In the news 30 July 2014

08:06:56 local time map of china CHINA

* China’s Textiles & Garment Trade Grows 7.2% in May:

China’s import and export of textiles and garment in May grew 7.2% year-on-year to US$ 27.17 billion, in which, the export grew 8.7% to US$ 24.97 billion and import dropped by 7.4% to US$ 2.2 billion, with a trade surplus of US$ 22.77 billion, up 10.5% year-on-year.

In the first five months of this year, China’s import and export of textiles and garment totaled US$ 117.63 billion, up 3.5% year-on-year, in which, the export amounted to US$ 106.86 billion, up 3.6%, import US$ 10.77 billion, up 2.8%, with a trade surplus of US$ 96.09 billion, up 3.7%.

The export varied on different major markets.
The export to EU grew fast, with monthly export kept hitting new record.
In May, the export to EU grew 26.4% to US$ 4.93 billion; the export to the United States grew 9.7% to US$ 3.8 billion, with value further expanded despite narrowed growth margin; the export to ASEAN rebounded by 11.1% to US$ 3.22 billion compared to the 1.3-percent growth in January-April; while the export to Japan dropped by 10% to US$ 1.68 billion.
read more.

07:06:56 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Vietnam’s one and only trade union turns 85:

July 28, 1929 is an important date in Vietnamese history – although you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

This date was the day that Vietnam’s labour union, then known as the Red Federation of Trade Unions, was founded. Today, the organisation is called the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), and is Vietnam’s only legal trade union. On Monday this week, it turned 85.

In Vietnam, however, the only clue to this was the billboards which sprung up around the country over the past couple of weeks, containing cartoon pictures of grinning, satisfied blue-collar labourers, accompanied by a number of captions with words to the effect of, “warmly celebrate the 85th anniversary of the founding of Vietnam’s trade union”.
read more.

* Minimum wage not enough:

The current minimum wage meets barely 75 per cent of the minimum living standard, said Nguyen Tien Dang, head of the Salary Department under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), at a labour conference in Ha Noi yesterday.

Wage negotiation mechanisms remained limited, so many enterprises forced their staff to accept low pay, Dang said. Moreover, the separation of wages by region led to confusion for areas on the border between regions, making implementation difficult.

The minimum wage currently ranges from VND1.9-2.7 million (over US$90-130).

However, Dang said the National Salary Committee aimed to raise the minimum wage gradually until it met the minimum living standard of workers while remaining within enterprises’ payment capacity.
The authorities also supported the signing of collective labour agreements in some industries so that minimum wages for those industries could be set, a mechanism that has already been piloted by the textile and rubber industries.
read more.
VNNews new

* Dong Nai: footwear export fetches over 1.1 billion USD:

The southern province of Dong Nai earned more than 1.1 billion USD from footwear export in the first seven months of this year, up 12.8 percent year-on-year.

According to Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade Le Van Danh, in July alone, the export of this product brought about 167 million USD to the province, up 16.4 percent over the previous month and 5.1 percent compared to a year earlier.
read more.

07:06:56 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Wages do not compute: ILO:

20140730 PPP garment-workers-protest
A garment worker holds a placard in front of the Ministry of Labour during a mass protest in Phnom Penh earlier this year to demand a $160 minimum wage for the industry. Photo by Heng Chivoan.

NGOs say the Ministry of Labour’s use of its own method for determining the garment industry’s minimum wage is risking a repeat of the tensions that exploded in violent protests in January, when authorities killed at least five people.

More than six months after the Labour Ministry commissioned the International Labour Organization to help set a formula to calculate the garment sector’s minimum wage, the advice has not been heeded, ILO national project coordinator Tun Sophorn said.

“For this year, [the Labour Ministry] will use their own way in terms of minimum wage setting,” Sophorn said.

The minimum wage in the garment industry stands at $100 per month.

A 10-day nationwide strike to demand $160 ended abruptly on January 3 when government forces opened fire on unruly demonstrators in Phnom Penh, killing at least five people. Afterwards, ministry officials told unions and international buyers that the ILO would assist them in coming up with a steady formula to annually determine the minimum wage.

But due to time constraints, Sophorn said, the ministry cannot implement a process based on objective data.

