04:05:08 local time CHINA
* Protest Action Asking Marks & Spencer to Live up to a Responsible Retailer:
Marks & Spencer tolerated the misbehavior of its Shenzhen supplier GCL Footwear
A female worker committed suicide to protest against unlawful dismissal of GCL
HKCTU and labour organizations concerning Chinese workers launched a demonstration to protest against Marks & Spencer and its supplier Grosby Footwear Limited (GCL Ltd) at the Tsim Sha Tsui office of Marks and Spencer this morning. Grosby employs more than 200 workers and is located in Shenzhen.
It has been a long term supplier of Marks and Spencer. HKCTU learnt that one female employee of Grosby who was amongst the sacked workers of the company, jumped off from the factory building in the morning of July 17. She died from this incident.
We believed that her suicide was triggered by the unreasonable dismissal of Grosby. The letter to the CEO of Marks & Spencer from us is as below:
03:05:08 local time CAMBODIA
* On the march: Days-long strike shifts to district HQ:
After striking for more than a week, employees at Phnom Penh’s Sun Well Shoes yesterday marched to Por Sen Chey district hall, demanding their voices be heard.
“We protested in front of the factory for nearly 10 days, but the factory officials did not come to negotiate,” Seang Sambath, president of the Workers Friendship Union Federation (WFUF), said yesterday. “So they marched to the district hall.”
Some 300 people marched from their Veng Sreng Boulevard factory with a list of seven demands, including the firing of a manager and $15 per month for accommodation and transportation.
* Garment Workers Demand District Intervention:
About 200 garment workers on Wednesday marched from the Sun Well Shoe Factory on Veng Sreng Street to the Pur Senchey district office, demanding intervention in an ongoing dispute over their wages, a union representative said.
At 7 a.m., the workers left the factory, marching out of the industrial area and onto Russian Boulevard before reaching the office, said Sieng Sambath, president of the Worker Friendship Union Federation.
“If the intervention by the district cannot organize for us to negotiate, we will protest at the factory,” Mr. Sambath said.
The workers went on strike last week to demand seven points, including a monthly $5 attendance bonus, a $15 per month travel and accommodation stipend, severance pay and better safety equipment.
* After deal, unions expect support:
News of an end to a year-long political deadlock has labour union leaders believing the opposition party can bring their interests to parliament, but a lack of follow-through could cost the Cambodia National Rescue Party vital support from one of its key interest groups.
Different union leaders said yesterday they hope that once the CNRP takes its seats and takes charge of its many committees, the newfound influence will translate into a reinvigorated push for a higher minimum wage and for investigations into fatal strike shootings.
“I would say there’s potential [for labour reform] and there’s also an obligation,” said Dave Welsh, country director of labour rights NGO Solidarity Center. “If we recall what happened in January, what was a labour issue turned into a political issue.”
During a 10-day strike in December and January, CNRP members – including senior lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua and opposition leader Sam Rainsy – encouraged unionists to strike until the minimum monthly wage was raised to $160. Workers wearing stickers reading “$160” joined CNRP supporters in massive gatherings at Freedom Park and in marches around Phnom Penh.
The strikes and marches, however, ended in an abrupt series of crackdowns, punctuated by the shooting deaths of at least five garment workers on the capital’s Veng Sreng Boulevard on January 3.
“Workers still demand a wage increase and the government and garment factories still have not resolved this, but with a two-party system, we can get closer to $160,” said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), the Kingdom’s largest independent garment union. “Politicians can have more influence on workers and workers can have more influence on politicians.”
Collective Union of Movement of Workers president Pav Sina and Free Trade Union president Chea Mony both said their continued support of the CNRP at least partially hinges on its promise to raise the minimum wage in the garment sector to at least $160.
“The largest priority for the [C.CAWDU] is to find out [what happened] and find justice for the people,” said Kong Athit, C.CAWDU’s vice president, referring to deadly shootings at garment protests in November and January and the arrest and conviction of 23 people.
