18:33:06 local time CHINA
* Chinese trousers may be world’s oldest:
An international team is working together to repair and preserve the two pairs of 3,300-year-old trousers – which are the oldest yet discovered with a clear resemblance to modern trousers.
Two pairs of 3,300-year-old trousers found in China’s far western Xinjiang region may be the world’s oldest, state-media reported Friday.
Archeologists in May found animal-fur menswear on the bodies of two mummies, identified as male shamans in their 40s, the state-run China Daily cited scientists as saying.
An international team is working together to repair and preserve the two pairs – which are the oldest yet discovered with a clear resemblance to modern trousers, the report said.
* China’s clothing export growth may falter:
Also, wage rates have risen to the point where they are higher than in many other Asian countries.
* China, Bangladesh pledge joint efforts to build economic corridor:
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed here on Tuesday and both pledged to make joint efforts to build an economic corridor linking Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar.
“Bangladesh is an important country along the Maritime Silk Road,” Xi said during the meeting, noting that China welcomes the Bangladeshi side’s participation in the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, while pushing ahead with the economic corridor.
The moves will help to build a community of shared interests between China and Bangladesh, and benefit the people of the two countries and the region at large, according to the Chinese leader.
The concepts of the belt and maritime route were firstly proposed by Xi last year. The Silk Road connected China and Europe from around 100 B.C., while the Maritime Silk Road was used by Chinese merchants to transport silk, ceramics and tea to overseas markets.
* China and Bangladesh to achieve dream together: Chinese ambassador:
The peoples of Bangladesh and China are both seeking their own development opportunities from the otherside’s success.
Together they are protecting the peaceful and stable Asian environment, and drawing a new chapter ofmutual benefit and win-win cooperation.
Bangladesh is a familiar but also strange country for most Chinese.
It is anancient land, but a young nation and a country of youth.
Bangladesh’s largest ethnic group, the Bengalis, is one of the oldest peoples in south Asia, with a history that dates back thousands of years.
But Bangladesh achieved its independence only in 1971.
It is 43 years old now, and its 160-million population is relatively young, with more than half aged 24 or younger.
It is also a fast developing land, fighting its way up stream against many difficulties.
Bangladesh is a densely populated country, identified as one of the world’s least developed countries by the United Nations.
But Bangladesh is using its human resource to develop labor-intensive industries,
and its economic growth has stayed around 6% over the last decade.
After China, it is now the second biggest exporter of garments in the world.
17:33:06 local time CAMBODIA
* Factory Shuts Down, Doesn’t Pay Salaries:
About 400 garment workers arrived for their shifts and monthly pay at Phnom Penh’s Hongkong Yufeng factory Tuesday only to find it shuttered and its owner nowhere to be found, workers’ representatives said.
“Today is payday for the workers and since the employer did not have the money to provide to the workers, he ran away yesterday evening,” said Liv Tharin, president of the Independence of Democratic Youth Trade Unions.
“About 400 workers have to pay their rent, for food,” he said, adding that the factory produced garments for global brands including Gap and Adidas.
Mr. Tharin said the workers—whose factory is in the Canadia Industrial Park, where military police shot dead at least five garment protesters in January—have begun protesting outside the factory demanding their May salary be paid in full.
“We do not know the reason behind his running away—whether Gap or Adidas stop orders or what,” he said.
Managers at the Hongkong Yufeng factory could not be reached for comment.
Workers at the Ocean Garment factory in Phnom Penh also protested last month after being informed that the factory was shutting down operations for a month, and would pay them only $15 during that time, due to flagging demand from buyers including Gap.
A group of 30 major clothing brands and global unions met with government officials at the end of May and said the future of the garment industry was dependent upon an end to violence against workers and supply disruptions due to labor unrest.
* Ocean workers pray for jobs:
Protesting workers at Ocean Garment factory say they are worried the manufacturer, which has suspended operations for one month, will close altogether.
About 20 per cent of Ocean’s 1,300 workers demanding full payment during the break have found work elsewhere, while longtime employees are literally praying for a palatable solution, said Houn Vanna, a representative of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW).
“Most of the workers who abandoned the protest have worked at Ocean for only about three to four months, so it will not benefit them much to continue,” Vanna said.
While some have sought other job opportunities, many of the 1,214 still striking have worked at Ocean for more than a decade and are entitled to seniority bonuses if the factory closes for good, Vanna said.
Ocean workers began striking on May 24 after management announced it would shut down for a month from May 26 due to low orders and that employees would each receive $15 during the closure. Strikers demand that Ocean pay their full salaries during the period.
* Gov’t to meet unions for salary talks:
Union members of the Ministry of Labour’s Labour Advisory Committee (LAC) will meet on Monday for a garment industry wage discussion focusing on ideas raised at a workshop in April.
The invitation from Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng was sent to the seven LAC unions on May 30. Items on the agenda for the meeting include setting a date to begin garment industry minimum wage talks for next year and establishing a deadline for finalising 2015’s minimum wage.
“The [International Labour Organization] has recommended we prepare a system of negotiation of minimum wage, and set a clear date for these negotiations every year,” said Ken Chhenglang, acting president of the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia. “This would avoid protests and disappointment.”
In December, the LAC approved an industry minimum monthly wage raise from $80 to $95. Sam Heng later unilaterally raised it to $100.
20140610 * Strike continues as T&K rejects lunch allowance:
Union representatives stormed out of negotiations and continued a strike yesterday when managers at T&K Garment factory said workers would never receive the 2,000 riel ($0.50) daily lunch allowance allegedly promised to them.
A week after they walked off the job, T&K workers at Por Sen Chey district’s Canadia Industrial Park were to remain on the picket line today. While factory brass acquiesced to two of the employees’ nine requests – including not docking workers’ pay by half on sick days – key conditions were refused, said Sum Rorng, president of the Union Federation for Worker Security.
