(Please see editor’s note at the bottom of this bulletin.)
08:54:47 local time CHINA
* China mulls higher fines for workplace accidents:
Chinese lawmakers are considering imposing fines of up to 5 million yuan (810,000 U.S. dollars) on enterprises involved in serious workplace accidents.
Managers in charge of such enterprises who are found to have failed in their duty to ensure safety will also be fined between 30 and 80 percent of their annual income, under a draft amendment to the Workplace Safety Law tabled for second reading in China’s congress on Monday.
This is a massive increase compared with the current law, under which managers face fines between 20,000 yuan and 200,000 yuan.
* China says imported garments of fast fashion brands substandard:
Four “fast fashion” brands were named in China’s top 5 worst in terms of safety among imported garments, quality supervision officials said.
Forever 21, Zara, H&M and Mango were the most frequently found to fail quality and safety tests in recent trials, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in an online statement.
A total of 12,305 cases of imported apparel, worth 47.67 million US dollars, were found to have failed quality tests in the first half of this year.
* Zara, H&M in quality safety scare:
Imported clothing products from big-name overseas brands like Forever 21, Zara, H&M and Mango topped the list of failures in quality control tests conducted by inspection and quarantine authorities in the first half of this year, China’s quality watchdog said Wednesday.
A total of 12,305 cases of substandard clothing were found by authorities between January and June, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China said.
Among these, 396 cases were related to substandard clothing with safety problems pertaining to quality. And the above-mentioned four brands accounted for 107, or 27.02 percent, of the 396 cases, the administration said.
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* Factory workers cannot rely on the local government; they need a union to bargain with management:
The massive strike at the Yue Yuen shoe factory complex in Dongguan in April highlighted the growing demands of many workers in China for a decent pension and welfare benefits.
Local governments and employers are now beginning to listen to those demands but their response has not always been welcomed by the workers.
More than 5,000 workers at the Viasystems circuit board factory in Zhongshan went out on strike last week (see photo below) after the company readjusted social security and housing fund payments in line with local government policies which were aimed at bringing migrant workers into the social security system.
The workers complained that the company complied “all too happily” with the local government’s call to pay more social security but did so by taking money out of the workers’ pockets.
Under the new scheme, both the employer and employee have to pay five percent of the worker’s monthly salary into the city’s social security and housing fund. However, the company refused to adjust employee salaries accordingly, so the workers ended up being paid several hundred yuan less at the end of every month.
07:54:47 local time VIET NAM
* Workers and businesses alike warn against Vietnam’s planned minimum wage hike:
A proposed minimum wage hike has drawn criticism from those who fear it will accelerate inflation and raise the cost of doing business in Vietnam, where entrepreneurs say times remain tough.
The National Wage Council has recommended the government increase Vietnam’s minimum monthly salary by 15.1 percent to VND2.42-VND3.1 million ($114-146) starting 2015.
Each worker’s precise wage will be determined (within that range) by the cost of living in his or her location.
* Thai garment firms seek opportunities in HCM City:
Thai trade and investment promotion agencies are actively implementing an array of programmes to connect businesses and support them in seeking business investment opportunities in Vietnam.
- Thai businesses seek franchise partners in Vietnam
- Thai businesses keen on investing in Vietnam
- More Thai businesses eye Vietnam market
These activities are seen as preparations for future opportunities after the establishment of an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, Thai Consul General Malinee Harnboonsong told an exchange between Vietnamese and Thai garment businesses in HCM City on August 27.
Bilateral trade relations have seen strong development in recent years with two-way trade turnover reaching nearly US$9.5 billion last year and nearly US$5 billion in the first half of this year.
Many Thai businesses highly appreciated the Vietnamese market’s potential and long-term cooperative opportunities with Vietnamese partners, she said.
07:54:47 local time CAMBODIA
* K Chhnang Workers Rally at Hun Sen’s Home:
Several dozen representatives of a Kompong Chhnang province garment factory involved in a labor dispute rallied outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh home on Thursday, while about 1,000 of their colleagues marched in the province.
Some 60 workers from the Chinese-owned Jiun Ye Garment factory were briefly stopped by police in Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district on their way to petition the prime minister, but eventually made it to his home at about 10:30 a.m.
The group, which was smaller than the 500 workers unionists expected to join, was representing roughly 3,000 workers who first went on strike more than 10 days ago after discovering that their monthly bonuses were missing from their most recent paychecks.