* After NEC Reform, Rainsy Says Higher Wages are Top Priority:
CNRP leader Sam Rainsy said Wednesday that a higher minimum wage for garment workers and civil servants would be the opposition’s top legislative priority—after reconstituting the National Election Committee (NEC)—when it takes the 55 National Assembly seats it has been boycotting for the past year.
The CNRP has been refusing to take its seats in protest over what it says were rigged national elections last July but is expected to have its lawmakers-elect sworn in by the King in the coming days after reaching a deal with the ruling CPP on Tuesday to reform the NEC.
But even an optimistic Mr. Rainsy conceded that getting any of the opposition’s legislative agenda past the CPP—which will hold on to a majority of the assembly’s 123 seats as well as its standing committee, which decides what laws make it to the floor—will be much easier said than done.
“All our promises we will push through,” he said. “Whether we will succeed or not…we want our objectives to be the law, especially the minimum wage, to end the modern form of slavery.”
A $250 monthly minimum wage for the country’s civil servants and $150 for its garment workers were two of the CNRP’s key campaign pledges leading up to the elections, and among the most popular with voters.
03:05:08 local time THAILAND
* Over 3,000 firms register under foreign investment law:
A total of 3,032 foreign-based companies and more than 70 joint ventures have registered to open offices and to operate 720 projects under foreign investment as of June, according to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration.
04:05:08 local time INDONESIA
* Sudarmi: The Life Story of a Female Worker:
It is early morning when Sudarmi wakes up from her slumber. Although the fatigue is not completely gone, she forces herself to rise from her bed and goes to the bathroom in a hurry and gets herself ready for work.
Her husband was still in deep sleep on the mattress when Sudarmi reluctantly wakes him. She softly whispers to her husband, “Dear, wake up. Breakfast is ready.” Her husband is awaken, though he still feels the drowsiness. “Please drop me off at the factory, will you dear? I don’t want to be late ,” Sudarmi says with a smiling face.
It is barely 6:00 in the morning and Sudarmi and her husband race the motorcycle, leaving their home and heading toward the factory in Cileungsi area, Bogor, West Java. Upon arrival at the factory gate, Sudarmi fervently jumps off the motorcycle and says to her husband, “Thanks, Dear. Pray for me, that everything today shall be working smoothly.” Her husband smiles and waves. They head into an opposite direction.
Sudarmi is a female worker who is full of tenacity and dedication. She has been working in this factory, PT. Citra Abadi Sejati, for 15 years. PT. Citra Abadi Sejati is a large garment company and employs more than 3,000 workers. It has been one of Better Work Indonesia’s partner since 2011.
Supevisory Skills Training
Sudarmi currently works as a Chief Supervisor in Sewing Department. Her subordinates include four supervisors and hundreds of sewing operators in the garment factory. Sudarmi admits that working in a garment factory has its own challenges since it is a labor intensive industry- this is certainly different from those that are capital intensive. Issues on interpersonal relationships and communications oftentimes are the challenges that remain present in this industry.
“I don’t know how to communicate effectively with my subordinates let alone inspire them. I sometimes become very aggressive and easily upset when I face the problems in my workplace,” utters Sudarmi.
02:35:08 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Myanmar companies weak on human rights, fighting corruption, says watchdog:
Myanmar companies still have a poor record on human rights and measures to fight corruption, said a report published by the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business on July 22.
The Pwint Thit Sa report said Myanmar companies needed to improve health and safety standards for workers and introduce better working conditions.
The report also said businesses needed to use work practices that reduced negative effects on the environment.
02:05:08 local time BANGLADESH
* Irregularities rampant in non-member RMG units:
The extent of various irregularities, including non-payment of wage and non-compliance of the government-announced wage structure and other rightful benefits, is much higher in the apparel factories, especially those are not members of BGMEA and BKMEA, sources and officials said.
They said majority of these units belong to small and medium categories and engaged in sub-contracting for big factories.
According to the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE), about 800 factories are not members of any of the two apparel apex bodies, while industry insiders claimed that the number is much higher.
On the other hand, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) are reluctant to take responsibility of these units. Besides, there is no visible action by the government to bring them under a framework or regulation, they also said.
