09:13:25 local time PHILIPPINES
* Empty plate lunchbreak protest highlights demand for living wage:
The protesters said that no amount of reports or studies could cloak the workers’ slide into worse conditions, and the more appalling poverty in urban poor communities where they also live.
Workers and urban poor in Makati and Pasay cities brought empty plates, spoons and forks to dramatize the effect of low wages during a protest action held today July 16 in front of the Philippine Institute on Developmental Studies – National Economic Development Authority (PIDS-NEDA) offices in Amorsolo St., Makati.
The protesters took issue with the government agency’s recent statements attacking the minimum wage and casting it as an impediment to employment in the country.
PIDS-NEDA has recently released a report advancing such a conclusion in “Labor Policy Analysis for Jobs Expansion and Development,” written by Vicente Paqueo, Aniceto Orbeta, Leonardo Lanzona and Dean Dulay. Also, in a presentation of PIDS Economic Policy Monitor Seminar three months ago (April 3, 2014), it said: “The case of Minimum Wage is, generally, not only unhelpful but highly detrimental to the welfare of the common man and the disadvantaged.”
Unionist Gabby Delos Reyes from Wyeth Philippines Progressive Workers Union (WPPWU) said in a statement that workers today including those in the gleaming business district of Makati and Pasay cities are in need of a living wage. He said the current minimum wage is not enough for the day-to-day needs of Filipino families.
08:13:25 local time VIET NAM
* Garment sector attractive to investors in Ho Chi Minh City’s IZs:
The garment and textile sector remained attractive to both foreign and domestic investors in Ho Chi Minh City as it absorbed 70.62 percent of the total investment flow into the city’s industrial zones in the first half of 2014.
According to the Ho Chi Minh City Export Processing and Industrial Zone Authority (Hepza), the sector accounted for 82.44 percent of the total foreign investment, attracting nearly 200 million USD.
Head of Hepza Investment Management Office Tran Viet Ha said that there will be more projects in this sector as the global garment and textile market is forecast to grow by 3.5 percent, while Vietnam is active in negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.
08:13:25 local time CAMBODIA
* Workers End Blockade, Agree to Negotiations:
Workers from Ocean Garment factory on Wednesday ended a blockade of Russian Boulevard after the Ministry of Labor intervened in their dispute with management over unpaid wages.
Hundreds of workers began a second day of protests near Phnom Penh International Airport in Pur Senchey district at 8:30 a.m. but left the road after two hours when union representatives received a letter from the ministry inviting them to attend negotiations Thursday.
A non-binding Arbitration Council ruling handed down last week found that Ocean Garment should pay workers full wages and benefits for the month starting May 26, when production was suspended after brands pulled orders.
* Arbitration group weighs in:
Cambodia’s Arbitration Council yesterday called Ocean Garment factory’s continued refusal to abide by the body’s decision last week to pay workers their full salary during a temporary closure “discouraging”.
Ocean Garment employees blocked Russian Boulevard for the second day in a row yesterday, eventually vacating the main road at about 11am after Ministry of Labour officials pledged to mediate talks between management and employee representatives today.
“I really do not trust the company at all to resolve the issue, because they have pulled a lot of tricks,” Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said yesterday. “We will wait and see how they plan on solving it,” he continued.
Workers at Ocean Garment began protesting after a May 24 announcement from the company that it would close for one month ending June 26 and pay employees only $15 for that time.
Demonstrations intensified after the factory responded to an Arbitration Council decision that they must pay workers their full salary during the closure by offering them $50.
* Shoe Factory Workers Strike for Seven Demands:
About 1,000 workers from the Sun Well Shoes factory went on strike for the second day running Wednesday, appealing for wage benefits and better safety equipment.
Half of the striking workers protested in front of the factory on Veng Sreng Street in Pur Senchey district on Tuesday and again Wednesday morning after not receiving a response to a list of seven demands submitted to their employers on July 10.
