09:43:13 local time VIET NAM
* New minimum wage raises insurance and production costs, businesses complain:
Nguyen Viet Khoa, director of the Tan Vinh Tien Production Trade & Service Company in HCM City, said that once the minimum wage is increased, the social insurance, unemployment insurance and healthcare insurance premiums businesses have to pay for workers are higher, which burdens businesses.
The premiums are calculated based on minimum wages.
A survey by the Vietnam Labor Union found that the average income of Vietnamese workers was VND4 million in 2013. Workers in Zone 4, which had the lowest income level, received VND2.2 million a month. The levels were much higher than the minimum wages the government set for 2013 and 2014.
Workers are almost always receiving a higher wage than the minimum wage stipulated by the government. Still, businesses do not like the minimum wage law.
* Fibre plant provides key textile inputs:
The Dinh Vu Polyester Fibre Plant exported nearly 5,500 tonnes of products to the European market in its first three months of operation, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The plant has so far produced 15,500 tonnes of products, more than 8,600 tonnes of which were sold. Product quality has been tested and is equal to that of Thai, Taiwanese and Chinese products.
Covering 15 ha in Dinh Vu Industrial Park in the northern port city of Hai Phong, the US$325 million plant has a designed capacity of 150,000 tonnes yearly.
The investor, Petrochemical and Textile Fibre Joint Stock Company (PVTEX), used modern technology from Germany and Switzerland. PVTEX representative Pham Anh Tuan said that capacity would be raised to roughly 77,500 tonnes this year.
The plant will supply about 40 per cent of the materials needed for Viet Nam’s textile industry, helping save about $400 million per year. Each year, roughly 3,700 local textile and garment enterprises had to import fibre worth $1.3 billion from Taiwan, South Korea and India.
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* Workshop seeks better conditions for female workers:
A workshop was held in Ho Chi Minh City on August 12, seeking to further improve working conditions for female workers in the labour-intensive garment and textile and footwear sectors.
Female workers make up 80 percent of the workforce of the garment, textile and footwear sectors, mainly young migrants, heard the workshop, which was jointly held by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Ho Chi Minh City Branch (VCCI-HCM City) and Marie Stopes International Vietnam (MSIVN).
The event was part of a European Union-funded project, which targets increasing female migrant workers’ access to quality reproductive healthcare services, particularly birth control counseling.
The beneficiaries of the project, implemented by MSIVN in 2013-2015, are over 100,000 female labourers from eight factories in the southern provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai.
09:43:13 local time CAMBODIA
20140813 * Wrangling over wage may spur new unrest:
Unions representing garment workers have pledged to reignite protests if the minimum wage for the industry is raised to only $115 next year, a sum they say was offered by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia during a meeting on Friday.
The Labour Advisory Committee (LAC) – made up of employers, the government and unions – hopes to agree on a new wage in October.
National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia president Ken Chhenglang said unions had proposed lifting the current $100 wage to $177, but GMAC offered $115 instead, based on the government’s plan to gradually creep to $160 by 2018.
“Of course [protests] will happen, because we cannot accept $115,” she said.
20140813 * Factory Strikes End After Pay Disputes Solved:
About 3,000 garment workers in Kompong Chhnang province agreed to end their protest and return to work Wednesday after confusion over their monthly salaries was cleared away.
Workers from the Chinese-owned Jiun Ye Garment factory in Samakki Meanchey district went on strike Monday after picking up their latest paychecks and mistakenly thinking that the figures already included their monthly bonuses, which should have made the figures higher.
Workers agreed to end the strike after the calculations were explained during negotiations with officials from the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), the Free Trade Union (FTU) and the provincial labor department.
“The workers were confused and thought the factory was cheating them of their money. But after checking and receiving an explanation from GMAC the workers said they would return,” said union representative Khim Chamnan.
“After the negotiations, the factory representative agreed to change the method of calculating the workers’ monthly salaries so that they would return,” he added.
