06:14:21 local time CHINA
* Yue Yuen shoe factory to be focus of Guangdong’s trade union building:
The Yue Yuen shoe factory in Dongguan, site of the largest strike in China in recent memory, will be the nucleus of efforts by the Guangdong Federation of Trade Unions to institute a system of democratic trade union elections across the province within the next five years.
The head of the provincial federation, Huang Yebin, told the Southern Workers’ Daily that developing a democratic and representative trade union at Yue Yuen was the key to providing a “stable environment for management, reducing labour disputes as much as possible, and building harmonious labour relations.”
Moreover, he said, the goal should be to “allow workers to raise their own demands or present their grievances to the trade union which can then negotiate with the employer.”
However, Huang acknowledged that Guangdong federation would have to overcome several obstacles in realising its ambitious plans, primarily the lack of trust or interest in the trade union among the workers.
At present, only 1,500 of the 40,000 employees at Yue Yuen had joined the enterprise union, he said. A similar picture was found in factories in the surrounding township of Gaobu, all of which had very low enrolment rates.
The Guangdong Federation thus plans to include 33 of the larger factories in the township in its pilot project.
* Shenzhen factory workers rally to support dead colleague:
On the morning of 17 July 2014, Zhou Jianrong, a 49-year-old worker at the GCL Footwear factory in Shenzhen, jumped to her death from the top of a four-storey workshop inside the factory complex.
Zhou was one of several GCL workers who had just been fired in a long-running dispute with management.
The blood stain on the cement floor had still had not been washed away when Zhou’s two daughters and other family members from Chongqing arrived in the evening. Around two hundred workers then marched silently to the scene of the tragedy with Zhou’s family to commemorate their friend and colleague.
“I could not believe my ears when I heard the tragic news this morning.
She was like a younger sister to me,” said Du Chunmei, a close friend of Zhou.
“It was the company that pushed her to the limit.
She must be heartbroken when she found out that her work station where she worked for the past 12 years was no longer there.
For God’s sake, she entered the factory at 5:20 and jumped at 5:48, it must be the most horrible 28 minutes for her.”
05:14:21 local time VIET NAM
*Apparel sector lures most FDI in city’s IPs:
More than 82% of foreign direct investments (FDI) registered in HCMC’s export processing zones (EPZs) and industrial parks (IPs) in the first six months flowed into the textile and garment sector.
In the first half of this year, HCMC’s EPZs and IPs attracted nearly US$265 million of FDI, increasing 80% over the same period last year, the HCMC Export Processing and Industrial Zones Authority (Hepza) announced on July 15 at a press conference on operations of EPZs and IPs.
Tran Viet Ha, investment director of Hepza, said 82.44% of the investment during the period was pledged for the apparel sector. Meanwhile, supporting and hi-tech industries attracted little FDI, with the plastic and rubber sector accounting for only 7.68% of the total investment, and mechanical engineering and electronics making up 4.51% and 0.36% respectively.
As the global apparel market was predicted to grow 3.5% this year while Vietnam is expected to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which will offer investors a 0% tariff when shipping products to TPP member markets, foreign apparel investors have focused their investment in the country, Ha explained.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 22/7 (19th item).
* China remains largest exporter of major items to Vietnam in H1: Vietnam Customs:
China remained the largest exporter of major items to Vietnam in the first half of 2014, including machinery, equipment, tools and accessories, fabrics, materials for garment, footwear and steel among others, said Vietnam Customs on Monday.
According to a recent report on the website of General Department of Vietnam Customs, China continued to be the largest supplier of machinery, equipment, tools and accessories for Vietnam during the first half of 2014, with total revenue of nearly 3.62 billion U.S. dollars, up 25.8 percent year-on-year.
China was followed by Japan and South Korea during January-June period, with export revenue of 1.74 billion U.S. dollars and 1.49 billion U.S. dollars, respectively.
05:14:21 local time CAMBODIA
* Ocean Settles as Other Worker Strikes Gain Steam:
Workers from the beleaguered Ocean Garment Factory on Monday came to an agreement with management over furlough pay, following more than a month of protests.