The workers’ demands include a $15 monthly accommodation and travel allowance, $5 per month for good attendance, guaranteed severance pay, better safety equipment and factory coverage of their tax payments.
Ou Ry, a 29-year-old worker, said the maximum base monthly salary of $105 was not enough to live on.
“We don’t want to protest. We don’t want to stand on the road under the sunlight. But the factory does not think of our livelihoods,” she said.
“We will continue protesting for our demands until they are met. We are not afraid of a crackdown because we need those benefits.”
09:13:25 local time MALAYSIA
* China’s D&Y Group to set up textile plant in Malaysia:
Shandong Daiyin Textile and Garment Group (D&Y Group) is setting up a textile plant in Sedenak Industrial Park, Kulaijaya district in the state of Johor in peninsular Malaysia, through its subsidiary D&Y Textile (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.
D&Y Group will invest RM 640 million in setting up the new plant, which would be its first in the Asean region, Group chairman Zhao Huan Chen said after signing
an agreement with United Overseas Bank (Malaysia) Bhd (UOB Malaysia) for credit financing services, settlement services, and a range of comprehensive financial services.
07:13:25 local time BANGLADESH
* ‘Pay salaries, bonus to RMG workers by 26 Ramadan’ :
Garment workers on Wednesday demanded paying their salaries, dues and Eid bonus before the 26th of Ramadan as fixed by the government.
The demand was made at a human chain programme arranged by Textile Garments Workers Federation in front of the Jatiya Press Club in the capital.
Federation president Abul Hossain said the garment owners must stop attacks on trade union leaders, job termination of workers and repression on them.
He said the owners of several closed factories went into hiding without paying workers’ salaries, and demanded that they be arrested so that they are compelled to provide the dues salaries of the workers.
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* Labour Act yet to implement in 1 yr:
Thousands of workers of the country are being deprived from their rights as existing labour act did not implement after passing one year.
In some cases workers are being tortured by the factory owners and authorities concerned.
A competent source said the government cannot implement the law as some rules and regulations are yet to be prepared.
However, another source from the labour and employment ministry said the rules and regulations about the new law would be prepared by next two months.
Allude to cabinet had given final approval of Bangladesh Labour Act-2013 (Amendment) on May 13 last year.
On July 26 in the same year, the law passed in the Jatiya Sangshad.
* Fresh talks initiated to set up core authority for RMG:
The country’s apparel makers have renewed their move for creation of a core authority to face emerging challenges in safety compliances and its long-term sustainability.
Currently, the garment factory owners have to go door-to-door for pursuing their business affairs. A number of agencies are engaged in looking into their issues, the industry insiders said adding there is no effective coordination among them.
Keeping this in view, the leaders of the three apparel sector apex bodies –BGMEA, BKMEA, BTMA — have initiated fresh talks with the higher authorities of the government to create an exclusive authority for the sector.
To control and supervise its state of affairs, the sector leaders demanded a core authority to provide one-stop service to the sector that has emerged as the country’s largest foreign currency earner in gross aggregate terms, they added.
Although the sector leaders have been pressing the government for establishing a single authority, no initiative in this regard has yet been taken.
Following their demand, the government recently declared the Textiles and Jute Ministry as the regulatory authority for the sector which the industry insiders have found to be not satisfactory.
According to them, different ministries and agencies including those of textiles and jute, commerce and labour and employment, environment, Board of Investment, Fire Brigade and Civil Defence authority look into various aspects of the industry. But there is no effective coordination among them.
* US Congressmen urged to help restore GSP facility for BD:
Leaders of the Bangladeshi American Democratic Caucus (BADC), held a series of meetings titled “Bangladesh Garment Review Meeting with the US Congressional Leaders” on Tuesday and early Wednesday at the Capitol Hills in Washington RC.
Reports received here in Dhaka said the two-day meetings discussed the GSP issues and Bangladesh’s efforts to improve the working standard in garment factories including fire and building safety. The Caucus leaders had also discussed issues relating to Dhaka’s long-time demand for duty free and quota free market access of apparel exports to the US market.