20140812 * Scores of union activists march in Cambodia on int’l youth day:
About 200 union and human rights activists marched through streets here on Tuesday to mark the 15th International Youth Day, defying the Phnom Penh Municipality’s ban on marching.
The municipal authorities allowed them to celebrate the day at the Freedom Park, a protest-designated site only, but the group defied the ban by marching through streets to deliver a petition to the National Assembly, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labor in order to seek solutions to youth’s concerns.
“The rally is to call for the National Assembly and concerned ministries to pay more attention to youth, particularly focusing on decent work and wages,”said Ek Sopheakdey, secretary general of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, which co-organized the rally. “We also urge the government to create more job opportunities for youth.”
There was no any report of violence during the marching.
to read. & read more.
* BetterFactories Media Updates 13 August 2014, Factory Strikes End After Pay Disputes Solved:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
BetterFactories Media Upates here.
08:43:13 local time BANGLADESH
20140814 * Very few RMG units have trade unions:
Owners blamed for creating barriers
Very few readymade garment (RMG) factories, inspected by the concerned government agency during April-June period, have trade unions (TUs) despite the last year’s amendment of labour law that had given workers rights to form TUs, sources said.
Inspectors of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) visited 653 factories during the period. Of these, 358 are members of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and 89 members of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). The remaining 206 are not members of any association.
According to a report, of the inspected BGMEA factories, only some 8 factories or 2 per cent have TUs. Of the BKMEA factories, some 2 factories or nearly 2 per cent have TUs, and of the non-member factories some 29 factories or 14 per cent have TUs.
However, 73 per cent of the BGMEA and the BKMEA factories and 89 per cent of non-member factories have participation committees. Participation committee is a body manned by representatives from both factory owners and workers. TU leaders term this committee as ‘pocket committee’ of factory owners which actually works to favour owners.
In July 2013, the government amended the Bangladesh Labour Law 2006 allowing garment workers to form trade unions to bargain for their rights. Since then in last one year, according to state minister for labour and employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu, some 179 new trade unions have got government registration.
Labour leaders have blamed non-cooperation and creation of barriers by the factory owners behind the low number of trade unions in the RMG factories.
They said workers are frequently threatened, harassed, beaten and sacked when they try to form trade unions.
As a result, nowadays the workers show less interest to be united for their rights. Rather they want to continue working with the wages the factory owners willingly pay.
President of the Textile Garment Workers Federation Abul Hossain told the FE Wednesday there were many reasons behind the workers’ failure to form TUs although the law permits them.
“When workers take any move to form trade unions, the factory owners start harassing, threatening, beating and finally dismiss leaders of them creating panic among other workers.
Following these, the workers backtrack from the movement fearing job loss,” he said.
20140813 * Garment Sramik Oikya wants reopening of Tuba Group factories:
Garment Sramik Oikya Forum has asked the troubled Tuba Group to reopen all its five garment factories and pay the pending Eid bonuses to its workers.
Addressing a news conference in Dhaka President of the Forum Mosrefa Mishu alleged that the owner of the group was trying to secretly sell the factories that employed about 1,600 workers.
The forum also demanded withdrawal of cases against workers and their leaders, compensation to workers and cancellation of bail of Tuba Group owner Delwar Hossain.
The forum will hold a solidarity rally at Shahbagh on Aug. 17 and another rally in Badda on Aug. 20.
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20140814 * Tuba workers make fresh 5-pt demand:
The Garment Workers’ Oikya Forum made on Wednesday a six-point demand including immediate payment of festival allowances of the Tuba Group workers and reopening of the closed units.
The Forum also announced its next movement to realise their demands.
Moshrefa Mishu, president of the Forum, made the six-point demand at a press briefing held in the city.
“Pay the Tuba Group Workers festival allowance, open the closed units and run them according to the law,” she said.
The workers observed hunger strikes for 11 days but their demands are yet to be fully met, she said adding they had no other option but to opt for hunger strike.
