctant to disclose the situation of social insurance in other of its factories.
* Children’s clothing fails safety standards for drawstrings, chemicals:
Close to 10 percent of drawstrings on children’s clothing in China fail to meet standards and pose a danger, experts at a world-leading German-based testing facility warned on Tuesday.
Chinese parents should not buy garments with drawstrings for children under 7 years old because of the risk of strangulation if they are caught on equipment at home or on playgrounds.
Experts also sounded an alarm about potentially harmful chemicals on kids’ clothing. “Don’t buy clothes with a strong smell or very dark color for children,” said Zhou Peirong from TUV Rheinland’s textile products, toy and chemistry service laboratory. “About 3 percent of children’s clothes we tested in China fail to meet the standard on formaldehyde.”
read more. & read more.
19:03:12 local time VIET NAM
* 2,000 workers at Taiwanese firm hospitalised with neurotoxic syndrome:
Around 2,000 workers at two factories in Hoang Long Industrial Zone in Thanh Hoa City, owned by a Taiwanese company, suffered neurotoxic syndrome on May 15 and May 19 because of the high level of organic solvents in the factories.
Mr. Le Huu Uyen, from the Health Department of Thanh Hoa Province, said that the workers of the Hongfu Shoe Company and Hong My Company (subsidiaries of the Taiwan-owned Hongfu Vietnam Group) were sent to hospitals in May with neurotoxic syndrome. Uyen said that symptoms had occurred because of the high amount of organic solvents present at the factories.
Specialists inspected the working environment at the two factories and found that the air circulation systems in these factories were not good enough to ensure safe labor conditions for thousands of workers.
They also found solvents like hydrocarbon, ethyl acetate and N-propyl acetate in glues and liquid cleaners at the factories. These chemicals are liquid and volatile at room temperature. They are very volatile at high temperatures.
* 170 workers hospitalized for food poisoning in northern Vietnam:
read more. & read more.
* Garment, textile sector seeks out new suppliers:
Garment and textile companies have been actively seeking material suppliers to reduce dependence on imports from China, due to complicated changes in the market.
Cao Anh Dung, Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Light Industry Department, told reporters at a press briefing in Ha Noi yesterday to review the country’s economy in the first five months of the year, that exports of businesses in the light industry including garment and shoes had shown a positive trend.
In addition, imports of materials for the garment and textile sector have been normal at the border gates.
* Korean Dong-IL Group builds first textile factory in Vietnam:
June 3 marked the start of construction by the Republic of Korea’s (RoK) Dong-IL group on its first textile factory in Vietnam at Loc An-Binh Son Industrial Zone in Long Thanh district, Dong Nai province.
- Vinh Phuc works to attract more Korean investors
- Vietnam’s electronics attractive to Korean investors
The facility, to be built on 12ha at a cost of nearly US$52 million, will have an annual capacity of 9,000 tonnes of products.
Dong –IL leaders said when the Posco E & C Vietnam factory is put into operation in 2015 as scheduled, it will generate hundreds of jobs for local people and its products will be exported to Asian markets.
read more. & read more.
* Reducing China’s economic dependence by FTAs:
Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) not only open up opportunities for Vietnam to stimulate the national economy but also reduce and gradually remove dependence on the Chinese market, towards ensuring a sustainable economic development.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Vietnam (VCCI) Chairman Vu Tien Loc told a recent conference on socio-economic development in Hanoi at the current session of the 13th National Assembly (NA).
Many NA deputies stated that the illegal placement by China of its oil rig in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone is a serious violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty. If the wrongdoing is not prevented, it would considerably affect trade relations between Vietnam and China.
More than half of Vietnam’s garment and textile materials are imported from the Chinese market and up to 90% of Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contracts from thermal power projects are carried out by Chinese contractors. The main reason is due to the abundant and relatively cheap supply of credits, raw materials and goods from China.
With its commitment to remove and at least reduce tariffs and technical barriers to the lowest levels in FTAs with the world’s leading partners in the future, Vietnam will have a good chance to import machinery, equipment, input materials, consumer goods from the US, the EU, Japan, the Republic of Korea (RoK), Australia, New Zealand and Russia
* Ministry urged to hasten support to riot-affected workers:
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh has asked the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs to continue instructing localities to assist workers who had to stop working due to recent social disorders.
The workers will receive wages during their days-off between May 12 and July 1, the day before those enterprises are scheduled to resume their normal operation.
* $50m footwear factory kicks off:
A ground-breaking ceremony for the first stage of a plant manufacturing footwear for export was held by King Riches Footwear Viet Nam at the Viet Nam-Singapore Integrated Township and Industrial Park (VSIP) in the central province of Quang Ngai yesterday.
The plant, which covers an area of 25.39ha with an investment of US$30-50 million, will be operational by May 2015.
19:03:12 local time CAMBODIA
* Workers’ March Blocked in Ocean Factory Dispute:
About 800 striking workers from the Ocean Garment Factory in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district were prevented from protesting outside the Labor Ministry on Tuesday, with later discussions between workers and factory owners yielding no results, according to union representatives.
