11:09:43 local time THAILAND
* Export promotion teams to be sent to key markets:
Market-penetration teams including representatives from the government and private sectors have been set up to promote export growth, obeying the policy of the military’s National Council for Peace and Order.
Under the plans, four projects will be focused on Asean markets this year, including networking and expanding trading opportunities with Indonesia’s convenience stores. There will also be collaboration with Vietnamese garment manufacturers, relaxation of cross-border checkpoints, and setting up a trade mission to Myanmar.
11:09:43 local time CAMBODIA
* Ocean fight looks to the government:
Days after a Phnom Penh garment factory refused to abide by an Arbitration Council decision in favour of its employees, more than 1,000 workers are expected to demonstrate in front of the Ministry of Labour today.
The council on Wednesday ruled that Por Sen Chey district’s Ocean Garment factory must pay its employees their entire salaries for the month they planned to shutter operations. The factory announced a temporary closure beginning on May 24, saying it would reopen on June 26. However, it remains closed.
After Ocean management sent a notice saying it would pay workers $50, more than 1,000 employees protested. About 60 workers have accepted the $50, while others surrounded the factory director’s home on Saturday, demanding their full wages, Collective Union of Movement of Workers president Pav Sina said.
“I think a clash will happen between workers and authorities if they try to stop us,” Sina said. Ocean officials could not be reached.
* Getting on the same page:
In what is shaping up to be the first of several pivotal garment wage talks, unions are to meet for the first time today to discuss the amount they should request for next year’s minimum wage – but labour leaders and observers say coming to a consensus will be difficult, if not impossible.
Up to 50 representatives of pro-government, pro-opposition, pro-factory and independent unions are scheduled to gather at the Green Palace Hotel in Phnom Penh at 8am. The event was organised by the Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC) and several international labour organisations.
The meeting comes a week before an official two-day workshop of the Ministry of Labour’s Labour Advisory Committee (LAC). Floor wages at the Kingdom’s garment and shoe factories stand at $100 per month.
“The only question is how strong the unions can work together,” said Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC). “How can the unions maintain their solidarity?”
Following discussions this month, union leaders will meet with factory representatives in August, followed by a September forum at the Ministry of Labour that will include government officials. The LAC, comprising government officials, industry representatives and union representatives, is scheduled to set next year’s minimum wage in October, which will then go into effect on January 1.
Without divulging the lowest wage his organisation could accept, CLC president Ath Thorn said $160 per month is reasonable, but that the figure could go as low as the $140 range. But the wide variety of interests in play poses obstacles.
10:09:43 local time BANGLADESH
* Labour unrest looms large in RMG hubs:
Apprehension is getting rife about oncoming labour unrest in about 506 of the garment factories located in Ashulia, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Chittagong over payment of wages and festival bonus ahead of Eid.
A report by the Industrial Police carries such forewarning, as there have already been some outbreaks in factory areas even inside the capital.
The problem is accentuated by the fact that nearly two hundred of the apparel factories-mostly of smaller and medium sizes-have no bindings with any of the trade bodies in the sector.
Out of the 506 units, 225 are members of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), 83 listed with Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), 16 associated with Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) while the rest 182 not member of any of the three.
According to industry-insiders and officials, majority of these factories do sub-contracting, and in recent times, they are passing through tough times for lack of work orders amid persisting dilemmas generated by safety and compliance issues.
However, the labour ministry will sit tomorrow (Tuesday) with the stakeholders to work a way out of any outburst of this sort. Apparel makers and labour leaders and law-enforcing agencies have been convened for the consultation.
“We have already shared our findings with all authorities concerned, including concerned ministries, apparel apex bodies-BGMEA, BKMEA and BTMA,” Abdus Salam, Director-General of the Industrial Police, told the FE Sunday.
* Labour unrest could flare up at 506 garment factories:
Labour unrest might flare up at 506 apparel factories at Ashulia, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Chittagong ahead of Eid on the demand of payment of wages and festival bonus, industrial police cautioned the authorities in a report Thursday.
The industrial police in the report submitted to the home ministry explained the overall situation facing the apparel industry.
The unrest could affect production at 506 out of the country’s 3,655 apparel factories, the industrial police cautioned the authorities.
In the report industrial police expressed the apprehension that the unrests could flare up at 506 factories in the four hubs due to delays or non payment of wages and festival bonus to workers in time to facilitate workers’ Eid celebrations.
According to sources, out of 506 factories, 225 are affiliated to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, 83 are members of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, 16 are members of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association and the rest are unaffiliated.
BGMEA vice president Shahidullah Azim told New Age Sunday that 250 affiliated garment factories might fail to pay the wages and festival bonus to their workers in time due to business slowing down.
* 280 RMG factories unable to pay wages and bonus before Eid:
The factories have been identified and brought under close monitoring as those are not capable to meet the expenditure before Eid, according to BGMEA and BKMEA executives
Around 280 apparel factory owners are unable to pay the wages and festival bonus to the workers as per their demand before the upcoming Eid-Ul-Fitr.