The workers are still in the dark about the festival allowances, she added.
The demands also included scrapping of Tuba Group MD Delwar Hossain’s anticipatory bail and giving him the death penalty.
20140814 * Worker leader threatens to resume protests:
Leader of Garments Workers Unity Forum, a trade union in the apparel sector, yesterday threatened to relaunch protests unless the Tub Group workers get their festival bonuses soon.
Moshrefa Mishu, president of the Forum, also demanded cancellation of the bail to Delwar Hossain, managing director of Tuba Group.
Mishu alleged that the police oppressed the Tuba workers who were on hunger strike to realise their three months’ arrears and Eid bonus.
“If our six-point demands are not met by August 16, we will demonstrate at Shahbagh on August 17 and hold a workers’ gathering at Badda on the following day,” she said at a press conference in Dhaka.
“We want Delwar to reopen his five units as soon as possible so that the workers are employed,” she said. “If Delwar wants to close down his factories, he will have to pay the workers as per the law.”
20140813 * Ashulia RMG workers unrest continues:
RMG workers continued their demonstration protesting worker layoffs for the second day
The workers of ready-made garment (RMG) factory Yagi Bangladesh Garments Ltd, located in the capital’s Ashulia area, continued their demonstration protesting worker layoffs for the second day yesterday, our Savar correspondent reports.
Sources among the workers and police said the workers carried on their work abstention and demonstrated in protest of both the factory authorities’ reluctance to pay wages and the sudden layoff of 26 workers on Monday.
The wage was supposed to be paid on Sunday, but the authorities were unable to do so, said the sources.
However, what fuelled the fire was the notice announcing the termination of employment of 26 workers, seeing which the workers halted the production at the factory and imposed work abstention on Monday morning.
Mostafizur Rahman, director of Ashulia Industrial Police, confirmed the workers’ unrest and said additional police troops had been deployed to avoid any untoward incidents.
Meanwhile, police rescued the missing RMG worker of Gazipur-based Multifab Ltd, Mehedi Hasan, from the city’s Chowrasta area early yesterday, our Gazipur correspondent reports.
20140812 * Irregular Payment and Payment Delay Keep Causing Uproar Among Garment Workers in Bangladesh:
After the relentless Police barbarism that followed on 8 August 2014, with the arrest of labor leader Moshrefa Mishu (later released on the same day), and activists, baton charge, dispersing aggrieved workers on hunger strike from inside the factory building, Delwar Hossain finally sold off his land and machinery to give workers their 3 month worth of salaries and overtime, however festival bonuses are still not paid to the workers.
Earlier, workers called for a nation wide strike on 9 August 2014, which was not observed and later called off due to payment of dues.
Today 12 August 2014, workers of Yagi Bangladesh Garment Ltd went on protest against their management for payment of their wages for July 2014. Workers of this factory stopped all production also for the sacking of their colleagues without showing any reason.
With wages being the primary reason workers work in these factories, the non-payment or payment after shedding blood cannot be acceptable.
The outcry of Tuba Group workers have created fresh discussions where an emergency fund is proposed by the Commerce Minister for the BGMEA to meet such pressing scenarios.
* Structural flaws detected in eight more RMG units:
The Alliance inspection teams have identified major structural flaws in eight more garment factories—six in Dhaka and one each in Narayanganj and Chittagong— and requested the official review panel to take immediate action in this connection, sources said.
The North American initiative has sent the list of the factories to the review panel recently, they added.
The units located in the capital city are: Benhid Apparels, Bonny Apparels, Global Merchants, Odessa Fashions, Love Craft Garments Fabric and Ashiana Garments Industries.
The rest two are Arrow Apparels Ltd at Narayanganj and Artistic Apparels Ltd at Chittagong.
Inspector General of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) Syed Ahmed, also chief of the review panel, when contacted, confirmed they had received a list containing the names of the factories from the Alliance and said they would start visiting the factories in question from next week.
