09:54:51 local time CHINA
* Sacked shoe factory workers demand reinstatement at arbitration hearing:
About 100 workers and supporters crammed into the tiny Henggang Labour Arbitration Court in Shenzhen on 25 July to hear a complaint filed by 73 employees of GCL Footwear who were sacked after taking part in a strike.
The workers, who are demanding reinstatement, were represented by the veteran labour rights lawyer Duan Yi. Duan pointed out that, under China’s Trade Union Law, employers are obliged to address workers’ reasonable demands in the event of a strike. But in this case:
When the workers were worried about their future at the company because it had changed ownership and failed to pay social security contributions and wages on time for several months, management refused to provide an explanation. And after a strike broke out on 26 May, the company began to fire several groups of workers. Moreover, it ignored invitations from the enterprise trade union to engage in collective bargaining and even fired the enterprise union’s vice-chairman, Luo Xiangxu.
Luo himself argued during his testimony at the hearing that management had been looking for a reason to downsize its workforce, especially senior members of staff, without paying them any compensation. The strike gave management an opportunity to do just that, he said.
08:54:51 local time VIET NAM
* Vinatex to up investment in domestic fashion industry:
The Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex), has restructured its domestic business strategy to further invest in domestic production by expanding sales and distribution and developing the fashion industry.
The group’s member companies including Viet Tien Garment, Garment 10 and Nha Be Garment have sought a firm foothold in the local market. By doing so, the group has set a target of increasing total revenue in the local market by 30 per cent.
Tran Viet, head of the marketing department of Vinatex, said the local garment market had good potential as local consumption for clothing and fashion accessories ranked after food and foodstuff.
* Global footwear giants move orders from China to Vietnam in H1/2014:
Some of the world’s leading footwear makers moved their orders from factories in China and Bangladesh to Vietnam in the first half of this year, the Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (Lefaso) has reported.
Vietnam enjoyed a new wave of orders from Nike, Adidas and Puma in the first six months of the year, while its localization ratio rose 25 percent compared to the same period last year, Lefaso said in a brief report on its website on Friday.
With the number of orders from China-based factories to Vietnam increasing sharply, even Timberland and Puma plan to expand production in the Southeast Asian country, the association added.
According to Lefaso, these footwear giants are facing soaring labor wages, pollution, and other issues in China, prompting them to move their orders to other countries, including Vietnam.
* Nike, Adidas eye Vietnamese market:
In the first half of the year, a number of the world’s leading footwear makers like Nike, Adidas and Puma have shifted their orders from China and Bangladesh to Vietnam.
- Leather exports to top US$12 billion
- Leather, footwear firms set sights on exports
- Leather and shoe products on show in HCM City
The Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso) reported that Target Sourcing Services – one of the world’s largest distributors – and Dansu group have conducted surveys in Vietnam and they plan to increase operations in the country.
Other companies which often place manufacturing orders in China like Lancaster and Sequoia Paris are also eyeing investments in Vietnam to avoid risks.
Lefaso said that Timberland and Puma want to expand their operations in Vietnam to meet the increasing demand for orders shifted from China.
Increasing labour and environment costs as well as recent industrial policies in China are creating uneasiness among international brand names, forcing some to move their production bases to other Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam.
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08:54:51 local time CAMBODIA
* Chinese foreman killed in factory blaze in Cambodia:
A strong fire completely destroyed a garment factory and killed a Chinese national in the suburban area of capital Phnom Penh early Monday, a firefighting police chief confirmed.
The accident occurred at 4 a.m. at Chang Sheng garment factory in Por Senchey district and firefighters took about four hours to control the blaze, Phnom Penh municipal firefighting police chief Neth Vantha said.
“A Chinese man Yang Xinsun, 42, supervisor of the factory’s laundry department, was found dead in a bathroom during the fire,” he told reporters, adding that electric fault was blamed for the blaze. “As it happened at night, there were no workers but Chinese staff who slept in the factory,” he said.
* Fire at garment factory kills 1:
An early-morning blaze killed one Chinese national and injured three others at a garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district yesterday.
The fire that burned the Chang Sheng factory to the ground, killing clothing inspector, Zing Zangsun, 42 – who lived there – was caused by an electrical malfunction, said Net Vatha, director of Phnom Penh’s fire department.
“People should learn from this fire, because it was mostly caused by the factory’s electrical connection,” Vatha said. “Electrical wires should be connected correctly and fire extinguishers should be available for protection.”
About 80 per cent of the building was burned, he said.
Damage from the fire had not been calculated as of yesterday, said Hel Phalla, an administrative staffer at Chang Sheng. But Vatha estimated the loss to be about $2 million, he said.
Security guard Sun Vanny yesterday said he immediately called the fire department at about 4am when he saw smoke coming through the crack of a door, he told a Post reporter yesterday.
Fire officials say the building likely became fully engulfed about an hour later.