* Bangladeshi expatriates in US raise voice for GSP:
Bangladeshi expatriates in the United States (US) raised their voice together to help their motherland regain the GSP (generalized system of preference) and other trade related privileges from the US government.
In their latest move, the expatriate Bangladeshis under a platform named Bangladeshi American Democratic Caucus (BADC) held a series of meetings with several members of the US House of Representative on Tuesday (Bangladesh time late Tuesday and early Wednesday) at the Capitol Hills in Washington, DC.
The meetings, dubbed as “Bangladesh Garment Review Meeting with the US Congressional Leaders”, were chaired by BADC President Dr. Nazmul Hassan (Shahin).
Dr. Md Abu Naser (Rajib), Assistant Professor of Journalism Department of Communication Studies of California State University, Sacramento briefed journalists on the meetings at the National Press Club in Dhaka last night.
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* JS body for relocating tanneries to Savar by March :
Expressing dissatisfaction over the delaying process, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industries Ministry asked the Hazaribagh tannery owners on Wednesday to relocate their tanneries to Savar by March, 2015.
The committee expressed dissatisfaction saying that the tanneries could not yet be relocated though all sorts of facilities, including a 205-acre leather estate at Savar, has been allocated for tanneries.
The parliamentary watchdog came up with the suggestion at its 2nd meeting held at the Parliament Secretariat with its chairman Omor Faruk Chowhdury in the chair.
RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* ACC submits charge-sheet in Rana Plaza collapse case :
The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) on Wednesday submitted charge-sheet against 18 people, including Sohel Rana, in the Rana Plaza collapse case.
ACC deputy director M Mofidul Islam submitted the charge-sheet before a Dhaka court, ACC public relations officer Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya told UNB.
The Commission on Tuesday approved the charge-sheet incorporating the name of Sohel Rana, the key accused of the deadly building collapse.
The accused named in the charge-sheet include Sohel Rana, his parents Abdul Khaleque and Marjina Begum. Savar Municipality mayor Refat Ullah, former chief executive officer of Savar Municipality Uttam Kumar Roy, its executive engineer Rafiqul Islam, commissioner Haji M Ali Khan (Ward 7, Savar), architect ATM Masud Reza, Engr Sajjad Hossain and former town planner of Savar Municipality Farjana Islam.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Bangladesh charges 18 over garment factory collapse:
Bangladesh’s anti-corruption agency filed charges on Wednesday against 18 people accused of breaching regulations over the construction of a building that collapsed last year killing more than 1,130 people.
The April 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza, built on swampy ground outside Dhaka, ranks amongst the world’s worst industrial accidents and sparked a global outcry for improved safety. Most of the victims were garment workers.
The accused include the owner of the building, Mohammad Sohel Rana, and his parents, the local mayor, engineers and three owners of garment factories that used the building.
The Anti-Corruption Commission had previously not listed Rana as his name did not appear in documents covering ownership of the land and design approval, which instead listed his parents.
“The charge sheet has been filed against 18 people, including Rana after further investigation found his involvement,” commission spokesman Pranab Kumar Bhattachajee told Reuters.
Of the accused, Bhattachajee said: “Investigation found that they grossly breached the building code.”
* Rana among 18 chargesheeted:
The Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) submitted Wednesday a charge sheet against 18 people including Sohel Rana, owner of Rana Plaza in Savar, in the court.
ACC deputy director M Mofidul Islam submitted the charge sheet before the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court, ACC public relations officer Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya told reporters.
On Tuesday, the Commission approved 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.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Samples did not match Rana Plaza victims:
DNA tests of Matuail remains
A DNA test of the samples found from 29 pieces of human limbs at the Matuail landfill in the capital did not match that of any Rana Plaza victim.
The human remains at the landfill were recovered on June 23 last year.
The national DNA profiling laboratory at Dhaka Medical College Hospital submitted the detailed findings of the test before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate court on June 26 the same year and the samples were sent to the laboratory on September 15.
