17:42:15 local time CHINA
* Mystery syndrome killing workers in ‘world’s factory’:
About 700 young workers in Dongguan, a major production base in Guangdong province, have died in their sleep in the past decade.
According to the Epidemiological Study of Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome, more than 90 percent of the victims were production line workers, with males accounting for 93 percent.
Most were between the ages of 21 and 40.
According to the survey, conducted by Cheng Jianding, a professor from Zhongshan School of Medicines at Sun Yat-sen University, at least 1,124 cases were reported in Dongguan between January 1990 and August 2013.
Of these, 697 were from 2004 to 2013.
About 1 out of every 100,000 workers was hit annually by the syndrome.
“SUNDS mainly happened to workers with high labor intensity and poor education,” the survey said.
Most of the victims were migrant workers from around the country. They were employed by the city’s construction, chemical, electronics, home appliances, metal, furniture, garment, shoe and toy companies.
The labor department in Dongguan, the Pearl River Delta city known as a “factory of the world,” refused comment on Monday.
Zhang Yiri, an associate professor from Guangzhou City Polytechnic, attributed the growing number of cases in Dongguan to the unreasonable payment system, which encourages people to work overtime.
“Many bosses pay very low base salaries to workers. But the payment for overtime work is higher,” Zhang said.
“Therefore, many people apply for overtime to earn extra money,” he said.
Peng Peng, a senior researcher at the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said government departments and employers should improve working and living conditions for migrant workers and raise minimum wages.
Wang Xiaofeng, a migrant worker in Zhongshan, said he would not be able to earn enough if he refused to work overtime.
“The base salary is really low,” said Wang, who is working with a home appliances company.
17:42:15 local time PHILIPPINES
* Profit-sharing OK, but no substitute for substantial wage hike – KMU:
National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno welcomed today a bill that would compel employers to share profits with their employees but said that such a proposal, even if implemented, cannot replace a significant wage hike.
The labor group said that the goal of Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza in filing House Bill 4445 or the “Profit Sharing Act of 2014,” that of allowing the growth in capitalists’ profits to trickle down to workers, is salutary.
It said, however, that capitalists may simply manipulate declarations of profits to either avoid giving 10 per cent of their net profits to both regular and contractual workers or to give mere crumbs as incentives to workers.
“Proposals for profit-sharing are welcome but profit-sharing is no substitute for a significant wage hike. Such proposals aim to improve the situation of Filipino workers but profit-sharing can also be used as an excuse to deprive workers of economic relief,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
The labor leader said that Filipino workers need immediate economic relief after wages have been pressed down for decades, causing workers and their families to sink deeper into poverty, hunger and debt.
16:42:15 local time VIET NAM
* Vietnam exports 9.38 bln USD garment in H1:
Vietnam made over 9.38 billion U.S. dollars from garment exports in the first half of 2014, up 19.8 percent year-on-year, accounting for 13.2 percent of the national total export revenue during the period.
According to the latest statistics on the website of the General Department of Vietnam Customs on Tuesday, in June alone, Vietnam pocketed over 1.89 billion U.S. dollars, up 22.4 percent against the previous month, posting the first time since January 2014 when garment replaced phone and accessories to top Vietnam’s export items in terms of revenue.
The United States was the largest market of Vietnam’s garment in six-month period with import revenue of 4.57 billion U.S. dollars, up 15.8 percent year-on-year, accounting for 48.7 percent of Vietnam’s total market shares for garment, said the department.
The European Union followed the United States with a turnover of 1.49 billion U.S. dollars, up 27.7 percent year-on-year, accounting for 15.9 percent of Vietnam’s total market shares, said Vietnam Customs.
In the past years, garment has contributed some 15 percent to Vietnam’s export revenue annually, bringing Vietnam to top five among 153 garment exporting countries and regions worldwide in terms of revenue.
However, Vietnamese garment is facing several internal problems such as being too much dependent on imported fabrics, focusing on Cut, Measure and Thread (CMT) jobs, which creates low wages for local workers, Bao Cong Thuong (Industry and Trade News), an online newspaper under Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade said recently.
* Vietnam’s footwear exports among global top five: association:
Vietnam ranked among the top five footwear exporters worldwide in terms of export revenue, said Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association Tuesday.
The association said on its website that in the first six months of 2014, Vietnam posted some 4.85 billion US dollars in footwear export revenue, up 21.54 percent over the same period in 2013.
Vietnam remained the second after China in footwear exports to the United States, the European Union and Japan during the period, said the association.
The United States is the biggest market of Vietnamese footwear, with 1.55 billion US dollars worth of products shipped to the market in January-June period, accounting for 31.87 percent of the country’s total footwear export revenue, followed by Belgium (6.87 percent) and Germany (5.53 percent).
