17:15:00 local time CHINA
* Cancer chemical 4 times national standard in swimwear:
Levels of cancer-causing chemicals four times the national standard have been found in swimwear tested by Shanghai’s consumer watchdog.
One quarter of swimming garments tested in a random inspection failed to meet quality standards, the Shanghai Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau said yesterday.
Problems identified included levels of carcinogenic formaldehyde and color fading that can cause skin conditions.
16:15:00 local time VIET NAM
* Vietnam textile industry urged to advance supporting industries:
Textile export has ranked second and made up 15 percent of total national export turnover, however Vietnam textile and garment industry has heavily relied on importing raw materials, hindering the industry to develop in a sustainable manner, said the Vietnam Business Forum Magazine (VBF).
According to the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS), the Vietnam textile supply chain is currently focusing heavily on exports (making up 86 percent of production capacity), and greatly depending on imported fabric sources (accounting for 86 percent of total demand).
In addition, bottlenecks still happen in the process of knitting and dyeing in Vietnam’s textile supply chain.
These have prevented the industry from sustainable development. To increase profits and competitiveness, and reduce imports of raw material, the industry needs to advance supporting industries.
In particular, Vietnam’s textile industry should promote supporting industries and seek for more market share.
In the supporting industry development strategy, the textile industry has launched a number of specific programmes.
Accordingly, the industry will call for investment in the production of polyester fibre – an important factor contributing to the sustainability of the textile industry. Besides, the industry has also required a 580 hectare land for plant construction to have 11.6 million spindles by the time of 2025.
Moreover, it needs to invest in large-scale industrial parks, following by supporting material development for export garment.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 20/8 (22th item).
* Vietnam’s top-10 imports, exports in first 7 months:
Vietnam earned 83.98 billion U.S. dollars from the exports, while it spent nearly 82.39 billion dollars for the imports, in the first seven months of this year, according to the latest report from the Vietnam’s Customs Administration on Tuesday.
Of the total export value, the top-10 export commodities gained 58.34 billion dollars, or 69.4 percent.
Textile and garments came second, earning 11.5 billion dollars, up 19.5 percent, followed by the footwear with 5.78 billion dollars and 22.46 percent, respectively.
* Indian businesses seek to enter Vietnam garment market:
Indian businesses currently supply 2% of raw garment and textile materials to Vietnam annually, and they are aiming to dramatically increase the market share to 25% during the next few years.
- Boom in garment and textile exports to the US
- Making breakthroughs for garment and textile sector
- Garment and textile exports to reach US$19 billion
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) reports that two-way trade turnover in the garment sector has seen remarkable growth in recent years, especially after the signing of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between ASEAN and India in early 2010. In 2013, Vietnam imported US$419 million worth of textile materials from India, up 36% compared to 2012’s figure.
Vietnam Customs statistics show that in the first seven months of 2014, India exported cotton, fibre, and fabric to Vietnam, earning US$224 million, US$39.2 million and US$30.96 million respectively. India’s export turnover of garment, leather, and footwear accessories to Vietnam also fetched US$58 million.
read more & read more.
16:15:00 local time CAMBODIA
* Garment Workers at Two Factories Go on Strike for More Pay:
About 3,000 garment workers went on strike in Kompong Chhnang province for a second day Tuesday, accusing their factory of withholding some of their monthly bonuses.
Employees from the Chinese-owned Jiun Ye Garment factory blocked National Road 5 for more than four hours Tuesday, claiming that their latest bonuses were $5 to $20 shy of what they should have been.
Mum Siek, president of Khmer Union Federation of Workers Spirit, accused the factory, which produces children’s clothes for U.S. brand Carter’s, of deliberately trying to short-change the workers.
“The workers are striking because they believe that the factory is cheating them out of their bonus payment of $5 to $20 per month for each worker,” he said.
Nget Reaksmey, the factory’s human resources director, said the bonus cuts were not deliberate.
“We acknowledge some technical errors and appeal to workers who are missing payments to come to work and we appeal to them to double check with us,” he said.
Although the factory refused to engage in negotiations Tuesday, representatives are expected to meet with union officials Wednesday.
In a separate incident, more than 400 workers from the Taiwanese-owned Xin Fang Garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district have been striking since Monday.
They have a lengthy list of 19 demands, including a lunch allowance, benefits for pregnant women and new mothers, a $3 bonus for working on holidays and $15 per month for accommodation.
* Workers in Kampong Chhnang block road:
Hundreds of workers at a garment factory in Kampong Chhnang province blocked National Road 5 for about four hours yesterday, leading to a standoff with police.