“All the workers at Ocean Garment Factory have accepted the offer from the factory and the strikes are finished now,” said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union Movement of Workers.
Mr. Sina said workers agreed to accept the factory’s offer of $100 payouts for senior employees and $50 for newer workers, after the factory suspended operations in May due to a lack of orders. The amount is below the $120 called for in a ruling by the Arbitration council, but the Ministry of Labor has pushed workers to accept the offer.
Separately, however, more than a thousand garment workers around the country Monday remained at loggerheads with their factories, prompting continued strikes over wages and benefits.
About 500 workers at the Teng Xun factory in Kompong Speu province went on strike Monday morning over demands that include the provision of lunch money, permission to have mobile phones at work and an end to their wages being taxed.
“Before we went on strike, the factory announced that workers who are earning $125 will have their wages cut by 5 percent in tax. But we did not agree to this,” said Sun Vannak, an employee at the factory, which makes women’s handbags.
Sar Chanthou, an official from the Free Trade Union, said negotiations failed between staff and management following the rejection of the factory’s tax proposal.
* Brands Dodge Blame Over Substandard Factory:
Behind the walls of the nondescript Hung Tak garment factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, more than 400 workers have been toiling in substandard conditions to cut and stitch clothing for some of the world’s biggest brands.
But since the factory was named by the International Labor Organization as one of the country’s lowest compliance factories, the brands are quickly backing away—a unionist and a factory representative said at least one brand had begun quietly pulling out—leaving workers with less work and less pay.
Three international brands—Kappa, Walmart and Primark—have been linked to the Hong Kong-owned factory. Despite tags provided by workers bearing their brand, both Kappa and Walmart said they had not “authorized production” at the factory and were investigating the matter. Walmart said it last used Hung Tak in 2007 while Kappa said it plans to “clear the eventual relations with the factory.”
When inspectors from the International Labor Organization (ILO) visited the Hung Tak garment factory in January, they discovered that its employees were subject to illegal wage deductions and were working in an unsafe environment. Later, those findings would earn the factory a spot on the ILO’s Better Factories Cambodia’s (BFC) “lowest compliance” list for failing to meet 19 criteria for basic working conditions.
Just days after the publication of an article linking the brands to the factory, Free Trade Union representative Yim Chan, 40, said a factory manager told her a major buyer cut its orders as a result of the media coverage.
“Now, we have nothing to sew. They have stopped sending us clothes. We all leave the factory at 4 p.m.,” she said. “Half of the workers from group one and six are sent home after their morning shift and receive half their [usual] wage.”
Dave Welsh, country director of the Solidarity Center, a U.S.-based labor rights organization, said some brands were publicly espousing ethical policies on the one hand and squeezing factories to boost their own profit margins on the other.
“There is no question that brands are driving down worker salaries and conditions in factories,” he said.
Mr. Welsh said there was “little or no excuse” for brands to claim they did not know where their products were being made.
“Rarely do brands ever take responsibility. They either try to deflect—they say they have no involvement with a factory—or they pull out, and no one wants them to pull out of the garment industry in Cambodia. They want them to use their leverage to improve conditions and wages,” he said.
Anne Dekker, an appeals coordinator at the Clean Clothes Campaign, a network of organizations working to improve global garment industry conditions, said via email that brands should recognize their purchasing practices were hugely influential.
“[They should] pay fair prices to the factories that are sufficient to pay the workers a decent wage so they don’t need to work up to 60 hours in total a week in order to feed themselves and their families,” she said.
Ms. Dekker added that brands should “set realistic deadlines to the factories for orders that are possible to produce in the set time by the available workforce within their normal working hours.”
* Strike for a song: Employees ‘waste time on phones’:
About 500 garment workers whose bosses have complained that they spend too much of their working day talking on the phone and listening to music protested outside their Kampong Speu factory yesterday, demanding better working conditions.
Workers began the strike at the Teng Xun factory at about 8am, with a list of six demands, including that tax not be deducted from their wages, lunch bonuses be paid for working on Saturdays and Sundays, medical certificates be recognised and permission be granted for them to bring phones into factories, worker Sun Vannak said.
