04:15:46 local time CHINA
* Mediators can end labor wrangles, foreign firms told:
Foreign-funded companies have been urged by an official from China’s top trade union body to consider using professional mediators to help handle an increasing number of disputes involving Chinese employees.
Labor disputes have emerged as a worrying trend that can affect social stability, said Guo Jun, head of the legal affairs department at the All-China Federation of Trade Unions.
Last year, courts nationwide handled about 300,000 labor dispute cases, in addition to more than 1 million such cases mediated by trade unions, Guo said.
Arbitration tribunals handled about 666,000 labor disputes, an increase of 23,000 from 2012.
“As China is becoming a market economy, it’s natural for companies to reshuffle, merge or even shut down some underperforming businesses. Such decisions inevitably affect workers,” Guo said.
“If employers cannot communicate these moves to their workers effectively through professional mediators, workers might resort to strikes or other extreme behavior to defend their rights.”
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* Wages in China:
Wage levels in China have increased continually over the last two decades as the economy has developed and the private sector has created new employment opportunities.
However, disparities among geographic regions, industrial sectors and between top executives and ordinary workers have also increased significantly, widening the rich-poor gap. Moreover, wage increases for China’s lowest paid workers have often been eroded by higher costs of living, and the issue of wage arrears remains a serious and unresolved problem throughout the country.
Legal provisions on working hours and wages
- The standard workweek in China is 40 hours (eight hours per day, five days per week).
- The 1994 Labour Law stipulates that overtime shall be paid for any work exceeding standard working hours and that overtime shall not exceed three hours a day or 36 hours per month (Article 41).
- Overtime pay should not be less than 150 percent of an employee’s wages during normal working days; 200 percent on rest days, and 300 percent on national holidays, such as the Lunar New Year (Article 44).
- Wages shall be paid to the workers themselves in legal tender and on a monthly basis. Deduction of wages or delay in payment of wages is strictly prohibited (Article 50).
- An employer shall pay wages to workers during their statutory holidays, marriage or funeral leave (Article 51).
The minimum wage
Article 48 of the Labour Law stipulates that the statutory minimum wage should be set at a level sufficient to support the daily needs of employees. It was not until March 2004 however, when the then Ministry of Labour and Social Security implemented its Minimum Wage Regulations, that guidelines were put in place to establish a framework calculating and adjusting the minimum wage.
05:15:46 local time NORTH KOREA
* S.Korea, DPRK begin talks on joint factory park:
South Korea and the Democratic People’ s Republic of Korea (DPRK) started their first talks in six months on Thursday in Kaesong, the DPRK’s border town, about running the inter-Korean factory park, Seoul’s unification ministry said.
Six South Korean delegates crossed the inter-Korean land border into Kaesong, the DPRK’s border city some 10 km north of the military demarcation line, and began talks at around 10 a.m. local time as scheduled, the ministry said.
The two Koreas agreed last year to hold the joint management committee meeting every quarter, but it has been halted since December last year amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula following the joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States in February.
“It will be an opportunity for a comprehensive review on productive normalization of the Kaesong industrial zone,” chief South Korean delegate Lee Kang-woo told reporters before heading to the dialogue venue.
Currently, South Korea should fax a list of workers to the DPRK a day before their trip to the joint industrial zone. The DPRK has allowed only those on the list to travel to the zone during a designated time.
The Kaesong industrial complex, the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean economic cooperation, is home to 120 South Korean small companies that produce mostly labor-intensive products such as shoes and garments.
03:15:46 local time THAILAND
* Thai Textile Industry Forecasts 3.66 Per Cent Growth This Year:
An official from the Ministry of Industry has forecast exports of Thai textile and garment products could hit US$7.6 billion this year, up 3.66 per cent from last year.
Atchaka Sribunruang Brimble, director-general of Industrial Promotion Department at the ministry, was quoted as saying Wednesday by Thai News Agency (TNA) that signs were showing demand for sport outfits will continue to grow as more Thais were turning to physical exercise.
At the same time, Thai companies have been assigned to manufacture soccer outfits for 10 teams participating in the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament.
Federation of Thai Industries vice chairman Wallop Wittanakorn said garment and textile exports to the United States and Europe have remained positive despite the US downgrading the country on its human trafficking watchlist.
03:15:46 local time CAMBODIA
* Ocean Garment to stay shuttered until July 9:
A garment factory will prolong its monthlong closure until at least July 9, when the Arbitration Council Foundation rules on a case brought by its workers.
Ocean Garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district announced on May 24 that it would cease operations until today, paying workers $15 for the month. Employees balked at the amount, demanding their full pay during the downtime.
“This case is already in the hand of Arbitration Council, and the workers still demand 100 per cent,” said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), after the council heard the case yesterday.
Management has tried to negotiate with workers, but they have refused to accept anything less than that, Ocean deputy general manager Salayddin Ahmed said.
Ocean was forced to stop production when Gap Inc, the factory’s sole buyer, ceased orders, citing unreliable deliveries due to frequent strikes.
* Strikes spur Target roll-back:
American retail giant Target is another major brand scaling back its sourcing from Cambodia in response to garment industry turmoil here, Minister of Commerce Sun Chanthol revealed during a trade mission to the US.