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour did not respond to calls or a text message yesterday.

“It’s taken far too long already, and the urgency is great, and if their strategy is to say they didn’t have enough time . . . that boggles the mind, frankly,” said Dave Welsh, country director of labour rights group Solidarity Center.

Since a ministry task force already found a living wage to be $160 last year, the government can begin there and adjust each year for cost of living increases, said Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center.
read more.
PPP new

* Factory Ends Strike After Compromise:

Workers at a Taiwanese-owned sandal factory in Kompong Cham province on strike since last week over an eight-point list of demands agreed to go back to work Tuesday after reaching a deal with management that included a monthly lunch stipend.

A few hundred of the Carlington Factory’s workers started protesting on July 21 with a list of demands that included a monthly $15 raise, a combined $15 per month for travel and lodging costs, $1 a day for lunch, and free lodging at the factory for the leaders of its 15-person work teams, which currently costs them $19.50 per month.

By Monday all of the factory’s roughly 2,000 workers had joined the strike, at which point some also started to burn tires outside of the building.

Workers at the factory, which makes sandals for U.S. brand Reef, are represented by the Voice of Khmer Youth Union Federation.

On Tuesday, union president Long Sophan said talks with the factory brokered by the provincial labor department had won them a couple of their demands, convincing the union to cancel the strike. He said the factory agreed to provide the workers a monthly food stipend of $5 and to cut the monthly rent for group of team leaders to $10.
read more.

* Workers seek pay after fire:

20140730 PPP factory-fire
Two men survey the ruins of a garment factory after a fire levelled the premises in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district on Monday. Photo by Eli Meixler.

A day after the Chang Feng garment factory burned down in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district, most of the roughly 900 employers – now effectively out of work – gathered yesterday to demand pay.

But a meeting between worker representatives and factory officials – themselves still reeling from the death of a 42-year-old clothing inspector in the blaze – resulted only in workers being offered cash loans of up to $100 to help them in the short term.

“All the workers took the deal, since some of them rent houses,” said worker Khet Dy, who added that workers were demanding their monthly pay packets. “I still want my salary and the incentives.”

Hong Chanthorn, a union representative, said the loan money had come not from the factory’s owner – who is still receiving medical treatment – but a former manager who had attended the meeting.

“The former boss’s name is John. He is a Chinese man who lent his money to the workers,” Chanthorn said.

Officials said they believe an electrical malfunction was to blame for the blaze, which burned the factory down early on Monday. As well as claiming one life, it injured three others.

Chang Sheng’s administration manager, Ly Chantry, said management did not yet know the cost of the damage or what else they would do to assist the workers.

Dave Welsh, country director for labour-rights group Solidarity Center, said the workers were “certainly owed wages”, but the amount would depend on whether the factory reopens. There is a formula under the Cambodian labour law, Welsh said. In some cases in the past, he added, factories had been forced to pay when fires were found to be caused by electrical faults.

However, Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers’ Association in Cambodia, said he did not think there was any legal obligation for factories to pay workers.
read more.
PPP new

* Fire-Ravaged Factory’s Former Owner to Give Workers Loans:

The former owner of a Phnom Penh garment factory gutted by a fire on Monday has agreed to provide loans to about 900 out-of-work employees until the current owner decides whether and how to pay them due wages and severance.

Authorities, meanwhile, said they still did not know what caused the blaze at the Chinese-owned Chang Sheng Garment factory, which killed one of the factory’s Chinese supervisors.

Hel Phalla, head of administration at the Pur Senchey district factory, said the current owner asked the previous owner, a personal friend, to help the workers cover their immediate expenses while the factory dealt with its insurance provider and decided what to do next.

“He is the former owner of the factory and a longtime friend of the current owner and he agreed to give loans to the workers so they can pay their rent and cover other living expenses,” she said.

Ms. Phalla said the loans would be handed out starting on Monday and go up to $100 per employee depending on how much of the previous pay period they had worked. The next payday was scheduled for August 10.
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* Adidas reportedly investigating faintings at Kandal supplier:

German sportswear giant Adidas is investigating reported faintings of about 200 workers at a Chinese-owned factory in Kandal province since Saturday, an industry source says.