“The workers will continue protesting until we reach a solution,” he said.
* Garment Exports Keep Rising Despite Unrest:
Cambodia’s vital garment and footwear exports have continued to show strong growth despite ongoing labor unrest, according to the government’s latest mid-year figures. But while overall exports are up, those to the massive U.S.’s market have dipped slightly.
Garment and footwear exports, which make up 80 percent of everything Cambodia ships abroad and brought in more than $5 billion last year, rose 16 percent during the first six months year-on-year and totaled $2.92 billion, a Ministry of Commerce official said Monday.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, as he is not permitted to share figures with the press, said exports to Europe led the way at $1.14 billion, up 32 percent compared to the same period last year. But exports to the U.S. dipped slightly by 2 percent, he added, to just under $1 billion. The figures were also reported by Chinese state news agency Xinhua.
04:14:21 local time BANGLADESH
* Garment workers blockaded:
Garment workers blockaded Nur Ahmed Road at Lovelane in Chittagong Monday demanding wages and Eid bonus. —Focus Bangla Photo.
* Roads blocked for pay in Savar, Ctg:
Rmg Workers, Families Want To Get Paid Well Before Eid
Garment workers demonstrated in Savar and Chittagong yesterday demanding festival bonus ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Nearly a hundred workers of Maggie and Liz Corporation (Pvt) Ltd blockaded Nur Ahmed Road in Chittagong city for about half an hour from 1:00pm, reports our Chittagong correspondent.
Quoting the demonstrators, Arifur Rahman Arif, deputy assistant director of Industrial Police-3, Chittagong, said the workers blockaded the road fearing that the factory authorities would not give them bonus before Eid as only about a week is left for the festival.
They demanded that the factory management give them Eid bonus immediately.
The road blockade was withdrawn after police arranged a meeting between the workers and factory management where it was settled that the workers would get Eid bonus on July 26.
Meanwhile, over a hundred workers of SMN Sweater (Pvt) Ltd of Savar demonstrated on the factory premises demanding festival bonus and arrears for May and June, according to our Savar correspondent.
* Workplace safety awareness among leather workers stressed :
Speakers at a workshop on Monday stressed the need for creating wider awareness on occupational safety and health among the workers and employers of the leather industry in Bangladesh.
They also emphasised on ensuring better working conditions in tannery factories to reduce health risks of the workers and people leaving in the tannery areas.
The workshop titled Designing Education Programmes for Workers in Leather Sector was jointly organised by the Promoting Fundamental Rights and Labour Relations in Export Oriented Industries (FRLR) project of International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Tannery Workers Union.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* 65 poor get sewing machines from LGSP in Gaibandha :
Some 65 poor people including women of Jumarbari union of Shaghata upazila here got spray and sewing machines worth Taka 0.3 million from Local Government Support Project (LGSP)-2 on Sunday.
A distribution function was held on the premises of the union parishad (UP) at noon with UP chairman Mahfuzur Rahman Mafu in the chair.
UNO Abdul Awal attended the function as the chief guest and upazila engineer of local government engineering department M Sabiul Islam was present as the special guest.
TAZREEN FACTORY FIRE
* Families of Tazreen fire victims demand compensation before Eid:
The families of Tazreen fire victims on Monday demanded compensation from the government before the Eid-ul-Fitr, expressing their frustration that they did not get any compensation even after 20 months of the blaze that left 112 workers killed at Tazreen Fashions Limited at Savar.
From a press conference and human chain in front of National Press Club, they raised their four-point demand including compensation before the Eid.
The families of the victims organised the press conference.
They urged the government to establish a cell to deal with the garments workers’ demands and complaints.
* 26 Tazreen victim families yet to be compensated:
During the demonstration, the organisers put a golden tin-made box full of money on the street and wrote on it “Prime Minister’s Relief Fund: Tk105 crore.” The box was later locked and painted red
The families of 26 victims of the Tazreen factory fire have been waiting since May to receive the compensations pledged by the government for the devastating incident that took place on November 24, 2012.