Dr Sharif Akteruzzaman, head of the laboratory, told the Dhaka Tribune that it was suspected that the recovered remains were those of Rana Plaza victims.
“But we did not find any matches,” he said.
The doctor, however, refused to disclose the specific number of DNA profiles found in the test.
Police, court and laboratory sources said among the 29 pieces, complete DNAs of two males and one female were found. The test also found mixed DNAs (both male and female) of five people.
06:43:25 local time INDIA
* Govt considering to amend labour laws: Sai:
Industry representatives have been long demanding changes in labour laws which they have often termed ‘archaic’
Existing labour laws need to be amended and the Narendra Modi government is actively considering it, Labour and Employment Minister informed Parliament today.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment Vishnu Deo Sai told Rajya Sabha that the amendments in a host of labour laws, including Minimum Wages Act 1948, Labour Laws 1988, Factories Act 1948 and Child Labour Act 1986 are under active consideration of the government.
Industry representatives have been long demanding changes in labour laws which they have often termed “archaic” and a hindrance in raising and expanding their facilities.
However, in his answer to a question that if the government is contemplating to formulate new labour laws “very soon”, Sai said, “at present there is no proposal to formulate new labour laws”.
* Labour reforms: Haryana in Rajasthan’s footsteps:
Haryana govt is mulling changes to the Industrial Disputes Act, the Factories Act and the Contract Labour Act
Following in the footsteps of the Rajasthan government, Haryana is set to change certain labour laws.
The Haryana government is mulling changes to the Industrial Disputes Act, the Factories Act and the Contract Labour Act. This is on the lines of the Rajasthan government, which recently decided to replace these Acts, said Y S Malik, additional chief secretary, Haryana.
* Three textile companies put up 10 MW of solar plant in TN:
Three textile manufacturers based in Karur, Tamil Nadu, have put up a 10 MW solar plant in the State, and have vowed to do more “if Tamil Nadu comes up with a favourable solar policy”.
The three companies – Aravind-A-Traders, Asian Fabricx and Karur Sree Rama Traders – seem to have put their faith in the ‘REC mechanism’ for making their project viable.
Since they have chosen to sell the solar power to the state utility, Tangedco, at a non-premium tariff (of Rs 3.11 a kWhr), they will get ‘renewable energy certificates’ that can be traded in the market.
‘Obligated entities’ – typically, large consumers of electricity or electricity distribution companies – who do not buy solar power or generate it themselves, could meet their legal green-power obligation by purchasing the certificates in the market.
But the issue with this mechanism is that most of the obligated entities simply shrug away their responsibilities and the respective state electricity regulatory commissions, who are supposed to enforce the law, have chosen not to penalise them.
read more. & read more.
* Garmenters seek extension of interest subvention scheme:
Garmenters state interest subvention was helping in cutting down on export costs in the competitive global market
Facing growing global competition in apparel exports, the garment industry has sought an extension of the interest subvention of 3% that had expired in March 2014 from the central government.
Garmenters state the interest subvention was helping in cutting down on export costs in the competitive global market.
When an exporter applies for loan for working capital requirements, under the interest subvention scheme, the central government pays three per cent of the total interest to the bank, while the apparel exporter pays the rest. Last fiscal, the reduced burden of interest on loan led to benefit worth Rs 350-400 crore for apparel exporters.
06:13:25 local time PAKISTAN
* Loadshedding renders powerloom workers jobless:
Hundreds of powerloom workers have become jobless due to unscheduled loadshedding of 18-20 hours in the district.
Talking to newsmen here on Wednesday, the workers protested against the unprecedented loadshedding.
They said that powerloom owners had closed their business due to the loadshedding, rendering them jobless.
They demanded the government end the loadshedding, otherwise they would be forced to take out rallies.
* Govt to make sick textile units operational: Minister:
Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan on Wednesday said that textile exports would enhance by $1 billion and more than one hundred thousand new jobs would be created by reviving the sick textile units by addressing their genuine problems.