A total of 25 apparel units have been closed until now following the western retailers’ inspection programmes during the last six months. These factories have about 15000 workers on their payrolls, according to DIFE statistic.
About 2000 workers lost their job due to partial shut down of some 11 units, it added.
* Expedite RMG-related bond activities:
BGMEA urges Ctg Customs
BGMEA first vice president Nasiruddin Ahmed Chowdhury has urged the authorities concerned to facilitate quick approval of the bond-related files in the Chittagong Customs Bond Commissionerate (CCBC).
He said this in a meeting with CCBC Commissioner Dr Abdul Mannan Sikder at the latter’s office Tuesday.
He also urged them to ease annual audit activities, release indemnity bond and replace old machinery in the Commissionerate, and approval of bond transfer on the same day to go for sub-contract with factories in the export processing zones (EPZs).
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) leader said local garment industry is passing hard times now. Many RMG factories are facing closure following the visits of the US-based Accord and the EU-based Alliance inspection teams on compliance-related issues.
The vulnerable factories have been closed by the Department of Factories, following recommendations of these inspection teams.
He also said flow of orders from buyers has fallen significantly due to gas and electricity supply shortage as well as lack of other infrastructure facilities faced by the industry.
TAZREEN FACTORY FIRE
* Tazreen victim Amena loses the fight:
A Tazreen Fashions fire victim, who developed cancer after sustaining injuries in the November 24, 2012 incident, died at a hospital in the capital early today.
Amena Begum, 35, died at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) around 4:00am, reports our Savar correspondent.
She was a sewing machine operator of Tazreen Fashions Limited in Ashulia, on the outskirts of the capital.
Tazreen Fashions, a garment factory of Toba Group at Nishchintapur of Ashulia was burnt down in the blaze, killing 112 workers and injuring hundreds.
Amena hailed Buriadoha village of Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila suffered severe injuries after she jumped off the fourth floor to escape the fire.
Her husband Abul Hosen, a rickshaw puller, has sold his only home and 10 decimals of land at Lalmonirhat for Tk 1.84 lakh to arrange better treatment for Amena.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Another Tazreen factory fire victim dies:
When her condition deteriorated a few days ago, she was again admitted to BSMMU, where she died on Wednesday morning
Another victim of Tazreen fire died yesterday, after fighting for her life for nearly two years.
Amena Begum, the victim of the fire, died early morning yesterday in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) where she was receiving treatment.
Amena worked on the fifth floor of Tazreen Fashion. When the fire broke out on her floor, she saw her co-workers being burnt alive and to save her life she jumped from the fifth floor. She broke her bones in her hand, feet and waist from the jump.
For the first few days she received treatment from the hospital, but her family could afford to keep her there, so they brought her home in Nischintapur in Ashulia and looked after her there.
When her condition deteriorated a few days ago, she was again admitted to BSMMU, where she died on Wednesday morning.
* Another Tazreen Victim Dies – Amena Begum is no more:
After suffering from serious wounds as a result of the Tazreen inferno on 24 November 2012, Amena begum succumbed to her injuries at around 8 in the evening of 12 August 2014.
Amena’s murder is due to gross negligence by the owner of Tazreen Fashions (Tuba Group) Mr. Delwar Hossain who is currently roaming free on bail which he received from the High Court during the Tuba Group uprising recently.
As soon as her body arrived in Nishchintapur, Savar, where her husband waited to bid her farewell with several trade unionists and locals, the Police arrived and restricted her body to be taken out of the ambulance. Later, her dead-body was taken to her hometown in Lalmonirhat, the northernmost district of Bangladesh, for a quick funeral and burial.
Trade Unionists and rights bodies doubt that her body was restricted from being taken out of Nischintapur, Savar (near the Tazreen Fashion itself) to prevent any burst of emotion or any reaction which would cause an uproar among family, relatives, friends and sympathizers of workers and worker rights in that area and across the country.