“They told us they would not even give us 500 riel [for lunch], so workers got angry and walked out of the meeting,” said Rorng, who claimed that employees were promised a 2,000 riel daily subsidy before Khmer New Year. “This statement was too rude.”
Officials at T&K could not be reached for comment.
About 800 workers entered the industrial park on Veng Sreng Boulevard yesterday, standing outside the factory in protest.
Employee Nhem Da, 36, said she did not fear losing her job and that she and co-workers will hold out until their demands are met. Lunch has become unaffordable, she said, as prices rose when the minimum wage was lifted from $80 to $100.
“Other workers and I will keep striking until they agree to our demands,” Da said.
* Too Young to Work: The Life of a Former Shoe Factory Worker:
In the lead-up to World Day Against Child Labour, LICADHO is releasing a two-part digital photo essay series highlighting linkages between child labour and issues such as poverty, school drop-out rates and land eviction. The first video will be released on Monday, June 9 and the second will be released on Tuesday, June 10. LICADHO will issue a full statement on June 11, the day before World Day Against Child Labour which officially falls on June 12.
Prum Dina, 14, dropped out of school when she was 12 to work at a shoe factory. She was later dismissed for being too young, but only after she had been working for over a year. In the shoe factory, Prum Dina was exposed to harmful conditions. Her responsibilities included handling glue, making leather, and sewing.
* GTI factory expansion under way before IPO:
With Grand Twins International (GTI) set to go public on Monday, representatives from the company confirmed yesterday that expansion plans were already under way.
During a press conference at the Cambodia Stock Exchange (CSX), Chen Tsung-chi, non-executive director of GTI, said construction had already commenced on a $10 million factory an hour outside of Phnom Penh on National Road 3.
“The progress on this new expansion has already started and the building will be finished this year in October and we will start hiring then,” Chen said.
“For all workers to come on board, it will take two to three months. So probably next year we will have full production at the new factory.”
GTI, which mainly manufactures sporting apparel for Adidas and Reebok, currently employs more than 5,600 people at its existing factories located just beyond Phnom Penh International Airport.
read more. & read more.
* BetterFactories Media updates 6-11 June 2014, Factory shuts down, doesn’t pay salaries:
* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-06-06 Workers’ march halted
2014-06-09 Grand Twins’ listing date official, but late
2014-06-10 Strike continues as T&K rejects lunch allowance
2014-06-11 Gov’t to meet unions for salary talks
2014-06-11 GTI factory expansion under way before IPO
2014-06-11 Ocean workers pray for jobs
* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-06-06 Bangladesh hopes to solve garment factory crisis
2014-06-06 Garment workers vow to continue protesting
2014-06-07-08 Ocean staff double-down on wage demands
2014-06-11 Factory shuts down, doesn’t pay salaries
BetterFactories media updates overview here.
18:33:06 local time MALAYSIA
* ‘How can minimum wage be lower than the poverty line?’:
Lim Guan Eng says Malaysia should pull out of the ILO and assistance be given to SMI’s in their implementation of minimum wage.
Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng criticised the government’s stipulated minimum wage which is less than the poverty line level.
“This doesn’t make sense at all. The minimum wage should be raised to RM1100 as was recommended by Pakatan Rakyat,” said Lim.
“No country in the world stipulates a minimum wage that is less than the poverty line level. This is truly Malaysia Boleh,” he said.
In a written response to Lim yesterday, Human Resources Minister, Richard Riot said that the minimum wage for 2012, in Sabah, Labuan and Sarawak was RM800.
In 2009, the poverty level in Sabah and Labuan was RM1048 and the poverty level in Sarawak was RM912.
Riot justified the rates based on the grounds that Malaysia had endorsed the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention number 100 regarding equal remuneration in 1997.
It was also against section 60L, in the 1955 Labour Act, section 118B of the Sabah Labour Ordinance and section 119B of the Sarawak Labour Ordinance, that prevents any discrimination between foreign and local workers.
To overcome the problem, Lim suggested that Malaysia opt to stay out of the ILO.
18:33:06 local time INDONESIA
* ILC Lauds Indonesia for Eliminating Discrimination Against Wages:
The International Labor Conference (ILC) has lauded Indonesia and 36 other countries for applying ILO Convention No. 100 on equal remuneration and ILO Convention No. 111 on elimination of discrimination against wages and occupation, as reported by Antara News.
“The management of the Indonesian manpower sector has received appreciation from the ILO and ILC participants. We will continue to cooperate with ILO in handling the manpower system,” Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said in a press release on Monday.
Muhaimin led the Indonesian delegation to the 103rd Session of ILC held in Geneva from May 28 to June 9.
In the Standard Application Committee, Indonesia is one of 98 countries, which are not late in submitting a report on the implementation of ILO conventions, including Nos. 100 and 111, on elimination of discrimination against wages and occupation, he said.
read more. & read more.
* RI seeking to become global hub of muslim fashion: Minister:
Indonesia has a target of becoming a global hub of Muslim fashion by 2020, together with the growing Muslim fashion industry, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said.
“Indonesia is seeking to become a global hub of the Muslim fashion industry by 2020,” she said here on Friday.
The domestic Muslim fashion industry was growing rapidly as reflected by its immense creativity. Therefore, there was a reason for the country to become a global hub of the fashion industry, she said.
* The Nike Nine:
Nike’s up to its old union-busting tricks again. Nine Indonesian Nike workers have been fired for forming a union and pushing for better pay and conditions.
Nike says it respects its employees’ rights to join a union ‘without harassment, interference or retaliation.’ But it fired nine workers in Indonesia for doing exactly that.