However, experts and labour leaders called upon both the apparel trade bodies and the government to take immediate measures to make the units compliant. Most of the units do sub-contracting, and the government should also strictly monitor the issue, they added.
* BGMEA Bhaban seized for salary, bonus:
Some 5,000 workers of Tuba Garments on Wednesday besieged the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA) Bhaban in the city demanding salary and bonus.
The angry workers besieged the building around 11:00am.
BGMEA vice-president Riaz-bin-Mahmud was talking to journalists.
The workers were not paid as the owner of Tuba Group was sent to jail over the Tazreen Fashion fire case, he added.
The business leader said, “We could not enter the office in the morning due to gherao, Riaz added.
* Knitting workers demonstrate for arrears in capital:
Workers of a knitting and dyeing factory staged demonstration in the capital’s Bangla Motor area today demanding wages and festival bonuses ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr.
The workers alleged that the owners on July 14 shut down Shishir Knitting and Dyeing Factory, a concern of Shishir Group, located at Pagar in Tongi of Gazipur without any prior notice.
Today, they were bound to come to the factory’s head office at Planners Tower in Bangla Motor area from Tongi to materialise their demands.
“We get one month’s wage and Eid bonus. But we saw owners and top management closed down the factory without telling us anything,” said Md Mizan, a worker.
* RMG workers-cops clash in city:
The workers of Rahmatuallah Garments in Badda area of the city staged demonstration as they were not paid full salary and bonus.
During the demonstration, workers locked into a chase-counter chase with law enforcers in the area. Police opened blank fires to bring the situation under control.
Officer-in-Charge of Badda Thana MA Jalil told banglanews that the situation is under control now.
He added: “We also have kept our forces on alert to thwart further untoward situation.”
* RMG workers of 3 more Savar units want payment:
Hundreds of workers of three garment factories in Savar demonstrated yesterday demanding arrears and Eid-ul-Fitr bonus.
Workers of SMN Sweater (Pvt) Ltd demonstrated on the factory premises around 9:00am. The demonstrators then gathered at the Rana Plaza site and formed a human chain there to press home their demands.
The workers claimed that they have not been paid salaries of May, June and July.
They said the factory manager told them that they would be paid on July 10, but he has been missing since then.
The factory authorities could not be contacted despite repeated attempts by The Daily Star.
Meanwhile, Adorn Garment (Pvt) Ltd workers continued their demonstrations for the third consecutive day on the factory premises demanding arrears and bonus.
The workers claimed they have not been paid salary of June.
* RMG workers take to the streets again for dues:
Agitated workers clashed with police and blockaded roads in the area causing traffic congestion
At least 15 workers of a factory in the capital’s Bhatara area sustained injuries as police fired rubber bullets and hurled tear gas cannister at them during a demonstration demanding immediate payment of wages and bonuses.
Agitated workers clashed with police and blockaded roads in the area causing traffic congestion.
The Satarkul area under Bhatara police station turned into a battlefield when several hundred workers of Fuwang Garments Factory locked into a clash with law enforcers yesterday afternoon.
The workers had been demonstrating on the road by leaving their workplaces since morning demanding their dues.
Meanwhile, workers of five factories of the Tuba Group that also owned the fateful Tazreen Garments in Savar, laid siege to the BGMEA building in the capital yesterday, in the same demand.
Witnesses said several hundred workers of Tuba Fashions, Bukshan Garments, Tuba Textiles, Pipe Design and Mita Design gathered in front of the BGMEA building around 11:30am and kept everyone inside confined by locking the main gate.
Johora Khatun, a worker of Tuba Textiles, said they had not been paid their dues for May, June and July.
“We have been agitating for more than a month… but the authorities told us that unless the factory owner was freed, we would not be paid,” she said.
* Labour unrest feared over non-payment of wages:
Workers of Tuba Group on Wednesday go out on demonstration inside Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association building against the authorities’ failure to pay wage and allowances despite issuing several deadlines. —Snigdha Zaman
BGB kept standby to maintain order
An Inter-Ministry meeting on Wednesday identified non-payment of wages in readymade garment sector and rundown highways in many places as major concerns for maintenance of law and order ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr.