“We are aware of the faintings which occurred at our supplier Sixplus in Cambodia,” an Adidas spokesperson was quoted as telling, an online news portal for the global garment industry based in Britain.

“We are currently investigating the incident and we can confirm all workers are safe,” the spokesperson said.

Sixplus Industry Co Ltd is wholly-owned by Chinese interests and employs more than 1,800 workers, according to the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).
to read.

* Kamako Chhnoeum: Program Findings from April 1st to June 30th, 2014:

This represents the fourth report for the International Labour Organization (ILO)-BetterFactories Cambodia’s (BFC) Kamako Chhnoeum, or Outstanding Worker, worker mobile phone project that started in September 2013. This report covers the period from April through June 2014.

The project is available for workers to call for free on two Cambodian
phone networks.
Kamako Chhnoeum uses an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to educate factory workers on issues of importance to them. The format is a phone-in quiz where workers answer questions related to three topics: salary and allowances, occupational health and safety, and personal health.
The caller chooses one topic on which they would like to be quizzed and is then asked a series of three questions.
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06:06:56 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* 1200 RMG workers on hunger strike for payment:

The workers of Tuba Fashions, Bukshan Garments, Tuba Textiles and Mita Design have been observing the programme in the capital’s Badda area onTuesday morning

Around 1200 workers of four garment factories of Tuba Group have been observing hunger strike programme, demanding their unpaid salaries and allowance.

The workers of Tuba Fashions, Bukshan Garments, Tuba Textiles and Mita Design have been observing the programme in the capital’s Badda area onTuesday morning, the eid day.

The demonstrating workers said they would continue the hunger strike until the dues are paid.
A team of police members were deployed in the scene, the workers said.

Earlier, the workers confined four people, including the mother-in-law of the owner. Later, they released factory guard Abdul Quddus, owner’s cousin Sohel and his maternal uncle.
read more.

* RMG workers’ demo demanding salaries in Badda:

At least one hundred readymade garment factory workers of Toba Group were demonstrating in front of their factories in capital’s Badda area on the Eid day today. (Tuesday)

Many of them were observing hunger strike, demanding full payment of their salaries and bonuses, Abdul Jalil, officer-in-charge of Badda Police Station told The Daily Star.
Toba group, which owned the Tazreen Fashions Ltd, have five other factories, where workers did not get paid for last few months as the owner Delwar Hossain is in jail.

Delwar’s mother-in-law, Laily Begum, went to the factory in Badda few days back to give the workers a-month’s salary and bonuses.
But the agitated workers kept her locked inside the factory for last three days, the police official added.
Additional law enforcers were deployed to avert any untoward incidents the OC said.
to read.
daily star bd

* For unpaid Tuba workers, Eid on the factory floor :

As the vast majority of Bangladeshis celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr on Tuesday, 1600 workers of 5 garment factories owned by Tuba Group, continued their occupation of three of the factories located at Hossain Market in North Badda for a second day, protesting non-payment of 3 months’ wages plus their Eid bonus.

Some of the workers, eager to salvage some of the day’s spirit and promise for all Muslims, tried in the morning to arrange an Eid prayer on the street adjoining the building, but were prevented from doing so by law-enforcement officers.

Tuba Group workers have been agitating since June over unpaid wages stretching back to May, and last Friday confined two relatives of group chairman and managing director Delwar Hossain within the factory premises demanding immediate payment of their due wages and festival bonus.

Delwar Hossain is currently in jail facing charges of gross criminal negligence over the infamous Tazreen Garments factory fire in November 2012, that killed at least 111 workers. A number of sources claim the non-payment of wages is a tactic by the management to secure bail for Delwar, as the management has said they would be in a position to pay the workers if he was freed.

Delwar’s latest bail petition was rejected by the High Court on Monday. In his absence, Laili Begum, his mother in law, and Mohammad Rubel, his brother in law who also serves as the group accountant, have been leading negotiations with the workers.

The workers said after the management failed to meet their obligations set out in an agreement brokered by BGMEA last June 24 on three separate occasions, they were forced to take the step of confining Laili Begum and Rubel on Friday. On Saturday however, Rubel was released on the premise that he would try and arrange the funds to pay them. But he has since proved untraceable.