In a wide-ranging speech on Cambodia’s economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, on Monday, the commerce minister said Target had joined clothing brand Levi Strauss in reducing orders following a deadly apparel worker strike in early January.
“Levi Strauss reduced their orders from Cambodia. Target also reduced their orders from Cambodia, because they are afraid of the labour unrest and so on,” said Chanthol, who attends government meetings with major brands to address industry concerns.
Since the January protest, overtime has slowed across the industry due to buyers decreasing orders in Cambodia, according to Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia secretary-general Ken Loo.
“I feel that this scale-back is not a problem yet,” Loo said. “I think they [buyers] will want to continue to source from Cambodia if we can provide them with stability, so that is what we have been trying to do.”
Loo said that Target was not among the biggest buyers in Cambodia but was still a significant contributor to the industry.
Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said that it is the government’s lack of response to buyers’ requests for fairer treatment of workers that is resulting in a loss of business.
“The issues have not been resolved, despite the 23 detained demonstrators being released; the other remaining issues in the industry have not been resolved, so they [factories] have started to reduce their production,” Thorn said.
“Now, they [buyers] have set a deadline for the government from now on until October. If the remaining issues have not been ironed out, they will stop their production here.”
* The 5th Garment Workers’ Labour Law Competition Application Form:
The 5th cycle of the Garment Workers’ Radio Competition allowing garment workers to express their knowledge and experience pertaining to Cambodia labour law, is launched today.
In collaboration with radio station Vayo FM 105.5 MHz, ILO-BFC will implement the competition intended to address the interest of workers to better understand the Cambodian labour law. This initiative has a strong educational potential and is aimed to send a positive message to workers that the knowledge of the Cambodia labour law is important, within their reach, and useful in their daily lives.
The first place winner of last year’s competition, Chhoun Channa, says “providing the chance to workers like me to possess knowledge of the Cambodia labour law will help workers to understand what is legal and illegal to do in the factory and we can approach to management to protect our rights if there is a violation of the law.”
BFC’s Chief Technical Advisor, Ms. Jill Tucker, says that building on the success of the past four years of the Garment Workers’ Radio Competition, ILO-Better Factories Cambodia will be evaluating the impact of the programme on listeners as well as contestants.
20140627 BF Workers’ Radio Competition 2014 (Eng).
* ILO launches fifth round of radio competition:
The International Labor Organisation launched Friday the fifth round of a radio competition to promote understanding of the Cambodian labor law among garment workers.
“This initiative has a strong educational potential and is aimed to send a positive message to workers that the knowledge of the Cambodia labour law is important, within their reach, and useful in their daily lives,” the ILO said.
The competition will involve 18 candidates competing before a jury in live broadcasts on Radio Vayo FM 105.5 every Friday from 4-5 pm between August 29 and November 14, it added.
02:15:46 local time BANGLADESH
20140625 * Factory closed over workers unrest:
Workers of Hop Lun Apparels protested in front of its factory in Sataish area in Gazipur demanding safe drinking water, bonus and other facilities.
* Most RMG unions affiliated with US-based NGO:
About 20 leaders control 90% of recently registered unions
Most of the country’s RMG trade unions are reportedly controlled by workers’ federations affiliated with US-based non-profit organisation Solidarity Centre, with many labour leaders and factory owners raising concerns that the sector might become a hostage to a vested quarter.
According to the Labour Ministry, 152 trade unions have registered following last year’s Rana Plaza disaster. There are allegations that 142 of those unions were linked with nine federations “affiliated” with the Solidarity Centre.
Sources said around 20 leaders of those RMG workers federations were controlling the entire sector.
“We have recently got involved with the Solidarity Centre and the organisation is now paying monthly Tk13,000 each to two organisers of my federation,” said Md Kamrul Hasan, general secretary of Akota Garments Workers Federation that secured 12 trade union registrations this year.
Several leaders of the nine RMG workers federations also admitted to the Dhaka Tribune that they received “financial and technical” support from the Solidarity Centre.
Amirul Haque Amin, president of National Garment Workers Federation, told the Dhaka Tribune that his federation was affiliated with Solidarity Centre and received technical support from them.
However, Jennifer Kuhlman, field programme specialist at Solidarity Centre’s Bangladesh office, denied allegations of having affiliates with any RMG workers federation in Bangladesh. Replying to a query, she told the Dhaka Tribune through an e-mail that the centre only provided “technical” assistance for building the capacity of federations and factory-level unions.
* Labour inspectors inadequate:
Training of the labour inspectors is instrumental in ensuring safety and rights of the workers
Though increasing, the number of labour inspectors in Bangladesh is not enough, and the government should provide modern infrastructures and tools for better inspection, said Canadian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Janet Durno yesterday.
Addressing a certificate awarding ceremony, she said: “Much more things have yet to be done.” The ceremony at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the capital was jointly organised by the Law Ministry and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to award certificates to around 39 labour inspectors.
Janet said: “Rana Plaza was a great tragedy. After the incident, we were committed to reform the sector. Around 65 new inspectors have joined so far. Important amendment has been made in the Labour Act. Together, we can transform the ready-made garment sector of Bangladesh.