20140828 * Kompong Chhnang Workers to Petition Hun Sen at Home:
About 500 staff of the Chinese-owned Jiun Ye Garment factory in Kompong Chhnang province plan to rally outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house today after Labor Ministry-brokered negotiations with management failed to end their pay dispute.
The workers, who have been striking since they realized monthly bonuses were missing from their paychecks on August 18, traveled to Phnom Penh to petition the Labor Ministry on Monday.
As a result, provincial labor officials arranged negotiations between worker representatives and factory management, who say the pay oversight was a technical error that will be remedied next month, but the impasse could not be broken.
* Cambodia’s garment industry seen approaching crossroads:
Cambodia’s $5.5 billion garment industry is nearing a crossroads amid uncertain prospects for outsourcing, an industry source says, citing participants at a recent trade show in Phnom Penh.
“Many industry suppliers believe that while Cambodia remains a growing market for their textile and garment products, there are challenges ahead,” according to the latest weekly report by British-based newsletter just-style.com.
In an editorial, the report released Tuesday said that such challenges ranged from “rising labour costs to increased competition from neighbouring countries.
UNIONS REPORTEDLY STILL AT ODDS WITH BOSSES OVER MINIMUM WAGE
“Another such challenge is wages, with many trade unions and garment factory owners remaining at odds over plans to increase the current monthly minimum wage of $100.
“As a result, a fresh wave of trade union action has hit Cambodia’s garment industry over the last month,” it said.
* Meet Pang Vanny: Jailed For Wanting $2.5 More For The $100 Shirt You Wear:
It was the third day of the year. As thousands of workers took to the streets of Phnom Penh demanding an increase in minimum wage, Cambodian security forces, including the army, came at them with batons and assault rifles, killing five and injuring 38.
The protests had started on Christmas eve when the government refused their demand to double minimum wage to $160. Pang Vanny was one of 23 people who were arrested and jailed for five months.
Cambodia, where half its 15 million people are under the age of 25, is one of the poorest countries in Asia.
It’s been averaging a growth rate of about 7% since 2010, driven by the garment sector, as well as construction, agriculture and tourism.
The garment sector employs about 400,000 people. Last year it exported $5 billion worth of goods, accounting for about 33% of the GDP, says U.K.-based risk analysis firm, Maplecroft. Companies from Korea, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan own the majority of the factories.
While these jobs have helped pull several hundred thousand people out of abject poverty, the sector is beset with problems—predominantly of low wages (it has amongst the lowest wages in the region and has benefited by the wage increase in China as more business has shifted to Cambodia) and poor working conditions.
I met Pang when I was reporting a story earlier this month for Forbes Asia magazine on the challenges of Cambodia’s garment sector. His life is fairly typical of many workers in the sector. Occasionally better, and at times worse.
The next round of negotiations for a wage hike for 2015 will start in the next couple of weeks.
The unions are demanding a monthly minimum wage of $177, up from the $100 that was agreed upon for 2014 after the violence that shook the capital at the start of the year.
The owners of the factories have already said they will not pay this.
“In Cambodia there’s a complete absence of living wage,” says David Welsh, program director for Cambodia at the Solidarity Center, a D.C.-based non profit international workers rights organization.
“This is a race to the bottom…. Things will get ugly in the next couple of weeks,” predicts Welsh.
08:54:47 local time MALAYSIA
* Starting With A Salary Of RM10, Suhaimi Now A Successful Entrepreneur:
Starting out with a meagre salary of RM10 per day, he is now a successful businessman and the managing director of two well known textile companies in Terengganu, Desa Murni Batik Sdn Bhd and Desa Murni Batik Holdings.
Suhaimi Embong, 44, from Pulau Rusa here started off in the textile business at the age of 18, after completing his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination.
“When Desa Murni was established in 1974 by my father Embong Su, 70, in Pulau Rusa with a capital of RM4,000, I was among his 30 employees paid a daily wage of RM10.
06:54:47 local time BANGLADESH
20140828 * Action Committee calls to employ 1,600 jobless Tuba Group workers:
Moshrefa Mishu, convenor of the committee, made the call at a media briefing in the city yesterday
Tuba Group Workers Action Committee called upon the stakeholders to ensure jobs for 1,600 workers who were rendered jobless due to the shutdown of the group’s five RMG units.
Moshrefa Mishu, convenor of the committee, made the call at a media briefing in the city yesterday.
On August 18, the Tuba Group owner announced the closure of five of his factories in line with article 13(1) of Labour Act 2006.
In her address, Mishu threatened to wage tough movement and continue till their demands are met.