The ‘Nike Nine’ formed a union at Nike’s Chang Shin shoe factory to negotiate for better wages, better health insurance and the payment of promised bonuses.
First management ignored their demands.
Then when demonstrations began, the bosses started to intimidate them. Ultimately,
they were all fired, and the police were called on the group’s leader, Ato.
It’s ridiculous for Nike to allow its factories to crush workers’ demands for decent pay and conditions. The global sportswear giant made $25.3 billion in revenue last year.
It can afford to pay its employees a living wage.
Tell Nike: reinstate the ‘Nike Nine’ with full back pay, and clean up your supply chain so that joining a union is genuinely respected.
read more & please sign the petiton.
16:18:06 local time NEPAL
* Long overdue Nepal-US TIFA meeting likely later this month:
First gathering of joint council after agreement was signed Could enhance trade‚ investment and technical cooperation
A long-stalled meeting between Nepal and the US that could play a crucial role in enhancing trade, investment and technical cooperation between the two countries is likely to be held at the end of this month.
“The Office of the United States Trade Representative has written to the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies stating it would be sending an official to Nepal at the end of June to hold long overdue talks on Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA),” a very reliable source with knowledge of the matter told The Himalayan Times. The US government, however, has not confirmed the date of the meeting.
Nepal and the US had signed TIFA on April 15, 2011 to monitor trade and investment relations between the two countries, identify opportunities for expanding trade and investment, and identify relevant issues, such as those related to the protection of intellectual property rights, worker rights, and the environment.
Since the abolishment of multi-fibre agreement, the US has introduced a facility called Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) to promote economic growth in the developing world, under which preferential duty-free entry is provided for over 4,000 Nepali products destined for the US market.
The facility, however, has excluded most of the textile and apparel products.
* Five children rescued:
With the initiative of different organisations working in the field of child rights, five children were rescued from Bangalore, India; and a Carpet factory based in Bhaktapur.
They were handed over to their guardians today.
Child Workers in Nepal (CWIN) Child Help Line, Hetauda; rescued Dawa Syantang, 14, Sukulal Bomjon, 13, and Panchharam Lungba of Gadhi VDC of Makawanpur from Bangalore, India.
The children, who were in Sorpung Thoisang Narling Dangchhang monastery in Maheshpure, were rescued. They had fled from the monastery after they could not bear the torture from the head of the monastery.
16:33:06 local time BANGLADESH
* Jute mill catches fire in Natore:
A fire broke out in a private jute mill at Dattapara suburb of the district town on Tuesday, which gutted huge quantity of raw jute, jute products and factory tools.
Fire Service officials said the fire erupted at a room of the Natore Jute Mills in the BISIC industrial area at about 11:45 am and the blaze soon engulfed the entire factory.
On information, four fire fighting units rushed to the spot and are working to douse the blaze.
The cause of the fire could not be immediately known.
to read. & to read. & read more. & read more. & to read.
* PM urges Chinese entrepreneurs to relocate factories to BD:
Her drive to attract investment from China on
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged the Chinese entrepreneurs to relocate their factories to Bangladesh to avail themselves of competitive and affordable wages (*) of Bangladesh’s young and energetic workforce.
“Since the costs of production of certain products in China are increasing, the factories producing those items can be relocated to Bangladesh where the costs are a lot cheaper, particularly due to the very competitive and affordable wages of Bangladesh’s young and energetic workforce,” she said.
Hasina was delivering her keynote speech at ‘Bangladesh Marching Ahead: Bangladesh-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum’ hosted by China Council for the Promotion of International Trade at Presidential Beijing Hotel. Distinguished industry and business leaders from China and Bangladesh were present.
read more. & to read. & read more. & to read. & read more. & to read.
(*) Such low wages…, and not a Living Wage!
And PM said: “77% wage increase, none developing country in the world has done that” is just demagogy.
77% increase just shows how very low the wages were and still are.
It is not a living wage at all.
* Two MoUs signed in China:
Two important agreements, one between China and Bangladesh and another between a Chinese company and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), have been signed on the occasion of the Prime Minister’s visit to China.
On Monday night, Bangladesh and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on construction of a tunnel beneath the Karnaphuli River in Chittagong.
Besides, BGMEA on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Orion International Holding Company of China for the development of a Garment Village in Bangladesh.
As per the MoU, the Orion Holding will construct the garment village at Gazaria in Munshiganj district.
BGMEA president Atiqul Islam and chief executive officer of the Orion Holding Tang Xiaoji signed the MoU in presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
read more. & to read.
* MoU signed for construction of garment village in Gazaria:
Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Orion International Holding Company of China for setting up a garment village in Bangladesh.
Under the MoU, the Orion Holding will construct the garment village at Gazaria in Munsiganj district.
BGMEA President Atiqul Islam and Chief Executive Officer of the Orion Holding Tang Xiaoji inked the MoU in the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
to read. & read more. & read more.
* BGMEA seals $1.2 billion deal with Chinese company:
Sheikh Hasina went to China on June 6 on an official visit and she is scheduled to return home today
The BGMEA and Oriental International Holding, a Chinese company, have signed a billion dollar agreement to develop a new garment industrial park in Munshiganj.
“A memorandum of understanding has been signed today [Tuesday] with the Chinese company in the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang,” BGMEA Vice–President Reaz Bin Mahmood told the Dhaka Tribune.
Sheikh Hasina went to China on June 6 on an official visit and she is scheduled to return home today.
Reaz said the industrial park will be built on 470 acres of land in Gazaria at an approximate cost of $1.2 billion.
Under the MoU, the Chinese company will conduct a complete feasibility study within three months and a framework agreement will be signed between the two parties.
