In the news 12-13 June 2014

08:13:40 local time map of mongolia MONGOLIA

* Mongolia will annually export 3 million EUR in textile products:

20140612 UBP

Representatives of national industry called a press conference at Mongol News press agency about a huge investment in the textile industry, namely the establishment of a partnership contract.

The agreement calls for an annual three million EUR in Mongolian exports.
As of today, a total of 450 textile factories are operating in Mongolia.
Before soft loans from the Chinggis Bond for equipment and facilities were granted to textile factories, the Mongolian textile industry had been operating without any support.

However, the Poland-Turkey joint company Rubin has agreed to buy textile products from Exclusive, a Mongolian company, and agreed to buy textile products worth three million EUR annually. Ilhan Erden, the president of Rubin, signed the contract during his visit to Mongolia, and agreed to buy the first portion of textile products in October.
For the three million EUR, Rubin is buying mainly jackets.
A Mongolian company is now becoming an executive company of a foreign brand, and products made in Mongolia will be sold in the international market.
to read.

08:13:40 local time map of china CHINA

* Workers laid off illegally after two-week strike, arbitrators rule:

A company illegally terminated the employment contracts of workers who staged a two-week strike, arbitrators have ruled in Fujian province in the first case of its kind on the Chinese mainland.

The labor dispute arbitration committee in Xiamen said Coactive Technologies (Xiamen), a foreign-funded company, planned to relocate from Xiamen’s Huli district to Tong’an district in January.
The company declined to offer compensation to the employees, but said it would provide housing and transportation subsidies for the inconvenience caused by the relocation.

Some employees did not agree to the plan. After negotiating with the company but reaching no consensus, hundreds of workers went on strike from Feb 13 to 28.
read more.
ChinaDAILY new

* Rare decision: Xiamen labour panel punishes foreign-run company in dispute over workers’ strike:

Legal experts say ruling is ‘rare’ as companies usually win the upper hand in such cases due to loopholes in the law

A labour dispute committee penalised a foreign-run electronics company for firing 34 workers after going on strike – in a rare move that challenges an arbitration system typically seen as favouring employers.

The workers had walked out of the plant in Xiamen, Fujian province, earlier this year to oppose plans to relocate the factory. Kewei Tongchuang, backed by Singapore investment and managed by Americans, had accused the 34 employees on strike of violating company regulations by not showing up to work.
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* China in rare ruling favouring strikers: Report:

20140611 MALAYmailONLINE
In recent years, Chinese workers have become more empowered as labour
shortages turn bargaining power in their favour. — Reuters pic


A Chinese committee has ruled against an employer who fired 40 workers for going on strike, state-media said today, highlighting rising labour activism in the world’s second largest economy.

A manufacturer in the eastern Chinese province of Fujian sacked 40 workers in March for going on strike the previous month, the state run Global Times daily said.

China’s ruling Communist Party is wary of an independent labour movement, so only allows one government-linked trade union, which in the past has acted to prevent workers from striking.

But analysts say that in recent years workers have become more empowered as labour shortages turn bargaining power in their favour — though strikers still risk police detention.

A government labour panel ruled that the dismissals in Fujian were illegal, said the report, citing Chinese media outlet Caixin. It added that the employer would appeal.
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MALAYonLINE sundayTIMESonline

07:13:40 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Textile, garment exports continue to grow:

In the first five months of 2014, the textile and garment sector maintained stable export growth compared with the same period last year and continued to stand among the top sectors in terms of the export value, the Vietnam Economic News reported.

According to the data released from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in the first five months of 2014, the export value of the textile and garment sector reached 7.44 billion USD, a rise of 17 percent compared with the same period last year. In terms of export value, textiles and garments ranked second, after telephones and components.

Textile and garment exports to major, traditional markets remained stable.
The US continued to be the largest export market. In the first four months of 2014, Vietnamese textile and garment businesses earned 2.95 billion USD from its exports to the US market, up 17.9 percent compared with the same period last year.
Japan market ranked second with 783 million USD and the other large export markets were the Republic of Korea (570 million USD), Germany (205 million USD), and Spain (165 million USD).
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* US highlights Vietnam’s safety measures:

The US business community has praised Vietnam’s efforts in stabilising production and business activities in industrial parks in the south, following riots and civil unrest in response to China’s actions in the East Sea.

This view was shared by representatives from the Board of the Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT) at a meeting with Vietnamese ambassador to the US Nguyen Quoc Cuong on June 11.

Addressing the annual ECAT conference, ambassador Cuong highlighted progress at the meeting of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) chief negotiators in Ho Chi Minh City and the TPP ministerial meeting held in May in Singapore.
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VOVonline VIETNAMplus

07:13:40 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Confidence for plan low:

Union officials and the garment sector’s factory association said yesterday they supported a new program meant to enhance relations between employers and employees, but remained sceptical of how effective it would be.

In a ceremony yesterday, the Ministry of Labour inaugurated the program, which entails training sessions and meetings about conflict resolution, in an attempt to avoid disputes from escalating into strikes.

“We don’t expect 100 per cent [success],” said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union. “I’m not sure that [employers are] committed.”

Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said the idea for the program is a good one but will not work if unions don’t cooperate.
read more.
PPP new

* March Blocked as Factory Protest Continues:

More than 500 workers from the Ocean Garment Factory were blocked from marching to the Labor Ministry on Thursday as they continued to protest the company’s offer of a $15 salary for this month, after it suspended operations from May 26 to June 26 due to a lack of orders.

