Updated – articles 7 July 2014.
00:03:17 local time CHINA
* Strikes and worker protests gain momentum in China as economy stutters:
Strikes and worker protests in China continued to gather pace in the second quarter of 2014 as workers demanded higher pay, social security, wages in arrears and compensation for factory relocations etc.
The number of wage arrears cases in particular increased noticeably during the quarter, reaching 46 in June alone, as the lack of liquidity in the Chinese economy started to impact on manufacturing and construction.
In all, China Labour Bulletin recorded 235 incidents on our Strike Map during this period, 49 percent higher than the same period last year, which had 158 incidents, and 180 percent higher than the second quarter of 2012, which featured 84 incidents.
China’s factories were the focus of strike action in this quarter with nearly half the incidents (113 or 48 percent) occurring in the manufacturing sector. By far the biggest and most publicised strike was the massive two-week protest at the Yue Yuen shoe factory complex in Dongguan during April.
The strike was noticeable both for its sheer size – around 40,000 workers took part at its height – and the fact that workers’ demands included the payment in full of social security contributions.
* China stops 1,859 batches of imported clothes:
China’s quality watchdog on Friday said that it had stopped 1,859 batches of unqualified clothing last year.
Some 22,472 batches were examined in 2013, and 8.27 percent of them failed to meet the quality standards, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ) said in a report on its website.
For labelling, safety or environmental protection reasons, the batches were either returned or destroyed, said the GAQSIQ.
* Cashmere that cleans itself when left in daylight is developed by Hong Kong scientists:
A team at City University has developed a self-cleaning cashmere that uses energy from the sun.
The technology coats cashmere fibres with tiny particles that help break down bacteria, dirt and even coffee and wine stains.
“Within 24 hours of daylight exposure, any red wine or coffee stains were gone,” said Walid Daoud, assistant professor in City University’s school of energy and environment and the lead researcher on the project.
Daoud and other researchers have applied a coating of the mineral anatase titanium dioxide to cotton and wool since 2002, but this is the first time the technology has been applied to cashmere, a fabric that is notoriously expensive to clean.
Daoud said retaining the softness of the fabric and preventing damage to the delicate fibres from the oxidisation process was a “huge challenge”.
00:03:17 local time PHILIPPINES
* EcoWaste warns against toxic raincoats:
Toxic waste watchdog EcoWaste Coalition has warned the public against toxic raincoats made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic.
The group said that PVC raincoats are being sold in Manila and Pasay City from P130 to P200 each.
The raincoats, the group said, contain additives like lead which is a toxic metal that can harm the brain.
In the recent analysis conducted by SGS, a global testing company, the five samples had lead in the range of 164 parts per million (ppm) to 574 ppm, way above the permissible limit of 100 ppm for lead in accessible substrate materials under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
Among the rain gears containing toxic additives include a “Tweety Bird” yellow rain coat with 574 ppm of lead (yellow material), a yellow student rain coat with 243 ppm of lead, a “Winnie the Pooh” yellow rain coat with 217 ppm of lead, a “Tweety Bird” yellow rain coat with 190 ppm of lead and a “Mickey Mouse” blue rain coat with 164 ppm of lead.
23:03:17 local time VIET NAM
* Garment material imports rise 20% in H1:
The garment and textile sector’s raw material imports jumped 20.6% in the first six months of the year toUS$7.7 billion, the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas) reports.
- Garment industry stands firm in global market
- Garment exports hit US$7.44 billion
- Making breakthroughs for garment and textile sector
Specifically, fabric imports were valued at US$4.63 billion, up 17.5% over last year, followed by accessories (US$1.5 billion, up 30.5%), and fibre (US$749 million, up 3.5%).
The country’s total garment and textile export turnover reached US$10.4 billion in the first half of 2014, 18.4% higher than the previous year.
* Vinatex pins hope on IPO:
The Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) is completing final steps for its Initial Public Offering (IPO) scheduled for July 22 at the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange with great hope for a breakthrough in its development following equitisation.
Vinatex will be the first State-owned group to be equitised, with the State still holding a majority stake (51 percent), according to Le Tien Truong, the group’s Vice Director General.
He added that when market conditions permit, shares held by the State will continue to be sold with the aim of gradually reducing the State stake to under 51 percent. At the same time, the group will issue more share to raise its charter capital.
* Korean investment grows in textile and garment sector:
Korean investors are showing greater interest in Vietnam’s textile and garment sector.
In early June, a big fibre manufacturing plant was launched in the southern province of Dong Nai, marking a growing presence of Korean investment in Vietnam’s textile and garment sector.