* Accord, Alliance bungling RMG factory inspections:
They are now reneging on verbal agreements made earlier regarding uniform standard
Two foreign agencies – Accord and Alliance– have been creating confusion for the ready made garment factory owners and their buyers by placing different inspection reports on the same factories.
They were supposed to follow a uniform standard for the inspection including scrutinising the factory buildings’ concrete strength and avoid duplication in examining 300 factories. But now they are not complying with the understanding.
Accord, the group of European buyers, and Alliance, representing a group of North American importers, have around 300 factories in common to examine. But during inspection of these factories, both the agencies are creating hassles, the owners allege.
In a meeting with Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed in April, officials of both the groups had agreed to avoid duplication in inspection. They had also agreed to allow factory buildings having 1,500 PSI (very strong) to operate, but now have opted for relaxed but different PSI standards.
The Accord inspectors are repeatedly examining the factories which were earlier checked by the Alliance engineers. So far, the Alliance closed five RMG factories while the Accord shut down 20-25 units in Dhaka and Chittagong in the last one year.
There are allegations that some factories, approved by the Alliance men, were later labelled as “vulnerable” by the Accord inspectors because they are both following different standards.
For instance, both the organisations examined Dragon Sweater Bangladesh Ltd, situated in Malibagh Chowdhurypara, and came up with two different reports.
The inspection report of Accord says: “Smoke alarm activation sounds only a local alarm and does not provide automatic fire alarm notification to occupants. The fire alarm system is not regularly tested and maintained.”
On the other hand, the Alliance’s report stated that there had been no trouble in the fire alarm control panel. Centralised automatic fire alarm and smoke detection systems were available with the control panel.
* BGMEA-Accord meeting ends without decisions:
INSPECTION, COMPENSATION SHARING ISSUES
A meeting between the country’s garment makers and the European retailers’ group to discuss factory inspection and workers’ compensation issues has failed to reach any decision as the retailers’ group showed indifference to the demands put forward by the BGMEA.
The meeting was held in the city last week.
Since the beginning of the factory inspection by the retailers’ groups — Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a platform of the European Union retailers, and Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a group of North American retailers — country’s garment factory owners have been raising question about some terms and conditions set by the retailers.
The garment factory owners have also been demanding solution to the issues like compensation for the workers of the factories which have faced closure due to the safety inspection, remediation financing to the factory owners, standard of concrete strength and duplication of inspection.
Recently Accord has decided that it would hold a meeting with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association in every month over the ongoing safety inspection as there is no representative of the trade body in the Accord board, sector leaders said.
‘On June 5, in the first bilateral meeting we discussed 10 points that included workers compensation, remediation financing and timeframe and standard of concrete strength and put forward our demands to Accord. But the meeting did not bring any fruitful result,’ BGMEA vice-president Shahidullah Azim told New Age on Saturday.
He said that the BGMEA urged Accord to share a portion of wages the garment owners would have to pay its workers due to factory closer after safety inspection and also demanded to resolve the issues of remediation financing and timeframe.
* Accord, BGMEA yet to resolve differences:
Safety assessment of apparel units
The Accord and the BGMEA are yet to resolve their differences over the prevailing garment-factory assessment programmes, posing a blow to the workplace safety initiatives, sources said.
Leaders and officials of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, an initiative of more than 150 global apparel companies, brands, retailers and trade unions, and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) sat last week to resolve the thorny issues, but the meeting ended without any conclusion, they added.
Earlier, both the sides hold meetings to discuss the differences.
Among the major disagreements, the Accord has been trying to include BGMEA representatives in its Advisory Board, while BGMEA leaders are still firm in their position on not to join Accord’s Advisory Board as they believe the board is not an effective decision-making one.
Following the row over the participation in the Advisory Board or the Steering Committee, both the sides have agreed to sit from time to time to resolve the ongoing problems, they said.
“We have agreed to sit monthly to resolve the crises, especially those which emerged following the factory inspection programmes,” BGMEA vice president Md Shahidullah Azim told the FE Saturday.
* Consensus is vital for RMG:
Stakeholders must focus on securing funds for remediation and relocation
It is concerning to note a lack of consensus between the two brand-led stakeholder safety initiatives, Accord and Alliance, on key aspects of their safety inspection programs.
RMG factory owners are continuing to report confusion, which they claim is created by the lack of co-ordination on factory inspections. Some are complaining in particular about conflicting reports received from different inspectors and engineers appointed by the different organisations.
Accord and Alliance were expected to follow a uniform standard for their inspections, so as to reduce confusion and to avoid duplication in inspections for the 300 factories which they are assessing in common. As both groups publish details of their reports on their websites, it is possible more certainty and commonality may emerge over time.
However, this still leaves the question of the increasing amount of money which is being spent on multiple safety inspections.
All stakeholders share a common aim with the government and ILO in seeking to use inspections to improve safety standards throughout the RMG industry.
* EU team to review factory safety efforts:
The delegation to arrive in Dhaka in July
A European Union delegation will visit Bangladesh in July to review progresses in efforts to improve labour rights and standards of workplace safety, Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed said yesterday.
“We are expecting the arrival of EU trade commissioner, but when the team will arrive here is yet to be fixed,” Ahmed said.
Bangladesh signed the Sustainability Compact with the European Union involving the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva on July 8 last year.
Under the agreement, the EU will observe the progresses of three important components in the garment sector, including improvement of labour rights, structural integrity of the buildings and occupational safety and health.
In most cases, the EU will consider the US-provided roadmap for reviving the GSP (generalised system of preferences) as the base for measuring the progresses in workplace safety and labour rights.
* GIZ, Huntsman to sign MoU to help BD textile mills:
GIZ, the technical cooperation arm of the German government, will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Tuesday with Huntsman, one of the largest chemical manufacturers in the world.
