10:00:36 local time CHINA
* China’s online clothing sales to reach 615 bln yuan:
The online garment transactions are expected to reach 615.3 billion yuan (about $98.5 billion) in 2014, said China E-Commerce Research Center (CECRC) on Tuesday.
The figure is increase of 41.5 percent and expected to cover about 22 percent of total online transactions in 2014, said the CECRC forecast, with online platfroms and physical stores supplementing each other.
In 2013, China’s online clothing sales were estimated to reach 434.9 billion yuan, a 43 percent year-on-year increase. Garment purchases covered more than 76.3 percent of total online shopping.
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09:00:36 local time VIET NAM
* Vietnam’s garment sector set to balloon following trade pacts:
Vietnam’s garment and textile sector has been expanding into major overseas markets and will do even better after several free trade pacts are finalized, according to industry insiders.
* Six-month footwear exports see strong surge:
Vietnam earned 4.8 billion USD from exporting footwear in the first haft of this year, a year-on-year increase of 21.9 percent.
This is mainly thanks to the Generalise System of Preferences (GSP) tax offered by the European Union (EU) from January 2014 to Vietnamese exporters, experts said.
Besides, with the political stability, the abundant workforce and the high quality of the products, Vietnam has won many contracts from foreign importers.
The earnings from footwear export to the traditional markets of the US, Japan, Belgium, and Germany saw a stable soar in the reviewed period, while those from a number of other markets such as Chile, Greece and Poland also surged drastically.
09:00:36 local time CAMBODIA
* Ocean loses case: Bosses told to pay out lost wages:
The Arbitration Council Foundation yesterday ruled that a Phnom Penh garment factory that announced it was closing for a month must pay employees 100 per cent of the wages they would have earned during that period.
Ocean Garment factory announced on May 24 it would close until June 26, telling workers they would be paid $15 during that time, causing protest and a filing with the Arbitration Council. Ocean deputy general manager Salayddin Ahmed – who could not be reached yesterday – later said the factory would remain closed until at least July 9.
“The Arbitration Council has decided it will order the employer to pay full wages and benefits to workers during the time the workers were suspended,” a copy of the ruling obtained by the Post reads.
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said he would meet with workers and discuss a strategy in case Ocean, which remains closed, rejects the decision.
08:00:36 local time BANGLADESH
* 1 killed in city RMG fire:
A person was killed due to suffocation and three others were injured in a fire incident at a readymade garment unit in capital’s Kamrangirchar Kurer Ghat area on Thursday morning.
The identity of the deceased could not be known immediately.
Sources said that the fire originated around 7:00am, leaving a person dead on the spot and three others injured.
But the cause of fire origination could not be known immediately.
Fire Service Headquarter operator Jiban Mia said that two fire fighting units from Lalbagh rushed to the spot and brought the blaze under control.
Kamrangirchar Thana Sub-Inspector Raihan Ahmed confirmed the matter to banglanews.
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A worker has been burned to death and three others have been injured in a garment factory fire at Sultalganj in capital’s Kamrangirchar area on Thursday morning.
The deceased is Kabir Hossain, 30.
The fire broke at Mayer Doya factory in Sultanganj around 6:30am.
Fire Service sadar office operator Jibon Mia said: “On information, two units of the fire service went to the spot and bought the blaze under control around 7:30am.”
“The reason behind the fire could not be ascertained but it is primarily being estimated that the fire originated from an electric short circuit,” he said.
Kamrangirchar police station Inspector (Investigation) Kabir Hossain Hawlader said: “The workers were sleeping in the factory when the fire broke out.”
* Police disperse apparel workers using water cannon:
Police dispersed apparel workers at North Badda in Dhaka charging baton, firing teargas shells and using water cannons while they were demonstrating for the payment of their due wages on Wednesday.
The demonstration caused severe disruption of traffic on Rampura-Badda road.
Police said the workers of five units of ‘Toba Group’, took to the streets around 10:00am demanding that their three months’ outstanding salaries and overtime be cleared immediately, reports United News of Bangladesh.