The $52 million project, belonging to Dong-IL Vietnam Limited under the Dong-IL group, is located in Dong Nai’s Loc An-Binh Son Industrial Park and is Dong-IL’s first project in the country.
The plant has an estimated capacity of 9,000 tonnes per year and will come on-line mid next year to supply the domestic market, as well as other Asian markets.
Dong-IL Vietnam’s managing director Suh Min Sok said he expects the project to help attract other Korean investors to the Vietnamese market.
Unlike Dong-IL, Sea-A group has been operating in Vietnam for nearly six years and has a garment plant based in the north-central province of Thanh Hoa. It is run by Winners Vina Limited, a unit under Sea-A.
The $12 million facility turns out seven million products a year and has a workforce of 3,000.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 6/7 (17th item).
* More than 1.6 million rural labourers benefit from vocational training project:
More than 1.6 million rural labourers received vocational training between 2010 and 2013 under a project on rural vocational training until 2020, it was reported at a July 4 meeting of the Central Steering Committee for implementing the project.
However, the figure was equal to only 85 percent of the set target, the report said, adding that nearly 1.2 million of the trained labourers were able to get new jobs or earned higher incomes from their existing ones.
* Nation pushed to achieve higher growth:
Viet Nam is working on a plan to achieve annual growth of 8 – 9 per cent for the next five years, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam told a business forum in HCM City on Thursday.
Speaking at Forbes Viet Nam’s first Annual Business Forum, he said Viet Nam can only keep up with other countries in the region if it achieves such growth rates, which are much higher than during the previous five years when average growth was only 5 – 6 percent.
“Viet Nam’s economy has emerged from a difficult period and has been showing signs of recovery. There remain many challenges, but also many new opportunities thanks to the concerted efforts by the Government.”
23:03:17 local time CAMBODIA
* Workers Continue Strike Over Change to Pay Day:
About 1,000 workers from the Canteran factory in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district continued to strike on Saturday over a decision to push back the day they are paid.
The workers have been on strike since Thursday after being told they will be paid on the 10th day of the month instead of the fifth or sixth.
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said the policy change had come without prior warning.
“The workers have to pay their rents, food costs and other expenses, since they are due that day,” he said.
Yin Sotha, 34, factory representative of the Collective Union, said the managers of the factory, which supplies garments to U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart, had been consistently late in paying workers for months before announcing the official change.
* Registration of garment factories up in first half:
The number of garment factories registered in Cambodia reached 1,200 at the end of June, an 8 per cent increase over six months ago, according to data released by the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft.
The report also showed that the garment sector employed 733,300 workers at the end of last month, up from 677,600 at the end of 2013.
“It is a good sign for the industry,” Mean Sophea, undersecretary of state at the ministry, said.
Sophea refused to comment on what the growth rate might mean for the sector following months of unrest after a nationwide minimum wage strike turned violent in January, with five people killed when police opened fire on protesters with live rounds.
* BetterFacrories Media updates 19 June-4 July 2014, Garment industry strikes flouring the law, factory monitors say:
* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-06-20 Workers take strike to ministry
2014-06-24 Ocean to stay shuttered until July 9
2014-06-24 Strikes spur target rollback
2014-06-25 Union boss to appeal $25K bail
2014-06-27 Factory reopens amid strike
2014-06-30 Fifty faint in one day at factory
2014-06-30 Workers win seniority pay
2014-07-01 Anti-union bias in factories
2014-07-01 Wage raise decision in Oct gov’t
2014-07-03 Labour initiative launches
2014-07-03 Six months on, no justice for shootings
2014-07-04 Hundreds to march after failed talks
2014-07-04 More factory data released
* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-06-20 UN envoy meets employers over labor unrest
2014-06-20 Workers take contract demands to ministry
2014-06-26 Bangladesh’s neighbors yet to learn from Rana Plaza disaster
2014-06-28-29 Factory administrator beaten in protest brawl
2014-06-30 Garment workers continue protest after factory owner flees
2014-06-30 Workers faint en masse at coat factory in Bavet
2014-07-01 Garment industry strikes flouring the law, factory monitors say
2014-07-01 Garment wage plan set; some unions hold out
2014-07-01 Striking workers settle for 50 percent of their pay demands
2014-07-02 Garment truck smashes into tree, injuring 45
2014-07-03 200 Factory workers protest against forced overtime
2014-07-03 Court urged to suspend garment union leader
2014-07-04 ILO says shaming factories leading to improved standards
BetterFacrories Media updates Overview here.
21:48:17 local time NEPAL
* Nepal proposes holding TIFA meet with US in August:
The Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS) has proposed to hold the long overdue talks on Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the US government next month.