The factories have been identified and brought under close monitoring as those are not capable to meet the expenditure before Eid, according to BGMEA and BKMEA executives.
However, labour leaders accused the garment owners of the dilly-dally in paying the workers’ wages and festival bonus due to their “unwillingness.”
Although the government has already disbursed Tk734 core as cash export subsidies for the RMG sector, the sector has reportedly been suffering from fund shortage.
Among the troubled factories, 93 are located in the Chittagong district while 137 are located in Dhaka, Naryangong, Savar, Gazipur and Ashulia, a BGMEA high official told the Dhaka Tribune on condition anonymity.
* RMG workers rally for arrears and festival allowance before Eid:
Leaders of National Garments Workers Federation on Sunday at a human chain in Dhaka demanded paying the wages and festival allowance of the garment workers within Ramadan 20.
The federation formed a one hour human chain in front of the National Press Club at 11:00am to press their demands.
Amirul Haque Amin, the president of the organisation called on the Awami League-led government to take steps to pay the wages and bonus of the apparel workers within Ramadan 20.
He also called on the government to take steps for holding meetings between the management and the workers’ leaders to avoid labour unrests in the factories before Eid-ul-Fitr.
* Speakers for minimum national wage for women:
Speakers at a discussion here today suggested fixation of minimum national wage for marginal workers to ensure fair rights of wage for working-class women in labour market.
“Achieving economic emancipation for women will not be possible unless equal rights of wage for women are not ensured in workplaces . . . if minimum national wage is announced such disproportion will gradually be eliminated,” said state minister for women and children affairs Meher Afroz Chumki while speaking at the publication of a research report styled “Economic Justice for Women”.
Steps Towards Development, an NGO, conducted the research in cooperation with World Vision. Member of the parliamentary standing committee on labour and employment affairs ministry Chhabi Biswas, executive director of Ain-o-Salish Kendra Advocate Sultana Kamal, president of Mahila Parishad Ayesha Khanom, economist Prof MM Akash, Mamun Rashid and joint secretary of labour and employment affairs ministry Khandaker Mostan Hossain, among others, took part in the discussion.
* Govt urged to abolish discriminatory laws:
Speakers at a discussion urged the government Sunday to abolish or revise all the discriminatory laws and provisions and social culture that deter women from property rights.
Around 82 per cent women do not have any ownership on inherited or purchased property though women entrepreneurs or workers are playing a significant role on asset creation, according to a research finding.
They said declaration of national minimum wage for different informal sectors will help control gender- based wage discrimination.
They said social justice is a very important factor in economic justice system, it cannot be ensured without addressing social and legal discrimination in the society.
These were uttered at a national sharing of research report on Economic justice for women: fair wage, rights on resources and property, and market access perspectives at CIRDAP auditorium. Steps Towards Development and World Vision Bangladesh jointly organised the programme.
* Women workers still paid less than men:
Reveals a study of STD, World Vision Bangladesh
Women workers are still paid less then men in agriculture and construction sectors in the country, revealed a study conducted on 68 female and 51 male labourers.
Key findings of the study titled “Economic Justice for Women” were presented by Ranjan Karmakar, executive director of Steps Towards Development (STD), at a seminar in Cirdap auditorium in the capital yesterday.
According to the findings, 32 percent of the female respondents get less than Tk 100 a day while the percentage of the male respondents earning the same wages is only 6.
It also showed that 56 percent of the male workers get Tk 200-400 daily where only 7 percent of the women workers get the same amount in similar jobs.
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* France committed to help ensuring safety:
Says envoy on eve of French National Day
France has emphasised its commitment towards ensuring continued efforts of all stakeholders to improve Bangladeshi garment workers’ safety.
“Consumers, owners and buyers, and policy and decision makers — we all have a responsibility in ensuring that workers’ lives are no longer put at risk to supply western consumer markets,” said France Ambassador in Dhaka Michel Trinquier in a message on the eve of French National Day yesterday.
Mentioning the Rana Plaza tragedy, he said France has contributed to the “Better Work Bangladesh” programme set up by the International Labour Organization together with the International Finance Corporation.
* Uncomfortable time for RMG:
The country’s apparel industry is now in a bad patch. All its success stories are now hard to sell to the outside buyers.
A couple of disastrous events—Tazreen Fashion fire and collapse of Rana Plaza—have dented the industry’s image seriously and made the situation truly difficult for both apparel unit owners and thousands of workers.
That the sunny days of the industry do not exist anymore is evident from the rate of growth of both woven and knit exports during the just concluded financial year (2013-14) and the inflow of orders from the international retailers.
The export of readymade garment (RMG) recorded a very modest growth, around 15 per cent over that of the previous fiscal, during the fiscal 2014. However, it is hard to say whether the industry would be able to ensure even that growth rate at the end of the current fiscal.
At the moment, the industry is not facing any sort of trouble from the workers. However, the situation might change within the next few days over payment of wages and bonus ahead of the coming Eid festival. The industry being familiar with this type of trouble does not worry much about it.