At the briefing, she made a three-point demand including reopening of the closed factories, ensuring jobs security for 1,600 workers of the group, scrapping of Delowar’s bail and punishment for him as he was alleged to have killed workers deliberately in Tazreen Fashions.
To realise their demands, the Tuba Group workers’ platform will hold a sit-in in front of the National Press Club on August 29 and stage demonstration in front of the Labour and Employment Ministry on September 7.
20140827 * Tuba workers to continue demo:
Apparel workers of Tuba Group have vowed to continue their agitations until they were paid outstanding wages and other payments.
Workers said this at a news conference organised by the Tuba Group Workers’ Action Committee at the Mukti Bhaban in Dhaka on Wednesday to push for their five-point demand.
Action committee convener Moshrefa Mishu, also Garment Workers Unity Forum president, read out a written memorandum at the programme.
Workers demands include reopening of five garment units of Tuba Group, cancellation of Delwar’s bail and ensure punishment of the Tuba Group owner.
20140827 * Reopening of Tuba Group factories demanded:
Tuba Group Sramik Sangram Committee on Wednesday demanded reopening of all five factories under Tuba Group immediately and payment of current month’s salary to workers.
Addressing a press conference held at CPB office in the city, Convener of the committee Moshrefa Mishu placed the demand.
She alleged that government alongside the garment factory owners undermined the rational movement of the workers against torture, lay off and deprivation terming the movement as ‘conspiracy to destroy the garment industry’.
20140827 * Tuba Group workers announced fresh programmes:
Tuba Group Sramik Sangram Committee, a combine of 15 left-leaning garment workers’ organizations, on Wednesday announced fresh programmes to press for the demands of the workers of five garment factories of the group.
The committee would hold a sit in in front of the National Press Club on Friday and hold demonstrations in front of the labour ministry on September 7.
The coordinator of the combine, labour leader Mushrefa Mishu, at a news conference at Communist Party of Bangladesh central office announced the programme.
The platform demanded immediate reopening of garment factories of the Tuba Group, cancellation of the bail granted for owner of the group Delwer Hossain and giving him exemplary punishment on charge of killing 124 workers by negligence at his factory Tazreen Fashion Limited.
Labour leaders Mantu Ghosh, Shamim Imam, Dipak Roy, Joly Talukder, Ahsan Habib Bulbul and others attended the news conference.
20140827 * Bangladesh Tuba garment workers confronted by plant closures:
About 1,600 Tuba Group garment workers are threatened with the loss of their jobs after the group’s owner suddenly closed down its five factories, near Dhaka, on August 18.
The owner, Delwar Hossain, claimed at a press conference that he could reopen the factories if the company could obtain a government-backed bank loan of 250-300 million Taka ($US3.2-3.8 million) at a lower interest rate.
A notice was hung on the factory gates, stating that the factories were closed, with effect from June 11, the day workers started protests demanding unpaid wages and overtime pay from May.
On July 27, workers occupied the factory.
The next day, they started a hunger strike which was brutally attacked by the police and thugs, deployed by the government and the employers.
Fearing that the workers’ continued protests could draw other garment workers into struggle, the Awami League government and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) organised to pay the wages arrears.
However, Tuba refused to pay the Eid (Ramadan) festival bonus.
The Tuba Group, which operates other plants, is one of the largest manufacturers in Bangladesh, supplying giant international retailers such as Walmart and IKEA. The group included Tazreen Fashions, which was gutted by fire in 2012, killing 112 workers and injuring many more.
Tazreen violated basic safety and fire protection rules, but Hossain, the owner, was only arrested in February this year, after much agitation by workers.
After just six months in custody, he was bailed out on August 6, reportedly with political backing.
20140827 * Govt asks Tuba Group owners to compensate workers:
The government on Tuesday asked the owner of Tuba Group to pay the benefits and compensation as per the law to workers of the factories closed by the group.
A tripartite meeting organised by the labour minister rejected the notice issued by the group managing director declaring closure of the apparel factories under Section 13(1) of the Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 claiming the recent labour movement at the factories were illegal.
At the tripartite meeting, the government representatives, labour leaders and the owner decided that the factory authority and the representatives of the trade unions would jointly fix the amount of benefits and compensations in four days.
‘After getting the amount we will sit again to decide when and how the amount will be paid, but it is obvious that the owner will have to pay the workers,’ state minister for labour Mujibul Haque told reporters after the meeting. He said that the closer of the factories of Tuba Group was not legal and at the same time the strike in the factories was also not lawful.