The ministry and the Office of the United States Trade Representative had previously agreed to hold the meeting in Kathmandu in the last week of June. But it could not be held at that time due to the inability of the US official to visit Nepal.
“We have now proposed that the talks be held in August. We are communicating with the Office of the US Trade Representative via the US Embassy in Kathmandu on the matter. But the American side has not confirmed the date,” MoCS Joint Secretary Jib Raj Koirala told The Himalayan Times.
Nepal and the US had signed TIFA on April 15, 2011, to monitor trade and investment relations between the two countries, identify opportunities for expanding trade and investment, and identify relevant issues, such as those related to the protection of intellectual property rights, worker rights, and the environment.
TIFA was expected to give a new lease of life to the Nepali readymade garment industry, which has been suffering since the US abolished the multi-fibre arrangement quota system on January 1, 2005.
Nepal’s third-country exports of readymade garments, which stood at Rs 11.89 billion in fiscal year 2002-03, dropped to Rs 6.04 billion by fiscal 2004-05. Such exports stood at Rs 4.44 billion at the end of 10 months of the current fiscal.
Since the abolishment of multi-fibre agreement, the US has introduced a facility called Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) to promote economic growth in the developing world, under which preferential duty-free entry is provided for over 4,000 Nepali products destined for the US market.
The facility, however, has excluded most of the textile and apparel products.
22:03:17 local time BANGLADESH
* Workers at CEPZ foreign factory carries ransack for wage hike:
The workers of a Readymade garment (RMG) at Chittagong Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) ransacked in a Hong Kong-based foreign factory, demanding wage hike and summer allowances on Sunday.
CEPZ thana police said the workers were agitating since 8am this morning at the ‘Denim Jeans Limited’, a Hong Kong-based factory, demanding 10 percent hike on their gross wages and summer allowances at the Sector-7 of the EPZ.
Officer in Charge of CEPZ thana Abul Monsure said over 2000 workers started vandalizing the factory at one stage of their demonstration.
“Police rushed to the spot and took control of the situation,” he said.
Nazim Uddin, a worker of ‘Denim Jeans Limited’ claimed that they were got a 10 percent hike on their gross wages. However, the factory owners gave them a 10 percent increment on basis of their basic wages, he alleged.
read more. & to read.
* RMG workers stage protests in Savar, CEPZ:
Workers of Green Life factory had put work on hold since yesterday morning
Ready-made garment (RMG) workers of several factories in Dhaka and Chittagong staged protests yesterday in their respective factories over wage-related issues.
In the capital’s Savar area, workers of Green Life Knit Composite Ltd and ZA Apparels Ltd in Ashulia and Snow White Composite Ltd in Akran staged protests over the delay in wage payment, reports our Savar correspondent.
Workers of Green Life factory had put work on hold since yesterday morning as the factory owners failed to pay their due wages of two months on Saturday as promised, said several factory workers as well as police sources.
In Snow White factory, workers staged an agitation movement and vandalised the factory as the owners owed them three months’ pay and were stalling the payments.
* Jute mill workers stage demo in Khulna:
Workers of private jute mills blocked the Jessore-Khulna highway on three different spots for three hours on Sunday morning, demanding reopening of the closed down jute mills and payment of their dues.
Witnesses said private jute mill workers under the banner of “Besarkari Pat, Suta, Bastrakol Sangram Parishad” blocked the Jessore-Khulna highway at Shiromoni, Phulbari Gate and Mirer Dhanda areas from 9am to 12pm, creating tailbacks on both sides of the highway.
The Sangram Parishad also gave an ultimatum to the authorities till July 9 to meet their demands. They threatened to enforce tougher programmes if their demands are not met.
Meanwhile, workers of state-owned jute mills staged demonstrations in front of their mills protesting the government’s move to transform Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) into a holding company.
* RMG retailers want 5 more units shut for structural faults:
Groups of European and North American retailers have recently provided the names of five more readymade garment factories to the government-set review committee with the suggestion of immediate evacuation from the factories as their inspection teams have detected structural faults in the units.
Of the five factories, three are on the inspection list of Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a group of EU retailers, and two others are on the list of Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a group of North American apparel companies, retailers and brands, according to the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments.
Accord’s teams detected faults in a building of Fakir Apparels Limited at Narayanganj, Oishi Fashions at Gazipur and Ashulia Fashions at Mirpur in Dhaka.
Alliance’s teams detected faults in Clifton Apparels in Chittagong and Thats’ It Fashions Ltd at Tejgaon in the capital.
Meanwhile, the review committee comprised of representatives from the government, Accord, Alliance, BUET, BGMEA and BKMEA on Sunday decided that the production at the six factories which are housed in a faulty building at Mirpur in the capital would remain suspended.