At 8:30 a.m. the workers began their march down Russian Boulevard from the factory in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district but were stopped by authorities gathered outside the district office.

The squad of about 25 military police and security guards herded the marchers and prevented them from going beyond the district office. Officials instead invited representatives inside for a meeting, which lasted until noon.

“We didn’t allow them to march to the Ministry of Labor because we were afraid that their march would have a negative impact upon the public by causing traffic jams,” district governor Khim Sun Soda said.

“They asked for permission to march to the Ministry of Labor tomorrow, but we didn’t give them permission for this but representatives of the workers and their union have been invited back for a meeting with officials from the ministry,” he said.

The workers, who have been protesting on and off for the past 20 days, initially demanded to be paid half their usual salary during the factory’s closure but last week hardened their stance, petitioning Prime Minister Hun Sen to force factory owners into fully remunerating them for the enforced downtime.
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* Strike fails to reach Hun Sen’s gates:

Striking workers at a Por Sen Chey garment factory trying to march to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s home were blocked by police yesterday.

Hundreds of employees at Ocean Garment factory gathered in front of Phnom Penh International Airport yesterday morning, planning to march to Hun Sen’s home and demand intervention in their dispute.
About 1,300 began protesting on May 24, when management announced that the factory would close for a month and that workers would be paid $15 that month.
“[To] comply with the regulations of the capital, we banned the march, because it could have caused traffic jams,” Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito said in a text message.

Strikers, who demand full salaries during the break, were previously blocked from marching from their factory to the Labour Ministry on June 3.
Negotiations overseen by the ministry yesterday bore no resolution, said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.
to read.
PPP new

* Strike over late wages at factory:

Workers at a Kampot province cement factory began striking yesterday, protesting late payment of their salaries for May.

The 224 employees of Cambodia Cement Chakrey Ting Factory in Kampot’s Teuk Chhou district said the company was supposed to pay them at the end of May but that workers have yet to receive the money owed to them.

“We are protesting, because as of now our salary is more than 10 days late,” said one employee, who declined to be named. “We will go back to work if the company pays us. But we are afraid the company may close, and we need our salary,” he said. The factory was also late paying salaries last month, he added.

Provincial labour department director Ung Poheng yesterday said he contacted the company’s Phnom Penh branch to ask about the late payments.
“The company is working on this issue and management said they will pay the salaries, so workers should stop worrying about it,” Poheng said.
to read.
PPP new

* Labour rights in Cambodia – reflections and questions:

Phnom Penh in late May is populated by exotic trees and palms, with the amazing frangipani in full flower.
It is humid and hot with just a gentle breeze near the Mekong river and the hum of fans stirring the warm air.
This weather builds to an almost impossible point just before the rains come and cool things down.

The situation facing Cambodia’s garment and footwear industry also heated up to an almost impossible level in the last few months, with an equivalent break in the weather urgently needed.

The recent history of Cambodia is a dramatic one. The Vietnam War spilled over into the region including Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge perpetrated genocide from 1975-1979, practically dismantling the state. Once the Khmer Rouge were ousted by Vietnam and following a brief period under the UN from 1992-93, Cambodia emerged with a nascent democracy.
A military coup in 1997 has led to a period of enforced stability with the Cambodian People’s Party in power since then.

It is in this context that the garment and footwear industry has developed from a standing start to one with more than 500 factories, 500,000 plus workers and annual export value of US $5 billion (the largest export sector in the country).
The industry has been supported by preferential trade conditions, initially with the US and now with Europe, which have drawn in global suppliers from China, Taiwan and others in the region. Cambodia now forms an important part of many global brands’ supply chains for denim, knitwear and footwear.

While the government has had its critics, including from a human rights perspective, the growth of the economy and the changes in Phnom Penh since I first came here in the late ‘90s are remarkable. However in January this year, the death of at least four demonstrating workers at the hands of the police, with many others injured and subsequently 23 detained without bail, has cast a serious shadow over this success story.

To make matters more complicated, the contested result of a national election in late 2013 provides a tense political backdrop to industrial relations issues and workers’ concerns such as pay, hours and better benefits.
read more.

* More Protests in Cambodia after Garment Factory Shuts Down, Doesn’t Pay Salaries:

In late May, 30 major clothing brands and unions met with Cambodian government officials to discuss the growing labor unrest in the country’s garment industry.

The visit, a follow-up to a meeting held just after the January, union-led strike that saw four people killed by military police and 25 protesters arrested and imprisoned, was a warning of sorts: If this keeps up, apparel companies might soon start sourcing elsewhere, putting Cambodia at risk of losing a significant portion of its $5 billion garment trade.

Not two weeks later, things aren’t looking much better.

On Tuesday, some 400 workers began protesting outside the Hongkong Yufeng factory in Phnom Penh, which produces garments for Gap, Adidas and other international brands. They had arrived to find the building shut down and its owner gone, leaving employee salaries for May unpaid.

“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, in The Cambodia Daily.

This is hardly an isolated incident. Also on Tuesday, a strike at the T&K garment factory—begun after employers refused a $0.50 daily lunch allowance for workers—ended when its owners threatened to cut salaries.
Last month, 800 workers at Ocean Garment Factory protested when their employers announced a month-long shutdown with limited pay. And Open Development Cambodia’s news page offers a laundry list of labor unrest headlines.
read more.