“The UK, together with Canada and the Netherlands, is supporting the development of an efficient, credible and transparent cadre of labour inspectors. Progress has been made in addressing many challenges facing the garment industry through concrete commitments by manufacturers, brands, development partners and the government.”
Tuomo Poutiainen, programme manager of ILO’s RMG Programme, said: “Training of the labour inspectors is instrumental in ensuring safety and rights of the workers. Legislative and policy changes should be made for further progress. ILO is committed to assist the government of Bangladesh.
* New Garment Organizers Build Skills at Training:
In this coastal city of 6.5 million people, the second center of garment production in Bangladesh after the capital, Dhaka, a re-energized labor movement is making real progress in organizing workers.
At a Solidarity Center training program for two trade union federations, 12 young organizers—most on the job for less than six months—were advancing beyond the basics of organizing and moving up the knowledge ladder fast.
It helped that two other attendees—Nomita, president of the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union Federation (BIGUF), and her colleague, Chandon, BIGUF vice president, joined the training to support and inspire. Between them, they have two decades of experience organizing in a hostile environment, and have been instrumental in guiding the new activists into a ramped up, more strategic form of organizing.
This was not their first training program, and the organizers were delving into more sophisticated material, including chapter and verse on labor law, organizing women workers, developing leaders and representative unions, incorporating new tactics into campaigns and how to interview workers to document the unfair labor practices (including sexual harassment, firings, threats and violence) that they and their colleagues are facing on a daily basis.
* DIFE gets certificates from ILO:
Labour Inspectors of the Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishments (DIFE) were awarded certificates at an event to mark the successful completion of three-week induction training on inspection and occupational safety and health.
The improving working conditions in the Ready-Made Garment (RMG) Program of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in collaboration with the International Training Centre (ITC) of ILO has been carrying out the Labour Inspection training for the current and newly recruited labor inspectors of the DIFE.
A total of 125 labor inspectors (114 male and 11 female inspectors) were trained in three training sessions starting from 8 June.
The improving working conditions in the RMG Program aims to support Bangladesh to significantly improve the capacity of its inspection system through gradual improvement of the legislative and policy framework, equipping and training of the current and newly recruited inspectors, support to improving the organizational structure and the business processes of the Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishments (DIFE).
Reiterating ILO’s commitment in working for better labor inspection system, Tuomo Poutiainen, Programme Manager, RMG Programme of ILO said, ‘Training of the Labour Inspectors is instrumental in ensuring safety and rights of the workers. Training alone cannot ensure betterment of conditions unless legislative and policy changes are also made. ILO is committed to assist the government of Bangladesh in this process of change’.
* Accord’s inspection identifies ‘critical structural findings’ in 2pc RMG units:
Accord’s inspection has identified ‘critical structural findings’ in 14 buildings out of its 760 surveyed garment factories since the inception of its assessment programme until to date.
“We requested the official review panel to take immediate steps regarding these 14 buildings as our engineers deem those unsafe for production and occupancy in its current state,” Executive Director of Accord Bangladesh Operations Rob Wayys said at a press briefing held in the city Wednesday.
Four factories remained closed and seven are in operation with drastic load removal while the rest three are in the process of shifting, he explained.
“The percentage of such critical findings is less than two,” he said adding “We are working with the brands factory owners so that the closed ones can resume their operation.”
He, however, said the 14 buildings accommodate a total of 23 garment units.
But according to Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), a total of 21 factories faced closure or suspension of production following the western retailers’ inspection programmes.
* Accord trying to reopen factory of Softex Cotton:
Accord is in talks with the management of Softex Cotton on how to reopen the production unit of the garment maker that was closed in March in the face of inspections.
“We are now working to find out a solution. To resume production, the Softex factory building will have to shed large amounts of loads,” said Rob Wayss, executive director of the Bangladesh operations of Accord, a platform of 180 retailers and brands mostly from Europe.
The construction of the annex of the main building may also help restart production, Wayss told reporters at a press conference at Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka yesterday.
After inspections by Accord engineers, the factory of the Mirpur-based garment maker was shut on March 6.
On April 30, Softex Cotton sent a legal notice to Accord challenging its decision.
Wayss said Accord inspected 760 factories so far, both in Dhaka and Chittagong. Of them, only 14 were identified as risky, the number being less than 2 percent of the total buildings inspected so far.
Of the 14 buildings, four were asked to shut production, seven were allowed to continue operations after shedding loads and three were asked to shift to other places, he said.
Wayss said the findings of the inspections are more or less the same in every factory — messy wires on the floors, cracks on the walls and faulty designs of the buildings.
* EU retailers find severe faults in 14 RMG factories:
Completes inspection of 760 units
The European retailers’ inspection teams found severe structural faults in less than 2 per cent of some 760 readymade garment factories they have inspected in Bangladesh.
Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, the platform of the EU retailers and brands has listed for inspection over 1,700 garment factories from which 180 signatories of the Accord procure products.
The Accord on Wednesday said that it had inspected 760 factories so far and found major structural faults at 14 factories in 14 buildings.