Law enforcement agencies apprehended that non-payment of wages and festival allowance in the RMG units in Dhaka, particularly at Ashulia, Savar and Naraynaganj, might cause labour unrest.
But the owners alleged that some quarters were out to create anarchy in the labour-intensive industry, said officials who attended the meeting.
Presiding over the meeting on law and order at the secretariat, state minister for home Asaduzzaman Khan directed the law enforcement agencies to strengthen vigilance in the industrial belts in Dhaka, Chittagong and Khulna to prevent labour unrest or any untoward incidents there.
‘We have asked the apparel factory owners to clear wages and festival allowances of workers before Eid,’ Asaduzzaman told reporters after the meeting.
* Proposals invited to accommodate workers’ bonus in labour law:
The state minister once again urged the owners to ensure payment of salary, bonus and other allowances to the workers by July 26
State minister for labour and employment ministry Mujibul Haque Chunnu has sought specific proposal from the workers’ leaders over bonus issue to accommodate in the existing labour law.
Come up with a specific written proposal, so we can consider to include bonus issue in the law to avert any dispute over it, said Mujibul Haque while addressing a roundtable titled “Garment workers’ salary and bonus: Eid Festival” held in the city yesterday.
Imdadul Haq Milan, Editor of daily Kaler Kantho moderated the roundtable, which was orgained by the East West Media Limited.
“I do not see any reason for discussing on the payment of salary and bonus for the workers before Eid as it is a routine work for the owners to pay them salary and bonus,” said Mujibul.
The state minister, however, once again urged the owners to ensure payment of salary, bonus and other allowances to the workers by July 26.
“If the issue relating to salary and bonus can be brought into a specific law, there will be no more dispute related to wages,” said Abdus Salam, Director General of Industrial Police.
* Bangladesh Accord Foundation: Publication Annual Report 2013:
Following the formation of the Accord in May 2013, the Directors, Steering Committee, the Executive Leadership team and all Signatories have worked tirelessly to get this ground breaking initiative off the ground and deliver a safe and healthy Bangladeshi RMG sector.
For more information on the progress and operations of the Accord
please click here to download the annual report in pdf.
* Accord suggests corrective measures for RMG sector:
As per the annual report of the Accord published yesterday, the suggested measures include installing fire doors, automated smoke detectors and fire alarm systems, establishing fire protected exits from factory buildings, and strengthening of columns in the buildings
Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a platform of European retailers, has suggested for undertaking more substantial corrective measures to ensure further safety in the country’s readymade garment sector as it still finds some safety risks in fire, electrical and structural safety areas.
As per the annual report of the Accord published yesterday, the suggested measures include installing fire doors, automated smoke detectors and fire alarm systems, establishing fire protected exits from factory buildings, and strengthening of columns in the buildings.
After the inspection of all factories, the Accord shared its report with the factory owners, Accord brands and workers’ representatives and a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) is being developed by the factory owners and the brands.
More than 100 CAPs have now been agreed upon so far and the Accord will ensure CAPs in all the inspected factories in the coming year. Accord inspection’s findings, showed reducing weight loads and adhering to load management plans, can be easily corrected and are already being implemented.
The corrective measures are a matter of cleaning up, organising, and then being disciplined in maintenance practices. These include properly connecting and sealing electrical wires and keeping wires and circuits free of dust and lint.
* Alliance identifies 16 challenges for RMG sector reforms:
The Alliance has identified 16 major challenges for carrying out sustainable reforms in the country’s readymade garment (RMG) industry.
These include inadequate government capacity, unauthorised subcontracting business, limited presence and acceptance of trade unions and a lack of modern safety equipment
Other challenges are factory managers’ poor knowledge about modern safety equipments and practices, understaffed government agencies responsible for building and fire safety, inconsistency in enforcement of law, required compliance, ambiguity between government agencies over enforcement and building approvals and unavailability of internationally certified but costly fire and electrical equipments, according to its first annual report published in its official website Tuesday.
However, the Alliance report also revealed that 50 per cent of its surveyed 587 factories are now carrying out the remedial part recommended by its experts while ten factories were fully or partially closed.