* National Silk Board delayed as ministries fail to coordinate:

Formation of the National Silk Board (NSB) has been delayed due to a lag in coordinating ministries to create the industry body, according to the spokesman of Ministry of Commerce.

The former minister of commerce, Cham Prasidh, said in June last year that he was aiming for the NSB to be ready after Cambodia’s general elections in late July.
The NSB’s mandate is to help tighten regulations in Cambodia’s silk industry to boost investor confidence and increase silk exports.

But Ken Ratha, spokesman for the ministry, said yesterday that pulling together relevant ministries had delayed establishing the new body.
“The discussions are taking longer because it is not Ministry of Commerce alone who is working on the NSB plan. There are other relevant ministries, so it takes time,” he said.
read more.
PPP new

* Cambodia elected to ILO body:

Cambodia was last week elected as a regular member to the International Labour Organization’s Governing Body.

The Kingdom is one of 28 regular members, 18 of which are voted in according to region. The other 10 positions on the roster are non-elective. Along with Cambodia, elected to the Asia-Pacific region are Iran, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea.
Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng saw Cambodia’s new position as proof of the nation’s progressive labour policy, according to state-run Agence Kampuchea Presse.
“Such success informs the world that Cambodia has a good working condition in the world,” Sam Heng told AKP.
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PPP new Cambodia_Daily_logo

08:13:40 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Minimum Wages Policy Encourages More Locals To Seek Employment – MTUC:

The minimum wages policy has succeeded in encouraging more locals to seek employment in sectors which were previously monopolised by foreigners, said Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC), Deputy Secretary General, A. Balasubramaniam.

He told BERNAMA that policy’s positive effect was seen in more locals being employed at supermarkets, petrol pumps, cleaning services business, fast food outlets and many more sectors.

The policy had also helped families to acquire better living quarters, afford more nutritious food, newer clothes and overall higher living standards.

The minimum wage of RM900 per month in the Peninsular and RM800 in Sabah and Sarawak was fully implemented in January this year.
read more.

08:13:40 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Dismissed workers protest against Adidas ahead of World Cup:

20140612 ANNA
Photo provided by

As international sporting goods brand Adidas sponsors the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, hundreds of workers formerly employed by the company in Jakarta staged a demonstration on Wednesday demanding Adidas and its local contractor pay them severance owed since 2012.

The demonstrators expressed their anger at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta, carrying signs denouncing Adidas and local footwear producer PT Panarub Dwikarya (PDK).

The demonstrators were part of more than 300 PDK workers who lost their jobs after joining a five-day strike in 2012.

In October 2012, 1,300 PDK workers went on a strike and protested in front of the factory in Tangerang, Banten, after the company imposed a new policy forcing them to make more shoes during the same working hours. In response, the workers demanded better working conditions and higher salaries in accordance with the regional minimum wage (UMR).
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jakartapost asiaone_logo

* World Cup misery for ex-Adidas workers:

Indonesians are not immune to the World Cup excitement gripping the globe, except those who earn about $1 an hour to ensure big profits for its sportswear sponsors.

Around 200 unemployed workers from Tangerang, a city 25km west of Jakarta, marched on the German embassy this week to protest their treatment by Panarub Industries, a maker of Adidas shoes.

In 2012, they were among 1300 workers who took strike action to improve their 5000 rupiah ($0.46) hourly pay.
In response, Panarub offered to let them go, with a severance pay of 1.6 million rupiah.

Outraged, they refused and have been protesting every week since – not only to be reinstated, but for fair pay for others they say were bullied into returning to work.

Those workers now earn $1.40 an hour filling an order of Adidas Predator football boots destined for Australia.
They’re the black and white ones all over advertisements for the World Cup sponsor, which is reportedly counting on the global spotlight to boost its earnings above last year’s $2.4 billion.
In Australia, a pair of Predator boots costs about $240.

For the people who stand on the sweltering production line to make them, that’s a month’s wages, says union spokeswoman Kokom.
read more.

06:43:40 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Footwear factory workers on strike for minimum monthly wage:

20140612 MIZZIMA
Striking workers outside the Li Kyant Footwear Factory in Yangon’s outer western Hlaing Tharyar Township on June 11. Photo: Nyein Thit Nyi

The management of a footwear factory in Yangon says it cannot afford to pay the K30,000 minimum monthly wage demanded by 600 workers who went on strike over the issue on June 9.

“As we are paying a rate of 125 kyats an hour, their salary is at least 65,900 kyats a month and we will not meet their demand for a minimum wage,” Daw Aye Aye Mon from the Myanmar Li Kyant Footwear Factory in the industrial zone at Hlaing Tharyar Township told Mizzima on June 10.

Documents released by the factory showed that the minimum monthly salary of K65,900 includes overtime and allowances.

Daw Aye Aye Mon, who works in the administrative office at the Chinese-owned factory, said management was only prepared to pay a maximum K8,000 monthly allowance to workers based on their level of skill and length of service and provide some other benefits.

She was speaking after negotiations held between management and the workers at the Hlaing Tharyar Labour Office on June 10 failed to resolve the dispute.
Daw Aye Aye Mon said the strike had shut down the factory, which opened last December.