In a press conference on their inspection programme, the Accord officials said that the inspection teams found structural faults in 59 more factories but they did not refer the list to the review panel.
The production of the factories is running with the remediation work under the supervision of engineers of the Accord, Rob Wayss, executive director of Accord, said.
* Accord: Less than 2% RMG units vulnerable:
It’s a good news for the country’s RMG sector
Experts of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh have identified less than 2% apparel factories vulnerable out of 760 they inspected in last one year period.
“Accord engineers have identified critical structural findings in 14 buildings and recommended for evacuation through the review panel,” said Rob Wayss, executive director of Accord Bangladesh operation at a press conference at a city hotel yesterday.
The vulnerable buildings are only 1.84% of the total inspected buildings.
|Of the 14 buildings, 4 remained closed, 7 needs drastic removal of loading and the rest three trying to relocate, said Rob.
* Bangladesh Accord commitment to transparency :
Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh announces publication of factory inspection reports and presents filmed footage from Accord safety inspections
Just over one year ago in May 2013, ready-made garment (RMG) industry global brands and retailers and 2 global unions and their national RMG affiliates signed an unprecedented agreement to make RMG factories safe in Bangladesh.
The Accord has made good progress since. More than 180 brands and retailers are now part of the Accord. More than 800 inspections for fire, electrical and structural safety have been completed. This week, the Accord has disclosed inspection reports and corrective action plans (CAPs) of 50 factories. The Accord will continue to disclose all reports and CAPs in the coming weeks and months.
To commemorate one year of the Accord and its implementation and to show its work in the first year, the Accord has invited a group of national and international journalists to accompany safety inspections at Accord producing factories.
The journalists accompanied Accord inspectors at 4 inspections on 24 June 2014. Filmed footage and photographs from these inspections are being made available to all interested journalists.
* Safety first:
This new statistic is a good indicator that factory owners have at least been shaken from their complacency
Less than 2% of the 760 apparel factories inspected by The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety were identified as being vulnerable. Among the inspected factories, 59 were found to be critical and in need of remediation, but could be made compliant through corrective development.
This is good news for a country that witnessed the disastrous collapse of Rana Plaza, which resulted in the lives of more than 1,000 of the factory’s workers being lost, little more than a year ago.
The 2013 Savar building collapse worked to fatally expose the inadequate safety regime in our country, where RMG factories often lack sufficient technical equipment and the expertise required.
This new statistic is a good indicator that RMG factory owners have at least been shaken from their complacency and indifference to actually taking measurable steps in avoiding further disasters of this magnitude.
* Inspection tensions add woes to BD garment industry:
Western safety inspectors’ erratic decisions pose a new set of problems for Bangladesh’s US$22 billion garments industry, whose safety record has been under the microscope since the collapse of a factory near Dhaka that killed more than 1,100 workers last year, reports Reuters.
More than a year after the public outcry that spurred Western retailers into demanding better standards from the factories that make their clothes, it also highlights the practical complexities of improving the conditions of millions of poor workers whilst also safeguarding their jobs.
Export growth in the sector has slowed as buyers turn to India, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia because of concerns over workshop safety, higher wages and political instability.
Now factory owners say they are concerned about arbitrary shutdowns and meeting the cost of demands for remedial work, while workers worry about who will pay their wages if their workplace is temporarily closed.
“We went through inexplicable harassment during this whole process, and I am sure they don’t care about that,” said Sonia & Sweaters Director Mahabubur Rahman, of his experience of the inspection.
* Stalemate Over Garment Factory Safety in Bangladesh:
Eight times now, the European-dominated Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh — a group of more than 150 retailers and brands — has forced the temporary closing of garment factories after its inspectors found dangerous conditions.
But from the time the inspections began, tensions have been growing between the Accord and the Bangladeshi apparel industry, resulting in an impasse over a recent attempt to shutter what the Accord considers an unsafe factory building that houses Florence Fashions. And this time, as on several previous occasions, the Bangladeshi government has aligned with a garment manufacturer opposed to having its factory closed, even temporarily.
The series of inspections through more than 1,000 of the country’s apparel factories has been emotionally freighted from the start, with workers, manufacturers, building owners and government officials watching the process with conflicting sentiments.
Of course, many Bangladeshis recognize the need for these inspections, and for some dangerous factories to be closed, as part of a broad-based effort to prevent another disaster like the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed 1,129 workers in April 2013.
But factory closings can have immediate economic impact. Some factory owners worry about losing large and profitable orders to other companies and countries, and garment workers themselves fear losing their jobs. In one of the first closings after an Accord inspection, workers took to the streets in a raucous demonstration, protesting that their wages might not be paid.
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* DoE fines 5 Gazipur factories Tk 34 lakh:
The Department of Environment (DoE) on Thursday fined five washing and dyeing factories in the district Tk 34 lakh for polluting water of the Turag River.
After a hearing at the DoE headquarters in the capital, its director (monitoring and enforcement) M Alamgir slapped the fine on Syntech Finishing Mills, Jeans Collection, Laundry Gate, Unique Textile Mills and Safe Fashions Ltd situated in Tongi industrial area of the city.