“Over the past year, we have made significant progress toward our goal of improving workers’ safety in Bangladesh’s RMG factories. But much work remains to be done. We will continue to address many challenges to achieving sustainable reforms,” the report said.
“Forty per cent of the RMG factories are based in shared/multi-tenant buildings, making it difficult to ensure overall building compliance or coordinate safety programmes,” it added explaining the challenges.
The challenges related to inspections that the North American group of apparel companies, retailers and brands is continuing to address are limited pool of locally-based, qualified and experienced engineers familiar with international safety standards, lack of transparency and price pressure and limited production capacity within individual factories.
Others are unauthorised sub-contracting and lack of retailers’ sufficient leverage within individual factories to drive change due to dispersed production.
The other challenges identified related to workers empowerment are weak worker representatives’ structure like trade union and worker participation committee and workers’ intimidation or harassment in exercising their rights for freedom of association.
* Govt invites USTR chief to inspect BD’s progress:
RMG labour rights, safety
The government has invited Michael Froman, who holds the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), to see the progress Bangladesh’s apparel industry has made in addressing the issues related with labour rights and worker safety.
Officials said the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) has sent invitation letter to Ambassador Froman through different channels, including Geneva-based IndustryAll, which claims that labour exploitation is still going on in the country’s apparel sector.
A MoC official said Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed sent the letter to the trade representative on July 21, as GSP facility for Bangladeshi products in the US market has been suspended for long.
“We are impressed to see your relentless efforts and supports to our Bangladeshi workers’ rights. It may be mentioned that we are pursuing shared interests to see our country’s apparel sector succeed,” the minister stated in the letter.
“Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to invite you to visit Bangladesh and see for yourself the overall situation prevailing in the apparel sector. I have no doubt that your valuable suggestions, guideline, and supports would help us to carry out the initiatives successfully,” the letter reads.
read more. & read more.
* National Jute Mills in Sirajganj faces fund crisis:
Salary of workers, bonuses uncertain ahead of Eid
Payment of monthly wages and festival bonuses to the workers and employees of the state-owned National Jute Mills, previously known as Qawmi Jute Mills, in Sirajganj has become uncertain before the Eid-ul-Fitr.
Sources said the jute mills has been hit by fund crisis as a large quantity of produced goods has remained unsold.
Meanwhile, the mills faces closure as the authorities there cannot purchase raw jute for the fund crisis.
“All efforts to sell the products of the mills are continuing. Goods worth Tk 5 crore were sold recently. The money has remained deposited with the authorities of Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC),” said Project Director (PD) of the Mills Nurul Islam.
He said the money will be handed over to us within short time. But, the stock of raw jute has exhausted in the mills that is hampering the usual production, Islam said they have already sought Tk 4.20 lakh to the BJMC for paying the monthly wages and festival bonus of the workers and employees of the mills, but the authorities have not yet allocated the money.
“If we get the money in time, there would be no problem in paying the wages before the Eid-ul-Fitr,” he added.
Some workers and employees of the mills said only 90 weaving machines out of 530 are in operation. The rest are lying inoperative due to fund crisis and shortage of raw jute.
* Mirpur cops face another complaint:
The gruesome torture on garment-waste trader Mahbubur Rahman Sujan that led to his death was not the only such act perpetrated by Mirpur police.
Rakib Hossain, who owns a printing press, allegedly had to face similar wrath of unscrupulous policemen of Mirpur Police Station in November last year. He, however, managed to come out alive only after giving them what they wanted– money.
Rakib alleged he was tortured on orders of Officer-in-Charge Salahuddin Khan of the police station. Sujan’s family also raised similar allegation against the police official, who has a history of being exposed for negative jobs in the past.
RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* HC bench splits over bail for factory owner:
A two-judge High Court bench yesterday delivered split verdicts on a bail petition filed by Bazlus Samad Adnan, owner of a garment factory housed in the Rana Plaza that collapsed in April last year, killing at least 1,135 people and injuring scores.
Adnan, the owner of New Wave Style, had submitted the petition to the HC seeking bail in a case filed by police for negligence in protecting the lives of the victims.