Earlier this year, the Labour Ministry prepared a list of 26 Tazreen victims – of whom 14 were unidentified or missing workers – and sent it to the Prime Minister’s Office. In May, the ministry informed the family members of the victims that the compensations would be given within a week.
Earlier, the High Court ordered the government and the BGMEA – the association of garment factory owners – to pay the compensations. Each family was to get Tk7 lakh, as per the recommendations made by the government and the BGMEA.
Yesterday, the family members and survivors of the Tazreen tragedy and Activist Anthropologists group held an open press conference in front of the National Press Club demanding the compensations before Eid-ul-Fitr.
During the demonstration, the organisers put a golden tin-made box full of money on the street and wrote on it “Prime Minister’s Relief Fund: Tk105 crore.” The box was later locked and painted red.
Family members and survivors then put photos of their beloved ones and those were remain missing on the box.
The survivors and victims’ families of the Tazreen fire incident and the Rana Plaza collapse have been waiting for a long time to be compensated from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund where the BGMEA and others contributed money.
RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Rana Plaza victims want compensation:
Survivors and family members of those who died in the Rana Plaza collapse formed a human chain at the site in Savar yesterday demanding that they be compensated before Eid-ul-Fitr.
Several hundred demonstrators also marched on the Dhaka-Aricha highway from the site to Rajalakh Farm road, said witnesses.
Addressing the human chain, Nurul Islam, a garment worker who was injured in the nine-storey building collapse, said over a year has passed since the tragedy and he has not been compensated yet.
“After being injured in the building collapse, I cannot work for long in one setting, and so it is difficult for me to get jobs,” he said, adding that his four-member family is dependent on him.
Speakers alleged that the government and BGMEA authorities have received foreign aid for the victims of Rana Plaza, but instead of distributing the money among the victims, they have grabbed it for themselves.
Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre, Garment Workers’ Front and Rana Plaza Garment Workers’ Union jointly organised the programme.
Emdadul Islam, president of Rana Plaza Garment Workers’ Union, said, “So far we have been demonstrating peacefully, and we request that the government does not force us to take to the streets.”
The building collapsed on April 24 last year leaving 1,132 people dead and scores other injured.
03:44:21 local time INDIA
* Textile and construction MSMEs set to offer more jobs than ever:
CRISIL has analysed the employee strengths of about 700 textile and civil construction MSMEs (each) that it rated in 2013-14 (financial year April 1 to March 31).
This assessment of employment potential indicated that textile enterprises operate with an average of 86 employees per unit, whereas civil construction units work with a greater strength of 141 employees per unit. However, contractual labour forms a greater portion of the construction workforce, at 68 per cent of overall employee strength.
03:14:21 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.
He said the impact on overall cost has been 3.5 percent in Punjab and 1.5 percent in other provinces. Similarly, he added, wages, and operational costs are equivalent to 17.5 percent of the total cost of production.
Ejaz, while mentioning the 20 percent increase in wages in the last 13 months said that this increase has cost another 1.25 percent in outlay to the industry.
Industries in Punjab and other parts of the country, he added, have been equally impacted by the increase in minimum wage.
* Cotton growers likely to achieve 10.5 million bales’ target:
Growers in Punjab have brought 5.61 million acres of land under cotton sowing this year out of which it is expected to achieve the target of 10.5 million bales.
This was stated by Punjab Agriculture Minister Dr Farrukh Javed while chairing the meeting of the Cotton Crop Management Croup which was also attended by the Secretary Agriculture Punjab Ali Tahir, Cotton Commissioner Dr Khalid Abdullah, Director General Agriculture (Extension & AR) Dr Anjum Ali and other high-ups.
According to the information reached here, it was also attended by the progressive growers and officials from Chief Engineers Canals of Multan, Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan and Faisalabad zones.
The meeting observed that overall situation of the cotton crop is satisfactory but growers should carry out daily monitoring of the crop and twice a week pest scouting, the committee advised the cotton growers.