20:24:07 local time CAMBODIA
* Workers March to Ministry to Demand Backpay:
About 50 workers from the Xin Chang Xin garment factory on Thursday marched for the second time to the Ministry of Labor to demand intervention after the factory allegedly failed to pay two months of wages, workers and a union representative said.
“We marched a second time because we need the ministry to intervene with the factory so it can pay us,” said Koy Savoeun, one of the workers.
Neak Nom, the union representative, said the factory was subcontracted to produce clothes for GAP and Nike.
It suspended operations in June due to a lack of orders and has twice given staff a date when they would be paid, but those dates have lapsed.
* Cambodian garment workers toiling to the death:
A combination of overwork, poor working conditions and poverty wages has seen another spike of Cambodian garment workers collapsing at work, but now workers are even dying on the job.
In a single week in July, over two hundred workers were admitted to the Prek Anhchanh Health Centre clinic on the outskirts of Phnom Penh after passing out at work in garment factories.
However, more alarmingly, garment workers are actually dying at work.
Sokny Say from IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC) said:
“2014 is remarkable because while we have had many cases of mass faintings in the past, this is the first year that people have died. We must not become immune to the fact that so many garment workers are collapsing in the factories. It can be a precursor to death.”
Two workers employed at factories located outside Phnom Penh died at the end of July.
Thirty-five-year-old seamstress Nov Pas, who spent nearly four years making clothes for brands like Gap and Old Navy, passed out at her post in the Sangwoo factory at 8a.m on July 24th, 2014. By 9am she had been admitted to the nearest provincial hospital, and around 6pm she was pronounced dead.
When contacted for comment, Chea Sok Thong of the Korean-owned Sangwoo factory denied corporate responsibility for Ms. Nov’s death, claiming medical carelessness from the hospital where she was receiving treatment.
Garment worker, Vorn Tha, 44, collapsed and died at the New Archid factory, which makes clothes for H&M, after he had worked many long days from 7am to 10pm.
A third garment worker, employed at the Cambo Kotop Ltd factory in Phnom Penh, died in March.
19:24:07 local time BANGLADESH
* Tuba Group units Labour leaders for resumption of operation:
Labour leaders gave their opinion Thursday in favour of resumption of operation in all Tuba Group factories and sought an immediate decision from the authorities concerned in this respect.
Their opinion came at a view exchange meeting with the apparel sector leaders at the headquarters of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) with BGMEA Vice President Reaz-Bin-Mahmood in the chair.
Leaders from more than 35 garment labour rights groups took part in the view exchange meeting against the backdrop of the recent stalemate over the Tuba Group factories relating to payment of arrear wages and other benefits of the workers.
“We want the authorities to reopen all the factories for securing the jobs of around 1,600 workers and hope that a decision in this connection will be made shortly,” president of Garment Sramik Karmachari League Lima Ferdous said.
There is no formal announcement of shutdown of the units, so the authority has to pay wages for the month of August, she said adding if they fail to run the factories, they have to compensate the workers according to the law of the land.
* Workers protest at Ashulia:
Workers of Helicon Sweater Factory formed a human chain at Ashulia demanding cancellation of face cases and opening the factory, situated at DEPZ old zone.
All workers and employees of the factory gathered in front of Ashulia Press Club on Thursday morning and demanded to fulfill their demands, otherwise they will pronounce tougher programme.
On August 10, authority shut the factory for indefinite time period following workers strike demanding increase of wage.
* BGMEA to hold Apparel Summit in December:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the summit, according to a high official in the BGMEA
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) is going to host a three-day Apparel Summit at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital from December 7 to 9 this year to present a “complete picture” of the country’s garment industry.
The summit will replace the annual event BATEXPO, which was being organised every year to attract the foreign RMG buyers from different countries.
18:54:07 local time INDIA
* Poor compliance with labour law can jeopardise women’s safety:
Among the amendments proposed to the Factories Act by the Government is one on allowing women to work on shifts between 7 pm and 6 am, “with adequate safeguards for safety and provision of transportation till the doorstep of their residence.”