Under the MoU, GIZ and Huntsman will cooperate to improve the management of chemicals in 10 textile mills in Bangladesh.
This includes the development of industry-wide best practices in Chemical Management and on-the-ground implementation to contribute to a cleaner environment and increased environmental accountability.
read more.& read more. & read more. & read more.
* Country will have 23 more textile institutes:
State minister for textile and jute Mirza Azam today said that the country would have 23 more vocational textile institutes, which would be in addition to the existing 40 vocational textile institutes.
He said the textile sector earns the lion’s share of foreign exchange of the country, which will double in the next five years.
The state minister was speaking at a workshop organized by the project for the establishment of 10 textile vocational institutes under the textile department at Dhaka’s Jute Diversification Promotion Center in the city’s Farm Gate area.
read more. & read more.
* GSP revival for BD may be considered next month:
The GSP (generalised system of preferences) scheme of the United States may be renewed next month, creating a hope for the revival of its benefit for Bangladeshi products to the US market, Bangladesh trade officials have said.
The US GSP scheme expired last July depriving the poor countries of tariff benefits granted under the facility, they said. The GSP renewal bill is likely to be placed before the House of Representatives and the Senate for consideration next month.
“We are hopeful that renewal of the scheme will create opportunities for revival of the benefit for Bangladeshi products as well. We have already made significant progresses in safety and labour welfare fronts and the progress is expected to satisfy the GSP review committee,” a senior commerce ministry official said while talking to the FE Monday.
* EU concerned over human rights violation:
The European Union has expressed concern over human rights violation in the country, urging the authorities concerned to investigate allegations of killings and forced disappearances and bring those responsible to justice.
“I told you we have concerns (about human rights violation) and we have raised them in our contact with the government,” Ugo Astutu, director for South and Southeast Asia of the EU’s European External Action Services, told The Independent and two other English dailies in an interview at the Gulshan residence of the EU Ambassador to Dhaka, William Hanna, on Monday night.
* Budget incentives may help boost RMG exports:
Apparel makers said the production cost of RMG products has already increased several times higher than before
Apparel makers have expected the proposed incentives in the new national budget would help improve export competitiveness of the country’s readymade garment products in the global market while contributing to improve the fire and safety standards of the factory buildings.
They said the production cost of RMG products has already increased several times higher than before due to the recent wage-hikes, appreciation of dollar and increased charges of the utility services.
Reduction of tax at source at 0.30% and lowering tax on cash incentives to 3% would definitely help the sector increase competitiveness in the global markets as it would reduce production cost, said Abdus Salam Murshedy, former president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
In the budget, the government has proposed to reduce tax at source to 0.30% from existing 0.80%, tax incentives to 3%, instead of 5%, and also to cut duty on some RMG raw materials to 5% from existing 10%.
* Local home textile products attracting increasing number of global buyers:
Bangladeshi home textile has been emerging as top most preferable destination for the international buyers thanks to better quality, competitive prices and diversity of products, sector insiders said.
For fulfilling the increasing demand of the international buyers most of the home textile mill owners are going to increase their production capacity.
“Demand for country’s home textile goods have been increasing significantly in recent times and as a result we see a bright future for this sub-sector”, president of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) Jahangir Alamin told The Financial Express (FE) Tuesday.
He said a large number of global buyers are shifting here from China and Pakistan creating a fresh opportunity for Bangladesh.
The state-run Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data show that during the July-April period in current fiscal year 2013-14 the country exported home textiles worth $ 649.69 million to traditional and non-traditional markets including the EU countries, the UK, USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan and Dubai.
The exports of such home textiles like bed sheets, bed covers, blankets and travelling rugs, bed, table, toilet and kitchen linens, curtains, drapes, interior blinds, furnishing articles, sacks and bags used for packing of goods, tents, camping goods, tarpaulins etc.
* Govt may shut tanneries if they are not relocated by Dec:
The government is set to take tough action against the tanners who will be unable to relocate their factories by December this year, and start production from March next year, a top Tannery Estate project official said Tuesday.
“Tanners may even face shutdown if they do not relocate their units by December and start production in March next year,” Tannery Estate project director (PD) Sirajul Haider said while speaking as chief guest at a seminar in the city.
The Bangladesh Tannery Association (BTA) and Leather Sector Business Promotion Council jointly organised the seminar titled ‘The importance of tannery relocation and exploring new markets for leather products’.
* Leather sector poised for fresh funds:
The leather industry logged robust growth in fresh investment proposals in the first eight months of the fiscal year, riding on the growing popularity of Bangladeshi wares globally.
Between July and February, local leather companies placed investment proposals of Tk 399.22 crore to the Board of Investment, whereas the amount for the whole of fiscal 2012-13 stood at Tk 290.76 crore, according to Bangladesh Economic Review 2014.
Aniruddah Kumar Roy, managing director of Footbed Footwear Ltd that exported around Tk 182 crore during the July-May period, said the sector’s huge growth potential is the reason behind the spike in investment proposals.
“Bangladesh can now produce quality footwear at competitive prices, so many companies are pouring fresh funds to set up shoe factories or expand operations,” said M Abu Taher, chairman of Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leathergoods and Footwear Exporters’ Association.
* Jute mills, traders to get loan at 9pc interest:
Bangladesh Bank on Monday said the jute sector entrepreneurs would get loans at the interest rate of 9 per cent from a central bank’s refinance fund of Tk 200 crore.
The BB on the day issued a circular to managing directors and chief executive officers of all scheduled banks saying that the board of directors of the central bank had recently approved the fresh refinance scheme to boost the country’s jute industry.
* Jute millers express mixed reaction:
The private jute millers Monday expressed mixed reactions to the proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2014-15, saying there is no mention of jute sector in the budget.