* Footwear giants transfer orders into Vietnam:
Footwear giants like Nike, Adidas and Puma have been moving their orders from China and Bangladesh into Vietnam since early this year, according to the Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (LEFASO).
The moving rate is 25 percent higher than the same period last year.
Besides, Target Sourcing Services who is among the world ten largest distributors and Dansu Group are planning investment in Vietnam.
Companies that used to order in China only like high-class handbag groups Lancaster and Sequoia Paris have also moved investment into Vietnam to disperse risks.
Timberland and Puma want to expand production in Vietnam to meet the increasing demand of orders transferred from China.
15:42:15 local time BANGLADESH
* 3 labour leaders sacked for demanding dues:
Three labour leaders of the state-owned Crescent Jute Mills in Khulna have been sacked for besieging its administrative office to press for the payment of their dues.
The mill authorities specified the cause of the termination in a notice signed by Deputy General Manager Khandaker Shahadat Hossain at 10:00pm on Monday.
The move sparked protests by thousands of workers, who gathered in front of the mill’s administrative building, remaining there until midnight, said CBA President Murad Hossain. Collective Bargaining Agent (CBA) General Secretary Hemayet Uddin Azadi, Press Secretary Abdus Salam and Sports Secretary Ismail Hossain have been sacked.
Workers had cordoned off the mill’s administrative building on Sunday to demand the payment of three weeks’ wages.
The mill authorities had earlier announced that the workers would be paid a week’s wages on Sunday, and for another, on Wednesday, according to bdnews24.com.
to read. & read more. & read more.
* RMG workers stage demo in CEPZ:
Industrial police forces have rushed dispersed the workers
The workers of a Korean ready-made garments have staged an hour long demonstration at the factory in Chittagong Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) demanding advanced salary and Eid bonus.
The agitated workers of New Era Fashion also vandalised the factory building during the demonstration, CEPZ sources said.
Inspector (Intelligence) Ariful Islam Arif of industrial police said some 950 workers of the factory were demanding their advanced salary of July and Eid bonus ahead of Eid-ul-fitr for a few days.
They started the demonstration around 9am when the factory authorities announced that the workers would only get the Eid bonus.
On information, industrial police forces rushed to the factory and dispersed the workers.
Police took control over the situation within an hour, he said.
“The factory authorities and workers representatives sat into a meeting to figure out a solution over the issue,” added the inspector.
* More RMG workers demand Eid bonus immediately:
Demonstrate in Savar, Ctg
Garment factory workers in Savar and Chittagong demonstrated yesterday demanding festival bonus immediately as Eid-ul-Fitr is only about a week away.
Nearly a thousand workers of Rakib Fashion in Tetuljhora of Savar demonstrated on the factory premises demanding that they be paid Eid bonus immediately, reports our Savar correspondent.
They also brought out a short procession on the road in front of the factory.
Mirza Shaijuddin, inspector of Ashulia Industrial Police, said the workers had received their salary on Monday, but did not get Eid bonus.
When the workers asked about Eid bonus, the authorities told them that the festival bonus would be paid on July 26, he said, adding that the workers said July 26 was too late and demanded bonus immediately.
The workers dispersed after police were deployed.
* 19 garment factories shut by Accord:
Some 19 factories have so far been shut down following recommendations from engineers of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, the platform of mainly European brands.
The Accord recommended for closure of some 31 factories in 14 buildings but the government-appointed review panel allowed partial operation in seven of the factories and full operation in five after immediate corrective measures by the owners.
Syed Ahmed, inspector general of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, said the review panel members visited the factories upon recommendation from the Accord engineers and allowed operations if there were “not so big problems”.
Alan Roberts, executive director of the Accord’s international operations, ruled out any plan to set up a fund to disburse among factory owners for building renovations.
“The Accord does, however, require all brands to work with factory owners to ensure that there is adequate financial support in place to carry out the relevant remediation. This is a clear requirement within the Accord, which is itself a legally binding agreement.”
He said the platform has so far carried out over 960 inspections and have published over 100 inspection reports and the relevant corrective action plans on line.
* RMG workers’ capability to face fire incident improves significantly:
The Alliance has $100 million affordable capital available to factory owners and $5 million support available to displaced factory workers
The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a platform of the North American buyers, has completed inspection that resulted in full or partial closure of 10 out of 587 RMG units.
According to the final report of the Alliance published yesterday on its website, the Alliance completed inspections of all 587 factories and identified 10 factories flawed on fire, electrical and structural ground from which its members source products.
The report also said 50% RMG factories from which Alliance brands source products are now in remediation while 1.1 million workers trained in basic fire safety of which 97.8% can correctly identify what to do in case of fire.
The Alliance said it has $100 million affordable capital available to factory owners and $5 million support available to displaced factory workers and as it compensated 1,000 displaced workers.