The factory suspended work between May 26 and June 26 after orders had dried up from a number of labels including Gap, with its workers demanding half their regular salary during that time period. The factory’s bosses have offered only $15 for the month.
The group of workers set off from the factory Tuesday at about 7:30 a.m., before being stopped by police only a kilometer away.
“There can be no march because of issues with security and traffic. We therefore ask you to go back to your factory,” Hem Darith, the district governor of Pur Senchey district, told the protesters.
* Protest blocked: Workers at factory seek full salaries:
Police yesterday morning blocked more than 1,000 garment workers as they tried to march from their Por Sen Chey district factory to the Ministry of Labour to plead for intervention.
Management at the Ocean Garment factory informed staff on May 24 that it would close for one month beginning May 26 due to insufficient orders, said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, which represents workers there.
During that month, employees will earn only $15. Workers in Cambodia’s garment sector have earned a minimum wage of $100 per month since February.
“The factory suspended the workers without informing them in advance,” Sina said. “So the employer has to pay 100 per cent of the workers’ wages.”
National Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito yesterday said in a text message that police had orders to stop the march partially due to security concerns.
* Garment Workers Strike After Factory Faintings, Secure Demands:
Staff at a garment factory in Kompong Chhnang province went on strike Tuesday to demand guarantees of pay for 36 colleagues who fainted on Monday, a union official said.
The entire workforce at the Taiwanese-owned Jiun Ye Garment factory—which produces children’s clothing—arrived at the factory in Samakki Meanchey district but refused to work until their demands were met, according to Nen Saran, an official at the Free Trade Union.
By the close of business, the factory owners had agreed to the demands: that fainting workers be paid—rather than docked—for work hours missed, that an investigation be carried out to find the cause of the fainting, and that the factory stop discouraging union activities.
* Factory faintings back on rise:
More than 600 workers have fainted on factory floors so far this year, compared with about 800 such incidents over the whole of 2013, a Labour Ministry official said yesterday.
Pok Vanthat, deputy director of the ministry’s labour health department and head of a committee that aims to prevent fainting in factories, told the Post that as of June 3, 663 workers have blacked out on the job, compared with 823 faintings recorded last year.
Vanthat said the hot weather has contributed to a string of incidents in the past few days.
“The weather is extremely hot this year [and] workers cannot stand the heat,” he said.
Enforced overtime, poor working conditions, chemical fumes and instances of psychogenic illness are among other reasons often cited as causes.
In the latest incident, 29 workers at Huey Cheun factory in Meanchey district’s Kbal Koh commune collapsed en masse yesterday – the second incident at the factory in less than a week, Vanthat said.
FTU public relations officer Om Dyna said a lack of good nutrition was a major cause.
Mouen Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, agreed.
To solve this problem, “the minimum wage needs to be fixed and factories need to set up meal programmes to give workers free and healthy meals,” Tola said.
20140602 * About 30 workers faint:
About 30 workers at Ghin Yi factory fainted on Monday noon after learning that their colleague fainted at the factory in Chamkar Svay commune of Samaki Meanchey district of Kampong Chhnang province.
Workers began to faint one by one in building number 13, said district deputy police inspector Chiv Chey, adding that the workers were sent to Kampong Trolach referral hospital.
“One female worker suffered from convulsion, and her colleagues came to help, but the workers started to faint,” he said.
Chey said that the fainting workers are now in better condition after being rushed to hospital on time.
* British fashion retailer has ‘no concerns’ about Cambodia:
British global fashion leader New Look is not worried about labour issues in Cambodia, an industry source says.
“New Look has said it has no concerns about the working conditions at its supplier factories in Cambodia,” the Just-Style newsletter reported Tuesday.
The report said chief executive Anders Kristiansen had stressed that corporate social responsibility was “core” to the company which has annual sales of £1.5 billion and almost 1,200 stores in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Cambodia was among New Look’s top five sourcing countries in 2012, according to the company’s latest ethical trade report. The others were Bangladesh, Britain, China and Moldova.
COMPANY SAYS IT’S TACKLING MASS FAINTINGS, UNDER-AGE WORKERS
The report says New Look’s corporate social responsibility activities in Cambodia have recently focused on tackling mass faintings in factories and under-age workers.
* A factory or family dilemma:
Being placed on consecutive short-term contracts in Cambodia’s predominantly female-staffed garment sector is forcing many women to choose between a family and a factory job, unionists and rights groups said yesterday.
Ken Chenglang, acting president of the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia, said many factories were employing workers on fixed-duration contracts (FDCs) as a way of avoiding paying maternity leave benefits once the workers become pregnant.
According to the Labour Law, workers are entitled to benefits after one year of uninterrupted service at a company. But the threat of their employer not renewing their contract or forcing them to take unpaid leave if they fall pregnant leaves some workers on FDCs considering abortion, Chenglang said.