He stated this while talking to a delegation of Faisalabad Chambers of Commerce and Industry, which called on the minister in Islamabad.
The Minister said that the Government is seeking help and expertise of private sector to carve out a strategy to make the sick textile units operational.
To alleviate these sick units out of their financial straits, the Ministry of Commerce will persuade the relevant ministries and the State Bank of Pakistan to offer debt-restructuring facility to the willing textile units, the Minister said.
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* Government to reoperate closed textile units: minister:
Minister for Commerce Engineer Khuram Dastagir Khan on Wednesday reiterated government’s commitment to re-operate the closed textiles units in order to enhance its annual exports to US one billion dollars and create 100,000 news jobs for the people in the country.
“The government with the co-operation of the private sector is formulating a strategy for re-operating of the closed textile units while the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the banks would be negotiated and convinced for the rescheduling of the loans of the textile industry for resolving their financial problems,” he said while talking to a delegation of Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) which called on the Minister here at his office on Wednesday.
* PHMA (NZ) expresses concern over power crisis:
Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association (North Zone) PHMA (NZ) has expressed concern over worst-ever electricity crisis in Punjab and threatened that value-added textile sector will be closed immediately after Ramazan and Eid-ul-Fitr if it was not exempted from the load shedding of electricity.
Terming this crisis as inefficiency and mismanagement of the government, Muhammad Amjad Khawaja Chairman PHMA (NZ) said that the government has failed to fix its priorities even after one year in power.
* Exporter’s Distress: PTA laments import duty on leather:
The leather and garment exporters have expressed their dismay over the government’s move of slapping duty on import of hides and skins.
Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA) South Zone Chairman Fawad Jawed said that while the leather sector was passing through a critical phase, the government had imposed duty on leather sector’s main raw material – hides and skins – without justification which would result in collapse of the industry in Pakistan.
Endorsing PTA Central Chairman Sheikh Saqib Masood, Fawaz said that despite the negative growth rate of Pakistan, the government had imposed the duty without realising that the sector was in crisis due to various reasons including non-supply of water, expensive electricity and gas shortage.
As a result, Pakistan was fast losing its market share to its archrival India, said the chairman.
* GSP Plus status forces govt to give priority to rights:
Not wanting to give up its hard-earned GSP Plus status, the government is planning to set up Treaty Implementation Cells (TICs) in all provinces and to put in place a series of laws that seek to protect minorities, women, children and labourers as well as curtailing domestic violence.
The enforcement of these laws is a prerequisite to ensure that Pakistan maintains its GSP Plus status, which allows the country to enjoy trade benefits with the European Union (EU).
GSP-Plus and labour compliance
A senior government official told Dawn that in the wake of the devolution of powers to the provinces, several human rights conventions needed implementation at the grass-roots level. “In view of this, the prime minister has asked that provincial governments set up TICs,” the official said.
The prime minister has also ordered that a high-powered committee, to be headed by the PM’s Special Assistant Khawaja Zaheer Ahmad, be set up to ensure that the TICs do their job.
The prime minister was informed that about 30 major laws or initiatives had been taken by respective federal and provincial governments over the past few years to meet international standards on human rights.
These are required by the EU to continue the GSP Plus facility, but another 14 laws or amendments would have to be made before October this year, when a review will decide whether or not Pakistan will continue to receive the GSP Plus facility.
* SACTWU setlles in non-woven textiles sector:
The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union
(SACTWU) has settled its 2014 wage negotiations in the non-woven textiles
sector, after a dispute.
The settlement package is 7.75% covering wages and an improvement on annual bonus.
Approximately 1000 workers in 15 factories, nationally, will benefit from
this increase. SACTWU’s final package demand was 8%.
The agreement was reached under the auspices of the National Textile
Bargaining Council, between SACTWU and the National Textile Manufacturers’
The Agreement has been signed by employers and the union on the 7th and 15th
July 2014, respectively.
The increases will be backdated 1 July 2014.