The owners of the factories except one kept suspended production at the units from late April after the inspection teams of Accord had found serious structural faults at Cherry Ltd and Florence Fashions Ltd and had suggested that review committee should suspend production at the factories housed in the building.
* Sweater factory gutted in Tongi :
A ready-made garment factory was gutted by a fire at Sataish road of the city’s Tongi area on Saturday afternoon.
Fire service officials said the fire originated on the third floor of ‘SS Sweater’ around 4:30pm and it soon raged through the fourth and fifth floors of the seven-storey building, Chaiti Complex.
On information, six firefighting units from Tongi and Joydevpur rushed in and doused the blaze after hectic efforts of around two hours.
The reason behind the fire could not be known yet.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Fire at Tongi RMG factory: 10 – 25 hurt:
At least 25 people were injured in a fire which has broken out at a Readymade Garment (RMG) factory on Sataish road of Tongi today.
Quoting survivors, fair service and police said the fire originated around 4.30 pm at SS and Fame Sweaters that is housed on the fourth floor of Chaity Complex and fire immediately spread to other floors of the building.
All the injured had given treatment to different hospitals including Tongi Government Hospital.
Seven units from Tongi and Gazipur and Kurmitola fire services rushed to the spot to douse the flame. Tongi fire service suspect that the fire originated from electric short-circuit.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Pay Eid bonus to RMG workers before 20th Ramadan: Rally :
Ready-made garment workers here on Friday demanded payment of their Eid bonuses and arrears before the 20th of Ramadan.
Addressing a rally in front of the Jaitya Press Clubin the capital, workers’ leaders also demanded Eid bonus amounting to their salaries of the workers, saying ministers, MPs, and the public servants get Eid bonus equal to their basic salary.
They said many garment owners have already gone abroad in the name of marketing garment products so that they can avoid paying bonuses and salaries of workers before Eid.
Many owners in association with local criminals are giving threat to garment workers’ leaders so that they cannot raise their voice demanding arrears and bonuses on the occasion of Eid, the workers’ leaders said.
Chaired by Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre president Sadekur Rahman Shamim, the rally was addressed, among others, by its general secretary Kazi Ruhul Amin, workers’ leaders KM Mito, Ziaul Kabir and Iqbal Hosain.
to read. & read more.
* Garment workers demand festival allowance:
Leaders of two garment workers rights bodies at separate rallies on Friday demanded payment of their festival allowance and arrear wages before Ramadan 20.
Garment Sramik Trade Union Kendra and Garments Sramik Front held separate protest rallies in front of the National Press Club to press for their demands.
KM Ruhul Amin, general secretary of Garment Trade Union Kendra, demanded festival allowance for the garment workers equal to wage of one month, which must be paid before Ramadan 20.
Garment workers are low paid and they would not be able to enjoy the Eid-ul-Fitr if they do not get bonus within Ramadan 20, Ruhul said.
* Govt-appointed RMG factory inspection yet to resume:
Delay in completing first phase reports, experts’ tussle blamed
The government-initiated readymade garment (RMG) factory assessment programme is yet to resume even after six months have passed.
Sources have attributed this to delay in completing the first-phase inspection reports, ending disputes between the local and foreign experts over inspection standards and resolving some other procedural complexities.
On the other hand, remediation of non-compliant garment factories hit snags as majority of the owners are yet to get inspection reports with corrective action plan even after six months of inspection done by the BUET, they added.
On June 26, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), in a letter, requested the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) for giving the inspection reports to the factory authorities.
* Govt decides to make inspection reports on RMG units public:
The government has finally decided to make the reports on assessment of garment factories public following pressure coming from both local and international sources.
The National Tripartite Committee (NTC) at a meeting chaired by labour secretary Mikail Shipar held last Wednesday took the decision to make the inspection reports, prepared by the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), public, sources said.
“The garment factory inspection reports will be uploaded shortly at the DIFE database after formulating the common template,” Mr Shipar told the FE.
A common format is needed to make all the inspection reports-Accord, Alliance and BUET-public, he said adding the technical persons in cooperation with the ILO are working in this regard.
Recently the Human Rights Watch (HRW) 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.
* Second phase of govt-sponsored scheme yet to start in 6 months:
A file photo shows a woman passing by a readymade garment unit in the capital. The government has failed to start the 2nd phase of its safety inspection to the RMG factories even after six months of the competition of the first phase of the assessment. — New Age photo
The government has failed to start the 2nd phase of its safety inspection to the readymade garment factories even after six months of the competition of the first phase of the assessment due to some technical and procedural complexities.
Even the remediation programme at the factories where the government teams found safety risk during the 1st phase of the inspection has not started as the factory owners are yet to get the assessment reports.