The K30,000 monthly minimum wage is one of 16 demands made by the workers. They also want all employees to be regarded as permanent staff, an increase in a food allowance from K10,500 to K25,000 a month and a monthly bonus of between K15,000 and K25,000 depending on levels of skill.
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* Gap welcomed in Myanmar:

Gap’s entry into Myanmar could attract more foreign buyers into the fledgling garment industry, thus improving working conditions and increasing employment, according to the chairman of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA). 

The giant US-based clothing retailer announced on Saturday that it had started sourcing products from two South Korean-owned factories in Yangon, making it the first US company to enter the garment sector since trade sanctions were eased in 2012.

With its experience in other countries, MGMA chairman Myint Soe said that Gap’s presence was a good opportunity for improving workers rights while increasing productivity, DVB reported.
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bangkokpostBusiness dvb

* Gap Is Starting To Make Clothes In Myanmar, Where Workers Are Horribly Mistreated:

Gap is proudly touting its plans to start making clothes in Myanmar. One executive even called it a “historic moment” for the beleaguered Southeast Asian country.

The retail giant will be the first American apparel maker to have clothes made in the country since U.S. sanctions were lifted two years ago.

But human rights advocates say, “Not so fast.” Myanmar has a miserable track record when it comes to workers, who are frequently underpaid and horribly mistreated. Gap simply wants to get its clothes produced as cheaply as possible, the advocates argue, and it’s dressing up the move as global philanthropy.

“The attraction for Gap is obvious: the lowest wages in the region, anemic regulation and weak labor unions,” said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent labor rights monitoring organization. “This adds up to cheap garments for Gap, at the price of a lot of misery for the workers who will make those garments.”
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* 78 more foreign-invested firms arrive this year:

Singapore, Japan and South Korea continue to be the top sources of foreign investment in Myanmar this year, with companies from the three Asian Tigers leading the way among the 78 foreign invested firms given permission to invest in Myanmar in the fist five months of this year.

Companies from Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Sweden, India, Brunei and Laos followed suit.
Two types of foreign investments were allowed: 100 per cent foreign-invested firms and joint ventures with local partners.

Foreign investment flowed into a wide array of sectors, including garment factories, electricity production and distribution, agriculture, hotels, construction and construction materials, communication services and devices, production and distribution of soft drinks and lead production and purification.
Cumulative foreign investment in Myanmar totaled 46.485 billion at the end of April.
to read.

06:13:40 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

20140612 * Hazaribagh leather factory catches fire:

A fire broke out at a leather factory at Hazaribagh in the capital this (Thursday) noon.

Fire Services officials said the fire erupted in a bathroom of Chowdhury Leather factory’ on the fourth floor of the 5-storeyed building at about 12:25 pm and it soon engulfed entire floor.
On information, two fire fighting units rushed to the spot and doused the blaze after half an hour’s efforts.
The cause of the fire could not be known immediately.The extent of losses has not been officially assessed yet.
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* RMG workers block highway, vandalise vehicles:

The workers of an RMG factory named Milestone alleged that the authorities had not been paying their salaries regularly

Readymade garment (RMG) workers yesterday took to the streets, demanding arrears, and vandalised a number of vehicles on the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway at Bhogra in Gazipur.

Sub-Inspector Ekramul Haque of Joydebpur police station said the workers of an RMG factory named Milestone alleged that the authorities had not been paying their salaries regularly.

The workers have been agitating for their salaries of May for the last few days and the authorities then decided to pay 30% of the total salary, he said.

However, disagreeing with the decision, the workers yesterday stopped work around 4:15pm and staged a demonstration. They hurled bricks at the factory units and broke glasses of a few vehicles on the adjacent Dhaka-Mymensingh highway.
read more.

* Govt in a dilemma over releasing inspection reports on RMG units:

Legal aspects to be examined

The government is in a dilemma over making its inspection reports on readymade garment (RMG) factories public as it wants to scrutinise the necessary legal and procedural aspects, sources said.

On the other hand, Accord, an European Union (EU)-based initiative by more than 150 global apparel companies, brands, retailers and trade unions and Alliance, another North American retailers’ platform, have already made some of their assessment reports public on their respective websites.

They are also in the process of uploading more reports in the coming days while the government-International Labour Organisation (ILO) led factory assessment carried out by the BUET is yet to be made public amid growing demand from different rights groups, according to sources.

Recently, the Human Rights Watch has called upon the government to disclose the findings of ongoing apparel factory safety inspections carried out by the government and other groups both in Bengali and English to help the workers know actual conditions of their workplaces.

In July 2013, Bangladesh, the EU, and the ILO agreed to a compact on labour rights and factory safety  which were later joined by the US government, to create a publicly accessible database listing all RMG and knitwear factories, as a platform for reporting labour, fire and building safety inspections.
The database would include information on factories and their locations, their owners, the results of inspections regarding complaints of anti-union discrimination and unfair labour practices, fines and sanctions administered, as well as remedial actions taken, if any, subject to relevant national legislation.
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FE bd

* Govt intensifies export market diversification move:

Dhaka for duty-free market access of garment to Russia

The government is trying to secure duty free market access of Bangladesh garment products to the Russian market at a time when the country’s export to that market is hitting closer to one billion dollar.