This amendment will open up work opportunities for women at a time when the female work participation rate is at a dismal 31 per cent, according to data provided by the India Labour and Employment Report 2014 from the Institute of Human Development.
However, women’s organisations, trade unions and legal experts have expressed concern over the safety, security and health of women workers, especially at a time when crimes against women are escalating.
Rape, sexual harassment, kidnapping and trafficking of women rose from 9.2 per cent in 2009 to 11.2 per cent in 2013, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
Is equity possible?
Take the case of textile and garment units in Tamil Nadu.
“Today, in four districts, there are about 40,000 women employees doing three shifts, including night shifts,” he said in an email interaction.
He said several textile mills in backward areas of Tamil Nadu engage women workers. “They engage agents to fetch women from backward class families by promising a lumpsum at the end of a three-year contract period which the girls hope to use for their marriages.
These women are kept inside the factory compound.
Their parents meet them once a year. They are treated as apprentices and are given meagre payments with deductions made for lodging and boarding expenses,” he added.
While women’s organisations, by and large, feel that allowing night shifts will lead to ‘equity’ for women in the job market, they feel the added burden of household responsibilities may impact their health.
* Watch Where You Spit! How India Labor Laws Strangle Growth:
As India’s export growth slowed in 2012, Aditya Gupta’s stocks of beds, sofas and tables began to pile up while many of his staff were idle.
He needed to trim two-thirds of the workforce at his company, Sharda Group, or risk going under.
India’s labor laws, some of which date back almost a century, made it difficult for him to fire anyone without agreement between authorities, management and workers that would have taken months of talks, without any guarantee of success.
So he offered a voluntary severance package. By the time he’d persuaded enough employees to leave 18 months later, mounting losses had forced him to shut one of his two factories on the outskirts of Delhi.
“No business wants to fire workers but businesses are dynamic and need to be flexible when cycles are not favorable,” Gupta said by phone. “Labor is 25 percent of my input and it’s like buying raw material every month no matter whether you have an order or don’t. It genuinely suffocates the business.”
Tackling India’s labor practices is central to new Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to revive economic growth and bolster tax revenue. Employment laws for companies that have more than about 100 staff are stricter than all but two of the 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, resulting in a disorganized economy composed mostly of small businesses where employees have few rights.
“India hasn’t realized its full growth potential and the labor laws are among the biggest hindrances,” said Hemal Shah, a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, who’s studied labor issues. “There’s so much overlap that, as it’s often said, a company in India can’t comply with 100 labor laws without breaking 20.”
Change won’t come easily. India’s employment laws are part of the legacy of its founding fathers including Mahatma Gandhi, who rallied textile workers in Ahmedabad from the shade of a babul tree during a strike in 1918.
“Any attempt to amend national labor legislation would be politically difficult,” said Anjalika Bardalai, an analyst in London at Eurasia Group. “So the federal government will probably encourage state governments to push reforms.”
Mostly, proposed changes revolve around refining the existing system in individual states.
The northern state of Rajasthan, led by Modi’s party, raised the minimum employee level to 300, from 100, before government approval is required to fire staff. Employees wanting to set up a trade union need 30 percent of workers as members, up from 15 percent.
18:24:07 local time PAKISTAN
* Cotton issues: Country appears set to miss cotton production target:
A high cost of production, coupled with shortage of input might result in last year’s repeat performance of failing to produce the target amount of cotton.
The government has fixed the cotton production target at 15.1 million bales for the current fiscal year 2014-15, against the revised estimates of 12.3 million bales – which was originally 14.1 million bales – in the previous year.
According to the officials of the Pakistan Agriculture Department, the main reason for switching to different crops is the unavailability of input for cotton production.
“Due to the shortage, cotton sowing has declined by approximately five percent as the farmers have opted for other crops like maize,” said the official.