The shipping minister, Shahjahan Khan, also a labour leader, also attended the meeting.
Tuba Group authorities on August 18 hung the notice on the gates stating that the factories were closed with effect from June 11 under Section 13(1) of the Bangladesh Labour Act 2006.
20140827 * Tubas factories closure not proper : Minister :
The labour ministry asked Tuesday the Tuba Group management to pay wages and other benefits to the workers of its five closed factories as the closure of the units under article 13 (1) was not proper.
At a meeting with the factory owner and garment sector leaders in the city, the state minister for labour Mujibul Haque Chunnu also gave the Tuba Group authorities a four-day time to submit a detailed report on the workers’ dues.
20140826 * Delwar asked to submit accounts of dues:
The labour ministry has ordered Delwar Hossain, the owner of Tuba Garment factory, to submit the account of all the workers’ dues within the next four days.
The order was made in a tripartite meeting among the garments’ owners, workers and the government at the ministry of labour in the afternoon on Tuesday.
20140827 * Savar RMG factory closed sine die:
A readymade garment factory, Designer Jeans, has been declared closed for indefinite period amid the protest of the workers at Jamgar area of Ashulia on Wednesday morning.
Workers of the factory said the authority of Designer jeans sacked its Line chief Jahangir and an operator Jahangir on Tuesday.
Following the incident, workers stopped their production process since Tuesday morning and demanded to retain them in job. They also demanded removal of six officers including its GM.
Later in the day, the factory was declared closed and workers went back home.
On Wednesday morning, workers got agitated seeing a factory notice on its closure for indefinite period.
20140827 * RMG factory workers protest in Ashulia over job cut:
The workers of Designer Jeans factory in Jamgora area of Ashulia burst into protest as they came to know that the garment authorities had fired their line manager and an operator
Workers of a readymade garment factory in Ashulia refrained from work yesterday following the job dismissal of two fellow workers.
The workers of Designer Jeans factory in Jamgora area of Ashulia burst into protest as they came to know that the garment authorities had fired their line manager and an operator on Monday.
They informed that yesterday they had come to work like any other day, however, around 11am, as the news spread they stopped working and demanded the restoration of the two workers.
* Govt set to make public inspection reports on 600 RMG factories:
Pressure from international arena
The government is set to make public the inspection reports on about 600 garment factories, assessed by both the government the western retailers-appointed experts, by next month following the pressure from international arena including rights groups, sources said.
Some 200 reports of each from three initiatives-Accord, Alliance and BUET-are expected to be published in the first phase, they added.
The National Tripartite Committee headed by Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar approved the common template on August 26 for making all the inspection reports public, they added.
The latest move has come in the wake of upcoming meeting with secretaries from foreign, commerce and labour ministries, which will also be participated by foreign diplomats including the EU, the US and Canada in the second week of next month, they said .
However, the BGMEA has expressed its concern over the regular follow- up of the reports saying if the updates of assessed factories are not taken into account even after their corrective measures, then it might create confusion among the buyers and cause serious problems.
* Govt set to resume safety assessment on RMG units by mid-Sept:
The government is set to resume safety assessment on readymade garment (RMG) factories by the middle of next month after seven months of suspension, sources said.
The National Tripartite Committee (NTC), headed by labour secretary Mikail Shipar, in a meeting held Tuesday took the decision to renew contact with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) within a week to conduct the second phase of inspections.
The NTC was formed last year to ensure timely development of National Plan of Action on fire, electrical and structural safety in the RMG sector in Bangladesh.
“We have discussed the issue and the authorities concerned have assured us of concluding the new agreement within a week for resumption of the second phase of the garment factory assessment programme,” Mr Shipar said.
The inspection to check fire, electrical and structural flaws in garment factories, that remain outside the purview of the assessment programmes carried out by the western retailers, would start immediately after the signing of the new agreement, he added.
* Garment exports to US may lose out to Africa:
Bangladesh may lose its competitiveness to African nations for exporting garments to the US in the face of discriminatory duty benefits.
With a zero-duty benefit under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the export of garment items originating in different African nations has been on the rise to the US.
Garment exports to the US from nine leading African countries increased 9.66 percent year-on-year to $926.8 million in 2013, according to data from the US Department of Commerce.
Bangladesh exports apparel worth a little over $5 billion a year to the US, the single largest export destination for the country, by paying 15.61 percent in duty.
Bangladeshi garment exporters paid $828 million in duties to US customs last year and $3.41 billion in the last five years, according to the commerce ministry of Bangladesh.