The Russian government offers duty free market access to 71 products line and Dhaka is looking for inclusion of the garment items in that list, the official sources said.

“The early inclusion of apparel items in the duty-free list will provide boost to our exports,” BGMEA Vice president Nasiruddin Ahmed told the FE Wednesday while talking on the country’s new export destinations.
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FE bd

* US assures continued support to B’desh RMG:

BD seeks duty-free access of apparels to US market

The United States has assured continued support for further development of Bangladesh’s RMG sector and acknowledged the progress already made in the areas of labour rights and factory safety.

The assurance came during Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed’s meetings with the US officials in Washington on Wednesday, according to Bangladesh Embassy in Washington.
He also urged them to consider duty-free and quota-free (DFQF) market access of Bangladesh apparels into the US market which can further boost the ongoing progress of the RMG industry that has employed more than three million women in the sector bringing about positive changes in women empowerment, child and maternal health, education, and other socio-economic sectors.

Tofail highlighted that the support and assistance of private sector like BGMEA and BKMEA, ILO, Alliance, Accord and a number of western countries including the US was critical for the government of Bangladesh in making substantial progress in a short period of time.
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* US assures support to Bangladesh RMG:

Congressman Levin termed the Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza collapse as a wakeup call for both Bangladesh and USA which drew massive publicity in the US media

The United States has assured continued support for further development of Bangladesh’s RMG sector and acknowledged the progress already made in the areas of labour rights and factory safety.

The assurance came during Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed’s meetings with the US officials in Washington on Wednesday, according to Bangladesh Embassy in Washington, reports UNB.

Tofail held separate meetings with US Trade Representative Michael Froman, Congressman Sandy Levin, high officials from the Department of State as well as Department of Labor which included Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine A Novelli, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal, and various retailers’ associations.

During his discussions with the USTR, Congressman Levin and other officials of the US government, the Commerce Minister briefed them of the progress made in accordance with the US “Action Plan for GSP.”
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* BD should further improve working conditions in RMG: US:

Bangladesh should further improve working conditions in garment factories, US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Desai Biswal has said.

Biswal made this point while meeting Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed who is now in the US. The meeting took place on Wednesday local time in the Washington DC. Bangladesh embassy in the US counsellor (commerce) Shamsul Islam said Desai had lauded Bangladesh’s effort to improve safety of garment workers and for safeguarding their rights.

She also asked Bangladesh to work closely with neighbouring India and Myanmar. Tofail Ahmed detailed the steps taken by his government for improving working conditions and safety so that US could restore Generalised System of Preference (GSP) facilities.
In June last year, the US had suspended GSP benefits for Bangladesh products for its reported failure to improve workplace safety and to ensure trade union rights in EPZs.
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FE bd bdnews24

* Tofail seeks apparels’ access to US market under DFQF:

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed has urged the US to allow duty-free and quota-free (DFQF) access of Bangladesh apparels to their market aiming to boost bilateral trade between the two countries.  

The commerce minister is now in the US. He held separate meetings with US Trade Representative Michael Froman, Congressman Sandy Levin, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Catherine A Novelli, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal and various retailers’ associations.

During the meeting he informed the US officials of the progress made in the ready made garment (RMG) sector in accordance with the US Action Plan for regaining the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility in the US market, said a handout of the ministry of commerce Thursday.
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FE bd  NEWAGEnew

* JS body recommends BMRE of jute mills:

A parliamentary watchdog on Wednesday recommended BMRE (balancing, modernisation, renovation and expansion) of jute mills under BJMC in order to save them from incurring losses through boosting production.

Members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Government Assurances came up with the recommendation at its fourth meeting held Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban.
Presided over by the committee chairman Quazi Keramat Ali, the meeting was attended by the committee members M Shahiduzzaman  Sarker MP and M Abdul Majid Khan MP.
The meeting discussed progress of different projects under the Ministry of Textile and Jute.
to read.

* Decision on disinvesting Dhaka Leather Co in July:

The government is set to decide on disinvesting the state-owned Dhaka Leather Company (DLC) Ltd next month under public-private partnership (PPP) model in a bid to get rid of its huge liabilities and losses in the past 15 years, an official said.

The Industries Ministry has formed a committee in this connection to scrutinise which of the four PPP models will be viable to divest the company that was established under joint venture with former Czechoslovakia with 40 per cent equity of Bangladesh.

The initial investment was Tk 610 million with an annual production capacity of processing 3.15 million sq ft cow hides, 6.10 million sq ft goat skin and 0.45 million sq ft split leather.
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FE bd

* Labour bodies, advocacy groups sceptical of attaining target:

Labour organisations and advocacy groups expressed Thursday their serious doubt about attainment of the government’s target of eliminating the ‘worst forms of child labour (WFCL)’ from the country by 2015.

The government has set the target centring on WFCL, which is one of the four fundamental principles of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and also an integral component of the Decent Work Country Porgramme in Bangladesh.

“Bangladesh demonstrates simply some of its commitments and passion toward the promised goal regarding the child labour elimination”, said officer-in-charge, ILO Dhaka office Gagan Rajbhandari as he was addressing a national-level seminar.
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FE bd


* ACC nods Rana Plaza case sans Rana:

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) gave approval to file lawsuits against 17 people except Sohel Rana, owner of Rana Plaza, for not following the building codes while constructing Rana Plaza.

