19:11:49 local time VIET NAM
* Textile investors keen on Vietnamese market:
Garment and textile projects attracted 70.62% of all domestic and foreign investment capital in HCM City’s export processing zones (EPZ) and industrial zones (IZ) during the first six months of the year.
- HCM City attracts large investment in textiles
- TPP offers garments and textiles huge opportunities
- Supply chain key to textiles growth
According to the Ho Chi Minh City Export Processing and Industrial Zones Authority (Hepza), advanced textiles cumulatively surpassed the US$200 million mark, accounting for 82.44% of all total foreign direct investment (FDI) in its EPZs and IZs.
Tran Viet Ha, head of Hepza’s Investment Department, said that foreign investors are implementing large investment projects in the textile and garment sector in the city’s industrial and processing zones at an ever increasingly faster pace.
The surge in international investment in these zones is largely attributable to textile processors’ anticipation of Vietnam fully opening the market in line with World Trade Organisation commitments and the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in 2015, Ha said.
The projects include a US$140 million facility producing high-end garments by Worldon Vietnam Co., Ltd. and a US$50 million factory producing high quality textiles of Sheico Vietnam Co., Ltd.
* Vietnam has trouble escaping dependence on China through FTAs:
A host of pending trade agreements could help Vietnam reduce its heavy economic reliance on China, but won’t unless the country takes bold and difficult steps toward developing alternative supply chains and aggressively building up a domestic base range of fabric and component part manufacturers, economists said.
Vietnam is expected to sign 17 free trade agreements with 55 countries and territories by 2015.
Tariff exemptions and reductions provided by the agreements, particularly the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU will allow Vietnam to import more equipment, input materials and consumer goods at better prices from first-world economies, according to Vu Tien Loc. Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).
The TPP is expected to phase out tariffs on most goods traded between its member countries over 10 years, while the FTA with the EU will eliminate tariffs on 90 percent of Vietnamese goods.
However, it won’t be easy for local enterprises to secure alternatives to Chinese raw materials.
Former director of the Trade Research Institute, Nguyen Van Nam, said many importers of garments and footwear products are Chinese who insist that local manufacturers sign outsourcing contracts requiring them to use Chinese materials.
19:11:49 local time CAMBODIA
* Garment Workers Block Road in Protest Over Unpaid Wages:
Hundreds of Ocean Garment factory workers staged a sit-in on one of Phnom Penh’s major thoroughfares Tuesday to protest the factory’s failure to follow an Arbitration Council ruling on unpaid wages.
Brandishing tree branches for shade and protest signs, the workers formed a human barricade across Russian Boulevard in Pur Senchey district at about 8 a.m. and refused to move for eight straight hours.
Ken Chantha, a 40-year-old worker, said blocking the major transportation route, which is near the Ocean Garment factory, was the only way to push local officials to deal with their problem.
“I haven’t been able to pay the rent for my house for one month, so I need to do it,” she said.
The Arbitration Council ruled last week that Ocean Garment, which suspended operations on May 26 due to a lack of orders, should give the workers $120 each in furlough pay.
However, the factory chose to ignore the ruling and said it would pay $100 to staff employed for more than six months and $50 to those who had been working less than six months.
Rejecting the factory’s offer, about 600 workers turned out Tuesday morning to form the roadblock, with several arguments erupting between drivers and the protesters, who eventually allowed some vehicles to pass through.
“I am angry too,” said driver Bi Bun Sak, who had been stuck in the traffic jam for nearly two hours. “[The workers] should not do this as it affects my job and other businesspeople.”
18:11:49 local time BANGLADESH
* BBC interview: Jennings warns repercussions of Rana Plaza won’t go away:
UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings told BBC World Service that the impact of the Rana Plaza tragedy in which more than 1,100 workers, mainly young women, died in April 2013, will not be forgotten.
Jennings told the BBC’s Business Daily programme that if any brands or governments thought that the memory of the Rana Plaza victims would we swept under the carpet, they were very much mistaken.
“There may be this feeling or sentiment that this issue is just going to go away: those images of Rana Plaza and the sheer numbers involved, over a thousand dead and two thousand injured, the tears, the emotion and the drama that came to people’s homes’ around the world, has made this still a very current matter, it has been etched in peoples’ minds, they can’t forgot this. There is this hope that this is all just going to go away. It will not,” Jennings said.
Jennings had a stark message for the Bangladesh government: must do better.
“What bothers us above all in Bangladesh is that the Bangladesh government is dragging its heels on labour law reform, it is dragging its heels in putting a proper factory inspection regime in place,” he said.
Jennings added that the Bangladesh government must not be adversely influenced by the powerful Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
He also drew attention to the shortfall in funding required for the Rana Plaza compensation fund.