In comments to sections of the press over phone, Laili Begum has tied the management’s inability to secure a bank loan towards payment of the arrears to Delwar’s incarceration. But workers on Tuesday refused to be drawn on this.

“We are aware of what happened at Tazreen, but just as our work has nothing to do with what happened there, we don’t want our wages to be dragged into any court case over that either,” said Hyder Ali, who works as a security guard for the group at Hossain Market, to the approval of scores of workers surrounding him on the factory floor as he spoke to UNB.

“We just want to be paid our hard-earned money, we don’t care how they pay us. As it is when we were negotiating on Saturday we knew even if they paid us at that late stage, we wouldn’t be able to go home for the holidays,” said Shakil, another worker. “When even then they didn’t pay us, we took the step of spending Eid in the factory itself.”
read more.

* The Accord provides explanation of projected finances in light of mis-reporting:

In its first Annual Report for the year ending 31st December, the Accord detailed not only its costs incurred in the early stages of operations but also set out the income and expenditure forecast for the current financial year ending 31st December 2014.

In some areas of the media, this has been inaccurately reported and to a degree mis-interpreted and we have therefore highlighted below the key points of clarification.

* The entire inspection programme encompassing circa 1500 factories will all be completed between February and September 2014.
* The costs of these inspections is fully accounted for and will represent 83.4% of the total income of the Accord in 2014.
* The operational costs on the ground in Bangladesh will account for a further 6.8% of the total income.
* Therefore over 90% of the total income of the Accord will be used in financing the inspection and operational costs on the ground in Bangladesh.
* Agreement has been reached with all Signatories to fund these activities and there is no funding shortfall.

The Accord is well funded and capable of meeting its full 5 year programme effectively.
to read.

05:36:56 local time map of india INDIA

* Textile policy aims to create 35 million more jobs:

An expert panel constituted by the government has submitted the draft of the new National Textiles Policy, which aims to achieve USD 300 billion exports by 2024-25, and creation of additional 35 million jobs by attracting investments.

The blueprint termed as the draft ‘Vision, Strategy and Action Plan’ to revitalise the textiles and apparel industry envisages an additional investment of USD 120 billion.

It was presented to Textiles Minister Santosh Gangwar by chairman of the Expert Committee Ajay Shankar.

“The Expert Committee identified basic concerns in textiles sector and identified the national priorities in the form of a Vision & Strategy and the Action Plan for attaining the targets set out in the Vision for exports, investment and employment by the year 2024-25,” an official release said.

“The Vision projects Indian textile and apparel exports to grow from USD 39 billion at present to USD 300 billion by the year 2024-25. This translates into additional investment required of the order of USD 120 billion and in the process around 35 million additional job creation is expected to take place,” it added.
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* Vision projects textile exports to touch $300bn by 2024-25:

In its first Annual Report for the year ending 31st December, the Accord detailed not only its costs incurred in the early stages of operations but also set out the income and expenditure forecast for the current financial year ending 31st December 2014.

Keeping in view the various changes in the textile industry on the domestic and international fronts and the need for a road map for the textile & apparel industry, Ministry of Textiles had initiated the process of reviewing the National Textile Policy, 2000.

Accordingly, an Expert Committee was constituted including leading industrialists from the textile sector to make fresh recommendations.
The draft Vision, Strategy and Action Plan has been submitted by the Chairman after a detailed process of stakeholder consultations across the entire value chain.

Considering the recommendations and feedback received during various consultation meetings, the Expert Committee identified basic concerns in textiles sector and identified the national priorities in the form of a Vision & Strategy and the Action Plan for attaining the targets set out in the Vision for exports, investment and employment by the year 2024-25.

The Vision projects Indian textile and apparel exports to grow from US $ 39 billion at present to US $ 300 billion by the year 2024-25.
read more.

05:36:56 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Victory: settlement with underwear factory Bratex:

We are pleased to announce that the Sri Lankan Free Trade Zone and General Services Employees Union (FTZ&GSEU) reached a settlement with the underwear factory Bratex and the US based company Fruit of the Loom.