Parents of Rana also are included in the accused list.
The approval came from a regular meeting of ACC at the commission on Thursday afternoon.
Deputy Director (Public Relations) of ACC Rajab Kumar Bhattacharya confirmed the matter to banglanews.

ACC sources said no cases would be filed against Sohel Rana as his name was not found on any documents related to the construction of Rana plaza.
On April 24, 2013, over 1,130 people died as the 8-storey Rana Plaza collapsed.
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banglanews24NEW FE bd DHAKATRIBUNE daily star bd NEWAGEnew DHAKATRIBUNE

05:43:40 local time map of india INDIA

* Over 10,000 kids in Ludhiana used as labourers:

More than 10,000 children are working in the city say the findings of a survey conducted by a non-government organization.


These children, aged 8 to 18, are employed in factories, houses, dhabas, restaurants and tea stalls across Ludhiana.

Dinesh Kumar of Bachpan Bachao Andolan informed TOI that 1,200 children are working in the garment manufacturing industry alone because work there is light. Same is the case with other small units.

“Most of these are migrants and victims of child trafficking. We have made more than 22 complaints in this regard to the district administration, which has acted upon none,” he alleged.

Dinesh further claimed that their organization has rescued more than 300 children working in factories, shops and other places since 2012. In all, more than 20 cases have been registered against the employers under the Juvenile Justice Act 2000 in the city.

However, he stressed upon the need for organizing frequent raids for elimination of child labour. “On Monday and Tuesday alone, we rescued 14 children from various places. Of these, 7 were sent to Ropar Child Home after being presented before the child welfare committee whereas others have been handed over to their parents after proper verification by the committee,” Dinesh said.
read more.

* Labour Min proposes changes in Factories Act, but not on lines of Rajasthan:

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre has taken forward work  of the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime to bring in labour reforms, but these have more to do with working conditions, workers’ safety, gender parity, than allowing industries to hire and fire.

However, trade unions are not impressed and consider the government’s plan as an alibi to dilute an existing law.

The union labour ministry has invited public comments on proposed 54 amendments in 61 Sections of the Factories Act, 1948 – a central law, enforced by the state governments.

The amendments propose to make it necessary for an occupier of the factory to take permission from the state government before making any expansion of his factory.
“It is…possible that such expansion may involve hazards to the safety of workers as well as the people in the vicinity. It is, there proposed…that it would be necessary for an occupier to obtain permission of the state government before making such an expansion,” stated one of the amendments posted on the Labour Ministry’s site.
read more.

* India’s apparel exports jump near 25% in May:

India’s apparel exports jumped by 24.96 percent to 1.49 billion U.S. dollars in May because of demand from Latin America, West Asia, Southern Africa and East Asia, the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) said Thursday.

The value of apparel exports in the first two months of the current fiscal stood at 2.81 billion U.S. dollars, which is 20 percent higher than the corresponding period of last fiscal.
Some problems related to the garment industry in the major competing countries like China and Bangladesh helped Indian exports, said AEPC officials.

China’s garment industry faces serious labor problem, while Myanmar and Bangladesh are facing the problem of non-compliance for the large number of factories, they said.
to read.

05:13:40 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Textile industry exports likely to boost $2b annually: Afridi:

Federal Minister for Textile Industry, Abbas Khan Afridi said Wednesday that country’s exports would increase by $2 billion annually owing to the incentives provided by the government to the textile sector.

He was addressing a press conference at the conclusion of a day-long Pakistan Cotton Consultative Conference organized by the Ministry of Textile Industry with an aim to take recommendations and proposals from the stakeholders for the promotion of textile sector.

The minister was flanked by Secretary Textile Industry, Rukhsana Shah, Cotton Commissioner, Dr. Khalid Abdullah and other officials of the ministry.
Afridi said that the country’s cotton output is expected at 12.5 million bales this year which would go up to 15 million bales during next year as government has taken comprehensive steps for the promotion of this sector.
He said that government would sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Chinese company under which new cotton seed would be tested through which the cotton crop is expected to increase by 30 percent.
read more.

* Proposed textile policy 2014-19: government eyes on increasing exports by $2 billion each year: Afridi:

The government is eying on increasing textile exports by $2 billion per annum under the new proposed textile policy (2014-19) with finances of Rs 80 billion.

This was announced by the Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi while addressing a press conference after the Pakistan cotton consultative conference here on Wednesday.

“Pakistan exports textiles products, mostly in raw material form including cotton and yarn of $10 billion, however if value addition was made the amount could go beyond $75 billion,” said the minister adding that government is mainly focusing on the value addition in the new proposed textile policy to explore the billions of dollars unexplored potential.
read more.

* Govt to allocate Rs80bn in textile policy:

The government is going to announce a five-year textile policy with a fund of Rs80 billion next month, the Minister for Textile and Industry said on Wednesday.

Abbas Khan Afridi said that Pakistan exports textiles, mostly in raw form, including cotton and yarn of $10 billion and if value-addition is made, the exports could even touch $75 billion mark, he said, while addressing the “Pakistan Cotton Consultative Conference” in Islamabad.

“Pakistan is also going to soon sign a memorandum of understanding with China under which Beijing experts will work on our this year’s cotton crop, and next year we will hopefully get 30 percent more production,” said the federal minister.
During the 2013-14 season, 12.8 million bales have been produced that would inch up to 15 million bales next year, he said.
read more.