There has been a positive response to the call Jennings made at the OECD Forum on Responsible Business recently, but around 22 million US$ is still needed to reach the 40 million US$ goal.
Hear the whole BBC interview with Philip Jennings and the rest of the programme which includes a comment by the Bangladeshi Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed who insists factories are safer as well as a debate between writer and journalist Tansy Hoskins, author of “Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion” and Ben Powell, director of the Free Market Institute.
Bangladesh Accord: where are we now?
It’s over a year since Bangladesh suffered the worst industrial accident in modern history and UNI, IndustriALL and number of leading NGOs took action to try to prevent the next Rana Plaza tragedy.
The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety Accord, negotiated by UNI and IndustriALL, is improving the lives of Bangladeshi garment workers but much still needs to be done, especially in terms of leadership from the Bangladesh government and compensation from brands with any links to Rana Plaza.
The compensation fund stands at US$18m, far short of the US$40m needed to adequately compensate the 1,138 victims, the injured and their families. However there are positive signs that more pressure is being put on the brands linked to Rana Plaza to force them to pay up. Recently, seven OECD governments committed to confronting the responsible brands headquartered in their countries and demand that they pay full compensation.
The TUC is also putting the pressure on UK brands such as Matalan.
* RMG workers to get Eid bonus, salary by July 26:
Garment factory owners have agreed to pay workers their salary and Eid bonus by July 26.
State Minister for Labour and Employment M Mujibul Haque Chunnu came up with announcement after a meeting with the representatives of garment owners and workers at Secretariat.
Shahidullah Azim, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), was also present at the meeting.
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* Pay salaries, bonuses to RMG workers by July 26:
The government yesterday asked the owners of country’s readymade garment (RMG) factories to pay the salaries and Eid bonus of their workers by July 26.
State Minister for Labour and Employment Ministry Mujibul Haque Chunnu disclosed it while briefing the media after a meeting with the leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) and trade unions at the Secretariat in the capital.
“The RMG factory owners also assured of paying the salaries and Eid bonus of their workers by July 26,” the minister added. Every year, labour unrest is experienced at various RMG factories just before the Eid following the salaries and Eid bonus of RMG factory workers.
Often, heavy congestion is created in the highways ahead of Eid due to the demonstration of RMG factory workers through blocking roads.
The meeting was held in line with the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s directive to avoid labour commotion over salaries and bonus just ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, Chunnu said.
* Factory owners agree to pay apparel workers by July 26:
Apparel factory owners on Tuesday agreed to pay the workers partial wages of current month and festival allowance by July 26 ahead of Eid.
‘The factory owners have agreed to pay apparel workers partial wages of the current month along with festival allowance by July 26 so that all of them could celebrate Eid with their families in a better manner,’ state minister for labour Mujibul Haque told reporters after he held a meeting with the factory owners and labour leaders at the secretariat.
He said, the owners would decide how much they will pay as Eid bonus according to their abilities since the labour law says nothing about it.
Representatives from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association assured the government and the labour leaders that they would help factory owners in paying the wages and festival allowances to the workers by the deadline.
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RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* ACC finally implicates Rana in Rana Plaza case:
The Anti-Corruption Commission on Tuesday approved a charge sheet into the Rana Plaza construction case including the name of building owner, Sohel Rana, an ACC official said.
ACC commissioner M Shahabuddin told New Age the graft-watch body will appeal to the court to show Sohel Rana arrested in the case.
Investigation officer of the case SM Mofidul Islam will submit the charge sheet before a special court in Dhaka within a day or two, the commissioner said.
The commission on June 15 filed a case against 17 people, including Rana’s parents Abdul Khalek and Morjina Begum, whose names were mentioned in the documents of ownership, and Savar municipality mayor Refayet Ullah, with Savar model police station.
ACC said it included Rana’s name in the charge sheet as one of the main accused, for his alleged involvement in tampering with the construction of the collapsed building.
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* Sohel Rana included in charge-sheet of ACC finally:
The Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) has finally included in the charge-sheet Sohel Rana, owner of Rana Plaza in Savar, which collapsed on April 25 in 2013, killing 1,129 people.
He has been included in the list of the accused for constructing the building with faulty design.
The Commission approved on Tuesday the charge-sheet against 18 people including Sohel Rana who was not earlier included in the accused list while the anti-graft body decided to file a case against them.
Different organisations and rights activists blasted the ACC for not including Sohel Rana in the accused list.
The charge sheet was approved at a regular meeting of the Commission, ACC Commissioner M Shahabuddin Choppu told the reporters.
He said the ACC decided to include Sohel Rana in the accused list as the Commission found him guilty later. “We decided to include him as we found him guilty,” he said.