In the aim of ensuring fire and building safety in the RMG sector, the government in association with the International Labour Organisation on November 22 last year started formal inspection to the factories which are not on the inspection lists published by EU Accord and North American Alliance.
In the first phase of the inspection, experts of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology inspected fire, electrical and structural safety in 200 factories by January.
After the completion of the 1st phase of the inspection, it took 3-4 months the process of preparing reports as per the requirement of the ILO.
Although the BUET prepared the reports on 200 inspected units by January, an ILO-appointed consultancy agency asked the BUET to review the reports further and wanted colour mark grading depending on the risk factors.
* Only one factory shuts after inspection by Alliance:
Primary inspection of 605 units ends this week
Only one garment factory was shut out of 600 units inspected by Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a platform of 26 US-based retailers and brands.
Alliance was tasked with inspecting 605 factories and the process will be complete this week, said Rabin Mesbah, managing director of Alliance’s Bangladesh operations.
However, the platform, which started inspection in the first week of March, recommended closure of seven factories, but a review panel allowed five units to continue production, while a decision on one factory is due tomorrow.
Alliance engineers detected some flaws in the factory buildings such as electrical safety problems, overloading of goods on different floors, insufficient exit capacity, and absence of sprinklers.
“The primary inspection will come to an end by this week,” Mesbah said, adding that follow-up inspection and monitoring will continue for the next five years to see progress in the corrective action plan.
* Dyeing factory fined in Gazipur:
The Department of Environment (DOE) fined on Thursday a dyeing factory for polluting environment and the surroundings by operating the factory in the restricted area without setting up an Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP).
Director of DOE Md Alamgir fined Trust Knitwear Industries Limited at Bhabanipur area of Gazipur Sadar upazila Tk 76 lakh as part of regular anti-polluting drive. Assistant Director of DOE Hafizur Rahman said the authorities of Trust Knitwear Industries Limited have been operating a dyeing factory near Bhawal National Park area in Gazipur sadar upazila without permission of Forest Department.
The government has restricted the area for establishment of industries.
The factory authorities have also been operating the factory without implementation of ETP thus polluting environment and damaging biodiversity for a long time.
* Chinese co seeks details on land status, payment:
Bausia Garment Park
A Chinese state-owned multinational company has sought details on 29 issues relating to acquisition of land and payment before setting up the Bausia Garment Park in Munshiganj district.
The Chinese Orient International (Holding) Co Ltd, which earlier signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) for setting up the park, has sent a letter in this connection to the apex apparel sector trade body.
In the letter the company sought to know about the land status, its registration, payment modalities and such other issues prior to launching a feasibility study on the project, BGMEA Vice President SM Hannan ( Kochi) told the FE Thursday.
* Lower cost of fund encourages textile companies to go public:
7 cos raise Tk 374.17cr in FY14 against Tk 179cr by 3 cos in FY13
Lower cost of fund has attracted apparel companies to the country’s capital market that resulted in 109.03 per cent or Tk 195.17 crore increase in fund collection by the sector in the just concluded fiscal year 2013-14 compared with that of the previous fiscal year.
Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission in the fiscal year allowed seven companies of the textile sector to collect fund worth Tk 374.17 crore compared to Tk 179 crore to three companies in the previous year.
The textile firms feel attracted to enter the stock market instead of banking sector to collect fund for their business expansion as the cost of fund in the capital market is low, experts in the banking sector said.
* Cotton output touches record level:
Use of more lands, hybrid seeds main factors
The country produced a record of 144,616 bales of cotton in the just concluded fiscal year (FY), 2013-14, marking a growth of 12 per cent as against the previous fiscal.
In fiscal 2012-13, the total cotton production was about 129,000 bales from 39,756 hectares of land.
“In the just concluded season, the farmers used more lands and hybrid seeds than the previous one, and subsequently the output was very good,” Dr. Farid Uddin, additional director of Bangladesh Cotton Development Board, told The Financial Express.
The production has increased about three times during the last five years and witnessed a rising trend. But, the volume is still too small compared to the national demand of over 4.0 million bales, said Mansoor Ahmed, secretary of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA).
Domestic production of cotton, the main raw material of textile industry, can hardly meet 3-5 percent of the country’s total demand.
Out of the total 41,498 hectares of land brought under cotton cultivation in the last fiscal, some 24,855 hectares were in plane land, while the rest 16,643 were in the hilly areas. Of the plane lands, some about 10-15 per cent were brought under hybrid cotton cultivation using hybrid seeds. The farmers now feel encouraged to use hybrid seeds, especially the Chinese hybrid variety, said Farid Uddin.