* APTMA points out several anomalies in budget:

In an effort to keep aware of the imbalances arising out of the Federal Budget 2014-15 hurting the textile industry of Pakistan, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has pointed out a number of anomalies in the federal budget 2015.

These anomalies are regarding customs duty and sales tax on raw cotton, import duty on accessories of plants and machineries, coloring material, import of generators above 1100 KVA, input tax adjustment, income tax liability and import duty Fibres etc.
read more. & read more.

* APTMA seeks gas supply at optimum pressure:

Spokesman APTMA Punjab has said that the low pressure for even eight hours a day gas supply to the Punjab-based textile mills is adversely impacting production of textile mills.

He said 80% of the Punjab-based textile industry is dependent on gas for in-house power generation and processing use. 16 hours a day gas supply suspension for the textile industry in the summer season is not understandable.

He said the Punjab-based textile mills are unable to generate revenue for payment of their utility bills and bank payments due to very low production base daily.
The situation is fast moving to a point forcing textile millers to close down their operations completely until uninterrupted 24/7 energy supply, both gas and electricity is made available.
He added the situation may lead to serious drop in manufacturing growth, rise in unemployment and imminent bankruptcies.
read more. & read more.

* Pakistan needs comprehensive policy for cotton: Minister:

Pakistan needs to develop comprehensive policy guidelines for attaining sustainable growth and value addition of cotton crop, according to the Minister of National Food Security & Research (MNFSR) Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan.
The Minister was speaking at the Pakistan Cotton Consultative Conference, organized by the Ministry of Textile Industry in Islamabad.
Addressing the gathering of cotton growers and agricultural scientists, the Minister said it was imperative to devise a common agenda with the involvement of all stakeholders concerned for the actions to be taken in future for promotion of cotton sector in the country.
read more.

* Incentives to leather garments exporters: Dastgir assures PLGMEA delegation of resolving issues:

A delegation of Pakistan Leather Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PLGMEA) met Federal Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan on Wednesday to request him to announce similar package for leather garments and leather goods exporters as announced by the Finance Minister for textile exporters.

PLGMEA delegation was led by Fawad Ijaz Khan, Patron-in-Chief PLGMEA, while also include executive members Mohammad Danish Khan, Rafique Sethi and Syed Ahtesham Mazhar Gilani. The meeting was attended by Secretary Commerce and Additional Secretary Commerce along with other Ministry officials.
read more.

* Tannery Zone becomes Pakistan’s first crime-free industrial area:

Tannery Zone of Korangi Industrial Area has become Pakistan’s first ever crime-free industrial zone by self-help basis.

This was claimed by the Chairman Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA) SZ, Fawad Jawed while talking to the association’s members and office bearers in a meeting held on Thursday.
Forward said that that about a year back there were many incidences of street crimes and dacoities in the Tannery Zone and the industrialists were extremely disturbed due to the deteriorating law and order situation.
He said that the PTA South Zone then finally resorted to go for CPLC’s assisted system of surveillance – Neighbourhood Care under which the association has started surveillance of the area with the initial budget of Rs4 million and purchased vehicles, motorbikes and hired private guards.
read more.
daily times PK

Heart of the matter:

20140612 THENEWS

Recent interviews with executives of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in Sialkot threw up an interesting finding. Hailing from the leather, surgical and sports clusters, these executives identified better working conditions for their workforce as a reason for the superior performance of their firms.

This is even more remarkable given the recent loss of life in infernos in garment factories in Karachi.
These fair-sized garment factories were exporting to international brands in Europe and the US and were generating healthy revenues.

However, they were operating in depilated buildings with little regard for workers’ safety and health or the poor working conditions. While the Karachi incidents exposed the apathy towards human lives in a developing country, they also affected the image of the country across the globe and hit industrial exports.

Similar incidents have also taken place in Lahore, which (along with Faisalabad) is the industrial hub of Punjab. However, Sialkot has remained free of such taint. So what distinguishes Sialkot’s SMEs?

The answer probably lies in the city’s longstanding and extensive contact with international markets and the regular visits of their international buyers.

Sialkot’s export-oriented clusters have a long history. Some of the firms interviewed have been around since 1950s, others trace their origins to pre-Partition days. Just the longevity of these business concerns suggests a business and marketing focus greater than making quick money.
read more.


* Parties to meet in attempt to resolve Footwear Sector strike:

The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has agreed to attend a special national meeting of parties embroiled in the current footwear sector wage strike.

The meeting will be held tomorrow 12 June 2014 in Durban, after active intervention by the leather bargaining council to persuade the feuding parties to reconvene negotiations, in order to attempt to resolve this dispute. We welcome this pro-active approach from the leather bargaining council.  Employers will be represented by their employer association, SAFLIA (South African Footwear & Leather Industries’ Association).

Over 7000 workers employed in 163 footwear factories nationally, have been on strike for the last few days, in pursuit of their wage demands for 2014. SACTWU members formally joined the strike on Monday  after our union had concluded a national strike ballot last week, which gave us a 69% yes vote in favour of industrial action. Another trade union in the sector had embarked on strike action last week already, as their procedures don’t require balloting of their members.

The strike is protected (i.e. ‘legal’), in terms of the provisions of the Labour Relations Act.
We will attend tomorrow’s meeting with an open mind.
to read.