Sous Sokha, an official with the Khmer Union Federation of Workers Spirit, said it was the second day that the workers from Jiun Ye Garment had taken to the road in Samaki Meanchey district to demand better working conditions, including a $15 monthly attendance bonus.
* Fainting inquest: New body to check out blackouts:
As the factory fainting tally for the year continued to escalate this week, the Ministry of Labour yesterday announced a committee to investigate workplace conditions and determine the cause behind workers blacking out on the job.
Leng Tong, director of the ministry’s Occupational Health and Safety Department, said the government has preliminarily concluded workers are fainting because of “over-time, working environment, the weather, etc, and not because of chemicals in the factory.”
The new interministerial committee will more conclusively determine the reason, Tong said yesterday during a workshop for the 2014-2018 strategic plan for workplace health and safety.
Tong added that the ministry implemented 80 per cent of its previous strategic plan.
Over 1,100 workers in Phnom Penh alone have fainted this year, according to the Free Trade Union, which continued to call for stronger inspections and better conditions yesterday.
* Gov’t Says Workplace Injuries on the Rise, Reforms Needed:
In the face of an increase in work-related injuries, government officials gathered in Phnom Penh on Tuesday to start work on a new plan to reduce workplace accidents and to reflect on their achievements over the past five years.
Almost 17,000 people were injured at work last year, about 2,600 more than in 2012, according to the National Social Security Fund.
The number, which relies on employers’ report, has also increased fourfold since the government launched its first Occupational Health and Safety Master Plan in 2009.
Despite the rise, officials were told that 80 percent of the plan’s targets had been met.
Leng Tong, director of the Labor Ministry’s occupational health department, said the list of achievements included enacting health and safety legislation, inspecting workplace and running health clinics for garment workers.
“Recently we have created an inter-ministry committee to prevent fainting of workers and another inter-ministry committee to check about safety in the factories,” he said. “If the factory does not reach standards we will set conditions for it to improve, and if it does not we will fine it or shut it down.”
* BetterFactories Media Updates 20 August 2014, Garment Workers at Two Factories Go on Strike for More Pay:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2014-08-20 Garment Workers at Two Factories Go on Strike for More Pay
2014-08-20 Asian Labour Groups Join Forces on Wage Claims
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
15:15:00 local time BANGLADESH
* Tuba Group factories closed:
Tuba Group authority has closed its factories at Badda in the city for an indefinite period.
Notifications, signed by the Tuba Group managing director, Delwar Hossain, posted on the gates of the factories on Monday, stated that the factories were closed with effect from June 11 under Section 13(1) of the Bangladesh Labour Act.
The section empowered an employer, in the event of an illegal strike by any section or department of any establishment, to close down either wholly or partly such section or department and the workers participated in the illegal strike might not be paid any wages for such closure.
The workers of five apparel factories of Tuba Group went on fast unto death day
before Eid-ul Fitr for arrears of their wages for three months and allowances.
After 11 days, the workers were paid partial arrear wages and no festival allowance under arrangement of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
The association had said that problems over the wages took place as the owner of the group was in jail. Delwar Hossain, also the owner of Tazreen Fashions, in which at least 117 workers were killed in a fire accident in November 2012.
Garment Sramik Oikya Forum president Mushrefa Mishu said that factories were closed illegally only to deprive the workers of their lawful demands.
* Delwar shuts down 5 Tuba factories:
Owner Delwar Hossain has shut down five factories of Tuba Group for an indefinite period, pointing to labour strikes as an excuse. According to the Labour Act 2006, Article 13 (1), the closure will be effective from June 11.
Last Monday the closure notices were put up on the factory gates of Tuba Textiles, Taib Design, Mita Design, Bukshan Garments and Tuba Fashions.
This closure has rendered 1500 garment workers of these five factories jobless. The management may also try to thus avoid paying Eid bonus and service benefits. Under the clause used for the closure, workers participating in a strike will not receive wages, even though Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed on August 10 told a press conference that the workers would be paid according to the law, even if the factory closed.
BGMEA, the association of garment industry owners, says that Delwar’s decision is legal, but the labour leaders see it as unethical. Tuba’s Managing Director Delwar Hossain has refrained from comment. He has not been answering his mobile phone.
Moshrefa Mishu, Convenor of Tuba Group Workers Action Committee and President of Garments Workers Unity Forum, says that according to the law, if the workers are laid off, the management would have to pay a few crore taka in dues.
That is why Delwar has taken this decision.
Moshrefa Mishu says, “We will not let Tuba’s owner off so easily. We are preparing to file a case with the Labour Court to ensure that the workers receive their dues.