The hybrid seeds came at a time when cotton production was suffering a gradual decline because of the farmers’ lack of interest. The country’s cotton production in 2005-06 stood at 77,000 bales from 49,770 hectares of land, but dropped to 70,530 bales from 42,100 hectares in 2006-07.
* Sharp fall in export from jute mills in Khulna, Jessore :
Jute goods export from state-owned jute mills of Khulna-Jessore industrial belt has registered a sharp fall of 38.65 percent in the just concluded fiscal compared to its preceding fiscal.
Industry insiders put the blame on lack of demand in global market, particularly the political instability in major importing countries.
According to Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC), about 31,647-tonne jute goods was exported from nine state-run jute mills of the region till the first week of June in the fiscal 2013-14, against the export of 81,881-tonne in the fiscal 2012-13.
21:33:17 local time INDIA
* Labouring for flexibility:
Rigid labour laws have had serious implications for industry, which now hopes that Rajasthan’s initial steps will be replicated in other states
In the Budget session of the Rajasthan Assembly starting next week, the Vasundhara Raje-led government in Rajasthan will table amendments to certain labour-related Acts.
If passed by the House and approved by the President, employers in Rajasthan will have the right to retrench up to 300 workers without seeking the permission of the government, up from 100 currently. There will also be a three-year limit within which to raise disputes, the percentage of workers needed to register a union will be increased from 15 per cent to 30 per cent and the provisions of the Contract Labour Act will be applicable only to companies with more than 50 workers, as opposed to 20 at present.
Simultaneously, the Union government has also proposed changes to four labour-related laws – Minimum Wages Act, Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, Factories Act and Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers) Act – and has invited comments about the amendments.
This includes standardising minimum wages nationally and doing away with a rule that prohibits women from working in factories at night.
* India’s technical textile market may touch $32 billion by 2023: Study:
Currently, Indian textiles and apparel industry is estimated to be worth $99 billion
Country’s technical textiles market which is currently estimated at $14 billion is likely to reach a level of $32 billion by 2023, by diversifying towards non-woven technical textiles and forging global partnerships with counterparts, according to a study.
The study conducted by PHD Chamber of Commerce released today further states that textiles and apparel industry size would balloon to $226 billion by 2023.
Currently, Indian textiles and apparel industry is estimated to be worth $99 billion which includes both domestic consumption and exports. It is projected to grow at a CAGR of 8.6% to reach $226 billion.
* Cotton yarn exports decline:
The fall has continued even after April and stocks started piling up in the spinning mills, though mills have yet not reduced the production
Cotton yarn export is on the decline this financial year, thanks to weak demand from China, the largest importer of India’s cotton yarn.
The export fell to 99.92 million kg in April this financial year compared to 115.96 million kg during the same period last year, according to data released by Directorate General of Foreign Trade. The fall has continued even after April and stocks started piling up in the spinning mills, though mills have yet not reduced the production.
Dollar appreciation against the rupee has made Indian cotton yarn not viable to importers. At the start of the financial year, rupee stood at Rs 59.89 per dollar. The dollar hit a high of Rs 61.09 per dollar in April.
* Indian spinning sector spins growth in FY’14:
* Woes of jute mill workers to end soon:
State government has decided to hold talks with owners on lockout issue. With a solution in sight after such a long time, INTUC leaders expressed their happiness.
The State government on Sunday directed the management of Chittivalasa Jute Mills to reopen it immediately.
After a meeting initiated by Minister for Higher Education Ganta Srinivasa Rao at the Circuit House and attended by Minister for Labour K. Atcham Naidu and top officials, it was decided to convene a meeting with owners of the mill to lift the ‘lockout’ imposed on April 20, 2009.
Labour Commissioner B. Ramanjaneyulu, Joint Labour Commissioner S. Lakshminarayana, Chittivalasa Jute Mill Workers’ Union president K.K. Varahala Raju, INTUC district president Mantri Rajasekhar, district general secretary Neerukonda Ramachandra Rao and others attended.
The meeting was convened by Mr. Srinivasa Rao, who represents Bhimili constituency, in response to a news item published in these columns last week under the headline “Workers’ union to move SC for reopening of jute mill.” The report highlighted the plight of the workers due to closure of the mill for over five years.
“The mill’s ownership has become sub judice following a dispute with the owners and another party which paid advance to them for buying it. Hence, we wanted to file an affidavit in the Supreme Court to open it immediately on humanitarian grounds,” workers’ union president Varahala Raju told The Hindu.
* Jute industry looks to divine intervention:
From being the foundation of industrial conglomerates jute is today struggling to find takers
Around a century ago, the southern banks of Hooghly River was dotted by jute mills, which then formed the lifeline of the economy in undivided India. With private jetties and a steady business, jute laid the foundation of many an industrial conglomerate of the present day.