The Alliance conducted a comprehensive baseline survey and a limited sample follow-up survey among the garment workers assessing their knowledge on fire safety before and after the Alliance-led trainings.
The survey findings showed workers, who could correctly identify what to do in case of a fire, increased from 39% to 98%, and those who could correctly identify the five most common fire hazards increased from 2% to 51% following the basic fire safety training.
* Case Study: Fire and building safety in the ready-made garment sector of Bangladesh:
The National Tripartite Plan of Action in Bangladesh’s garment industry will affect more than 3.5 million workers and improve fire safety and structural integrity in approximately 3,500 factories.
It is the first programme between workers, employers and the government of its kind
Outside the country, it has also had an immediate impact on major international initiatives launched by buyers, governments and interest groups.
Bangladesh’s ready-made garment sector has experienced rapid growth over the past 20 years.
Now the country’s largest export earner, the sector employs over 3.5 million workers – of which 80% are women – in 3,500 factories. Bangladesh currently ranks as the second largest exporter of ready-made garments in the world. In 2013, garment exports are estimated to have topped US$21 billion, a significant jump from US$19 billion in 2012.
This rapid and unregulated growth has also created serious problems.
In the rush to meet export demands, many factories have been set up in buildings unsuitable for industrial purposes such as apartment blocks and office buildings.
Many factory buildings struggle to cope with the heavy load of sewing machines, fabric and large numbers of workers, with exit and entry points not designed for large numbers of workers to use at the same time and the need for industrial safety equipment never anticipated.
In this context, the industry focus has always been on the contribution that the sector was making to employment and export earnings, and not on the safety of the factories.
In addition, while child labour appears to have greatly reduced in export factories, significant problems still exist around occupational safety and health, working conditions, wage payments, and the rights of workers to organise.
In many factories, these issues are compounded by the absence of effective human resource management systems.
Weaknesses in national labour law administration, industrial relations and social dialogue systems further worsen non-compliance with national laws and regulations.
15:12:15 local time INDIA
* The labour reforms we truly need:
The case against labour inspector raj is overstated. Labour courts need to be strengthened
The labour reform debate in India has acquired renewed vigour under the new government.
The Rajasthan and the Haryana governments have recently proposed to amend a few Central labour laws.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment has also circulated labour reform proposals.
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion has issued an “advisory” to the state governments to institute reforms relating to inspection.
Labour flexibility measures, especially in respect of hire and fire and contract labour, have caused industrial unrest and violence. India is committed to the pursuit of the ‘decent work’ agenda of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which essentially seeks to promote just and efficient workplaces.
India has not ratified four of the eight ILO Core Conventions concerning child labour (C.138 and C.182), trade unions and collective bargaining (C.87 and C98). Out of 185 countries, 153 countries have ratified conventions covering these three areas. While mere ratification does not lead to solutions, the commitment of the Indian Government to decent work makes early ratification imperative.
The Trade Unions Act, 1926, merely provides for voluntary registration of trade unions and not for recognition of trade unions, which is more relevant for collective bargaining.
Trade union recognition is provided for by laws at the state level, such as in Maharashtra.
Legal amendments providing for trade union recognition, time-bound union registration, sharing of information by parties for efficient collective bargaining, strong union democracy and proscription of unfair labour practices must be initiated.
The law on minimum wages and its implementation urgently needs reforms. For example, there is no definition of “minimum wages” in the law.
The penalties prescribed in the law for violations of this important socio-economic law are absurdly low.
Minimum wage boards are not re-constituted in time and minimum wages are revised after a considerable time lag.
The frequent incidence of fatal industrial accidents especially among contract workers calls for stricter regulations and efficient governance.
* Over half of TUFS approvals go to Gujarat:
Subsidies offered under the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme
At a meeting with the stakeholders of the textiles industry and entrepreneurs, Textile Commissioner, Kiran Soni Gupta informed that of the total applications sanctioned under the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS), over half of them were from Gujarat.
In her interaction with stakeholders at Ahmedabad Textile Industries Research Association (ATIRA) on Tuesday, Gupta noted that the entrepreneurs from Gujarat were keen to adopt the new technologies.
Giving details about the TUFS scheme, she informed that under the 15-per cent margin money subsidy (MMS), 2,897 applications were sanctioned from Gujarat out of 3,200 applications sanctioned nationally. Similarly under 20 per cent MMS, 1,160 applications were sanctioned from Gujarat out of 4,154 applications sanctioned all over India.
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14:42:15 local time PAKISTAN
* Blaze in Karachi garment factory fire controlled:
A fire that swept into a garment factory Tuesday morning in Karachi’s New Karachi industrial area was tended by fire fighters, DawnNews reported.