They demanded tax exemption at source on cash incentives. In its budget proposal, the government proposed reduction of tax at source on cash incentives from existing 5.0 per cent to 3.0 per cent to encourage the country’s export sector.
Leaders of Bangladesh Jute Mills Association (BJMA) said that the finance minister had mentioned about several initiatives in his budget proposal including extra incentives to the ready made garment (RMG), Information Technology (IT), shipping, leather and drug industries.
But nothing has been cited in the budget about the interest of jute millers and exporters, said BJMA leaders.
RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* 13 Months After Rana Plaza:
The 24th of May 2014 marked 13 months since the tragic Rana Plaza building collapse, which killed 1138 garment workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
News of the disaster, which was the largest industrial accident in recent history, spread quickly around the world.
Many consumers were shocked that the workers were making clothes destined for the European and US high street market. Despite the scale of this accident, widespread press coverage and a global campaign, many of the brands that were sourcing garments from Rana Plaza have not paid compensation to the victims and their families.
Many families and injured survivors are still uncompensated and in dire circumstances.
To mark the 13 month anniversary of the collapse, families of victims together with injured workers and survivors gathered to protest the lack of proper compensation. Since the collapse, the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) has been supporting families and victims in their struggle for compensation and accountability. NGWF joined the protesters on the 24th of May to form a human chain outside the National Press Club in Dhaka, demanding immediate action from those involved in the accident.
16:03:06 local time INDIA
* Trade unions slam Rajasthan govt bid to reform labour laws:
Central trade unions cutting across party affiliations resolved to oppose any move by the BJP government in Rajasthan to bring crucial labour law reforms in a bid to boost job creation and attract investment to the state.
Recently, the Vasundhara Raje cabinet cleared critical amendments to three central labour laws — Industrial Disputes Act, Contract Labour Act and the Factories Act. The state government proposes to introduce relevant Bills in the Assembly next month and send it to the president for his assent.
Speaking to TOI, Baijnath Rai of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), affiliated to the RSS said, “It is just a cabinet note now. Yet, we oppose this move by the Rajasthan government taken without any consent. We are talking to all central trade unions to protest jointly against such attempts to reform labour laws.”
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* Garment exporters want key issues to be addressed:
Garment exporters in Tirupur knitwear cluster say that they will double knitwear garment exports from the country in three years if certain issues affecting the growth of the sector are addressed by the Government without delay.
In its pre-budget memorandum to the Union Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs and Defence Arun Jaitley, Tirupur Exporters Association (TEA) has appealed for reduction in customs duty on import of synthetic/blended and speciality cotton fabric, simplification of advance licence scheme procedures particularly for SME exporters, withdrawing the excise duty levy on manmade fibre, exempting the levy of service tax on ECGC premium and introduction of Goods and Service Tax, among others to enhance the competitiveness of the sector.
* Indian govt invites proposals for setting up textile parks:
* Union lists demands:
The district committee of the National Handloom Labour Union (NHLU) has asked the State government to find a solution to the problems faced by the handloom industry and workers in the district.
The union called on the government to convene a meeting of all stakeholders to chalk out a solution.
In the NHLU workers’ meeting convened here on June 8, it was pointed out that delay in disbursing government rebates to handloom products was the major cause of financial problems of the weavers’ societies.
A press release said the union wanted the government to bring all handloom workers under the income support scheme and to revise their minimum wages.
The union also asked the government to announce a special package for the handloom sector.
* Jute workers stage dharna:
Workers of Sri Lakshmi Srinivasa Jute Mills (East Coast unit), affiliated to IFTU, on Monday staged a dharna at the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Labour demanding that the management deposit its contributions to LIC, PF, and ESI immediately and open the factory.
IFTU district general secretary K. Sanyasi Rao said the management had declared lockout of the unit on May 31 following protests, as the management had not deposited its contributions to LIC, PF, and ESI for the last two years. He added that the management had been following similar practices at Aruna and Bobbili units.
After protests by workers at its Aruna jute unit, the management entered into an agreement with union representatives on depositing contributions to LIC, PF, and ESI in instalments and settling gratuity for retired employees. Aruna unit reopened on Monday after a fortnight.
* KPR Mill to raise production by 50% in next 2 years:
While it will increase the capacity of existing unit by 10 million pieces, it will set up a new plant having capacity of 12 million pieces
Emergence of India as the second largest textile exporter in 2013 has geared up Indian textile players to increase their production.
In order to meet increased demand in garment exports, KPR Mill, a vertically integrated textile manufacturing company, has initiated expansion plans in its garment business. Besides expanding capacity of its existing facility, the company is planning to set up a new facility near Tirupur (Tamil Nadu), the Asia’s largest knitwear cluster.
* UNICEF plan to curb child labour:
The UNICEF has chalked out plans to ensure child workers are not employed on the cotton fields in rural parts of the district, especially between October and December.
A survey by the organisation revealed that 463 children were engaged on the fields in Salem district in 2011 and 546 in 2012.
Though statistics were not available for 2013, officials said 22 children were rescued from the fields at Thalaivasal and Pethanaickenpalayam blocks.
More than 100 children were sent home by farmers themselves fearing action.
15:33:06 local time PAKISTAN
* Budget blues: ‘Raise minimum wage and pensions’:
“We demand that the provincial government raise the minimum wage to Rs20,000 and minimum pension from Rs3,600 to Rs10,000,” Hanif Ramay, the Muttahida Labour Federation (MLF) general secretary told The Express Tribune on Monday.
The budget session of the provincial assembly will start on June 13. The budget will be presented by Finance Minister Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman.
Ramay asked rhetorically how a retired worker could make ends meet in Rs3,600. He said the government had set Rs3,600 as the minimum pension for retired workers in 2012, and had not raised it last year.