“We’re working with factories and buyers to ask them to stop using short-term contracts because the workers will get nothing when they deliver their baby,” she said.
According to a 2011 Yale University study titled Tearing Apart at the Seams, using FDCs in Cambodia to deny women maternity leave benefits “constitutes sex-based discrimination and violates protections for women included in both the Constitution and the Labour Law”.
But labour rights groups claim the practice is widespread. A 2012-2013 Workers Rights Consortium survey of 127 Cambodian factories found the majority employed most or all of their workers on FDCs.
* Out of jail, garment worker sees uncertain future:
When Pang Vunny walks around his rented room just off of Veng Sreng Boulevard, he waves his hand from side to side in front of him, like a man feeling his way in the dark.
Ever since he was arrested and badly beaten on January 2 – as one of 23 detained over two days of unruly wage protests during which at least four demonstrators were shot dead – Vunny’s eyesight has been in decline.
Though he takes medicine, provided by rights group Licadho, he is unsure whether it can cure the ailment, or whether the blurry shapes he is still able to make out will soon disappear.
“I am worried I will go stone blind if they are not cured,” he said.
Vunny and the 22 others were freed from prison last Friday – albeit with convictions and suspended sentences – but freedom doesn’t lessen the worry over his livelihood and his siblings, whom he supports. His hazy vision means he can’t work in the garment factory.
“I am innocent, [but] they beat me like that and put me in jail, and sentenced me to three years’ imprisonment,” he said. “How about the soldiers who beat me? Why don’t they put them in jail, too?”
* After jail, Pov gains following:
Before he was arrested in January, Vorn Pov and the union he created were not widely known outside of activist circles.
But when he emerged from Phnom Penh’s CC1 prison on Friday, he walked away as one of the highest-profile unionists in the country, and a minor celebrity.
According to Pov, his Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) has recruited more than 1,000 new members since he was beaten and dragged away by soldiers outside the Yakjin garment factory amid worker protests on January 3.
That his group has since burgeoned in popularity is not surprising. The 23 protesters and activists who were imprisoned during January’s demonstrations, and finally released on Friday with suspended sentences, became a cause célèbre, drawing widespread attention from local and global unions, rights groups, brands, embassies and media.
At the centre of the firestorm surrounding the group was Pov, who underwent surgery late last year and was said to be suffering from serious health problems after the beating.
“A lot of people are paying attention to my union now, because they know that I was unjustly put behind bars,” Pov, who launched IDEA in 2005 to represent informal workers ranging from tuk-tuk drivers to recyclables collectors and now has more than 10,000 members, said yesterday.
20140603 * Medical trips await 9 of 23:
Nine of the group of 23 workers and labour activists who were released from custody and given suspended sentences on Friday over January’s garment employee protests will receive medical care in Thailand, rights group Licadho said yesterday.
A number of the men were beaten by security forces during the demonstrations, which saw authorities clash with protesters, and say they received poor medical care while in police custody over the past few months.
Last month, a garment worker who was severely beaten by police on Veng Sreng Boulevard on January 3 died, with his family blaming head trauma inflicted by authorities months before.
Am Sam Ath, senior investigator at Licadho, said that the nine men would be sent to a hospital in Bangkok for check-ups and treatment to ensure they are not masking more serious conditions.
20140602 * Global unions welcome release of Cambodian protestors:
Global unions have welcomed the release of 23 Cambodian wage protestors arrested following demonstrations in January but remain concerned at the severity of the court verdict and the lack of a fair trial.
After considerable pressure and campaigning both locally and internationally by IndustriALL Global Union, the ITUC and UNI Global Union, as well as support from NGOs and fashion brands, the 23 workers were released following a Phnom Penh court verdict on Friday 30 May.
Ath Thorn, President of IndustriALL affiliate garment workers’ union, C.CAWDU, said:
“This victory is the first step. The trade union movement will continue to fight for a minimum wage of US$160 for garment and textile workers and to ensure the protection of workers’ rights, decent work and dignity.”
20140602 * Victory: All 23 released from jail in Cambodia:
On Friday 30th May, the court convicted and then released the 23 garment workers and unionists who were arrested during the violent crackdown of the wage protest in Cambodia last January.
Their sentences were suspended after huge pressure from international campaign groups and unions.
Garment workers across Cambodia went on strike after the Cambodian Government failed to listen to it’s own committees advice and raised the minimum wage to just USD95. Far lower than the USD 160 workers and trade unions were demanding.
* Booming Cambodia beckons investors:
Cambodia has emerged as an attractive new destination for foreign investors seeking to diversify their production bases and access a fast-growing local market.
Although infrastructure is still underdeveloped and the legal system is inefficient, Thai companies will find that Cambodia offers some unique advantages.
Cambodia is one of Asia’s most liberalised economies, with very few limitations on foreign businesses. Infrastructure is reasonably adequate, and conditions for exporters are favourable.
Its land and natural resources are abundant, and wages are low (although rising).