The process of cooling was under way after the six fire brigades sent to the factory managed to control the blaze.
No casualties were reported in the fire.
Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and commercial heart, has around 10,000 factories on seven industrial estates, according to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).
On top of that, there are at least 50,000 cottage and small industries in the informal sector based in residential areas.
According to analysts, security measures in most of the factories had always been compromised, as higher safety standards meant higher production costs.
In 2012, a deadly fire had erupted in Ali Enterprises, a garments factory, in Karachi’s Baldia Town.
Baldia factory fire, considered as the country’s worst industrial incident, had killed more than 250 people and had injured many others.
The death of so many people had highlighted Pakistan’s dismal approach to industrial safety and raised fears for the clothing sector vital to the nation’s struggling economy.
to read. & read more. (+ video report).
* Fire erupts in garment factory in New Karachi:
A garment factory owner suffered a huge loss after a fire erupted in the factory located in the industrial area of New Karachi on Tuesday morning, Geo News reported.
Initially, six fire brigades were sent to douse the flames but later two more were called in to tame the intense blaze.
After three hours of effort, firemen were able to put out the fire with the help of eight fire tenders and one water bowser.
Two floors of the unfortunate garment factory were completely gutted by the blaze while huge loss was incurred after production material worth millions was destroyed in the fire.
Fire brigade authorities told that short circuit could be the cause of the fire in the garment factory.
* ‘Only 11 percent of workforce registered under social security’:
Only 11 percent of total workforce in the documented sector is registered under social security with the women registration abysmally low, social scientists regretted on Monday.
The worker’s registration to social security has been mandatory in Pakistan since 1967.
According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, total workforce in the country stands at 59.74 million. The documented sector employs 25.7 percent, or 15.35 million, of the total.
Data collected from four provinces indicate that only 1.67 million workers are registered with their provincial social security departments. Legally all the regular and contract workers are entitled to social security benefits if their employers make six percent contribution to the social security departments in their province.
In Punjab, a total of 60,912 units make social security contribution for their 869,224 workers.
The numbers of units registered with social security in Sindh are 29,153, contributing to social security for 716,854 workers.
The number of registered units in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is 4,883 and social security contribution is received for 73,072 workers.
In Balochistan, total 529 registered units pay for 10,882 employees.
According to the Pakistani labour laws, the employers are bound to contribute in relevant provincial social security department an amount equivalent to six percent of the monthly salary of each of their employee, drawing up to Rs15000 per month.
A contract worker drawing up to Rs600 per day is entitled to social security benefits.
* Worker’s Welfare Fund: Director stresses on labour rights :
Workers Welfare Fund’s (WWF) Director Education Masood Raza on Tuesday said that labourers in textile and construction sectors are the backbone of economy and the government is taking steps to protect their rights.
Raza said the construction sector was the second largest industry of Pakistan followed by the textile sector, which provides jobs to millions of unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workforce. He said that WWF was providing facilities as per government policies, besides health and educational facilities and other cash benefits to workers.
The director said that the welfare fund and workers’ participation fund was payable by industrial units and such contributions and collection were disbursed to provinces through a specified quota.
“The WWF undertakes development and construction of flats and houses, free of cost quality education to workers’ children, scholarship for workers’ children and financial aid to legal heirs of the deceased workers,” said Raza.
* PTI seeks powerloom owners’ support for long march:
Cheema have started contacting the powerloom owners, urging them to ask their workers to take part in the long march on August 14 to express their indignation against the loadshedding.
They said that 30% powerlooms had been closed in the city, rendering over 200,000 workers jobless.
They assured the powerloom owners that the PTI would provide them round-the-clock electricity after coming into power if they supported the long march.
Powerloom Owners Association chairman Mirza Muhammad Shafiq said that the PTI leaders had already given an ultimatum to the government to end loadshedding by July 28 otherwise the remaining 200,000 workers would also lose their jobs.
* Aptma seeks uninterrupted energy supply to Punjab industry:
Chairman APTMA Punjab S M Tanveer has urged the government to ensure uninterrupted energy supply to the Punjab-based textile industry after Ramadan.
He said the Punjab-based textile industry has fully cooperated with the government in its strive to provide maximum energy supply to domestic consumers during Ramadan. Now the time has come that the government should provide uninterrupted energy supply to the Pumjab-based textile industry, already operating on partial shifts, he added.
S M Tanveer said the textile industry is designed on 24/7 operations throughout 365 days a year. But it was exposed to both electricity and gas supply shortages during Ramadan for the sake of domestic consumers, he said.
The APTMA Punjab Chairman urged the Minister for Petroleum & Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Minister for Water & Power Kh Muhammad Asif to provide gas and electricity to the industry so as to remove the mismatch of industrial production.
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