They blocked the busy road halting traffic movement.
On information, additional force of police was deployed in the area and they freed the road dispersing the workers.
The traffic movement on the road returned to normalcy around 12:30pm.
The workers of Toba Group demonstrate blocking Kuril Bishwa Road demanding their due salaries. Photo: TV grab (DailyStar)
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* Cop action leaves 10 injured:
RMG Workers of Tuba Group: They were demanding arrears of two months blocking road in capital
Several hundred workers of five garment factories of Tuba Group, the parent company of Tazreen Fashions Ltd, blocked the Kuril Bishwa Road in the capital yesterday morning, demanding payment of two months’ arrears and the salary of the current month.
The half-an-hour blockade caused huge traffic chaos in the area before police rushed in and broke up the agitators, firing water canons and using batons, said Abdul Jalil, officer-in-charge of Badda Police Station. At least 10 demonstrators were injured, the workers claimed.
The protestors said they were not paid the salaries of May and June despite assurances from the authorities twice. Yesterday, about 400 to 500 workers gathered to collect the salaries as per an earlier assurance but the authorities broke the promise again, and the workers took to the street for that, they added.
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* RMG workers demand due pay, clash with police:
In both the cases, the RMG workers staged demonstrations demanding their due pay
Ready-made garment workers were locked into a clash with police yesterday in the capital’s Badda and Rampura areas, leaving around 20 people, including a policeman, injured.
In both the cases, the RMG workers staged demonstrations demanding their due pay.
In Badda, several hundred workers of Tuba Garments took to the streets around 11am to stage their demonstration. They agitated workers blocked the roads, halting the traffic in the area.
They clashed with police as police initiated to drive them away from the streets around 12pm, according to witnesses and police sources.
Police resorted to charge batons and lobbed tear gas canisters to disperse the agitating workers, who retaliated by throwing brick chips at police.
The incident resulted in severe traffic congestion in the area as well as panic among the commuters, the witnesses said.
Shefali Begum, a worker at Tuba Garments, said the factory authorities had not paid their dues in the past three months despite their repeated demands.
* RMG workers demands salary, bonus before Ramadan 25:
The Textile Garment Workers Federation has demanded that the readymade garment workers are paid their July salary and Eid bonus before Ramadan 25.
The demand was raised at press conference organised by the trade union in Dhaka on Wednesday.
President of the federation Abul Hossain and its general secretary Tapan Shaha were among those who spoke at the conference.
The leaders demanded that the recently closed garments factories be opened to provide jobs to those who lost work.
The leaders urged the government and the factory owners to find a solution to the problem.
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* Officials asked to release cash subsidy against RMG exports:
In response, Finance Minister asked the officials to ‘take immediate action’ in this regard
Readymade garment exporters have sought disbursement of cash subsidy within July 10 so they can pay the workers’ salary ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr and avert possible labour unrest.
BKMEA Acting President Hatem Ali sent a request letter to Finance Minister AMA Muhith last week, seeking immediate disbursement of the 5% cash subsidy on exports.
In response, the minister asked the officials to “take immediate action” in this regard.
According to the BKMEA letter, the garment factories are facing fund shortage ahead of eid due to payment of salaries at an increased rate.
* 20 injured in worker-staff clash:
RMG Worker’s Death
Over the death of a co-worker, a clash between the workers and management staff injured at least 20 people from both the sides at a readymade garment factory at Zirabo in Ashulia outside the capital yesterday.
Witnesses said the workers of Southern Design Ltd started demonstration in the morning, triggering the clash.
Workers said Abbas Ali, a packing man, fell sick during his duty at 9:00pm on Tuesday due to hard work. Later, he died at his Ashulia residence, they added.
The management forced the workers, including Abbas, to work till 9:00pm, although their normal duty was from 8:00am to 5:00pm, the workers alleged.
However, another admin official, seeking anonymity, said, “Due to work pressure for shipment delivery, the workers were forced to work overtime.”
* BGMEA boss worried about ‘politicisation of trade unions’:
The apparel industry, which is the mainstay of the economy, will collapse if trade unions are politicised, the country’s top garment leader warned yesterday.
Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said: “If the trade unions become politicised by the Awami League or BNP, the sector will be gone.”
The $22-billion industry has always been sceptical of the trade unions at factories, resisting formation of trade unions in the garment factories in the last three decades.
Things changed dramatically after the Tazreen Fire and Rana Plaza building collapse, as rights groups and development partners were unanimous that the deaths in the twin disasters could have been averted if there had been trade unions in those factories.
The global demand prompted the government to change the laws allowing workers to bargain for their rights in a major shift in the garment industry.
The number of registered trade unions stands at 323 today: many opened after the Rana Plaza disaster, according to the labour ministry.
“We have amended the labour law within 90 days after the Rana Plaza collapse, while the US took 26 years to do so,” he said, referring to the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York City a century ago that catalysed major labour reforms in the United States.
* Sericulture Board will be protected, says minister:
Textile and Jute Minister Imazuddin Pramanik at an exchange of view meeting with the officials and employees of Bangladesh Sericulture Development Board here Tuesday noon said the present government was not taking any decision against the interest of the labourers.
He further informed, the Prime Minister has directed the concerned ministers to proceed with the development works aiming at the improvement of lot of the labourer classes.
The minister assured the officials and employees of the Board that the Sericulture Board will be saved from all sort of conspiracies at all costs and all problems of the board will be resolved in phases including reopening of the sericulture mills in Rajshahi.
* PC sends back revised project to set up industrial estate:
Fresh controversy over project name
The Planning Commission (PC) has sent back the proposal of revising the project on setting up an industrial estate for the textile sector in Kushtia as a fresh controversy has surfaced over the name of the project, sources said.
The Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) officials said the PC declined to approve the project titled ‘Special Economic Zone (Textiles) Kumarkhali, Kushtia’ citing that it will create controversy with other government organisations.
Sources said Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal returned the project saying that the BSCIC has no legal right to set up Special Economic Zone as there are already two organisations-BEPZA (Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority) and BEZA (Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority) to set up such kinds of industrial parks.
* No new factory outside economic zone:
The incumbent government will not give any approval of new factory outside the exclusive economic zone, said industries minister Amir Hossain Amu.
The minister told media on Wednesday after the conference of Deputy Commissioners (DC) with the ministry of industries.
Amu said initiatives have been taken to move leather industry to Savar. Every factory must have to install Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP).
Sources from the conference said that there is no place for new industry in Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) zones in most of the districts. The Deputy Commissioners have demanded new acquirement of land.
Regarding this, the minister said that he expressed his opinion in favor of land acquisition. Besides, he had passed directives to cancel plot license of them who did not establish factories in BSCIC land.
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* Tofail urges admin to ready garment palli in 3 years:
Land acquisition going on in full swing
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed Wednesday urged the administration to help complete construction work of planned garment palli (village) at Bausia in Munshiganj district within the next three years.
“I call upon you (district administration) to complete the construction work of garment palli in three years’ time,” he told the media after addressing the deputy commissioners (DCs) on the second day of the ongoing DC Conference 2014 at the conference room of the cabinet division on the day.
The government felt the necessity of setting up a garment palli on 530 acres of land at Bausia to relocate the ready-made garment (RMG) factories, particularly set up in unplanned way at various localities of the capital.
* Govt should address labour leaders’ concerns about EPZ labour bill:
The allegation that the Bangladesh EPZ Labour Bill 2014 draft, approved in principle by the cabinet on Monday, is intended to allow anything but trade unions in export processing zones deserves the government’s attention.
Kabour leaders alleged, as New Age reported on Wednesday, that the bill fails to protect trade union rights, recognised by relevant conventions of the International Labour Organisation, which workers in many other sectors have enjoyed for long.
The bill, moreover, allows workers willing to form an association in any factory there to apply to the chairman of the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority, a body set up to protect business interest of factory owners whereas the prevailing labour law vests the trade union registration authority only in the labour directorate.
Besides, the provisions, including that requiring at least 30 workers of a factory to apply for permission to form an association are likely to complicate the process.