Exporters to Europe and the United States benefit from preferential tariff treatment under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). And foreign currency risk is moderate because the economy is largely “dollarised”.
20:03:12 local time INDONESIA
* Fighting for workers’, and women’s, rights in Indonesia:
From scepticism and questioning to recognition and trust; Elly Rosita Silaban’s path to the leadership of a huge Indonesian labour union shows how the barriers for women unionists can be broken through passion and perseverance.
Another long night for Elly Rosita Silaban. It was almost midnight when she came home after a labour union meeting. Looking at her two sons, deep in sleep, she felt a sense of guilt. She tried hard to be a good mother and a good wife but as a union leader she sometimes had to leave her family because she had thousands of people’s needs to serve.
There are only a few women union leaders in Indonesia. In this relatively conservative society, women activists are perceived as unusual and 45-year-old Ms Silaban faces challenges her male counterparts never do.
She got used to the snide comments, questioning her professional abilities as a union leader. But she also faced challenges at home; her family were not happy because most of the union meetings were held in the evening and women are not encouraged to go out after nightfall.
* Garment Factory Construction Guideline:
Better Work Indonesia just released a new guideline on Garment Factory Construction.
This guide is expected to be a reference for investors, developers, consultants, contractors, and others who will be involved in the construction of garment factories in Indonesia.
This guide does not only contain regulations, but also provides initial information regarding the process and procedures in planning, designing, and constructing garment factories in Indonesia with a systematic approach.
In addition, we will also provide guidance to maintain the safety of the building and its construction, and the utilization of the building when construction is completed.
read more (pdf).
18:03:12 local time BANGLADESH
* Female garment workers victims of wage disparity:
Jaya has been working as a helper in a garment factory in the city’s Kawran Bazar area for a monthly salary of Taka 3,000.
Including overtime, medical and other facilities, she can draw Taka 4,000 to 4,500 per month. Her husband Meghnad Sikder has also been working in a garment factory. Both Jaya and her husband are living in a slum-like rented house beside Kathalbagan Mosque in the capital Dhaka.
When asked whether she is getting wage under the new wage structure announced by the government in December last year, a visibly disappointed Jaya replied in the negative.
She in her local accent said, “Ki bhabey notun beton dibe. puran beton e dei na” (How shall we get wage under new structure since the owner is not paying us under old wage structure).
“Failing to get wages under the new structure, many female workers have quit their job,” Jaya said, adding that the garment owners do not pay heed to their repeated demands in this regard although many machine operators sometimes stay away from their work to press home their demands for introducing new wage
structure in the garment factory.
“We work in the factory from 8 am to 7 pm and the hours after 5 pm are counted as overtime. After such hard work we are not paid overtime bill even salary timely. We did not get our salaries of the last three months. We have come to Dhaka to earn
money and run our family smoothly through our earnings. But unfortunately, our dream has been shattered,” an apparently frustrated Jaya said.
Jaya went on, “We have family and we need food to survive and a shelter to live in. So, if we don’t get salary in time how would we run our family and meet other necessary expenses?”
The rent of Jaya’s house, where she has been living with her husband and mother -in-law, is Taka 4,500. Four families comprising 16 members are living in four rooms of the rented house. They have four gas burners.
Four families have to use one single burner, one common bathroom and two toilets. On the other hand, scarcity of drinking water is acute in the house. Jaya has to collect water in the early hours from the supply tap and keep water in pitchers for
Shila has been working in the garment factory as an operator for the last six months. She used to work in another garment factory at least six years before joining the present factory. She quit the previous job, as the owner did not pay her salary
consecutively for three months.
* Workers of closed garment factory in Mirpur file cases against management for compensation:
Workers of a Dhaka apparel factory have filed 18 cases with the Labour Court against its management seeking their due compensations and other benefits, sources said.
The production of the factory has been suspended following the recent inspections conducted by global retailers’ groupings.
Filing of twenty two more cases against the factory authorities is also under process, said the court sources.
“I have filed the case with the Labour Court in Dhaka recently,” Anisur Rahman, one of the 18 workers, told the FE.
The factory was closed following recommendation of the Review Panel after Accord engineers in March this year found the building that housed the RMG unit ‘unsafe’.
With shutdown of the factory, around 3,500 workers at the factory lost their jobs.
Of them, about 50-60 workers went the Labour Legal Aid Cell (LLAC) on various occasions seeking redress.
The LLAC, which was formed last year just after the Rana Plaza tragedy under the National Legal Aid Services Organisation (NLASO) of the Law Ministry, provides legal advice and other necessary assistance to the workers at free of cost.
* Bangladesh halts shutdown of “unsafe” garment factories:
The Bangladeshi government is refusing to shut down garment factories declared unsafe, following a row with independent inspectors over the strength of concrete used in the buildings, officials said on Tuesday.
The Bangladeshi government is refusing to shut down garment factories declared unsafe, following a row with independent inspectors over the strength of concrete used in the buildings, officials said on Tuesday.