But what is troubling the industry owners most is the compliance issue. Coming under intense pressure from their consumers the leading European and US buyers have embarked on a programme to ensure workers’ safety and security at the Bangladesh apparel units.
Two platforms of the international retailers—the Alliance and the Accord—have been carrying out surveys on flaws, structural or otherwise, concerning workers’ safety in apparel units located in Dhaka and Chittagong.
* Garment exports to US fall 1.12%:
Apparel exports to the US fell 1.12 percent to $2.18 billion in the first five months of 2014 from the same period last year, according to the US Department of Commerce.
Garment exporters attributed the sluggish trend to fallout from the Rana Plaza building collapse and political turmoil that struck Bangladesh last year.
Some retailers may shift focus from Bangladesh to other destinations, said Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Bangladesh’s exports to the US may rebound by December when international and domestic factory inspectors will complete their inspections, he said.
“So far, the outcomes of the inspections show that the factories are not so much vulnerable as it was thought earlier. So buyers’ confidence is rebuilding now.”
* Leather sector sees record exports:
The leather industry has set records for exports that soared 32.12 percent year-on-year to $1.29 billion in the immediate past fiscal year, according to Export Promotion Bureau.
Competitive prices and improved quality of Bangladeshi products that rope in more and more European and Japanese consumers and rising costs in China have led to the growth, exporters said.
Also, the earnings in fiscal 2013-14 were 6.59 percent higher than the target set at $1.21 billion for the sector.
Exports of leather goods rose 48.55 percent to $240.09 million during the period, while those of leather 26.47 percent to $505.54 million, and footwear 31.19 percent to $550.11 million, according to EPB data.
The leather industry earned $980.67 million in exports in fiscal 2012-13.
09:39:43 local time INDIA
* CITU blames faulty economic policies:
The national general council of the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has said that “faulty” economic policies of the UPA government, which are being continued by the NDA government, have put the working class in a state of disarray.
Tapan Sen, MP and general secretary of CITU, while briefing presspersons here on Sunday, said that the general council discussed threadbare the plight of workers in tea gardens, jute industry and those involved in implementation of government health and nutritional schemes.
The council said that the economic policies had put in distress, not only workers, but industries too.
According to Mr. Sen, the plight of workers in the tea plantations and jute industries knew no bounds. While those employed in tea plantations are working without services pertaining to basic healthcare and wages, a large of jute mill workers have been rendered jobless.
“The closure of several tea gardens and jute mills has severely affected the working class,” he said.
* Jute industry in crisis as Govt orders dry up:
Textiles Ministry to ask Punjab to honour commitment on jute procurement
The Textiles Ministry will hold talks with the Punjab Government to convince it to bail out the country’s crisis-stricken jute industry.
The industry has taken a further hit due to the State not honouring its sourcing commitments this production season.
Santosh Gangwar, Minister of State for Textiles (independent charge), has assured jute manufacturers that he will meet Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal to find out why the State did not place any orders for jute bags in June and July despite prior commitments.
“Punjab sourced only 2 lakh bales of jute bags in May despite committing to source 7 lakh between May and October in the meeting convened by the Food Ministry for finalising the Kharif procurement plan for food bags,” Raghavendra Gupta from the Indian Jute Manufacturers Association (IJMA) pointed out.
09:09:43 local time PAKISTAN
* Domino effect of the GSP Plus:
The European Union granting the country Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus scheme did not just augur well for the textile industry but also left a favourable impact on the business of Oracle Corporation in Pakistan, according to the company’s managing director.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Oracle Corporation’s county head said the GSP Plus status along with the successful spectrum auction that landed 3G services in Pakistan are going to add to the country’s economic growth.
Oracle Pakistan provides IT solutions to over 1,100 clients in the country out of which 50 of them are textile companies. Citing one of the Oracle’s recent deals with Nishat Chunian, the fourth largest textile company in Pakistan, he said more firms may opt for or improve IT solutions as their profits grow due to the favourable impact of the GSP Plus in the 28-nation EU market.
* Chinese policy hits yarn production, exports:
The reversal of cotton policy by China has hit Pakistan’s yarn production and yarn export, reveals a report recently issued by the State Bank.
China has been building cotton stocks since 2011 by offering higher than competitive prices to local farmers. The consequent widening of the gap between international and the local cotton prices encouraged Chinese manufacturers to increase their import of cotton yarn and its bi-products.
Pakistan’s export of textile items flourished due to this policy.
“In fact, during fiscal year 2011to first half of FY-2014, the country earned $3.5 billion from export of cotton yarn to China only,” said the report.
While China had been building cotton stocks which created space for Pakistani yarn, neither the government nor the textile industry came out with an alternative policy in case of change in the Chinese Policy.
In March 2014, the Chinese government introduced a major shift, i.e., instead of buying cotton at higher than market prices, the Chinese government would pay the price differential to farmers if market price falls from a target level, which is significantly smaller than the price at which the government was earlier buying from the market.
Interestingly, yarn demand from China had already fallen in February 2014 in anticipation of this new policy, said the SBP report.