According to agriculture sector experts, the yearly increments in input costs are not matching with the increase in price of cotton. The majority of the brunt is borne by small- and medium-scaled farmers. They cannot afford expensive pesticides to prevent the numerous diseases and insects from ruining their crops. According to these growers, the use of fertiliser and water is declining each year.
Lack of water is one of the major impediments in the southern belt of Punjab, which is the main area for the crop. Where the requirement, as per regulations, to provide water supply is four hours, the government only supplies water for 17 minutes.
* Fiscal Year 2014 cotton yarn export down 12 percent:
Export of cotton yarn fell by 12 percent to $1.990 billion in the last fiscal year 2013-14, according to official figures.
Cotton yarn export declined by $262 million in the last fiscal year 2013-14 from $2.252 billion in the corresponding fiscal year 2012-13, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) said.
In terms of size, the cotton yarn export fell by 74, 232 tons (10.06 percent) to 663,354 tons in the last fiscal year 2013-14 from 737,586 tons in the corresponding fiscal year 2012-13, the statistics indicated.
In June 2014, cotton yarn export plunged by $59.645 million (31.09 percent) to $132.216 million as compared to the commodity’s export of $191.861 million in June 2013, according to the PBS.
Export volume of cotton yarn dipped by 16, 636 tons (27 percent) to 45,063 tons in June 2014 as compared to the commodity’s export of 61,699 tons in June 2013, the statistics revealed.
* Cotton textile mediation yields a recommended settlement:
About 3000 Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) members in the cotton textile sector have been on a national wage strike for the last three weeks.
The union is demanding an 8.75% wage increase and a further 2.5% on peripheral rights issues, of which the most important is the formation of a specific bargaining chamber for industrial textiles workers.
Currently, industrial textiles workers are covered by the cotton sector negotiations, even though it is a much more profitable sector.
At the time that the union’s strike ballot commenced in mid-June, employers had tabled a final wage increase offer of 7%.
The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has last week offered a Labour Relations Act Section 150 intervention. In terms of this LRA provision, the CCMA can at any stage offer to mediate in an industrial dispute which may have come to its attention.
It is then voluntary for the disputing union and employer parties either to accept or to reject such a CCMA offer to intervene.
In this instance, SACTWU and SACTPEA (South African Cotton Textile Processing Employers’ Association) had accepted the CCMA’s Section 150 intervention offer.
A CCMA mediation meeting was accordingly convened yesterday. It was a marathon session which finished at 02h35 this morning.
We announce that the outcome was a recommended settlement of the strike. The union will now consult our members to secure a final mandate whether or not to accept the recommended settlement position. We expect that this process will be finalised by Monday next week, where after we intend to announce the specific details involved.
Wage increases for this sector were due on 1 July 2014.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
* UAE Textile Industry Is The Largest Trading Sector After Oil : Expert:
The United Arab Emiraes (UAE) textile industry is not only the country’s largest trading sector after oil but it is also one of the biggest employment providers in the industrial sector, Emirates News Agency reported a UAE economic and trade expert as saying.
The textile industry occupies an important place in the UAE economy as a whole because of its contribution to the industrial output, employment generation and foreign exchange earnings, said Midhat M. Abu Ghazaleh, CEO, Abughazaleh Trading Company.
He added that UAE’s textile exports cover more than 50 countries in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Europe, while major exporters are China, South Korea, Japan and Indonesia.
Abu Ghazaleh revealed that home-grown garment brands were gaining greater popularity in the local market and abroad, and stressed that more aggressive marketing programs were needed to promote the country as a high quality clothes producer and incentivise key players in the industry.
Referring to men’s wear volumes, Abu Ghazaleh quoted latest reports to reveal that this segment had grown significantly from its initial figure of 16,250,000 units in 2006.
The UAE is also reputed for exports of garments, based on bulk import of textile and textile articles from China and India.
Both these markets constitute a major segment of the textile and textile imports since the cost of manufacturing is significantly lower in these countries due to the availability of cheaper labour and lower input costs.