One could be forgiven to say that the bill is virtually aimed at appeasing the US administration that pressured the government by suspending the GSP facility in July 2013 after the Rana Plaza collapse, on the one hand, and asking the government to fulfil 16 conditions, including allowing trade unions in EPZs as soon as possible in case it wants to regain the facility, on the other.
Even though EPZ workers receive more in wages and benefits than their fellows outside EPZs do, there is allegedly little difference between both the groups in terms of different repressive measures usually owners take to suppress worker protests against any violation of worker’s legitimate rights.
* Amend labour law as per ILO rules, says EU:
Easing TU formation and strike preconditions pleaded
The European Union has renewed its call for further amendment to Bangladesh’s labour law, especially in the provision regarding requirement of minimum 30% workers’ representation for forming union, to make it fully compliant with core labour standards.
The EU made the call in a progress report posted Tuesday on its official website on the first anniversary of Sustainability Compact — a comprehensive accord meant for upgrading Bangladesh’s export-oriented garment industry in which they are a major stakeholder as consumer of the apparels.
In the report, the European Union, however, reaffirmed the commitments laid down in the Compact.
In doing so, the EU stressed swift adoption of rules and regulations to implement the labour law, bringing changes to existing industrial relations regulations that allow employers to conduct elections for Worker Participation Committees, advance recruitment of inspectors and their training, and application of the labour law to the EPZs (export-processing zones).
“Major areas that remain to be addressed include the reduction of the 30 minimum membership requirement to form a union and restrictions on the right to strike,” the report says.
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* EU concerned over refusal to register TUs:
The European Union has expressed concern over the recent refusals to register trade unions, attempts to limit their freedom of expression and the lack of measures to address intimidation and violence against workers in Bangladesh.
The EU said that the Bangladesh has made much progress since signing the Sustainability Compact a year ago, but further work is urgently required to ensure safety and health at place of work as well as freedom of association in line with commitments.
EU on Wednesday unveiled the progress report titled ‘Staying Engaged: Bangladesh Sustainability Compact—One Year On’ reviewing progress by this time and urged the government for completing other commitments.
‘We urge the government to complete the labour law reforms, training and recruitment of inspectors and to create the conditions for meaningful freedom of association,’ European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht and Commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion Laszlo Andor said in a joint statement.
They said that Better labour conditions would support sustainable trade links with
many markets, especially the European Union. EU, together with the authorities of Bangladesh, the United States and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) launched the Sustainability Compact one year ago just after the Rana Plaza disaster in which more than 1,100 readymade garment workers killed, most of them women.
* EU for sustainable progress in work conditions:
European Union (EU) said the situation needs to be redressed so as to ensure sustainable improvements in labour conditions in Bangladesh.
The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, said it on Tuesday a report published on reviewing progress made and outlines steps that still need to be taken about Rana Plaza tragedy.
Working conditions must improve in practice and workers must be free to organize and exercise their right to collective bargaining without fear of anti-union discrimination, harassment, intimidation or harm, reports the commission.
The organization also urged the government of Bangladesh to complete the labour law reform, training and recruitment of inspectors and to create the conditions for meaningful freedom of association. Better labour conditions will support sustainable trade links with many markets, especially the European Union, the report added.
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* Garment exports cross fiscal year target:
Data released yesterday showed knitwear products earned $12.03bn with 15% rise in FY14 from $10.47bn in FY13
Apparel exports have seen 13.83% growth in the just concluded financial year over the previous year with the total earning from the sector standing at $24.49bn, Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data showed.
The garment exports even exceeded the target set for the FY2013-14 which suffered months of political unrest and deadliest Rana Plaza incident. The target was $24.14bn. In the FY2012-13, Bangladesh earned $21.5bn from the country’s largest export industry. The growth in the year was 12.71% growth.
* Weavers working overtime making premium sarees at Benarashi Palli:
With the holy Eid-ul-Fitr drawing nearer weavers of the Benarashi Palli at Gangachhara upazila in the district are now busy making Benarashi sarees.