He urged the federal government to transfer the Employees’ Old Benefits Institution to the provinces so they could ensure social security for workers.
* Incentives to boost textile exports by $2bn: minister:
The implementation of the new textile package, to be announced next month, would help boost the export of value-added products by more than $2 billion, besides creating five million jobs in a year, said Textile Minister Abbas Khan Afridi.
“The increase in the value-added exports proceeds will be visible in the export figures for the year 2015-16,” Mr Afridi said while responding to a question at a joint press conference here on Tuesday.
The textile minister said drawback for local taxes and levies to be given to exporters on FOB values of their enhanced exports if increased beyond 10 per cent (over last year’s exports).
* After budget hype dies, reality starts to creeps in:
The textile industry has refused to accept the recently-announced incentives package for the industry as it is a tradeoff in exchange for Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC).
Leading industry officials, who were jubilant on the incentives package, say that the expected jump in the cost of production due to the rise in GIDC would far exceed the benefits of the package.
“The increase in GIDC would cause an increase of over 40% in the cost of production,” All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Chairman Yasin Siddik told The Express Tribune.
The negative effects of this increase would surely nullify all the positive impact of the recently announced package for the textile industry, he added.
* APTPMA concerned over GIDC hike by 200pc:
Increasing Gas Infrastructure Development Cess by 200 percent in the federal budget is likely to spell disaster for textile industries and oust them from the international export arena, said the All Pakistan textile Processing Mills Association.
APTPMA Chairman Sheikh Muhammad Ayub stated that the value-added and export-oriented industries had been instrumental in earning valuable foreign exchange to the tune of billions of rupees while the hike would increase the cost of production.
Elaborating through statistics, Sheikh Ayub stated that the enhancement of GIDC by 200 percent from Rs100/MMBTU to Rs300/MMBTU will increase gas prices for industrial consumers about 30%, making the products uncompetitive and unviable in the international and domestic markets.
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* Aptma Punjab threatens strike:
The provincial chapter of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) has threatened to close all textile mills over the energy issue. However, a formal decision has yet to be made.
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Aptma Punjab Chairman S.M. Tanveer said, “All members will be invited to the general body meeting of the association within a month or so to make a formal decision.”
As summer nears, the duration of electricity load-shedding has been increased from six to 10 hours while gas supply remained at six hours a day. “This is making the Punjab-based textile units unviable with every passing day,” he said.
Textile units of the province were paying Rs82 billion extra in gas and electricity charges compared other provinces. “There are reports that electricity tariff is likely to increase by another Rs3 per unit,” he said, adding that the government was unable to supply gas and electricity.
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* Violation of loadshedding schedule: FIA exonerates APTMA member mills from allegation:
Chairman APTMA Punjab S M Tanveer has said that the FIA has exonerated the APTMA member mills from the allegation of violation of load shedding schedule and whatever happened was a mere misunderstanding.
He said the FIA has submitted a report that the APTMA member mills are not guilty. He said this while addressing a press conference at the APTMA Punjab office. Group leader APTMA Gohar Ejaz was also present on the occasion.
Tanveer said it has once again been proved that APTMA members are 100 percent honest and no member is involved in illegal act. He said institutional relief to industry in the month of April and May was only due to improvement in temperature that led to availability of surplus electricity and accordingly supply to the Pepco-fed mills on the LESCO network.
* LCCI seeks Turkish investment in textile sector:
15:33:06 local time UZBEKISTAN
* World Bank: Reconsider Uzbekistan Projects: Proposed Cotton Project Will Finance Forced, Child Labor:
The World Bank should not proceed with projects directly benefiting Uzbekistan’s cotton industry until the Uzbek government has taken meaningful steps to end grave human rights violations in cotton production, including forced labor, the Cotton Campaign said today.
The bank’s board of directors is scheduled to consider financing new agriculture projects in Uzbekistan on June 10, 2014.
The projects will benefit the cotton sector, which relies on forced labor, including forced child labor.
The Cotton Campaign is a coalition of human rights, labor, investor, and business organizations dedicated to ending forced labor in the cotton sector of Uzbekistan.
“The World Bank has an important role to play in funding development in Uzbekistan, but it shouldn’t support a system that uses forced labor,” said Jessica Evans, senior advocate for international financial institutions at Human Rights Watch, which is a member of the Cotton Campaign.
“The bank has proposed some important measures to address forced labor, but until the Uzbek government takes meaningful steps to begin to dismantle its coercive cotton system, these measures will not succeed.”
read more. & read more.
* World Bank discouraged from giving money to Uzbekistan:
The board of directors of the World Bank board is today considering a 260 million USD loan to Uzbekistan to develop its agricultural irrigation system. The Cotton Campaign is calling on the financial institution not to approve the Uzbek loan.
The World Bank should reconsider projects in Uzbekistan until child labor is fully eradicated from the cotton industry, insists the Cotton Campaign.
The coalition of human rights activists, investors, and businesses, have joined forces under the so-called Cotton Campaign to demand that the Uzbek government completely stop using forced labor in the country, and has called on the World Bank to postpone its decision until the Uzbek government adopts real measures to eradicate forced labor in cotton production.
“Meaningful steps” are needed
“The bank has proposed some important measures to address forced labor, but until the Uzbek government takes meaningful steps to begin to dismantle its coercive cotton system, these measures will not succeed,” said Jessica Evans, senior advocate for international financial institutions at Human Rights Watch, a member of the Cotton Campaign.
The measures taken by the Uzbek government so far are not sufficient, believe Cotton Campaign experts.
During the 2013 harvest the Uzbek government forced over a million of its own citizens, both children and adults, to work in cotton production, according to the human rights coalition.
* SACTWU declares wage dispute in the wool and mohair textiles subsector:
The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has declared a wage dispute in the wool and mohair textiles subsector as employers have failed to table a decent wage offer.