Yesterday, Justice Syed Md Ziaul Karim, senior member of the HC bench, granted bail to Adnan considering that the case was filed under such section of the law which allowed the court to grant bail to an accused.
Meanwhile, junior member of the bench, Justice Ashish Ranjan Das, rejected the bail petition, saying that the negligence that the petitioner had committed in saving the lives of the victims was not a small offence, and therefore, he could not be granted bail.
01:35:08 local time INDIA
* The Hours – A look at the lives of garment workers in Gurgaon and Tirupur:
In mid 2012, after having started working with garment workers in Bangalore, I was compelled to gain a deeper, pan-Indian understanding of the industry.
Gurgaon and Tirupur, at different ends of the country, are, apart from Bangalore, the other two places in India on the global map of garment manufacturing districts.
Making my way to Kapashera on the outskirts of Gurgaon – which borders the national capital New Delhi – the grotesquely large buildings emerging from the fog looked right out of a Chris Marker film.
When the sun slowly eats up the winter fog, a flurry of people can be seen grappling with the unending rat race. Gurgaon, a city still under construction that contains Asia’s largest Special Economic Zone, is now home to thousands of rural migrant workers uprooted by the agrarian crisis.
They stitch and sew for export in over 1500 manufacturing factories, or units.
Due to stiff competition from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, the once sought-after tailor has been replaced in India by operators of machines mass producing ready-made garments for the global market.
In Gurgaon, the workforce consists mostly of men – nearly 80 percent of over 200,000 employees, sewing mainly women’s garments.
The majority of workers come from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
They are tucked away in tenements in areas such as Kapashera, where hundreds of matchbox-sized windowless rooms have been constructed, sometimes by the owners of the export houses or manufacturing units, sometimes by local landowners, charging around INR 2000 per month.
Five to six workers jostle for space, sharing costs and food, but strangely never communicating with one another.
Tirupur is a tumbleweed town in Tamil Nadu that lives off the garment manufacturing industry.
Around 90 percent of the population (men, women and children) are directly involved in making clothes, both for export and for local markets.
It is one of the largest foreign exchange earning towns in India, at a staggering INR 12,500 crore (USD 2 billion) per year.
An estimated 8000 units operate, many of which specialise in knitting and stitching, with the rest embroidering, dyeing, bleaching and printing.
The knitting and stitching units employ the largest numbers, an estimated 500,000 workers. The floating seasonal workforce pushes the numbers up further.
The feminisation of the workforce is becoming more apparent in this area. Women, particularly the young, are recruited from within Tamil Nadu and Kerala under various schemes, mainly in an attempt to counteract attrition.
The ‘Sumangali and Hostel’ scheme is popular and prevalent, though not legally allowed to operate in the garment industry.
The Sumangali scheme is a form of labour camp that recruits girls of 11 to 17 years on three to five year contracts.
They receive the paltry sum of INR 1000-2500 per month, and on completion of their contracts are given a further lump sum of 45,000 for a three year contract, or INR 60,000 for five years.
The girls, provided with board and lodging, either on company premises or at other locations, are with very little facilities and no benefits such as the employee provident fund or state insurance.
* India places Cotton Program under Food Security Mission:
The Indian government has approved Cotton Development Program as a Sub-scheme under the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) by adopting cropping system approach, during the current year i.e. 2014-15.
Under the above Sub-scheme, assistance is provided for Front Line Demonstrations on High Density Planting System (HDPS), Intercropping, Extra Long Staple (ELS)/Desi Cotton, besides program on Insecticides Resistance Management (IRM) and Online Pest Monitoring and Advisory Services (OPMAS).
* Kutch textile mega cluster to focus on handlooms: Textile commissioner:
The upcoming mega textile cluster in Kutch will completely focus on handlooms and handicrafts, said Kiran Soni Gupta, textile commissioner during a one-day visit to the city.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley in the Budget had announced setting up of eight textile mega clusters including one each in Surat and Kutch with an initial investment of Rs 200 crore.
The mega cluster in Surat will focus on powerlooms.
Zohra Chatterjee, secretary, ministry of textiles, government of India who was also in the city went to Kutch to discuss the setting up of textile mega cluster with various stakeholders.