Inspectors hired by Western retailers have been checking the structural safety of factories in the wake of the collapse of the Rana Plaza complex last year that killed 1,138 people.
But a dispute has erupted between Bangladesh’s Inspector General of Factories and engineers from the group of retailers called the Accord over the concrete strength in the buildings.
The inspector general, Syed Ahmed, said his office has refused since April to review or close down six factories, employing hundreds of workers, deemed unsafe after inspections.
* Buet experts differ with RMG compliance groups:
But Buet team set 2,100 PSI and 2,400 PSI for brick-made buildings and stone stuffed buildings respectively
Experts of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and compliance oversight groups, Alliance and Accord, have differed over the standards of load of the buildings housing the readymade garment factories.
A team of civil engineers from Buet inspected 200 buildings accommodating 252 factories between October 2013 and January 2014 and suggested no abandonment of the buildings while the oversight groups detected many buildings for ‘poor safety standards’.
Up to June 3, Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment closed down 15 factories housed in five buildings, its inspector general told Syed Ahmed the Dhaka Tribune.
According to the standards set by Accord, an alliance of European buyers, and Alliance, the group of North American importers, the maximum load for brick-made buildings in Bangladesh is 1,800 PSI (per square inch) and 2,100 PSI for stone stuffed buildings.
But Buet team set 2,100 PSI and 2,400 PSI for brick-made buildings and stone stuffed buildings respectively.
If the Accord-Alliance standards are implemented, the experts fear at least 30% factories of the US $30 billion industry would be shut.
Today, the Buet team members will meet the Accord-Alliance technicians to set the standards according to which they would suggest building conditions to ensure safety standards for the garment industry.
“The Buet team has huge expertise on the building patterns in Bangladesh. They have set the standards of 2,100 PSI and 2,400 PSI for brick and stone stuffed factory buildings. Buet has not suggested any closure, recommending minor structural changes and overhaul of electrical wiring,” Syed Ahmed told the Dhaka Tribune.
He said the Alliance-Accord standards were ‘not acceptable’, referring that their standards, if applied, would spell disaster for the country’s readymade garment industry.
* 24 RMG units lack fire safety requirements:
The fire department has asked another two dozen readymade garment (RMG) factories to comply with safety requirements or face punitive actions as part of the government’s effort to ensure workplace safety, sources said.
It issued notices to the factories when its inspectors found a number of loopholes on fire safety issue, they said.
“Our inspectors found massive shortcomings of fire safety equipment and lack of necessary facilities in majority portion of the factories visited,” a senior Fire Service and Civil Defence official told the FE.
He said drive to check the factories will continue and notices will be issued to the factory owners to comply with the requirements to stop recurrence of fire incidents like that of Tazreen Fashions which burnt 112 workers alive.
* 5 factories fined for polluting Turag:
Department of Environment (DoE) have fined five dying factories Tk6500,000 for violating environmental laws and polluting environment in Gazipur.
DoE endorsed the information in a press note on Tuesday issued by Md Hafizur Rahman, assistant director of the organisation’s Dhaka headquarters.
In an anti polution drive by the environment pollution watchdog, Director (monitoring and enforcement) M Alamgir on Tuesday, fined five factories Tk500,000 for polluting the Turag river through the emission of the poisonous particles using faulty effluent treatment plant (ETP) and waste bipass system.
DOE fined Tk20 lakh to Multifabes Ltd, Tk16 lakh to Mitali Fashions Ltd, Tk5 lakh to Cotton Club (BD), Tk5 lakh to Jara knit composit and Tk19 lakh to Proma Syntex Ltd.
* Bangladesh now ILO governing member:
Bangladesh has been elected as the deputy member of the International Labour Organization (ILO) governing body for 2014-2017 tenure.
* Bangladesh gets $500m World Cup order:
Bangladesh garment manufacturers bagged at least US$500 million in export orders to sew World Cup jerseys for fans across the globe in a major industry boost after a string of disasters, officials said Monday, reports AFP.
The acting head of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) said the country’s shipment of garments grew around 14 per cent this year with World Cup orders playing a key role.
read more. & to read. & to read. & to read. & to read.
* BD RMG duty-free access to US depends on Doha Round:
The duty-free market access of Bangladesh’s readymade garment products to the US market depends on ‘successful completion’ of World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha Round, says its Director General Roberto Azevedo in the city Tuesday.
* WTO not to pressurize for GSP in US:
World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevedo on Tuesday said it can not pressurize rather take initiatives to get Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) in US.
Roberto came up with the remarks while briefing the journalists after paying a courtesy call on Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed at the Secretariat in the city.
He said, “Bangladesh is advancing in economy, Bangladesh is a potential country in the economy; but increasing the quota free opportunity is difficult, Bangladesh has to lot more in this regard.”
“Bangladesh will be given all sorts of assistance to get the GSP as the other countries are being provided with, I hope Bangladesh will go advance through works,” he added.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Duty-free access hinges on Doha Round of WTO talks:
WTO director general says positive outcomes may come from a meeting in Geneva in December
The duty-free access of Bangladesh’s garment items to the US market largely depends on the successful completion of the World Trade Organisation’s Doha Round of negotiations, WTO’s director general said yesterday.