However, apparel exports to the US from Bangladesh fell 1.12 percent to $2.18 billion in the first five months of 2014 from the same period a year ago, according to the US Department of Commerce.
* Govt-buyers committee visit 7,946 RMG factories: Chunnu:
State Minister for Labour and Employment Mojibul Haque Chunnu today said that government-buyers committee so far visited 7,946 readymade garment (RMG) factories across the country and submitted recommendations for necessary steps, according to a ministry release.
“The government has also taken initiative to implement the recommendations,” he said, while speaking as the chief guest at a training course at Sharm Bhaban.
The training course was organized on “International Occupation Safety and Health Regulations” under the OIC Capacity Building Programme for Occupational Health and Safety Framework, the release said.
* Arrow Apparels dropped from list of flawed factories:
The Alliance surveying Bangladesh’s garment-industry situation recently dropped the name of Arrow Apparels Ltd along with another factory, Odessa Fashions, from its list of eight units having structural flaws.
Although the North American initiative in its initial findings had found structural flaws in both the factories, along with six others, and sent its list to the review panel, later it exonerated Arrow Apparels and Odessa Fashions, sources said.
* Blocked accounts for the jute millers: Crony capitalism at work:
A recent press report suggests that the commercial banks have been asked to put away in the ‘freezer’, otherwise known as blocked accounts, the past accumulated loan liabilities of the private jute millers and open new windows for infusion of fresh loans.
It revived my old memory of the ‘freezing’ processes that all ended up in fiascos. There are number of question marks but the crucial one is how would the mills most of which claim to have been on the losing streak for as long as one cares to remember, would pay off the old debts in addition to servicing the new loans.
We would, of course, hear the hackneyed pep talks about revival of the golden age of the golden fibre, the new love of some countries for bio-degradable shopping bags and other issues that are far removed from the realities. Daydreaming will never end.
The banks, especially the state-owned ones which are the major financiers of jute mills, are already groaning under the dead weight of non-performing loans.
* Fundamental labor rights after Rana Plaza:
Enforcement of Fundamental Labor Rights
The Network Approach: Closing the Governance Gaps in Low-Wage Manufacturing Industries
The Bangladeshi ready-made garment sector employs millions of workers and what they produce ends up in Western fashion stores.
The conditions under which these products are made, however, are much less visible.
For decades, the international community has criticized Bangladesh for failing to guarantee basic labor standards.
Trade union rights are restricted, factories are notoriously unsafe and wages are too low to live on.
Since the Tazreen factory fire in November 2012 and the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in April 2013, which in total resulted in the deaths of almost 1,300 workers, Bangladesh has become a “policy laboratory” for new ways to enforce fundamental labor rights.
These responses, which can be characterized as a network approach, involve many stakeholders cooperating in different coalitions to pursue a variety of goals.
The network approach aligns with the idea that improving labor rights in global supply chains is not the sole responsibility of the state in which production takes place.
A collaborative effort is required.
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THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* No back-to-school for many Rana Plaza kids:
Right now The Children’s Place is raking in millions as families wrap up their back-to-school shopping.
For destitute children affected by Rana Plaza — the deadliest apparel industry disaster in world history — “back-to-school” is a luxury that many can no longer afford.
Please join us in calling on The Children’s Place — the largest pure-play children’s specialty retailer — to not forget the children of the Bangladeshi workers who were making their products the day that Rana Plaza collapsed.
After suffering from a life of poverty due to the low wages their parents received sewing garments for The Children’s Place and other multinational corporations, 3,000 children lost a parent at Rana Plaza.
Another 200 were orphaned, and many others now live with a parent who lost a limb and can no longer work, or who struggles to cope with severe trauma.
As they continue to wait for Children’s Place to pay its full share of compensation, many of these children have had to leave school and go to work to help put food on the table for their families.
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06:24:47 local time INDIA
* Surat textile traders eye Nepal:
Textile traders in the country’s biggest man-made fabric (MMF) sector in the city have set their eyes on Nepal.
For the first time, the traders have decided to penetrate deep into the neighbouring SAARC country as a large number of textile factories in Nepal have either closed down or are on the verge of closure due to labour unrest, high taxes, unclear government policies etc.
Office-bearers of the Federation of Surat Textile Traders Association (FOSTTA) are planning to visit Nepal to explore opportunities to increase the textile trade. They would be meeting the government authorities, demanding reduction in customs and VAT duties charged by the Nepal government on imports of polyester fabric from India.