“The mega clusters in Surat and Kutch will come up soon. Ministry of textile will help in setting up the facilities for the clusters,” said Gupta. Industry insiders believe that this will not only spur domestic manufacturing but also generate employment.
“When it comes to research and development, textile industry is not doing enough and hence the industry is lacking in global competitiveness,” said Gupta during an interaction session with various textile industries owners and officials at ATIRA complex.
The representatives of textile industries raised the issue of cheap Chinese fabrics being imported into the country among other issues including customs and excise duty.
* Cotton output likely to decline by 17%:
India’s cotton output is likely to hit a five-year low in the ensuing crop year 2014-15 (October-September), due to a steep decline in sowing area on delayed and uneven distribution of monsoon rains because of the El Niño phenomenon.
According to sources, the ministry of textiles as well as the ministry of agriculture, have estimated cotton output at 30 million bales (1 bale = 170 kg) for the next crop year based on the area covered under the cash crop as of now.
The ministries’ cotton output estimate, however, represents a 17 per cent decline from last year’s production of 36.5 million bales estimated by the ministry of agriculture in the third advance estimate released on May 24.
The decline assumes significance in the wake of sustained pressure on cotton prices for the past three years.
Given that the current lower demand from the domestic textile industry and China, India’s largest export destination, are unlikely to rebound in the coming months, lower output will support cotton prices.
01:05:08 local time PAKISTAN
* Energy crisis: textile ministry calls for convening cabinet body meeting:
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has turned a deaf ear to the repeated request of textile ministry to convene a meeting of the cabinet committee on energy to seek a solution to their major problem, it is learnt.
Textile exports witnessed a sharp decline of 7.5 percent during the month of June and registered $1.086 billion against $1.175 billion during the same period of last financial year mainly attributable to the severe energy crisis and the recent appreciation of the local currency against dollar, well-placed sources revealed to Business Recorder.
Textile exports registered an overall increase of 3.7 percent earning $13.8 billion in 2013-14 against $13.3 billion during the same period of 2012-13 due largely to the approval of GSP Plus status by the European Union (EU).
Textile exports to the EU registered an increase of 18 percent earning a total of $5 billion for the first time in history while textile exports declined by 3.5 percent to the rest of the world.
Exports to the EU registered $449 million in June against $384 million during the same period of last fiscal year.
* Spinning industry performing well despite power shortages:
Although the spinning industry is facing acute power and energy shortages, it registered the highest addition of spindles in the past six years, adding 546,000 spindles during 2013, according the International Textile Machinery Federation (ITMF).
Industry insiders say that letters of credit for another 500,000 spindles have already been opened and the machines have started reaching Pakistan.
This, according to them, is in addition to the 400,000 spindles that a Chinese company is relocating in Faisalabad and another 200,000 being relocated by another Chinese company at the Bin Qasim Industrial Park.
They said the after the addition of over 1.6 million spindles, the number of spindles in the country would increase to 13.6 million.
According to ITMF, China imported 6.21 million spindles in 2013, followed by 2.19 million spindles imported by India and 546,000 added by Pakistan. For the first time in the last eight years Bangladesh did not import add any spindle for its spinning industry.
The surge in spinning machinery import has surprised experts. The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association claims that around 100 spinning mills in the country have closed down due to power shortages.
* Exports of textile, garments rise to $13.7bn:
Exports of textile and clothing grew by 5.30 per cent to $13.738 billion during the previous fiscal year compared to $13.047bn a year ago, because of a slight increase in exports of value-added products, showed data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.
Only eight textile products witnessed positive export growth among all textile and clothing categories.
In June 2014, exports of textile and clothing fell by 1.52 pc over the same month of last year.
Textile exports rise by 6.5pc in July-April
Textile Minister Abbas Khan Afridi has linked the growth in the overall textile and clothing sector in FY14 to 18pc surge in exports to European Union (EU) countries under GSP+ status.
He told Dawn that substantial growth was witnessed in the value-added textile sector exports to EU countries. The minister believed that the package announced by the government in the budget 2014-15 would further facilitate exports from the sectors.