The factories were fined for operating without environment clearance certificates and effluent treatment plants, causing huge damage to the water and biodiversity of the river.
The Turag has been declared as an environmentally critically area by the government as per the environment law.
to read. & read more.
* Relocation of RMG units may ease pressure on capital:
They estimated that around 1,027 RMG units, employing nearly five lakh workers, are located in the capital, while there are 533 factories with about 3.48 lakh workers in Savar and Ashulia
Relocating over one thousand readymade garment factories from Dhaka to outlying areas may help ease some of the severe problems faced by residents of the capital city, including chronic traffic jams and environmental
If such a plan were to be implemented, at least 15 lakh people, mostly RMG workers and their dependents, would be forced to move out of the overcrowded city, reducing ever-increasing pressures on it, according to data of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments.
They estimated that around 1,027 RMG units, employing nearly five lakh workers, are located in the capital, while there are 533 factories with about 3.48 lakh workers in Savar and Ashulia.
The survey was conducted among 1,560 factories in Dhaka district.
Talking to several workers, this correspondent found that each one lived with at least three other family members _ meaning nearly 15 lakh of the capital’s 150 lakh inhabitants are here due to the presence of RMG factories.
* BGMEA statements outrageous: US:
The US has described the recent statements of the President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) as ‘outrageous and unacceptable’.
‘We have grave concerns about these statements,’ Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson of the state department said replying a question at a regular press briefing on Wednesday.
The question has been asked about the recent comment of BGMEA President Atiqul Islam who said individuals and labour rights activists who directly contact the US government or Congress should be prosecuted for sedition. ‘There are laws and courts in this country.
Despite that, those who are making allegations abroad without informing anyone must face sedition charges,’ BGMEA President Atiqul Islam had said recently.
He made the comment after Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed’s visit to the US on June 10, during which several US Congressmen alleged torture of workers showing him a letter sent from Bangladesh. Islam also demanded trial of those responsible for sending such letters. Deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said: ‘These statements, if true, are outrageous and unacceptable’.
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* US concerned over BGMEA statement:
The US expressed grave concerns over the statements made by the head of BGMEA that individuals and labor rights activists who directly contact the US government or congress should be prosecuted for sedition.
‘These statements, if true, are outrageous and unacceptable,’ Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson of the US department of state said, responding to a question.
read more. & read more.
* Intertek opens elaborate testing lab for garment, footwear:
Intertek yesterday opened a testing laboratory in Dhaka to support the country’s growing garment industry.
The company listed on the London Stock Exchange tests quality of industrial products and provides certificates on compliance.
The Dhaka lab, the company’s biggest in Asia, will provide one-stop services for diverse industries in the region, the company said in a statement.
The plant will test fabric samples, apparel, footwear, home furnishing and electrical appliances for hazardous elements and chemicals. It will also provide calibration, inspection, auditing and training services.
read more. & read more. & read more.
RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* UK government tells retailers to pay up in Rana Plaza compensation battle:
International development minister says he is writing to companies who have not yet contributed
The government is weighing into the battle for compensation for victims of last year’s Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh with a letter warning British retailers including Matalan to pay up.
The cut-price clothing chain, based in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, has admitted that its clothes had been produced on the second floor of the factory building, where over 1,100 people died, but has refused to pay into a compensation fund backed by the International Labour Organisation.
The company says it was not using Rana Plaza when the building collapsed and has insisted that it has already helped victims with a donation to a charity support programme to mothers involved in the disaster.
* OECD meets in Paris with Rana Plaza on the agenda:
Over a year after the collapse of Rana Plaza the compensation fund remains woefully underfunded.
Today sees the start of a two day high level international meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris that will discuss efforts to build more responsible supply chains.
Ahead of the meeting of Ministers from across the world UK Minister for International Development, Alan Duncan MP, has written personally to a number of UK based brands who were associated with Rana Plaza calling on them to make significant contributions to the ILO backed Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund.
In an interview in today’s Guardian, Mr Duncan says “”We have to raise the pressure over a year after the event to make sure a complete compensation package is assembled.” He added that retailers could not claim that they weren’t aware of where their clothes were produced because production had been sub-contracted by their suppliers.”
* Governments call on brands to pay up:
Clean Clothes Campaign welcomes leadership shown by governments in strongly urging clothing brands to pay into the Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund.
The following statement is in response to the final statement on compensation Rana Plaza victims that you can read here.
Clean Clothes Campaign welcomes today’s statement from the governments of the Netherlands, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Denmark, Italy and Spain calling on companies to immediately “donate generously to the [Rana Plaza Donor] Trust Fund.”
“These governments have taken political responsibility where companies have failed to act, which is a significant step in getting compensation for all victims” says Ineke Zeldenrust, of Clean Clothes Campaign, “it is not acceptable that 428 days since the collapse of Rana Plaza the Donor Trust Fund is still lacking US$23 million. Brands can no longer look for excuses, they must pay up.”
The statement is released as Ministers from around the world meet in Paris, alongside the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and representatives of trade unions and NGOs, at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct.