* Rana finally charged in ACC case:
Finally the name of Sohel Rana, who was excluded in the case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission on the construction of Rana Plaza in violation of the building code, has been included in the charge sheet.
The ACC yesterday approved the charge sheet in the case filed on June 15 with Savar Police Station, saying the accused in league with each other had built Rana Plaza violating the Bangladesh National Building Code. The building collapsed last year, killing at least 1,135 people.
The case was lodged against Savar municipal mayor, Rana’s parents and 14 others.
“During the investigation, several FIR-named accused stated that Rana exercised influence in constructing the faulty building and setting up garment factories illegally in the shopping complex,” ACC Commissioner Shahabuddin said, explaining why Rana’s name was finally included in the charge sheet.
* ACC to implicate Sohel Rana as well:
Earlier, while approving the charges on June 12, the commission spared Rana, who is a Jubo League leader from Savar
The Anti-Corruption Commission has found evidence that Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana was also involved in the irregularities while constructing the faulty eight-storey commercial building that collapsed on April 24 last year.
The commission will soon file charges against 18 people including Rana’s father Abdul Khalek and mother Morjina Begum, officials said.
Earlier, while approving the charges on June 12, the commission spared Rana, who is a Jubo League leader from Savar.
The other accused in the case are Savar municipality Mayor Refayet Ullah, architect of the building and Khulna University teacher ATM Masud Reza and Savar municipality ward 7 councillor Mohammad Ali Khan. Owners of three garment units housed in the building – Phantom Apparels Ltd Chairman Mohammad Aminul Islam, New Wave Bottom Limited Managing Director Bazlus Samad and Ether Tex Limited Chairman Azizur Rahman, have also been named in the charges.
* TUC calls on retailers to answer to MPs over Rana Plaza compensation:
The TUC is calling on all UK retailers which source clothing from Bangladesh to attend a meeting in Westminster today (Tuesday) where they will be asked what they are doing to support the victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, that killed over 1,100 people in April last year.
The meeting has been called by Alison McGovern MP, shadow minister for international development and vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability. It is being supported by the TUC and campaign organisation Labour Behind the Label.
It is six months since the International Labour Organisation-administered Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund was established to support the victims and their families. But the Fund is still £13m short of its target amount because many retailers who sell clothes made in Bangladesh on the UK high street have yet to contribute, says the TUC.
Commenting on the meeting TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It is shocking that more than 2,000 workers injured in the tragedy along with the families who lost relatives last year still have not been paid all the compensation they are owed.
“This money is urgently needed to provide medical support and income to the victims. All companies which are making money from clothes made in Bangladesh have an ethical obligation to donate to the Fund – not just those who were sourcing goods produced at Rana Plaza.”
17:11:49 local time PAKISTAN
* ‘Energy costs, rupee revaluation shrinking textile sector profits’:
The textile industry of Pakistan has become uncompetitive globally due to the combined impacts of rupee revaluation, wage increase, and energy and power tariff, affecting 15 percent in costs in Punjab and 12 percent in other provinces.
Giving the break-up of cost in yarn production, Gohar Ejaz, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) group leader said that 60 percent of the spinning cost is that of cotton, a basic raw material.
This, he added, is still available to the industry at global rates, whereas interest payments account for five percent of the total sales that remain unchanged. He said interest is paid on the cotton stocked for the entire year on bank loans.
Speaking about the 50 and 67 percent increase in the rates of gas and electricity respectively in the past one year, he said that energy and power account for 17.5 percent of the total cost of yarn.
* Unprecedented loadshedding:
Faisalabad traders, industrialists warn of closing business
The Powerloom Owners Association and City Anjuman-e-Tajiran have warned of closing their factories and shops against unprecedented electricity loadshedding in Faisalabad.
In a statement here on Tuesday, the Powerloom Owners Association and City Anjuman-e-Tajiran office-bearers said that the industry had reached the brink of total collapse in Faisalabad due to wrong policies of the government.
During the PPP tenure, the PML-N leaders and legislators were making hue and cry against unprecedented loadshedding in the country but now they were mum during their rule, they added.
They said that unscheduled loadshedding and tripping had damaged refrigerators and other appliances in several houses in the city.
* Leather sector: government urged to withdraw import duty on raw material:
Pakistan Tanners Association (SZ) Chairman Fawad Jawed has urged the Prime Minister and Federal Minister of Finance to withdraw import duty on raw material.
In an SOS message, Fawad expressed his disappointment over the government’s anti-export move of slapping duty on import of hides and skins.
He was of the view that the government had imposed duty on leather sector’s main raw-material without any justification, which would result in collapse of the sector.