We have spoken to lawyers.
In the meantime, Tuba workers will continue in their movement.”
Shahidullah Azim, Vice President of BGMEA, tells Prothom Alo, they should not close down production to voice their demands. That is why Delwar’s closure of the factories is lawful.”
The closure notice signed by Delwar states that the workers did not get their May wages on time as the Managing Director was in hail. The workers had stopped work from June 10 in protest. The workers were putting pressure on the management for their wages by halting work and in other manners. The notice stated that the workers had brought in outsiders to illegally join in their sit-in, loot, damage machinery and raw material, etc. The notice said that this amounted to unlawful strike.
Moshrefa Mishu says, “The people have seen the peaceful movement of the Tuba workers. Actually, not much more can be expected from the murderer and corrupt Delwar.”
* Five Tuba Group units closed:
The Tuba Group authorities have declared their five units closed for an indefinite period under the article 13(1) of the labour law with effect from June
A notice signed by the Group’s Managing Director Delwar Hossain was put up at the Badda factory.
The notice said any decision on reopening the factories would be notified later.
— FE report
* Factory closed over workers’ unrest:
Additional police have been deployed in front of the factory to avoid any untoward situations, says Mostafizur
Authorities of a ready-made garment factory in Ashulia have declared the factory closed for an indefinite period on Tuesday amid workers protest.
Workers said some 800 workers of Sonia Fine Knit’s linking and sewing sections have been protesting to press their four-point demands including payment of Eid bonus and A-grade salary.
They said they went back to their houses when the factory authority declared holiday for the day following their work abstention on Monday.
They found the notice about the indefinite closure of the factor when they went to the factory to join their work on Tuesday morning.
* JS body asks for restoring stability in RMG sector:
Suggests modern frontier patrol against drug smuggling
A parliamentary panel Tuesday recommended taking necessary steps to establish stability in the readymade garment sector while another body asked for bolstering frontier patrol with modern watercraft to halt menacing drug smuggling largely done through waterways.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour Ministry also suggested payoff of all legal benefits to workers in case of closure of any factory, taking a cue from the Tuba turmoil.
In this context, the lawmakers called for removing all kinds of prevailing discontent among the workers of the five factories of Tuba Group and paying them Eid bonus.
The committee suggested the ministry to scrutinize necessary issues before approval for giving registration to any trade union.
Allowing trade union in the apparel factories is one of the compliance conditions tagged to the matter of restoration of the GSP facility on the US market. It’s also a strong plea from the European Union.
* Accord, Alliance discord surfaces:
European clothing brands’ association Accord has said it will not accept any inspection report prepared by a firm individually hired by a brand of the North American retailers’ group, Alliance.
It has made this clear in a statement on initial inspections at joint Accord-Alliance factories on Aug 15.
However, it will only consider inspection reports done by firms that are directly hired by Alliance.
The statement indicates a difference between the European clothing retailers’ association, Accord, and the North American brands’ group, Alliance, over accepting inspection reports on factories that produce garments for buyers from both groups.
BGMEA, the apex body of readymade garment traders, fears this will put over 300 factories, manufacturers for both European and North American brands, in trouble.
Despite Accord’s concern for avoiding duplication of inspection, its new stance could further put off workers’ safety in factories that cater to both.
It is important to note that Accord does not provide wages to workers temporarily laid-off because of factory remediation.
The statement says persons working under the guidance of Accord’s Chief Safety Inspector carried out Accord’s inspections.
On the other hand, Alliance carries out its inspection in two ways: through hired firms and firms hired by Alliance brands.
Accord made it clear that it would not accept inspection reports done by any individual Alliance brand.
* BB’s scheme to improve safety, standard of RMG factories:
Bangladesh Bank (BB) has extended its refinancing scheme for green industries to bring three more products under its easy loan facilities including the readymade garment (RMG) factories which require finance for improving workers’ safety and standard of workplaces.
An owner of RMG factory can borrow up to Taka one core loan from commercial banks or non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs) under the refinancing scheme of BB, a central bank circular, issued Monday, said. The circular also asked all banks and NBFIs to follow the directive accordingly.
The RMG factory owner, however, should be a member of any of the trade bodies including Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA).
The credit would be given only to cover the expenses for importing gears and other stuff for safety and standard and the cost of installation and related civil work.
* BD, US working with ILO to revive GSP:
US ambassador to Dhaka Dan W Mozena said both the governments of Bangladesh and USA are jointly working with International Labour Organization (ILO) to restore Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) facilities.