The union was demanding the reinstatement of workers, compensation for wages as well as the guarantee that the right to freedom of association is respected by the employer, and criminal charges against the workers to be withdrawn.
Anton Marcus, general secretary of the FTZ&GSEU says: “We are pleased to announce that we have reached this agreement with Bratex and Fruit of the Loom settling all the outstanding issues between the parties. We look forward to a new beginning and positive dialogue between labor and management in the future.”

The settlement follows a three year struggle with the factory owner. In 2011, 31 trade union office bearers and activists were dismissed for their participation in a strike to get union rights and payment of due wages.
The FTZ&GSEU branch union activists were accused of assaulting the management, but there is no evidence to link the particular workers that were accused to the attack.

However, criminal court cases were pending over the workers, and they were left without jobs and with no fair procedures being followed. Investigations by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) led to no results.
The FLA is an American Multi-Stakeholder Initiative of which Fruit of the Loom is a member.
read more.


* SACTWU Cotton textiles industry strike-7th day:

A national wage strike by about 3000 cotton textile members of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union(SACTWU) enters its 7th day tomorrow.

The strike has grown stronger by the day with an 85-90% participation rate now. There has been no further negotiations, which have been convened with the disputing parties.
SACTWU will continue to responsively intensify the strike in furtherance of our demands for a living wage.
to read.


* Towards 2017 Better Work Phase III Strategy:

Promoting Good Working Conditions Across the International Garment Industry Towards 2017

Sixty million workers across the developing world rely on the garment industry for their livelihoods.

Of these, eighty percent are female, many of whom have migrated from rural areas and are entering the formal workforce for the first time.
While factories are a valuable source of jobs and can help improve livelihoods of
workers and their families, poor working conditions remain a pressing issue across
the global garment industry.
While there have been many advances over the past 25 years, many problems remain and momentous industry progress remains elusive for a variety of reasons including the following:

* Garment industries tend to represent the fi rst step on the formal employment
ladder in developing countries.
As such, workers often do not have a good understanding of their rights under the law nor the skills to effectively communicate or negotiate with their employers.
At the same time, employers themselves often have limited training or experience in effective industrial relations.

* While labour laws in many garment producing countries can be quite strong,
the instruments of law enforcement are often inadequate.
These industries typically lack mature systems of industrial relations and the bargaining power of workers is often weak.

* International buyers have to set up parallel monitoring systems to fill these gaps, resulting in a failure to focus on building the long-term capacity of government, employers, or trade unions and also leading to fragmentation and duplication of efforts.

* Auditing for factory compliance alone has been widely acknowledged to be limited in rectifying many issues.
Factories who wish to cheat the auditing system are managing to do so without focusing on the long-term business benefi ts of improving their working conditions.

* Garment supply chains are complex and varied, often with many intermediaries between the factory and fi nal retailer.
This leads to a lack of accountability and ownership for improving compliance and weakens direct oversight and traceability of products.

There is a huge development and business opportunity to grasp by investing in good jobs and by providing workers, especially women, with the support they need to realize their rights and their full potential in the workplace.
Ultimately, factory work cannot lead to sustainable change unless the disadvantages workers often face are tackled head on. Paid work can and should create opportunities for workers to realize their rights, express their voice and develop their skills.
read more.



map of Asia

There are updates under “special overviews”:

* Minimum Wage-LIVING WAGE- PART 6: 20140607 – NOW


* China’s Textiles & Garment Trade Grows 7.2% in May

* Vietnam’s one and only trade union turns 85
* Minimum wage not enough
* Dong Nai: footwear export fetches over 1.1 billion USD

* Wages do not compute: ILO
* Factory Ends Strike After Compromise
* Workers seek pay after fire
* Fire-Ravaged Factory’s Former Owner to Give Workers Loans
* Adidas reportedly investigating faintings at Kandal supplier
* Kamako Chhnoeum: Program Findings from April 1st to June 30th, 2014

* 1200 RMG workers on hunger strike for payment
* RMG workers’ demo demanding salaries in Badda
* For unpaid Tuba workers, Eid on the factory floor
* The Accord provides explanation of projected finances in light of mis-reporting

* Textile policy aims to create 35 million more jobs
* Vision projects textile exports to touch $300bn by 2024-25

* Victory: settlement with underwear factory Bratex

* SACTWU Cotton textiles industry strike-7th day

* Towards 2017 Better Work Phase III Strategy

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

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