The issue in dispute is the employers’ final wage offer of 6.5%. Our members are demanding a 9.5% wage increase.
Wage increases are due on 1 July 2014.
We have referred our formal dispute to the National Textile Bargaining Council and now await on the date for the conciliation meeting.
* SACTWU issues strike notice in the footwear sector:
The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has issued a strike notice to footwear sector employers after wage negotiations for the industry failed to yield a settlement.
The union has completed a national strike ballot by Wednesday this week. This secret ballot covered 2038 of our members who are employed at 34 of 40 footwear companies nationally, where we are organised. The strike ballot outcome shows that 70% (69.68% to be exact) of our members support a strike to pursue their wage demands.
The strike notice was issued yesterday and the strike is due to commence on Monday morning. The other trade union in the sector, NULAW, has already commenced strike action. The strike action will now be intensified with SACTWU members now formally joining it as from Monday.
The issue in dispute is the employers’ final wage offer of 7.75%. Our members are demanding a 10% wage increase.
Wage increases are due on 1 July 2014.
20140610 * SACTWU settles Leather Tanning wage negotiations:
The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has settled its 2014 wage negotiations for the leather tanning sector.
This follows on a two year agreement reached with the South African Tanning Employers Organisation (SATEO), last year.
The new increases for this year will come into effect on 1 July 2014, and will be equal to a 7% upwards adjustment on prescribed minimum wages for the sector. In addition, workers in the non-auto tanning section will receive an increase in their annual bonus, of an additional one day’s pay.
This agreement was reached under the auspices of the national bargaining council for the leather sector. Approximately 3100 workers employed in 32 tanning factories nationally will benefit from this wage improvement in conditions of employment.
* New Legal Report: Right to Strike Backed by International Law:
A new 122-page ITUC legal report, confirming that the right to strike is protected under international law, has been released today as employers try to overturn decades of jurisprudence at the International Labour Organisation.
Employer representatives at the ILO are continuing their efforts to strip back ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, which guarantees workers the right to take strike action, as the UN agency holds its 103rd International Labour Conference in Geneva this month.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said from the ILO Conference, “Employers have been holding the ILO system to ransom, trying to discard more than 50 years of international law by removing the guarantee of one of the most fundamental human rights.
ILO standards are increasingly important as benchmarks in international trade and investment agreements as well as guidelines for responsible business, and ultra-conservative employer groups want to remove any real meaning from them.
The ITUC and its member organisations are determined to see this challenge off and ensure that workers everywhere cannot simply be forced to keep working when their bosses refuse to ensure fair pay and dignity and safety at work.”
* ILO report: A world blighted by poverty and inequality:
“[W]hen society places hundreds of proletarians in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death… when it deprives thousands of the necessaries of life… forces them, through the strong arm of the law, to remain in such conditions until that death ensues which is the inevitable consequence…
its deed is murder just as surely as the deed of the single individual…”
Frederick Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845)
A large majority of the world’s population lacks essential social protections, leading to the preventable deaths of 18,000 children under five each day. This is among the findings of the World Social Protection Report 2014-15 released by the United Nation’s International Labour Organization last week.
The ILO surveyed 200 countries for the availability of basic health care coverage, including maternity care, and income security for children, working-age adults and older persons. It found that in these countries only 27 percent of the working-age population and their families had access to such protections in 2012.
The other three quarters—some 5.2 billion people—lacked such necessities.
“While the need for social protection is widely recognized, the fundamental right to social security remains unfulfilled for the large majority of the world’s population,” the ILO concluded.
“Many of those not sufficiently protected live in poverty, which is the case for half the population of middle- and low-income countries.
Many of them, about 800 million people, are working poor, and many work in the informal economy.”
The corporate-controlled media has buried this report, which paints a devastating picture of the state of world capitalism.
Most damning are the figures on children. On average, governments allocate only 0.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to child and family benefits, ranging from 2.2 percent in Western Europe to 0.2 percent in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. The United States spends just 0.699 percent of its GDP on such benefits—just below Latin America.
By contrast, the US spends 4.2 percent of economic output on the military.
EUROPE AND TURKEY
* Stitched Up!:
Clean Clothes Campaign today releases a new report that uncovers the truth behind high-end fashion chains and the Eastern European and Turkish garment workers that make their clothes.
“Stitched Up – Poverty wages for garment workers in Eastern Europe and Turkey” is a result of extensive research, including interviews with over 300 garment workers, in 10 countries across the post-socialist Eastern Europe and Turkey.
The region is a relevant production hub for the EU27 consumption, since approximately half of the garments imported into the EU27 are produced within geographical Europe.
The report shows that post-socialist European countries function as the cheap labour sewing backyard for Western European fashion brands and retailers.
Despite a long history in garment production and the highly skilled workforce, researchers found that nearly all those producing clothes for major European retailers such as Hugo Boss, Adidas, Zara, H&M or Benetton are paid below the poverty line, and many have to rely on subsistence agriculture or a second job just to survive.
The report reveals that the legal minimum wages only covers between 14% (Bulgaria, Ukraine, Macedonia) and 36% (Croatia) of a basic living wage.
Christa Luginbühl, one of the writers of the report, said: “This research shows that on our own doorstep, European garment workers are working long hours for wages that cannot sustain even their most basic of needs.
Complex and opaque supply chains are not an excuse for denying people their basic right to a living wage.
While brands such as Zara and H&M enjoy rising profits even during the crisis, working conditions in the production countries of the researched region have deteriorated particularly since 2008/9”.
read more. & read the report here.
The report interviewed workers in 10 countries – Romania, Ukraine, Turkey, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia, Georgia, Macedonia (FYROM), Bosnia & Herzegovina and Moldova.