The good times have ebbed and the last thirty years has seen the industry on a downstream journey, and it now has to seek divine intervention hoping to turn the tide. The golden fibre has lost its sheen and its Midas touch.
Although the interests of 40 lakh raw jute farmers and 2.5 lakh workers employed directly by the industry are involved, the industry stayed on the sidelines till the Northbrook jute mill incident opened up its festering wounds.
The lynching of the CEO of a mill by irate workers on June 15 was less of militant trade unionism and more of manifestation of a deeper malaise afflicting the industry. A spate of lockouts followed, throwing out of employment nearly 20,000 as mill managements sought cover. Some of these units have since reopened but the industry fears similar reprisals if the situation does not improve.
21:33:17 local time SRI LANKA
* Labour leaders flex muscle, stage walkout:
Over neglected workers’ problems
All Trade Union representatives in the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) staged a walkout of the meeting held at 3 p.m. yesterday (4) for the first time in the history of the council.
General Secretary of the Ceylon Mercantile, Industrial and General Workers Union (CMU) Bala Tampoe told The Island that the walkout had been staged in protest against the failure on the part of Labour Minister Gamini Lokuge and his ministry to give due consideration to crucial issues affecting the workers such as the non-implementation of the National Workers’ Charter, delay in formulating a reliable Cost of living index in consultation with the workers’ representatives and the investment of EPF and ETF funds in shaky ventures, among other things.
* New apparel training centre to come up in Jaffna:
* Apparel exports to hit $ 5 billion this year:
Sri Lanka’s apparel exports have been exceptional during the past few years despite the withdrawal of the GSP Plus trade concessions and the global economic turmoil, Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association (SLEA) data revealed.
Apparel export turnover has grown several-fold despite the global economic slow down affecting Sri Lanka’s key markets such as the US and Europe which import a large quantity of apparel, said SLEA President Yohan Lawrence.
Apparel exports in the first four months of this year increased 23 percent to US$ 1,536.3 million from US$ 1,248.8 million in the corresponding period of last year.
Overall exports to the US recorded a growth of 21.9 percent while exports to the EU recorded a 23 percent growth.
Cumulative exports to other countries increased by 26.8 percent.
Export income will reach US$ 5 billion this year.
“Export revenue will increase exponentially within the next two to three years as the industry is targeting new markets. With the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China in the pipeline and FTAs with other regional countries, apparel export income will reach around US$ 6 billion within the next six years,” Lawrence said.
The cumulative export income increased from US$ 1,021.5 million in the first four months of 2009 to US$ 1,536.3 million in the corresponding period of this year. Exports to the US increased from US$ 449.7 million to US$ 651.2 million this year and exports to the EU increased from 508.5 million to US$ 701.1 million.
Exports to other countries increased from US$ 63.3 million to US$ 184 million.
21:03:17 local time PAKISTAN
* Welcome relief: 10.5% raise in loom workers’ wages:
District Coordination Officer (DCO) Noorul Amin Mengal on Sunday announced a 10.5% increase in the wages of power loom workers in Faisalabad district.
The DCO was chairing a meeting in this regard. He said the increase in the power loom workers’ wages was imperative due to the prevailing price hike and inflation.
“The poor loom workers labour day and night, but their hard work is cashed on by factory owners, who do not pay them they due wages,” the DCO said.
He ordered all power loom owners to ensure that the workers’ wages were increased. “All factory owners should raise the salaries of their employees. Otherwise, legal action will be taken against them,” he said.
The DCO also formed a committee to ensure that the orders were implemented. MNA Mian Abdul Manan will supervise the working of the committee and address problems of power loom workers.
* Mismanagement of power supply irks traders in Punjab:
Textile industry circles accused Ministry of Water and Power (MoWP) of causing unrest among traders in the country by mismanagement of power supply to the Punjab-based textile industry.
Speaking to Business Recorder on Saturday, the concerned circles pointed out that an imprudent approach of ministry officials was pushing the situation to the point of no return, as the Punjab-based textile industry was mulling the option of going on strike for indefinite period from next week.
According to the power sector circles, the data of Iesco, Lesco, Fesco, Gepco and Mepco reflects that the ministry was observing variable power loadshedding from three to six hours for domestic consumers while imposing a flat loadshedding schedule of 10 hours a day for the Punjab-based textile industry.
This is negation of the Supreme Court’s verdict of equitable distribution of electricity among consumers, Nepra policy on loadshedding schedule and government’s commitment with the IMF on the subject, they added.