Market sources said that ambassador of Nepal, Jenisha Bhatrai had visited the textile city last week and met leaders of textile industry, including the Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SGCCI).
The Nepalese ambassador was given the overview about the city’s textile trade in the man-made fabric field. She requested the traders to increase their business ties with their Nepalese counterparts.
* Call to scrap handloom sector protection policy:
‘There are not enough handloom weavers’
Representatives of the powerloom sector here have questioned the current relevance of the Handlooms (Reservation of Articles for Production) Act, 1985.
Under the Act that protects handlooms from powerlooms and mechanised sector, eleven textile products are reserved for production by handloom weavers.
But, there are not enough handloom weavers to cater to the demand.
On the other hand, handloom weavers have switched over to powerloom sector, and there are only 25,000 handlooms left in Tamil Nadu, according to V.T. Karunanidhi, Vice-Chairman (Southern Region), The Powerloom Development & Export Promotion Council.
Mr. Karunanidhi resented the ‘crushing’ of powerloom sector by the enforcement machinery formed with Central assistance in Tamil Nadu and eight other States: Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala.
* Apparel industry grew by 9.15% in June quarter:
Branded apparel sale in the industry estimated at Rs.2 lakh crore
Apparel industry has grown by 9.15 points in April-June quarter of the current year as per Apparel Index prepared by the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI).
The index was launched in last year with 13-14 as a base year and index value at 100 which means June quarter has grown by 9.15%.
Interestingly, Mid Brands has emerged as a winners. Branded apparel sale in the industry is estimated at Rs.2 lakh crore out of which one third is of unstich and rest is stitched apparels.
Since 80% of the industry is in the small and medium segment the growth seen in Mid brand segment is significant.
Around 100 brands of various values have been surveyed.
* Textile investors to meet in Bangalore on Saturday:
Textile park is coming up in Yadgir district
The government will hold a State-level meet of textile investors here on Saturday to attract investments to the textile park coming up in Yadgir district.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who made a commitment to set up the textile park in his budget speech, will inaugurate the meet.
Apart from investors from various parts of the country, textile giants from China and Hong Kong have expressed their willingness to invest in the textile park, according to sources.
* Textile industry interaction meet in Kochi on Friday:
Around 200 women artisans undergoing six months of intensive training in textile ornamentation under the Kerala Artisans Development Corporation (KADCO) will take part in an industry interaction and brainstorming session on Friday to showcase their skills and explore business opportunities.
The State Industries Minister PK Kunhalikutty will be the chief guest and Minister for Public Works VK Ebrahim Kunju the special guest at the function to be hosted by the Kerala Institute for Entrepreneurship Development (KIED) at Kalamassery.
* Minimum pension of Rs 1,000 under EPFO; wage ceiling up at Rs 15,000:
Govt’s decision to fix pension entitlement of Rs 1,000 will benefit 28 lakh pensioners
The much-awaited minimum monthly pension of Rs 1,000 and a higher wage ceiling of Rs 15,000 for social security schemes run by retirement fund manager EPFO will be implemented from September 1.
The government’s decision to fix pension entitlement of Rs 1,000 under the Employees’ Pension Scheme 1995 (EPFS-95) will immediately benefit 28 lakh pensioners who get less than this amount at present.
The move to enhance the minimum wage ceiling for becoming a subscriber of Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation to Rs 15,000 per month is expected to bring 50 lakh additional formal sector workers under the ambit of the body.
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* The labour reform myth:
Many economists and businessmen regard the reform of labour law as vital for the proposed revival of the manufacturing sector in India.
In a widely noted move, the Rajasthan government has already taken a step towards amending Chapter VB of the Industrial Disputes Act (IDA), raising the exemption limit in the law that restricts laying off workers without government permission to firms with more than 300 workers.
The Haryana government has also indicated similar intentions.
Such experimentations at the state level, particularly when the implementation of labour laws is in the hands of state governments, is in principle a step in the right direction.
But there are reasons to believe that if people expect big changes in output and employment simply as a result of such reforms, they may be in for a big disappointment.
06:24:47 local time SRI LANKA
* Australian unions protest denial of visas to dismissed Ansell workers:
Unions held a rally outside of Ansell’s Australian headquarters following the denial of entry visas to a delegation of Sri Lankan union members.
The Australian government denied the visas in an apparent attempt to shield glove and condom maker Ansell from public exposure of its harsh and unjust treatment of its workers in Sri Lanka.