* SACTWU withdraws Clothing Industry wage dispute:

The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has withdrawn a wage dispute declared against clothing employers. The back ground to the matter is as follows:

SACTWU had declared a dispute against clothing employers, for their refusal to wage bargain. The dispute was declared on 16 April 2014, during the second day of the 1st plenary round of this year’s substantive negotiations for the clothing industry.

Subsequent to that, the dispute was conciliated by two senior Commissioners of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation & Arbitration (CCMA) on 21st May 2014, which conciliation had failed.  A Certificate of Outcome of an Unresolved Dispute was issued by the Commissioners, on 26 May 2014.

However, in the interim and on 22 May 2014, the parties to the dispute had voluntarily agreed to re-commence bilateral engagements on the substantive matters. Arising from this engagement, the clothing employer parties to the bargaining council had then tabled a total labour cost increase proposal of 5.75%.

The union has reflected on the matter. We have come to the conclusion that, given the fact that the employers had now actually tabled a wage increase proposal, we can no longer reasonably continue to contend that they are still refusing to negotiate with us, as alleged in our original dispute regarding this matter.
read more.


* Garment industry sourcing model fundamentally flawed:

A new report from the Clean Clothes Campaign is further evidence that the garment industry supply chain is unsustainable and unjust, no matter where it is in the world.

The report, ‘Stitched Up’, released 11 June, surveyed garment workers in Turkey and Eastern Europe producing clothes for labels such as Hugo Boss, Adidas, Zara and H&M in 10 different countries.

It found that garment workers in the area were subject to poverty wages, poor working conditions and long working hours, mirroring the experiences of workers in other parts of the world.

Some three million people are employed in the garment industry in Turkey, Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Moldova, Ukraine, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovakia.

Jenny Holdcroft, policy director at IndustriALL Global Union, which represents garment unions in the surveyed countries, said:
It comes as no surprise that workers in Turkey and Eastern Europe are subjected to the similar poor wages and working conditions as those in countries such as Bangladesh or Cambodia. The sourcing model for the garment industry is based on paying the lowest possible wages and so is fundamentally flawed. Made in Europe is not a guarantee of better rights or wages for garment workers.

The survey found a considerable gap between the legal minimum wage and the estimated minimum living wage in all the countries. The report said:
Jobs with such a tremendously low wage create poverty rather than fighting it.
read more.



map of Asia


The next bulletin will be published 16 June.

(These pages will be updated as articles are found):
There are updates now under ‘special overviews’:

* Minimum Wage-LIVING WAGE- PART 5: 20140307- NOW
* 24 April 2013 THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE Part 4 20140314- NOW
* Cambodian Garment Workers: $160 We Need! Part 4 20140523- now

* Mongolia will annually export 3 million EUR in textile products

* Workers laid off illegally after two-week strike, arbitrators rule
* Rare decision: Xiamen labour panel punishes foreign-run company in dispute over workers’ strike
* China in rare ruling favouring strikers: Report

* Textile, garment exports continue to grow
* US highlights Vietnam’s safety measures

* Confidence for plan low
* March Blocked as Factory Protest Continues
* Strike fails to reach Hun Sen’s gates
* Strike over late wages at factory
* Labour rights in Cambodia – reflections and questions
* More Protests in Cambodia after Garment Factory Shuts Down, Doesn’t Pay Salaries
* National Silk Board delayed as ministries fail to coordinate
* Cambodia elected to ILO body

* Minimum Wages Policy Encourages More Locals To Seek Employment – MTUC

* Dismissed workers protest against Adidas ahead of World Cup
* World Cup misery for ex-Adidas workers

* Footwear factory workers on strike for minimum monthly wage
* Gap welcomed in Myanmar
* Gap Is Starting To Make Clothes In Myanmar, Where Workers Are Horribly Mistreated
* 78 more foreign-invested firms arrive this year

* Hazaribagh leather factory catches fire
* RMG workers block highway, vandalise vehicles
* Govt in a dilemma over releasing inspection reports on RMG units
* Govt intensifies export market diversification move
* US assures continued support to B’desh RMG
* US assures support to Bangladesh RMG
* BD should further improve working conditions in RMG: US
* Tofail seeks apparels’ access to US market under DFQF
* JS body recommends BMRE of jute mills
* Decision on disinvesting Dhaka Leather Co in July
* Labour bodies, advocacy groups sceptical of attaining target
* ACC nods Rana Plaza case sans Rana

* Over 10,000 kids in Ludhiana used as labourers
* Labour Min proposes changes in Factories Act, but not on lines of Rajasthan
* India’s apparel exports jump near 25% in May

* Textile industry exports likely to boost $2b annually: Afridi
* Proposed textile policy 2014-19: government eyes on increasing exports by $2 billion each year: Afridi
* Govt to allocate Rs80bn in textile policy
* APTMA points out several anomalies in budget
* APTMA seeks gas supply at optimum pressure
* Pakistan needs comprehensive policy for cotton: Minister
* Incentives to leather garments exporters: Dastgir assures PLGMEA delegation of resolving issues
* Tannery Zone becomes Pakistan’s first crime-free industrial area
* Heart of the matter

* Parties to meet in attempt to resolve Footwear Sector strike
* SACTWU withdraws Clothing Industry wage dispute

* Garment industry sourcing model fundamentally flawed

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2