The US ambassador came up with the assertion while talking to journalists after visiting a garment factory at Adamjee Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Narayanganj on Tuesday noon.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Govt plans to boost cotton production seven-fold:
The government has taken up a Tk 105 crore project to increase production of raw cotton, only 3 percent of which is now collected from local producers.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council yesterday approved the Extended Cotton Farming Project Phase-1 through which an additional 7 lakh bales of cotton will be produced a year.
Bangladesh produces only 1 lakh bales of cotton, which meets only 2-3 percent of the garment industry’s demand.
Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said the additional production will be ensured by planned cotton farming in 35 upazilas under 10 districts.
At present, the government has to spend around $4.5 billion a year to import cotton, he said.
The country will be able to meet 30 percent of its demand for cotton if the project is implemented to the full, according to the planning ministry proposal.
14:45:00 local time SRI LANKA
* Bus crash injures 20 garment workers :
Twenty garment factory female employees and the driver of a bus had been admitted to the Eheliyagoda hospital after the bus crashed on to tree on the Ratnapura-Colombo Road this morning, the Police said.
The Police said the bus had lost control and skidded off the road and crashed on to the tree near the Parakaduwa Ayurvedic Health Centre.
The privately owned bus was heading to Avissawella from Ratnapura.
14:15:00 local time PAKISTAN
* Baldia fire tragedy: labour rights activists from Europe due on 27th:
A team of labour rights organisations is coming from European countries to Pakistan on Aug 27 to discuss issues concerning the Baldia factory fire tragedy with their Pakistani counterparts and filing of cases against the certificate issuing authority, RINA, it emerged on Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Karachi Press Club, deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) Nasir Mansoor said two years had passed but the authorities concerned seemed “not interested in providing a better legal system to deal with such issues”.
Sitting beside the Baldia fire victims’ families, Mansoor said the promises made by the authorities to the families had not been fulfilled.
“We have three persisting issues with the authorities. One, to pay compensation to the remaining 120 workers.
Also, the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) issue its cards to 92 employees, which is still pending,” he said.
He added that the pension cards, initially issued to the families under the EOBI, would last for five years only. And the demands to the contrary were “being ignored by the officials”.
In September the trade unions will commemorate the second anniversary of the Baldia factory fire in which 259 workers were killed. Despite many statements in the press, the trade unionists and labour organisations speak of the government’s “lack of empathy”.
* Cotton farmers asked to be vigilant against bugs:
Agriculture experts have advised growers to be vigilant of dusky cotton and red cotton bugs and asked them to consult experts for their in timely control in the cotton belt, particularly from September to November.
Timely control on the bugs is vital to get enhanced production of good quality cotton, agriculture department said in a statement.
The bugs not only suck juice from flowers and bolls but also leave dark spots on lint compromising its quality.
A agriculture spokesman said the country faced loss worth billions of rupees every year due to production of low quality cotton and added that timely pest control was also necessary in addition to clean picking of cotton, clean storage and proper transportation arrangements to get good quality fibre.
* Rain related damages: Cotton growers advised to take timely actions:
Punjab Agriculture Department (PAD) has advised the cotton growers to take timely actions for saving their crop from damages caused by rain.
In an advisory issued here on Tuesday, a PAD spokesman said that cotton crop was at a very important juncture right now so full take care of the crop was very essential to save it from damages caused by rain water.
He said if rain water was standing in fields with cotton sowing then growers should ensure its shifting to some lower field as if water stood for more than 24 hours it would leave negative impact on the growth of the plant.
He further advised that if cotton field was situated near a field with sugarcane or fodder plantation then water from cotton field should be shifted to those fields.
He said if shifting of water was not possible from a cotton field then all the water should be collected in a ditch at one side of that field.
* SACTWU settles four week cotton textile national wage strike:
We refer to our media release of 14 August 2014 (for ease of reference it is copied below) and provide the following update:
Our 3000 striking cotton textile members have accepted the recommended settlement, following Labour Relations Act Section 150 intervention by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation & Arbitration (CCMA).
Our final wage increase demand was 8.75%. At the time when we commenced the strike ballot, employers were offering a 7% increase. The final settlement will be an 8.5% wage increase, backdated to 1 July 2014. It will be a two year agreement, with a further 8.5% wage increase effective from 1 July 2015.
In addition, employers have committed to a high level engagement on the establishment of a separate bargaining chamber for industrial textiles workers.
We completed our final settlement mandating processes late yesterday afternoon. Our members are due to return to work as from today, and we are optimistic that a full return to work will be secured by Thursday morning.
A full wage agreement is due to be signed between the parties later this week.