* Energy crisis: APTMA threatens to close Punjab textile mills:
The Punjab-based textile millers have unanimously decided to close their mills in protest of SNGPL unfavourable load management schedule, however a final decision will be taken at their high-powered meeting on Monday, sources told Daily Times on Saturday.
APTMA Punjab leadership has rejected new gas load management schedule of the SNGPL and said that it was not possible to operate mills on one shift and lay off 600,000 workers of two-shift operations in the Holy month of Ramadan.
Further, the APTMA leadership has given two days to the government to review its decision, followed by another emergent meeting of the Punjab-based textile mills on 7th July to strategize the option of permanent closure of mills.
According to the APTMA spokesman, the Punjab-based textile millers have unanimously passed a resolution urging the government to continue with 24 hours a day energy supply and 14 hours a day energy supply will not be acceptable.
The general body unanimously remorse that the government was forcing the APTMA to close down mills in Punjab permanently, which would leave one million workers jobless across the province.
* Punjab industry rejects new gas outage plan:
The large-scale textile factories face complete shutdown of 10 hours a day owing to a change in the gas supply schedule for the captive power generation under the new government decision to divert gas to power plants to meet growing domestic and commercial electricity demand during night.
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) immediately rejected the new schedule, saying the association would defy the decision because it would lead to redundancies in Punjab where the industry was already struggling under massive energy shortages and high electricity prices.
Aptma has also called a meeting of its membership from Punjab on Monday to decide whether to close down the factories completely or launch protest campaign against the change in the schedule that will result in huge production losses and delay export orders.
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* Textile sector: APTMA cries foul over load-shedding again:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Chairman Muhammad Yasin Siddik has urged the government not to increase load-shedding for the textile industry as it will badly affect production.
The industry has an over 50% share in the country’s total exports and, Siddik reminded, the government that the textile industry is the largest export foreign exchange earner and provides the highest level of employment after the agriculture sector.
“The new load management schedule announced by the SNGPL and Wapda, in which there is 10-hour daily electricity load-shedding and daily gas supply of six hours, is not a workable plan,” said Siddik. “The feasibility of the industry is based on a 24-hour working day and the industry based in Punjab is getting gas and electricity for only fourteen hours.”
* Cotton market: mills, spinners resort to cautious buying:
Mills and spinners indulged in cautious buying on the cotton market on Saturday in the process of slow trading, dealers said.
The official spot rate was unchanged at Rs 6,350, they added. While, the prices of seed cotton from Sindh at Rs 3300 and Rs 3325, and in the Punjab rates were at Rs 3400 and Rs 3450, they said. In the ready session, about 400 bales of cotton sold at Rs 6350-6400, they said.
Some brokers said that most of the mills and spinners were not interested in fresh deals due to quality factor. Monsoon rains are beneficial for the standing crops but growers said that rains may be delayed this season.
* Spinning industry on the verge of closure:
Punjab may witness the first-ever closure of spinning industry as the textile industry has been jolted severely with 10-hour power load shedding, The News learnt on Saturday.
The textile sector praised the present government when during the severe gas and power shortages in winter, the federal government ensured its 24/7 operations. During power load shedding of 6 to 8 hours the industry will get gas supplies. The spinners could then operate their gas run generators to ensure uninterrupted operations.
“The viability of spinning industry is linked to 24/7 operations,” said Gohar Ejaz, the group leader of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma).
Except for a day off on 10th of Muharam, the spinning industry operated even on festive occasions, like Eid. The industry is fully aware of the current power and energy shortages in the country.
Though gas is the preferred fuel for the industry, in view of its severe shortage it proposed the government to at least supply this fuel when there is a power load shedding. Ejaz said Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif coordinated with the federal government institutions to accept this proposal of the industry.
* Carpet export decline deprives 0.5m people of employment:
Pakistan’s carpet exports have witnessed a sharp decline of more than 60 per cent during the last six years as hand-made carpets export has dropped to $120 million from $300 million, depriving almost 0.5 million people of their employment.
The acute shortage of electricity, bad law and order, ever-soaring inflation, shortage of skilled labour force and high mark-up rate are the reasons of sharp decline in carpet exports.
Pakistan Carpet Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PCMEA) Major Akhtar Nazir Khan Cooki (Retd) and Vice Chairman (North Zone), Kamran Razi in their joint statement said that industry is in dire need of the government help, which can provide it at some ad-hock relief on carpet export to revive the ailing industry, besides helping 0.5 million unemployed people to return to work.
“The carpet sector cannot benefit from the duty-free access to EU market under GSP Plus status unless the government will restore zero-rated facility.
A significant ratio of working capital of carpet exporters is already stuck-up in refund regime at a time when the carpet export is declining,” said Major Akhtar Nazir.
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