The ILO and UNI Global Union, alongside Clean Clothes Campaign, have expressed deep concern that the fund is still running short of the much needed funds, and whilst the Forum looks at ways to improve responsible business in the future the governmental statement highlights the fact that “the lack of compensation for the victims weaken[s] the improvements realized up to now in Bangladesh.”
“The combined profits of the 29 brands that have been directly linked to Rana Plaza is well in excess of US$22 billion a year,” adds Ms. Zeldenrust, “they are being asked to contribute less that 0.2% of these profits to go some way towards compensating the people their profits are built on.”
read more. & read more.
01:45:46 local time INDIA
* Labour ministry okays new scheme for inspection:
A CAIU will be set up to analyse and collect field data for a transparent and accountable labour inspection system
The Union labour ministry has approved a more liberal inspection scheme aimed at simplifying business regulations and bringing “transparency and accountability” in the system.
For this purpose, a Central Analysis and Intelligence Unit (CAIU) will be set up to analyse and collect field data “for a transparent and accountable labour inspection system”.
The scheme will be brought into effect from October 1 for the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) and Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), inspections under the ambit of the Chief Labour Commissioner (CLC) and the Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS).
Under the new scheme, inspection of factories will be carried out under 11 Acts, including the Minimum Wages Act, Contract Labour Act and Child Labour Act. There are different inspection guidelines for EPFO, ESIC, CLC and DGMS.
* Excise duty on branded garments might return:
Branded garments might become more expensive, with the finance ministry thinking of bringing back excise duty on this category in the coming Budget; it was removed last year.
The ministry might also levy a higher duty on cigarettes, for raising more money, amid an economic slowdown.
“The government might consider various options to generate more revenue — excise duty on branded garments might be restored, “sin goods” like cigarettes might attract higher duty, customs duty might be increased wherever there is some scope. A final call will be taken by the minister,” said a senior tax official, requesting anonymity.
A 10 per cent excise duty on branded garments was levied in Budget 2010-11 by then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. He increased it to 12 per cent in Budget 2012-13, with 70 per cent abatement. But his successor, P Chidambaram, removed the levy in Budget 2013-14, to help this industry, hit by a slowdown and currency volatility. As a result, the exchequer took a hit of about Rs 1,300 crore.
The worry is that a return of the levy might hurt manufacturing in the Rs 50,000-crore branded garment industry and skew the balance in favour of the unorganised sector.
“The duty cut gave a lot of fillip to the branded garment sector.
The growth could have been higher but February onwards, it slowed due to elections and the overall sentiment in the economy.
We hope the duty cut continues, as the new government is putting emphasis on manufacturing and employment generation,” said Rahul Mehta, president, Clothing Manufacturers Association of India.
* Union to move SC for reopening of jute mill:
The unit located near Tagarapuvalasa closed in 2009. Owing to the prolonged closure, several workers moved to Vizianagaram, Nellimarla, Srikakulam and other places in search of jobs in jute mills there.
Chittivalasa Jute Mills Workers’ Union (CJMWU) has decided to knock at the doors of the Supreme Court to seek a direction for immediate reopening of the unit located near Tagarapuvalasa.
The mill, which employed 2,800 permanent, 800 badli and 2,000 apprentice workers at the time of closure, was shut down by the Kolkata-based management on April 20, 2009. More than five years have passed, but the lockout, imposed under the pretext of deplorable power position, continues despite orders by the labour court and the government.
“The old management which entered into an agreement to sell it off has run into rough weather over the modalities for change of ownership.
The issue has become sub judice. Hence, we will bring pressure on the new government in Andhra Pradesh to seek a direction from the Apex Court,” INTUC leader and CJMWU president K.K. Varahala Raju told The Hindu on Thursday.
He said the union also decided to file an affidavit in the court seeking a direction to the management not to delay the reopening on humanitarian point of view.
Owing to the prolonged closure, several workers moved to Vizianagaram, Nellimarla, Srikakulam and other places in search of jobs in jute mills there. Others have been working as labour to eke out a living.
The union had signed an agreement with the management in 2011 to extend full cooperation for revival of the mill, one of the oldest composite mills in the State built during British Raj with a capacity of 100 tonnes a day. Those who have already attained superannuation will be given an option to work.
* Chittivalasa Jute Mill workers wait for its reopening:
Chittivalasa Jute Mill at Tagarapuvalasa in Visakhapatnam district – one of the oldest composite jute mills in Andhra Pradesh – has remained closed for over five years, and the prospects of reopening appear remote, but still the workers are hoping that the mill may be reopened.
More than 5,000 workers are dependent on the mill which was closed on April 20, 2009. The management declared a lockout on that date, as there was resistance from workers to the proposal to reduce the number of shifts from three to two, citing power problems.
The mill, with a capacity of 100 tonnes a day, used to employ 2,800 permanent workers, 800 badili workers and 2,000 apprentices. Tagarapuvalasa, a small town, and ten to fifteen villages in the vicinity used to provide the workforce.
Now the workers are seeking employment in different fields. Some of them are going to other jute mills in the neighbouring Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts.
Many are employed in odd, badly-paid jobs in Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram.