* Fire Destroys Factory, Kills Chinese Manager:
An early-morning fire in Pur Senchey district Monday completely gutted a garment factory that made jeans for U.S. retailer Kmart, killing one Chinese supervisor and injuring three others. Police said Monday afternoon that they are still searching for the cause of the blaze.
Security guards on night duty for the Chinese-owned Chang Sheng Garment factory said they spotted thick black smoke rising over the back of the factory at about 4:40 a.m. and raised the alarm. They said about 10 Chinese supervisors and a Cambodian cook regularly slept in the factory overnight.
“Then in four or five minutes I saw the fire—it spread too fast,” said Son Vanthy, one of the guards.
By the time fire trucks arrived at about 5:30 a.m., he said the fire had already ripped through about half the factory.
Hel Phalla, the factory’s head of administration, said three of the men inside suffered minor burns during their escape. Yang Shi Xiong, 42, a quality control supervisor for the factory, failed to make it out.
“He died because he could not escape and his body was found in front of the bathroom,” said Ms. Phalla, who was helping police fill out an incident report at the Stung Meanchey pagoda, where the dead man’s body was being kept.
* Workers faint: Mysterious smell lurks in factory:
After nearly 140 people fainted over the weekend at a factory in Kandal province, 50 more at the same factory passed out yesterday.
Sixplus Industry garment factory had just reopened after the weekend, but now will remain closed until Wednesday, said Moeun Chanthy, president of the Free Trade Union (FTU) at the factory.
“Around 9am, employees were working and some say a strong smell began to fill the workplace,” Chanthy said. “Then they ran out, causing some workers to faint.”
Odour was also cited in the 139 faintings this weekend.
* More Garment Workers Faint in Kandal Factory:
At least 50 more garment workers at the Sixplus Industry factory in Kandal province fainted on Monday morning from what they described as a foul odor inside the building, two days after about 160 workers at the factory fainted in a similar incident.
Moeun Chanthy, who heads the sewing section for the factory, which makes sportswear for Adidas, said workers noticed the bad smell upon entering the building at about 7:30 a.m.
“When they entered the factory they said they still smelled that odor, so they told each other to leave,” she said. “They fainted outside the building.”
Ms. Chanthy said the workers described the smell as a kind of gas but also compared it to Endrin, a toxic insecticide used on crops including maize and rice as well as against grasshoppers and rodents.
* Workers End Strike After Factory Makes Concessions:
More than 1,000 employees at the Sun Well Shoes factory will return to work today after the factory made several concessions to the striking workers’ demands for better pay and conditions.
Sieng Sambath, president of Workers Friendship Union Federation, which is representing the workers, said they accepted an offer from the factory to pay them a $50 annual bonus, $5 per month for medical care and to provide better safety equipment such as protective clothing.
“The workers have agreed to work because they need the money to pay for daily living expenses and they reached an agreement with the representatives of the factory,” Mr. Sambath said.
The end to the strike, which was mediated by district authorities and Labor Ministry officials, comes almost two weeks after it first began with protests outside the factory on Veng Sreng Street in Pur Senchey district.
The workers, who receive a base salary of $105 a month, had started out with a list of seven demands including a monthly $15 travel and accommodation allowance, which was not granted.
* Workers at Sun Well to come back:
Nearly 1,000 workers from the Sun Well Shoes factory in Phnom Penh are to return to work today after protesting for more than two weeks, officials said, while four union members have been summonsed to court for questioning over the strike.
Seang Sambath, president of the Worker Friendship Union Federation, said yesterday that a five-hour negotiation session between union, company and Ministry of Labour officials settled the dispute.
* Deaths not work related: NSSF:
Investigators for the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) have found that two recent deaths of garment sector workers were not related to working conditions.
The NSSF’s Sam Onn said yesterday that investigations into the deaths of Vorn Sitha, 39, and Nov Pas, 35, found their causes of death were not related to work.
Sitha was found dead at Kandal province’s New Archid garment factory on July 19, while Pas died of a lung disease at a hospital after fainting at Sangwoo factory in Kampong Speu less than a week later.
“If your company registers with my organisation . . . then [if staff members] have an accident or die, we are [financially] responsible,” Onn said on Sunday, declining then and yesterday to say whether families of Sitha or Pas would be compensated.
NSSF officials told the Post yesterday that family members must file a formal request to receive copies of the investigations.
But Dave Welsh, country director of labour rights group Solidarity Center, said yesterday that he had never heard of such a requirement.
07:54:51 local time BANGLADESH
* RMG workers confine 4 for dues:
The confined persons are factory guard Abdul Quddos, owner’s cousin Sohel, mother-in-law and maternal uncle
The workers belong to four factories – Tuba Fashions, Bukshan Garments, Tuba Textiles and Mita Design of Tuba Group – have confined four persons including in the capital’s Badda on Monday morning.
The confined persons are factory guard Abdul Quddos, owner’s cousin Sohel, mother-in-law and maternal uncle.