They are working day and night to meet the demand of customers.
There are more than 400 handlooms at 100 Benarashi factories in the upazila where about 2,500 workers are busy with manufacturing different varieties of sarees which have huge demands in different areas of the country.
“Sale of sarees produced in the area increases on the occasion of big festivals as the traditional handloom item with different designs and reasonable prices attract the buyers,” said Abdur Rahman, owner of a factory at Talukhabu village.
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* Mirpur DC, OC summoned over rape of garment worker:
The High Court today summoned the deputy commissioner of police (Mirpur zone) and officer in-charge (OC) of Mirpur Police Station to explain why they failed to detain those who raped a garment worker in the capital.
They will have to appear before the court on July 15.
The girl, aged 19, was gang-raped in a microbus in Mirpur area on July 1.
She was forcibly picked up in the vehicle in the city’s Darus Salam by three people, including her neighbour Farid, 35, who used to stalk her, the victim’s aunt told earlier The Daily Star.
The court also summoned the OC of One-stop Crisis Centre (OCC) at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) to appear before the court same day to inform it about the medical report of the rape victim.
In response to a writ petition, the HC issued a rule upon the government to explain in four weeks why its failure to arrest the culprits should not be declared illegal.
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07:30:36 local time INDIA
* Restructure rigid employment laws:
Labour: ‘Inspection raj’ regime obstructs factories’ growth
Economic Survey, 2013-14, has stressed the need to usher labour reforms to boost the manufacturing sector and safeguard the interest of small businesses.
The Survey’s chapter Issues and Priorities highlighted the need to keep economic growth and job creation in sync with a restructuring of rigid labour laws. “The ultimate goal of economic policy is to create a sustained renaissance of high growth, in which hundreds of millions of good-quality jobs are created…Labour laws create strong incentives for firms to avoid hiring a large number of low-skilled workers,” the Survey said.
It said entries and exits of new firms were marred by existing labour laws and envisaged the need to “unleash the second generation of reforms”. “An array of problems holds back the entry and maturation of new firms. This protects existing businesses, even if inefficient, and limits entry and competition” it said.
The Survey stated labour, along with land and capital, remained “largely unreformed” and was, therefore, a hurdle to growth and employment-generation. While infusing hope the country had the potential to become a global hub for labour-intensive manufacturing, it said, “Labour laws have hindered the creation of large-scale manufacturing in India.”
07:00:36 local time PAKISTAN
* July-May 2013-14: import of textile machinery grows by 58%:
Textile industry invested around $548.997 million during July-May 2013-14 to replace the rundown machinery with a view to boost up production, exporters said on Wednesday.
“The industry has imported around $548.997 million of new machinery during the current fiscal year which is greater by 58 percent as compared to the machinery imported during last fiscal year,” exporters said.
The country’s import of textile machinery grows by $200.714 million (58 percent) to $548.997 million in July-May 2013-14 as compared to the machinery import of $348.283 million in the same period last fiscal year, official figures suggested. Exporters said the import growth of textile machinery is largely linked to replacement of the dilapidated equipment, which is not for business start-ups. “The manufactures have scrapped the existing overused machinery with new one,” they said.
* Finance Act: FPCCI for doing away with ‘harsh provisions’:
The recent World Bank report ‘Paying Taxes 2014’ indicates that the workload of tax compliance in Pakistan requires 577 hours and this will further increase if the harsh provisions of Finance Act 2014 are implemented, says Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).
“The business community is impatiently waiting to see removal of irritants and the harsh provisions of Finance Act 2014,” said FPCCI President Zakaria Usman in a statement on Wednesday.
He termed the new concept of “Alternative Corporate Tax” challenging, which would lead to complications between the taxpayers and collectors.
Welcoming the duty exemptions given on the import of textile machinery, Usman asked the government that the existing exemption from duties for the plant and machinery not manufactured locally should not be withdrawn.
He suggested that 5% tax on bonus shares should be removed because bonus was paid from retained earnings of a company, which had already been taxed. “If this tax stays in place, it will be tantamount to double taxation.”