01:45:46 local time SRI LANKA
* MAS bags US $ 28mn IFC loan :
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, will lend US $ 28 million to the Sri Lankan apparel manufacturer MAS Capital (Pvt.) Ltd and its subsidiaries to support the group’s expansion and innovation plans.
IFC’s long-term loan will provide additional capital for MAS to expand its product portfolio and boost exports. The group is expected to create more jobs, predominantly for women.
MAS Chief Executive Sharad Amalean said that the association with IFC is a significant milestone for both the company and the country.
“The apparel industry in Sri Lanka is at the forefront of innovation and growth and MAS continues to push boundaries while expanding capacity to meet the growing demands of our buyers,” he said.
Sri Lanka’s textile and apparel exports account for almost 7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 43 percent of its total exports, making it the country’s second largest foreign exchange earner.
01:15:46 local time PAKISTAN
* Textile policy to promote value-addition:
Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi has said the upcoming Textile Policy 2014-19 would revive the industry and promote value-addition to achieve $1 billion growth in the sector’s exports every year.
Addressing business and industry leaders at a luncheon meeting, organised by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Thursday, the minister said the government was conscious of the fact that only textile industry could provide jobs in large numbers. The policy would encourage exports of value-added textile goods rather than raw material or semi-finished goods, he added.
The minister categorically stated that export of raw material could not be stopped altogether, but the policy objective was to minimise it by enhancing exports of value-added textile goods.
“If we want to create jobs we have to go for value-addition at every stage as nowhere in the world raw material is exported,” the minister asserted.
* ‘Additional $3bn textile exports during next two years’:
Federal Textile Minister Abbas Khan Afridi on Thursday said that textile exports will fetch additional $3 billion during the next two years after changes in the textile policy.
“Around $1 billion additional textile export receipts has been estimated for the next fiscal year and further $2 billion in the following year,” he said, while talking to newsmen during his visit to the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).
He visited the apex trade body to take input from stakeholders for the policy formulation.
* Textile City Karachi: Chinese group shows investment interest:
Textile Ministry will leave no stone unturned to facilitate foreign investment as it guarantees development and prosperity of a country.
This was stated by Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi in a meeting with a Chinese company China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC), says a press release issued here on Wednesday.
The representatives from CGGC showed keen interest in investment in Pakistan Textile City Karachi. Financial assistance, joint venture and infrastructure development at Pakistan Textile City remained the main focus of the discussion.
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* Exports to jump after textile policy implementation :
After the implementation of textile policy that it is likely to be announced in the second week of July, people will see rapid growth in textile sector of the country and there will be an increase of at least $1 billion in the first year and $2 billion from the second year.
Federal Textile Minister Abbas Khan Afridi in an interview with TheNation said that the government had adopted the policy of giving incentives to the value-added sector of textile industry that will improve the textile exports of the country which presently stood at $13 billion.
* Leather industry seeks government support:
Pakistan Tanners Association’s Standing Committee on Gas and Infrastructure Chairman Usman Umer apprised the government of the declining leather exports, and warned that if the situation persisted, the Indian competitors would snatch further market of Pakistan’s leather goods.
Criticising the government’s industry policies, he said that the present government, instead of offering incentives to the ailing industry, is unnecessarily overburdening it by levying unethical and unpractical taxes like Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC), causing more uncertainty for exports-oriented industry in future.
* Leather products export declines by 14% in 2008-13, India bites share:
Leather products exports are on the declining trend and opening doors for Indian competitors to further snatch market share of Pakistan in the international market.
Chairman Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA)’s Standing Committee on Gas and Infrastructure Usman Umer criticising government’s anti-industry policies said present government instead of offering incentives to the ailing industry unnecessarily over-burdening it by levying unethical and unpractical cess like Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) due to which the future of exports-oriented industry was facing uncertainty.
* PTA body chief urges government to exempt exporters from GIDC:
Chairman Pakistan Tanners Association’s (PTA) standing committee on gas and infrastructure, Usman Umer, has urged the government to exempt exporters, particularly those belonging to leather industry, from the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC).
In an SOS to the government, he said that the country’s leather sector exports were on the decline and a situation has been persisting where Indian competitors could further snatch Pakistan’s leather and leather goods market share.
* LCCI team on EU visit to tap GSP Plus potential:
For the collective benefit of the business community and to tap EU potential under GSP Plus status, the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry delegation is presently on a 15-day long visit to the European countries where a number of MoUs have been signed to market Pakistani merchandise in all the 27 European Union member states.
This was stated by LCCI acting president Mian Tariq Misbah while talking to The Nation here on Wednesday. He said that LCCI delegation, in the lead of its president Sohail Lashari, has held hosts of meetings with business leaders, signing several deals in the presence of a large number of European businessmen.
* EU delegation briefed about GSP plus status:
Punjab Board of Investment & Trade (PBIT), being the focal organization for GSP plus, hosted the European Union (EU) delegation meeting with provincial ministers.
The meeting was held at the Punjab Assembly and was attended by the Provincial Minister Industries, Chaudhry Muhammad Shafiq, Minister Labour, Raja Ashfaq Sarwer, Minister Minorities Affairs, Khalil Tahir Sandhu and Secretary Industries. Top management of PBIT was also present on this occasion.The European Union delegation consisted of Deputy Head of the GSP Unit, Nikolaos Zaimis, Trade Officers Johan Sorensen and Hasnain A Iftikhar.