The death of Amena Begum now makes the death toll of Tazreen Fashion Fire stand at 125. Workers of Tazreen are yet to get their full compensation by the government of brands which were making their products in that factory.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Rana Plaza collapse:
A Dhaka court on Wednesday asked the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) either to submit probe report or to explain the situation to the court with the case docket (CD) in two cases filed in connection with Rana Plaza building collapse last year.
Senior Judicial Magistrate Kazi Shahidul Islam of the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court of Dhaka fixed September 18 to submit the reports.
Bijoy Krishna Kar, the Investigation Officer (IO) of the case, could not submit the reports yesterday. During the last 16 months the date for submission of the probe reports were deferred eight times.
Rajuk filed one of the two cases against the building owner, Sohel Rana, for structural faults of Rana Plaza building and for violating the National Building Code.
Savar Police Station filed the other case against Rana, his father Abdul Khalek, and the owners of the five garments housed in the nine-story building for the loss of lives.
Sheulli Akter, wife of Jahangir Alam, whose body was recovered on April 24, filed another case against Rana.
* CID asked to submit report on Rana Plaza collapse:
On June 30, the court asked the CID to submit the probe reports before the court on August 13
A Dhaka court has asked the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to submit its probe reports by September 18 in two cases filed in connection with the Rana Plaza collapse.
Dhaka Senior Judicial Magistrate Kazi Shahidul Islam passed the order as CID Assistant Superintendent Bijoy Krishna Khar, also the investigation officer of the cases, failed to submit the probe reports yesterday.
On June 30, the court asked the CID to submit the probe reports before the court on August 13.
Meanwhile, Additional Public Prosecutor Anwarul Kabir Babul yesterday filed a petition before the court seeking a progress report of the investigation of cases.
Babul said: “We filed a petition with the court seeking a progress report on the investigation, and the court granted it and asked the CID to submit a progress report.”
08:13:13 local time INDIA
* Child workers rescued:
Seven minor children, six of them hailing from other States, were rescued by the officials of National Child Labour Project from a textile mill situated at Chinna Pudur, near Dharapuram, and united with their parents/guardians on Wednesday.
Of the seven children, four were ‘child labourers’. D.V. Vijayakumaar, project director of NCLP, told The Hindu that a case would be registered against the owner of the company.
He added that it was for the second time the unit was caught for employing child labourers.
* Traders, spinners discuss challenges faced by cotton industry:
Various stakeholders in the cotton industry, including traders and spinners, today discussed the challenges being faced by them.
A two-day conference on ‘Indian Cotton Scenario in the Current Context 2014-15’ has been organised by the Indian Cotton Federation here.
Dhiren Seth, President of Mumbai-based Cotton Association of India, said he wanted the industry to push and lobby for implementation of Goods and Service Tax, which “would revolutionise the entire industry”.
“Moreover, the stakeholders should also take efforts to increase the consumption of the raw material, the production of which was likely to increase in the coming years,” he said.
T Rajkumar, Chairman, Southern India Mills Association, appealed to the government to relax Cabatoge rule so that flag vessels could be used for transportation of cotton from Maharasthra and Gujarat to mills in Tamil Nadu to reduce the freight charges.
* Government urged to address challenges of textile industry:
The Union Government recently released a draft of its vision, strategy and action plan for the Indian textiles and apparel sector for the next 10 years.
Reacting to the draft, industry sources here say the Government should address the problems faced by the sector and come out with proposals that would help achieve the export, domestic and products targets.
According to the draft, the textile and apparel sector should attract $ 120 billion investment by 2024-2025, register 20 per cent growth in exports every year to touch $ 300 billion, have 20 per cent share in global trade from the current five per cent, and increase production to $ 350 billion from the existing $ 100 billion.