Afridi said that decline in exports last month was mainly due to energy shortage, especially in Punjab. He said textile mills were operating in two shifts instead of three because of electricity shortage.
* Textile group’s exports surge by 5.3 percent in fiscal year 2014:
Exports of textile group surged by 5.30 percent to $13.738 billion during July-June 2013-14 against $13.047 billion a year ago, data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics showed.
The details of trade figures revealed that textile exports dipped by 1.52 percent to $1.113 billion during June 2014 against $1.130 billion in the same period of last year.
* Second Made in Pakistan expo to be held in Mumbai from August 31:
Over 80 top companies and brand names have so far registered themselves to represent Pakistan in the 2nd Made in Pakistan Exhibition being held in Mumbai (India) from August 31, to September 05, 2014.
After the great success of the 1st Made in Pakistan Expo in Mumbai in April 2014, Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturer and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) with the support of Association of Indian Industries are organising the 2nd Made in Pakistan Expo in Mumbai titled “Festival of Friendship” at World Trade Centre, Mumbai.
* Ethiopia Becomes China’s China as Shoe Workers Chant in Mandarin:
Ethiopian workers strolling through the parking lot of Huajian Shoes’ factory outside Addis Ababa last month chose the wrong day to leave their shirts untucked.
Company president Zhang Huarong, just arrived on a visit from China, spotted them through the window, sprang up and ran outside. The former People’s Liberation Army soldier harangued them loudly in Chinese, tugging at one man’s aqua polo shirt and forcing another’s shirt into his pants. Nonplussed, the workers stood silently until the eruption subsided.
Shaping up a handful of employees is one small part of Zhang’s quest to profit from Huajian’s factory wages of about $40 a month -– less than 10 percent the level in China.
“Ethiopia is exactly like China 30 years ago,” said Zhang, 55, who quit the military in 1982 to make shoes from his home in Jiangxi province with three sewing machines and now supplies such brands as Nine West and Guess?. “The poor transportation infrastructure, lots of jobless people.”
Huajian is nonetheless becoming a case study of Ethiopia’s emerging potential as a production center for labor-intensive products from shoes to T-shirts to handbags.
In a country where 80 percent of the labor force is in agriculture, manufacturers don’t have to worry about finding new workers.
Its population of about 96 million is Africa’s second-largest after Nigeria’s.
A combination of cheap labor and electricity and a government striving to attract foreign investment makes Ethiopia more attractive than many other African nations, said Deborah Brautigam, author of “The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa” and a professor of international development and comparative politics at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.
“They are trying to establish conditions for transformation,” Brautigam said in a telephone interview. “It could become the China of Africa.”
Huajian’s 3,500 workers in Ethiopia produced 2 million pairs of shoes last year. Located in one of the country’s first government-supported industrial zones, the factory began operating in January 2012, only three months after Zhang decided to invest. It became profitable in its first year and now earns $100,000 to $200,000 a month, he said, calling it an insufficient return that will rise as workers become better trained.
Cost inflation in countries including China has prompted Hennes & Mauritz, Europe’s second-biggest clothing retailer, to work with three suppliers in Ethiopia. The nation has “great potential” for production, H&M head of sustainability Helma Helmersson said in an April interview.
China’s average manufacturing wage is 3,469 yuan ($560) per month. Pay at the Huajian factory ranges from the basic after- tax minimum of $30 a month to about twice that for supervisors. By contrast, average manufacturing wages in South Africa, Africa’s biggest manufacturer, are about $1,200.
The duty-free and quota-free access that Sub-Saharan Africa enjoys for the US and EU markets gives additional savings thanks to the African Growth and Opportunity Act for the US and the EU’s Everything But Arms accord for the poorest countries. Import tariffs on shoes made in China range from 6 percent to as much as 36 percent, Zhang said.
Signs of Ethiopia’s allure include factories outside Addis Ababa set up by leather goods maker Pittards of Britain and Turkish textile manufacturer Ayka Tekstil. Foreign direct investment in the nation surged almost 250 percent to $953 million last year from the year before, according to estimates by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
read more. (story by bloomberg)