“I have already held meetings with the developed countries and asked them to successfully complete the Doha Round,” Roberto Azevedo said.
He said they expect ‘a good outcome’ from a meeting in December in Geneva.
Azevedo, who is now in Dhaka on a two-day visit, was speaking at a meeting with businesspeople at Hotel Sonargaon.
Currently, being a least developed country, Bangladesh enjoys duty-free access for 97 percent of its products to the US, but the country’s main export item — garments — is not entitled to the privilege.
As a result, garment exporters have to pay 15.61 percent duty on exports to the US, Bangladesh’s single largest export destination.
Bangladesh paid $746 million to the US customs as duty in 2012. China, despite being a developed nation, pays 3 percent duty for exporting its garment products to the US. The US duty benefit for Bangladesh’s 97 percent products was agreed in the Hong Kong ministerial conference of the WTO in 2005.
* Ensure non-tariff barrier-free trade for LDCs, apparel makers urge WTO:
Apparel makers on Tuesday urged the World Trade Organization (WTO) to take effective steps so that non-tariff trade barriers are not used against least developed countries (LDCs), and sought quick implementation of Bali Ministerial decision.
“We urge the WTO to ensure that non-tariff trade barriers are not used against LDCs. We request the WTO DG to ensure that the Bali Ministerial decision is implemented effectively,” BGMEA President M Atiqul Islam said.
read more. & read more.
* BD basic garment risks taking a hit as India, EU move closer to FTA :
Bangladesh’s garment industry risks taking a battering if India and the European Union sign free trade agreement, insiders have feared.
They say the government should facilitate establishment of textiles and backward linkage industry to stave off the possible negative impact associated with the FTA.
The negotiations on the FTA under which New Delhi might get zero tariff access is likely to resume anytime soon, which is expected be concluded by end of this year or early next year, sources at the foreign ministry said.
The EU provides duty free access to Bangladesh and Pakistan under its ‘every thing but arms’ programme while Indian products are subject to payment of about 12 per cent duty.
“If India gets the duty-free access for the readymade garment products, it will have a huge negative impact on our exports,” former president of BGMEA, Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin told the FE.
Bangladesh might lose competitiveness in basic garment products like T-shirt and home textiles, he said, adding: “No doubt it will be a challenge for us and it will put lots of pressure on us.”
read more. & read more.
17:33:12 local time INDIA
* India Ranks As World’s Second Largest Textile Exporter:
India ranks as the world’s second largest textiles exporter last year, ahead of its competitors like Italy, Germany and Bangladesh, with China still retaining the top position, according to data released by UN Comtrade.
Currently, India’s textiles exports to the world is US$40.2 billion.
India’s share in Global Textiles has increased by 17.5 per cent in 2013 compared to the previous year.
This growth is phenomenal as the global textiles growth rate is only 4.7 per cent compared to India which registered growth of 23 per cent versus China and Bangladesh which registered 11.4 per cent and 15.4 per cent, respectively.
“Despite having slow recovery in the US and EU, our biggest traditional markets as well as prevailing global slowdown coupled with sustained cost of inflationary inputs, we made the best possible efforts to reach here,” Apparel Exports Promotion Council’s Chairman, Virender Uppal said.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Textile industry seeks comprehensive policy:
The textile industry is fully geared to make fresh investments and modernise. But what it seeks from the Centre is a stable policy on the lines of Satyam Committee recommendations (report submitted in 1999), say industry experts.
Stating that the last textile policy was released about a decade back and since then, the industry had undergone a sea change, Chairman of the Southern India Mills Association (SIMA), T Rajkumar, said,
“We are seeking a stable and comprehensive policy. We have appealed to the Union Government to review the draft recommendations of the Ajay Shankar committee and announce an integrated textile policy soon and create a level-playing field for all the sectors in a global environment.
The new policy should be in line with the present era of development, should not be sectoral, but quite comprehensive,” he added.
* Textile body demands cotton development board:
The Southern India Mills Association (SIMA), the apex body of textile mills in the South, wants a Cotton Development Board on the lines of the Coffee Board.
SIMA Chairman T Rajkumar told media persons that India has the potential to produce 1,000 lakh bales (170 kg each) of cotton by 2020-2023.
To raise output
The formation of a Cotton Development Board would increase the output of the natural fibre, said Rajkumar.
He said cotton production has been good in the last two years and has been hovering around 370-375 lakh bales.
* Knitwear exporters hail SLR cut:
Knitwear exporting units, which have been voicing concern over high interest rates, were rather disappointed to note that the key rates remained unchanged except the 50 bps reduction in the SLR (Statutory Liquidity Ratio).
Reacting to the second bi-monthly monetary policy statement, the President of Tirupur Exporters’ Association, A Sakthivel said “the 50 bps cut in SLR is a welcome move, as it would help banks extend more credit to units that require funds.”