The visas were denied to the Sri Lankan head of the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZGSEU), and two workers recently employed at Ansell’s manufacturing operation in the Biyagama Free Trade Zone in Sri Lanka. Ansell fired these and nearly 300 other workers when they struck in support of 11 sacked colleagues and trade union representatives in October 2013.
The Australian government’s official decision records state that the visas were denied for failing to have sufficient personal wealth.
AMWU National President Andrew Dettmer said that it is clear the Australian Government led by anti-union Prime Minister Tony Abbott has refused entry to the Sri Lankans on political grounds.
05:54:47 local time PAKISTAN
* Powerlooms industry workers protest:
Shaneel powerlooms industry workers took out processions and staged a continuing sit-in at the local cloth market, seeking increase in their wages here on Wednesday.
The workers in separate processions taken out from Sheranwala Bagh gathered at cloth market in Rail Bazaar where they staged a sit-in and chanted slogans against the factory owners.
Addressing the sit-in, Powerlooms Workers Association President Muhammad Husain, secretary-general Bashir Husain Gujjar, Karamat Ali and Muhammad Shafiq said the factory owners had promised increase in their wages but failed to fulfill the commitment.
They said each worker was bearing a loss of Rs15,000 per month because their wages were not being increased in accordance with the government rules.
They deplored labour department officials silence on the issue.
They said they would not disperse till announcement of increase in their wages by factory owners.
* Textile sector turns to biomass for energy:
The textile industry, being predominantly export-oriented, is endeavouring to use biomass-based energy for continuous operations.
Some 67pc of processing mills have already started utilising biomass for heat energy for boilers, said All-Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) International Trade Committee chairman Amir Fayyaz at a workshop organised in collaboration with GIZ on use of biomass for power generation under the auspices of Sustainable Production Centre (SPC) at a local hotel on Tuesday.
Stressing the need for sustainable consumption and production of energy, Mr Fayyaz said emphasis should be on energy conservation as well as utilising renewable sources.
The use for co-generating would minimise the energy security issues as huge potential of biomass sources including rice husk, wheat straw, bagasse and cotton stalks were in abundance throughout Pakistan.
* Textile policy 2014-15 to be announced next month:
Ministry of Textile and Industry would announce new textile policy 2014-15 in first week of September 2014 to plan the future strategy for textile industry and to facilitate the small industry for the economic development of the country.
Talking to APP here Wednesday, Spokesman of Textile Ministry Kanwar Usman said that new textile policy would be comprehensive which would provide facility and benefit the small industries.
He said that an amount of Rs.82 billion has been allocated for the ministry in budget of current fiscal year by the government. The spokesman of textile industry said the ministry would consider the plan for brand development fund to introduce the local brand of industry in international market and award for leading exporters.
He said that priority of ministry was to facilitate the small industry like hand made carpet, hand made loom sector, silk based industry and also to provide them financial assistance.
Replying to a question, he said in new textile policy the government would establish Product Development Centre to facilitate the international firms for receiving orders at low cost from small industries.
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* Textile and readymade garments: Gross disbursement in 1HCY14 clocks in at Rs1.7t:
Gross disbursement to textile and readymade garments sector in the first six months of 2014 clocked in at Rs1.7 trillion, according to data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
The SBP did not release the comparable figure for the corresponding six-month period of 2013. However, the latest figure is 29.3% lower than the gross disbursement achieved in July-December 2013 when loans to the textile and readymade garments sector totalled Rs2.4 trillion.
More than Rs1.6 trillion, or 95% of the gross disbursement during the period under review, was in the category of ‘manufacture of textiles’. The category of ‘wearing apparel, readymade garments and dressing’ received disbursements of Rs85.3 billion, or 15% of the total loans extended to the textile sector.
Textile manufactures can now export their products to member-countries of the European Union (EU) at relatively lower or no tariffs under the Generalised System of Preferences scheme.
* Textile sector: FBR won’t be allowed to formulate tax policy: APTMA:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has made a proposal under the new textile policy (2014-19) asking the government that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) should not be allowed to formulate tax policy of textile sector.
Sources told Business Recorder here on Tuesday that APTMA has submitted tax policy proposals to the Ministry of Textile Industry for the new textile policy (2014-19).
APTMA suggested that the FBR should not make tax policies whereas the Planning Commission, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Law should be made independent of FBR set-up as far as tax policy is concerned. Tax policy proposals of income tax and customs duty have been submitted to the said ministry for consideration in the new textile policy (2014-19).