* Back to the future in Vidarbha for cotton farmers:
How a new-old planting technique could make rain-fed cotton planting more viable
* These products should be produced only on handlooms:
Enforcement Wing of State Handlooms department has released a list of 11 handloom products and also issued a warning to power loom unit/ mill owners against producing any of the items on the list using power looms.
The items that have been listed by the authorities include sari (pure cotton and silk), dhothi, towel, lungi, bed sheet, jamakkalam, handloom apparels, blanket, shawl, woollen tweed and chaddar.
“If anyone is found producing the said items using methodology other than handloom, they could be imprisoned for six months,” officials warned.
* Cotton output likely to cross 400 lakh bales next season:
According to the Cotton Advisory Board, production for the season ending next month will be 390 lakh bales
Cotton production is expected to cross 400 lakh bales next season (October 2014 to September 2015), according to trade representatives.
Anand Popat, Secretary of Saurashtra Ginners’ Association, and Dilip Patel, President of All Gujarat Cotton Ginners’ Association, told The Hindu here on Wednesday that total cotton production next season was estimated to be 404 lakh bales.
Since monsoon was delayed, cotton arrivals would be late by a month. Production in Gujarat was expected to be 135 lakh bales, which would be almost the same as the current cotton season (2013-14).
If the yield improved, production in Gujarat would go up, they said.
07:43:13 local time PAKISTAN
20140813 * Power loom workers stage demonstration:
Hundreds of power loom workers Tuesday staged a protest demonstration against the Punjab Employees Social Security Institution, Gujranwala, outside the office of DCO.
The workers were carrying banners and placards and they raised slogans against the officers of the institution.
The workers blocked Sialkot road for about two hours.
The DCO listened them patiently and advised them to approach his office after the Independence Day.
The DCO was briefed about the importance of Gujranwala city in connection with fabric weaving units and conditions of the workers who discharge their duties in three shifts.
The DCO was told that the Social Security Institution was exploiting the workers with the connivance of the power looms units owners.
The DCO promised to resolve their troubles.
20140813 * Uncertainty will adversely: affect industry: APTMA Punjab:
Chairman APTMA Punjab S M Tanveer has apprehended serious impact on commerce and industry if prevailing uncertainty in the country looms large.
Specially, he said, the textile industry cannot sustain any kind of uncertainty for long due to its international exposure being an export-oriented industry.
Also, millions of workers are affiliated with textile industry in Pakistan, which is also a major consumer of cotton within the country.
He said continuity of economic activities in the country is must for continuity of jobs, productivity and growth.
He said the national assets of the country should be protected from destruction and the economic wheel of the country shouldn’t be halted for a single moment.
He said the industry circles are worried over the prevailing uncertainty and demand an early end to it for better prospects of the economy of the country.
According to him, the textile industry of Pakistan has recently been benefited from the opportunity of market access from the EU.
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07:43:13 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Fergana Valley teachers prepare for the cotton harvest:
Fergana valley teachers currently on sick leave are being told to quickly return to health, while those refusing to sign up for cotton shifts are told to resign: Cotton harvest 2014 promises to be a harsh one.
The Board of Education in Fergana Valley is busy compiling lists of names and obtaining passport copies so it can identify which teachers to send to the cotton harvest in early September.
This year’s harvest campaign looks to be even more brutal and unjust than last year.
“Sick teachers have been told to get better immediately. Those who refuse to go are being told to resign by September 1,” says elementary school teacher Salima.
Math teacher Marhabo adds, “A group of us has just returned from weeding cotton. We had to spend our own money. Farmers did not even offer us water. And we worked in 40-degree heat.”
Teachers and medics have been sent to the fields since August 11.
20140813 * SACTWU settles in blanket sector:
The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has settled its 2014 wage dispute in the Blankets textiles sub-sector.
The settlement package is 9.45% total labour cost .
The agreement was reached under the auspices of the National Textile Bargaining Council, between SACTWU and the South African Blanket Manufacturers Employers’ Organisation (SABMEO).
The increases will be backdated to 1 August 2014.