“But to make the garment exporting sector competitive, the RBI will have to come up with a separate chapter for exports and fix the pre and post shipment export credit at 7 per cent. This has been a long pending demand,” he added Sakthivel said extension of interest subvention on packing credit to the garment sector would be known only in the ensuing Budget.
17:03:12 local time PAKISTAN
* The wheel of life: Spinning a new future for the silk labourers of Swat:
A 77-year-old man can be seen patiently making his way through Mingora bazaar every morning. After saying his prayers, he pushes a cart laden with vegetables up a steep road to the market to begin his sale for the day. This is Abdur Rahman, father to five daughters and three sons.
“I used to work at a silk mill,” said the old man. “I handled three machines for 12 hours every day; and if I worked overtime, I would make about Rs15,000 a month.”
Rahman lives in a three-room mud house in Rahimabad, Mingora. He speaks of his time at the mill with a glint in his eye. Not only did he manage to provide for the whole family, but Rahman says he was able to scrape together a meagre amount of savings as well.
“They were good days,” he says. “Of course, this was before the 2007 insurgency.”
Within the year, Rahman says, their peaceful valleys became a hub of unspeakable violence and shrouded their homes and hearts in darkness. Everyone suffered, and curfews were imposed from 12 hours up to 72 hours consecutively.
* Competing in the garment industry :
The wheels of Bangladesh’s garment industry keep turning without a stop even when the much-too-common strikes called by Dhaka’s cantankerous politicians bring life to a standstill there.
That is one of the secrets of Bangladeh’s booming apparel industry which last year raked in $21 billion from exports. In sharp contrast, Pakistan’s earnings from this sector stood at a mere $2.6 billion.
This yawning gap is all the more pronounced when one considers how the two competitors ran neck-and-neck in the year 2002, with export revenues pegged at $2.5 billion for each country.
But last year’s export figures amply illustrate just how far behind Bangladesh has left us in the race, much to our chagrin. A 2011 Deloitte-Touche study predicts that Bangladesh’s garment industry shall rise to $40 billion by 2018.
An entrepreneur with experience of working in Bangladesh’s garment industry has, in a write-up in this paper, chronicled Bangladesh’s success story and how it stands to gain from China’s likely shrinking share in this segment because of the latter’s rising labour costs.
He informs us that out of the $200 billion the West spent on sourcing cheap garments, China holds a share of $80 billion while the next two contenders Turkey and Bangladesh hold $30 and $21 billion apiece while India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Pakistan jointly account for another $50 billion.
China’s wage rates have crossed $1/hour and are climbing.
Consequently, manufacturing garments at this wage rate is untenable.
* A pro-business budget:
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar here on Tuesday tabled in parliament the Rs3.936 trillion federal budget for 2014-15 with 4.9 percent deficit, giving more relief to the rich business community and only peanuts for the poor. He also jacked up the CNG price by Rs3 per kg.
The minister proposed to raise the salaries of government employees by 10 percent and the minimum monthly wage to Rs12,000 from Rs10,000.
The minimum pension is being raised from Rs5,000 to Rs6,000.
Under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), the poor will now receive Rs1,500 per month, Rs300 more compared to the previous fiscal. Now 5.3 million families will be supported instead of 4.1 million.
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* Textile sector gets incentives:
The government Tuesday announced a textile package, giving incentives to the sector by reducing mark up rate for export refinance scheme from existing 9.4 percent to 7.5 percent.
Besides, the textile industry units in value added sector will be provided Long Term Financing Facility (LTFF) for up-gradation of technology at the rate of 9 percent for 3-10 years.
Announcing the budget 2014-15, Federal Minister for Finance Muhammad Ishaq Dar said: “Textile sector enjoyed duty-free import of machinery under the Textile Policy 2009-14. This facility will end on 30th June 2014 (SRO-809). It is proposed that in view of the need to take full advantage of GSP plus facility, this concession would be allowed for another two years.”
* APTMA praises budget as pro-textile industry:
The leadership of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has termed the Federal Budget 2014-15 growth-oriented and pro-textile industry, saying that the incentives and facilities offered in the budget will contribute to the country’s GDP growth.
Speaking to media persons, APTMA Group Leader Gohar Ejaz congratulated Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for presenting a business-friendly budget, saying that it showed how meticulously he had prepared the budget to reflect the wishes of all segments of society.
He said the Federal Finance Minister had himself admitted that an improved availability of electricity and gas to the textile industry had resulted in 4.1 percent growth in GDP. The textile industry would have to be exempted from electricity and gas loadshedding to realise its real potential, Gohar stressed.
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* Textile makers-cum-exporters hail budget:
Hailing the federal budget for the fiscal year 2014-15, textile manufacturers-cum-exporters on Tuesday hoped that the incentives proposed in the annual financial plan would help grow the apparel sector.
Commenting on the fiscal budget announcement by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Pakistan Apparel Forum’s (PAF) Chairman Javed Bilwani said that what we wanted from the government for the garment sector has been proposed in the budget.