The EU delegation was briefed about the increase in exports after the grant of the GSP plus status to Pakistan. The delegation was also given a detailed presentation about working of different departments of Punjab government in the wake of GSP plus status. It was apprised that all 27 conventions are being followed by the departments of Punjab government.
* GSP Brussels Unit head visits Aptma:
Head of the GSP unit in DG Trade Brussels Mr. Nikolaos Zaimis visited APTMA Punjab on Thursday and discussed in detail the business and investment climate as well as trade prospects for Pakistan under the GSP plus.
Acting Chairman APTMA Punjab Syed Ali Ahsan welcomed him at the APTMA Punjab Office. Other office bearers of APTMA Punjab were also present on the occasion. A detailed presentation was made to the visiting EU official regarding activities of APTMA and benefits as well as challenges out of the GSP plus facility for Pakistan since January 2014. Mr. Zaimis appreciated the role of APTMA in preparing the industry for benefitting from the GSP plus facility and raising awareness. about international standards and practices.
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* Made in Pakistan Expo 2014 to fetch big export orders: PRGMEA chief:
The Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) has received an overwhelming response so far from the Pakistani exhibitors and about 70 percent stalls have already been booked for the 2nd edition of the Made In Pakistan Expo 2014 being held in Mumbai India from August 31 to September 5, 2014 subsequent to the success of the inaugural edition of MIPEM 2014 held from April 3 to April 7, 2014 at Mumbai.
The single country exhibition aims to provide a platform to the Pakistan-based companies, for showcasing their range of products and services to the Indian public and business community.
The exhibition will also be contributing in promoting Pakistan-India economic relations by diversifying the existing trade patterns thus introducing a wide range of quality Pakistani products in the Indian market with prominent business and trade sectors.
* ‘Cry for help’ scandal hits Primark:
A customer of Primark has claimed to have found a label stitched inside a dress that tries to draw attention to exploitative working conditions of ready-made garments workers.
Denying the claims, the British-owned retail group said it would investigate the matters, reports Guardian.
Primark operates in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
A 25-year-old customer of the retail group, Rebecca Gallagher claimed that she found a label on a £10 dress which she purchased from a Primark store in Swansea. The label reads “forced to work exhausting hours.”
She said the message was written on one of a number of stitched labels which gave Primark addresses in Spain and Ireland along with washing instructions.
She said: “You hear all sorts of stories about people working in sweatshops abroad – it made me so guilty that I can never wear that dress again.”
* Comment: Labels found in Primark clothes:
Clean Clothes Campaign responds to recent stories of ‘calls for help’ found in Primark clothing.
Over the past week there have been reports of notes for help or messages stitched into clothing sold by UK and Irish retailer Primark purportedly from workers suffering inhumane conditions in the production of clothes for the retail giant.
Clean Clothes Campaign, in response to the stories says, “It is difficult to know whether these notes are genuine. However speculation on the origin of the messages should not distract from the known reality which is that the conditions described – in particular long hours, poverty pay and unsafe working conditions – are a fact of life for the majority of women and men producing clothes for high street brands including Primark.
“As our recent reports, Tailored Wages and Stitched Up, clearly demonstrate inhumane conditions and wages that full far short of a living wage are endemic in the industry and can be found from clothing factories in Bangladesh to Bulgaria, Cambodia to Croatia.
“Primark are not alone in sourcing from these factories and it is important that Primark and all clothing brands take action and put an end to exploitative and inhumane purchasing practices and ensure the people who make their clothes are paid a living wage in decent working conditions.
* Joint Petition at Adidas HK Office regarding three unresolved labor disputes of three Adidas suppliers in Indonesia and China:
June 20, More than 40 people from Hong Kong and Indonesia labour gorups gathered in front of the adidas office in Hong Kong to show solidarity to the workers in China and Indonesia.
They are the Chinese workers in disputes with Dongguan Yue Yuen and Guangzhou Dynamic Casting, and the 1300 Indonesia workers from PDK who were unfairly dismissed in 2012. Among these factories, there is one thing in common: they are all producing for the international footwear giant adidas.
They group shouted slogans: shame on adidas, compensation for workers, people before profit, adidas, don’t give up the workers, etc.
Adidas sent a sourcing manager came out and listened to the demand of labour groups.
He accepted the protestors’ petition letters of the three cases but refused to further comment on the cases or prepared to answer any questions.
He only promised to forward the letters to his CSR department.
* Peru Gets Us$12 Million In Anti-dumping Duty On Chinese Clothing:
Nearly US$ 12 million has been collected in the first quarter of this year in the form of anti-dumping duty imposed on garments of Chinese origin in December last year, Foreign Trade Society of Peru (Comex) reported.
Last December, the National Institute for Defense Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI) imposed anti-dumping duties on five types of clothing imported from China.
The state’s agency carried out this mechanism in order to neutralize the damage caused to the Peruvian domestic industry due to imports of clothing from China, which entered Peru at dumping prices.