* Aptma calls for special relief package for KP businesses:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) on Tuesday called for the announcement of special relief package for the rehabilitation of terrorism and natural disasters affected businesses of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The demand was made during a meeting held with Saleem Saifullah Khan, a member of Aptma Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the chair.
They in their speeches said that terrorism and natural disasters had played havoc with the economy of the province and it had left far behind in the development.
They said that the association is making efforts that the government should pay special attention to the promotion of business activities and especially on the development of textile sector in the province.
They said that due to peculiar situation, the province is the victim of backwardness and business community is worst affected.
They demanded of the government for announcement of special incentive package for the business community of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
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* Political instability pushes GSP+ into doldrums:
EU says current situation in Pakistan concerns them * Urges all parties to act responsibly and refrain from using violence
Pakistan has failed to reap the benefits of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus Status yet, whereas the prevailing political crisis may lead the country to get washed its hands of the advantages in case of any political setback, the European Union’s (EU) statement hinted.
The European Union (EU) has shown a deep concern on current political situation of Pakistan in the context of GSP Pus Status saying, “We are deeply concerned by the current situation in Pakistan and are monitoring events closely.
We reiterate our conviction that the current impasse should be resolved peacefully through dialogue within the framework of the constitution and we urge all parties to act responsibly and to refrain from using violence.”
“Our strong commitment to the economic prosperity of a democratic Pakistan is reflected in the increased market access to the EU enjoyed by Pakistan under “GSP+” arrangements,” the statement added.
* Trade negotiations: APTMA asks government to ensure level-playing field with India:
In a bid to save country’s textile industry from complete disaster and boost exports to India, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has proposed the government to ensure level-playing field for the local industry in trade negotiations with India, it is learnt.
Official sources told to Business Recorder that ministry of Textile Industry has sought input from all the stakeholders to come up with a comprehensive textile policy (2014-19).
The proposals submitted by APTMA to the ministry states that to provide Pakistan a fair chance for enhancing exports to India, a level-playing field shall be provided to Pakistani industry otherwise we will open flood gates for Indian exports while Pakistan side will not be benefit from this new arrangement.
05:54:47 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Weddings canceled due to cotton harvest:
The authorities in Jizzakh’s Yangiobodsky district have issued a ban on weddings from on August 25 onwards until the end of cotton harvest.
The local makhallya (citizens council) was told by the the Yangiobodsky district administration to inform citizens wishing to get married about the three months ban.
Violators of the ban will face legal consequences, which have yet to be spelled out.
In the meantime, local authorities are busy compiling lists of people who have been assigned to cotton work.
They are especially careful to make sure the people on these lists appear to be volunteering for work in the harvest.
Teachers and school administrators have been requested to write letters to the Jizzakh governor asking him to “let them take part in cotton harvest in 2014”.
Cotton slavery in Uzbekistan
The cotton industry in Uzbekistan has become synonymous with lack of human dignity and slavery.
* Samarkand doctors being readied for cotton work:
Authorities in Samarkand province are currently complying lists of public sector employees for mandatory cotton work which is set to begin on September 5.
Samarkand’s Urgutsky district medics are currently being registered for the impeding cotton harvest.
An anonymous doctor form the Urgutsky district hospital told Uznews.net that all employees have been instructed to bring a copy of their passports to the head doctor, who in turn will compile lists of this season’s cotton slaves and deliver them to the local authorities.
Those employees who are unable to participate have the option of being exempted from cotton work for a fee of 500 USD.
* Turkey’s textile industry: Improvement in sight?:
Turkey is known as Europe’s largest textile manufacturer. Many top global brands source garments from this country.
Trade union leaders, however, criticize the poor working conditions in the industry.
Many of the major textile brands such as Esprit, H&M, Hugo Boss, S.Oliver, Adidas, Nike and Zara source their clothing from Turkey.
These textile exports propelled the country to become the fourth largest clothing manufacturer in the world and number one in Europe.
However, textile workers in the country often suffer from poor working conditions and low wages.
A recent study conducted by the NGO “Clean Clothes Campaign,” made up of trade unions and NGOs in 16 European countries, concluded that the wages paid by companies to garment workers are barely enough to survive.
The organization assessed the working conditions of some three million people employed in the industry in some eastern EU nations and Turkey. The official minimum wage in Turkey, for instance, is currently equivalent to around 441 euros per month.
‘Not enough to survive’
“The wages paid in Turkey’s garment industry are barely enough to survive. The workers earn 300 euros a month on average,” says Hasan Arslan of DISK, a trade union. Employers did not often pay minimum wages, Arslan claimed.
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