* Chief Commissioner, PLGMEA team discuss tax related issues:
A delegation of Pakistan Leather Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PLGMEA) led by Fawad Ijaz Khan, Patron-in-Chief, PLGMEA, met Lubna Farrukh Mirza, Chief Commissioner Inland Revenue, RTO-II Karachi, to discuss sales tax and income tax related issues of PLGMEA members.
Other officials who attended the meeting included Muzaffar Lashari Commissioner RTO-II, Shakoor Additional Commissioner and Mrs Hina Akram Assistant Commissioner.
* Simple tax system: PBEA greets Prime Minister’s decision to facilitate traders:
Pakistan Bedwear Exporters Association (PBEA) Patron-in Chief Shabir Ahmed has congratulated Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for taking a very visionary decision in the interest of business community
and the country by directing that a committee be formed to study and offer recommendations on FBR reverting back to circle based system of working to reduce tax compliance burden of business community and a single stage and single digit non adjustable sales tax system which is simple and where sales tax refunds of business community are not stuck up for months.
* APTMA rejects proposed increase in gas, electric tariffs:
Textile Industry of Pakistan has strongly rejected Governments decision to increase gas and electricity tariff,
as it would be the last nail on the export oriented textile industry. Mr. Muhammad Yasin Siddik, Central Chairman – All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has said that the textile industry which is the major export oriented industry of Pakistan has been hurt badly due to severe electricity load-shedding when the North based Industry is not getting electric supply for 10 hours on a daily basid and is compelled to operate their mills using other more costly sources of energy to fulfill their export commitments resulting in tremendous losses.
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* Pakistan workers fire ´Brazuca´ ball to Brazil:
She has no idea who Lionel Messi is and her home country isn’t even playing, but Pakistani mother-of-five Gulshan Bibi can’t wait for the World Cup — because she helped make the balls.
When Brazil and Croatia kick off the tournament in Sao Paolo on June 12 there’s a good chance they’ll be using a ball made by Gulshan and her colleagues at the Forward Sports factory in Pakistan’s eastern town of Sialkot.
Cricket-mad Pakistan might not have much of a football team — 159th in FIFA’s world rankings — but Sialkot has a long history of manufacturing top-class balls.
Forward Sports has been working with Adidas since 1995 and supplies match balls to some of the world’s top football competitions, including the Champions League, the German Bundesliga — and now the World Cup.
In any case, assembling modern match balls is not simply a matter of sitting down with a needle and thread.
The Forward Sports plant stands barely a free kick’s distance from the dust and chaos of the Grand Trunk Road, the great British-era highway that cuts across the subcontinent all the way to Kolkota.
In contrast to the baking, deafening road outside where ancient goods trucks, donkey carts and motorbikes overloaded with families and livestock compete to avoid potholes, order and efficiency reign inside the factory.
On the Brazuca production line, women in headscarves, some with their faces veiled, work briskly.
They start with flat white propeller-shaped pieces of polyurethane, add the Brazuca’s distinctive bright colours and glue the panels to the ball’s rubber bladder.
The seams are then treated with a special sealant and the ball is heated and compressed in a spherical clamp to give it the correct shape. The heat also activates the temperature-sensitive bonding compound that holds the ball securely together.
The whole process from flat panels to finished item takes 40 minutes — speed is crucial to prevent impurities getting into the ball — and the factory can produce up to 100 per hour.
17:03:12 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Uzbekistan eradicates child slavery. Now what about adults?:
The Uzbek government has revealed new measures planned for 2014-2016 to bring the country into compliance with the child labor conventions.of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Human rights activists remain skeptical.
Uzbekistan has taken serious strides in the past year to eradicate the use of forced child labor. In 2013 for the first time schools remained open during the harvest period and most students attended school.
In 2008, giving in to international pressure, Uzbekistan signed the International Labour Organization’s conventions Number 138 (on the minimum age for admission to employment and work) and Number 182 (on the worst forms of child labor).
In 2013, monitors from the ILO were allowed into the country by Uzbek authorities to observe the cotton harvest and issued a positive report attesting that they did not see the mass use of child labor.
The ILO did report 41 cases of children less than 18 years of age working in the fields but stated that the Uzbek government cooperated fully with them, and that these children were promptly returned to school.
* Footwear union workers strike:
Workers in the footwear industry went on a protected national strike Monday, their trade union said.
“The strike will affect about 164 footwear employers throughout South Africa and approximately 10 000 employees in the bargaining unit in centres like Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg, George and Oudtshoorn,” said National Union of Leather and Allied Workers general secretary Ashley Benjamin.
The union wanted a minimum pay rise of 7.75 percent across the board. It wanted employers to set up a fund to help retrain workers should their work be replaced by new technology and machinery.
It wanted employers to fast-track setting up a reference pricing system for the footwear industry, under the auspices of the SA Revenue Service.
This would help customs deal with underinvoicing, and stop counterfeit and illegal imports.
to read. & to read