Tuba Group did not pay its 1,500 employees the arrears of three months and festival allowances on Sunday, the last working day before Eid-ul-Fitr.
Although the owners had promised to clear the dues by Sunday, the workers did not receive any money despite waiting in front of the Hossain Market in capital’s Badda area for around five hours.
20140724 * Tuba Group workers unpaid for 3 months:
Govt says owners to sell building to pay dues
Tuba Group may not be able to pay its 3000 workers their wages and bonus before Eid. With the company’s managing director in jail, three months’ wages and benefits remain due. The chairman and other officers of the company are taking no initiative to pay these dues.
The government has instructed that even if they have to sell two floors of their building, Tuba Group must pay the workers’ dues. If not, stern action will be taken against the responsible officials under the labour laws.
The labour leaders say that the company can afford to pay the wages and benefits. They say the management is intentionally not paying the wages as a strategy to get managing director Delwar Hossain released.
Sources in the labour ministry say that on Monday there had been a chance of Delwar Hossain getting temporary bail, but that did not come through. After that the workers broke out in protest.
On Wednesday, 1200 workers of Tuba laid siege to the BGMEA building at Kawran Bazar from morning till evening.
The protesters work for five factories — Tuba Fashions, Tuba Textiles, Bughsan Garments, Taif Design and Mita Design. In order to bring the situation under control, BGMEA leaders promised to pay them two months’ wages on Saturday.
* Workers started their fast unto death demanding their 3 months salary:
“Toba Group (Tazreen) workers started their fast unto death demanding their three months salary (may to july) and festival bonus.
The factory management unreasonably made owners bail conditional to workers pay. please help us spread the news and mobilize media.”
* A Year After the Deadly Bangladesh Factory Disaster, How Much Has Changed? :
One year after a deadly factory disaster cost Bangladesh certain U.S. trade privileges, its government and business leaders are pushing to get them back. But the officials’ behavior prompts questions about how much has really changed in Bangladesh.
Last month, a delegation including Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed and leaders of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) came to Washington to detail the progress they had made on worker safety in Bangladesh, the second-largest garment exporter in the world.
The Bangladeshi government and the BGMEA argue it’s time for the White House to restore the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) tariff breaks it suspended following the April 2013 Rana Plaza factory building collapse, in which more than 1,100 people died.
The Bangladeshi delegation included representatives of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a business-backed group whose board is chaired by former Democratic Representative Ellen O’Kane Tauscher and includes officials from Gap, Wal-Mart, and Target as well as the BGMEA (the alliance itself says it has no stance on GSP, but took part in the delegation in order to promote safety efforts; Tauscher condemned comments made by Ahmed and the BGMEA after they returned to Bangladesh).
The economic impact of those lost GSP trade privileges is limited—they had only covered about $35 million of exports to the U.S., and didn’t apply to the roughly $4.5 billion in goods the U.S. imports annually from the country’s garment industry.
But the GSP privileges carry symbolic weight in the Bangladeshi government’s efforts to stave off more consequential trade penalties from the European Union, overhaul its reputation for allowing factory deathtraps, and eventually secure more favorable trade treatment from the U.S.
07:24:51 local time INDIA
* Auckland jute mill reopens:
Auckland jute mill at Jagatdal in North 24 Parganas reopened on Monday after almost 40 days after its management suspended work due to labour unrest.
“The mill is now open after a meeting with the trade unions,” Auckland executive director H S Baid told PTI.
He said 10 to 11 workers behind the unrest could not be expelled after the trade unions asked the mill management to reopen without sacking them and the unions would now take step to ensure law and order at the plant.
Mr. Baid said the management agreed to reopen the mill as it was over a month since the mill was closed and some 3,500 workers have been affected due to the suspension. — PTI
06:54:51 local time PAKISTAN
* Value-added textile exports may fetch $78bn:
Pakistan’s value-added textile sector has potential to fetch export proceeds up to $78 billion, only if the government implements favorable policies; restricting raw material export and bringing down the cost of utilities, an industry executive said on Monday.
Mohammad Jawed Bilwani, Chairman Pakistan Apparel Forum (PAF) said Pakistan converts a million bales to merely $1.17 billion, whereas Bangladesh converts a million bales into $6.0 billion, China into $7.0 billion and South Africa converts the same amount of cotton into $10 billion.
“If the policies similar to Bangladesh are implemented in Pakistan, we will be able to convert a million bales into $6.0 billion; and Pakistan produces 13 million bales a year,” Bilwan told The News.
He said the cost of doing business, particularly cost of utilities, is highest in Pakistan.
Besides the government policies also encourage export of raw material instead of value-addition.
“Unlike Pakistan, Bangladesh does not export raw cotton, yarn, grey fabric and dyed fabric; this is the reason that their readymade garment export stood at $25.8 billion in the outgoing fiscal year, which is more than Pakistan’s overall exports,” Bilwani added.