UPDATES :20150106- 20150109
20150108 * Police use teargas to disperse striking EPZ workers in Mombasa:
Police on Thursday used teargas to disperse over 7000 employees of four EPZ factories in Changamwe Mombasa who are holding demonstration to press for a pay rise.
The workers led by area MP Omar Mwinyi and officials of Kenya Tailors and Textile Workers Union are on strike for the third day now demanding better pay and working conditions.
The union secretary general Joel Chebii accused the four factories of not paying overtime and not allowing employees to join the union despite the fact that the constitution grants them such rights.
Workers are also demanding reinstatement of 120 people who were sacked mysteriously from their jobs.
Pankaj Mehta, Financial Controller however said the employees were sacked over poor performance.
More to follow. read more.
22:55:35 local time CHINA
20150107 * Strikes and worker protests continue to surge across China in fourth quarter:
Construction workers, teachers and miners joined factory workers in a wave of strikes and protests across China in the final quarter of 2014. China Labour Bulletin’s Strike Map recorded 569 incidents during the fourth quarter, more than three times the number in the same period in 2013.
The dramatic upturn can be partially explained by the increased use of cheap smartphones and social media as tools by workers to get news of their protest action to a wider audience but at the same time there clearly is an increase in labour activism in response primarily to the economic slowdown in China over the last year or so.
22:55:35 local time PHILIPPINES
20150102 * PH workers worse off, but fought back in 2014 – KMU:
The condition of Filipino workers deteriorated in 2014 as shown by the worsening state of employment, wages, job security and trade-union rights.
The dire situation of the country’s workers could only mean a dire situation for the Filipino people as a whole. Pres. Noynoy Aquino continues to show that big capitalists are his true bosses, not the Filipino workers and people. He has presided over a year-long attack on workers.
Employment. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) boasts that the employment rate increased from 93.6 per cent in October 2013 to 94 per cent in October 2014. It cannot help but admit, however, that the increase – meager as it already is – was arrived at by excluding the province of Leyte, which was devastated by supertyphoon Haiyan in 2013 and by typhoon Hagupit in 2014, from its Labor Force Survey.
Wage. (1) Before 2014 ended, the DOLE boasted that it implemented 10 wage orders for the year. The boast is aimed at covering up the fact that the Aquino government did not implement a nationwide increase, which usually starts in Metro Manila, for 2014.
Job security. When the Aquino government implemented Department Order No. 18-A Series of 2011, its guidelines on contractualization, it promised that contractuals will become regulars. Three years into the implementation of the DO, contractuals remain contractuals and continue to comprise the majority of the country’s workers. In 2014, contractualization in the media industry was highlighted because of the threats of massive layoffs faced by workers there, despite their many legal victories.
Trade-union rights. Violations of workers’ trade-union rights continued to be rampant in 2014. Many workers were removed from work for forming unions and fighting for their rights: 83 workers of Golden Fortune Construction (December), 3,600 workers of Carina Apparel (April), and 2,600 workers of Hoya Glass Disk Philippines (February). From March to June, 87 long-standing contractual workers were illegally dismissed by Wyeth Philippines for forming an organization and fighting for their regularization.
21:55:35 local time CAMBODIA
20150109 * Mass fainting at factory follows electrical fires:
As many as 200 workers fainted at a Kandal province garment factory yesterday morning following two small electrical fires, Free Trade Union representatives said, though local police put the figure closer to 70.
The fires occurred at about 7:15am and again at 8:30am, said Sun Srey Sros, a 27-year-old employee at Sun Best Garment factory in Kandal’s Ang Snuol district. “While we were working, an electrical fire occurred with a lot of smoke, and we were told to leave our workstations,” Sros said, adding that the second fire stunned workers.
20150109 * Scores of Workers Faint at Kandal Garment Factory:
More than 60 workers collapsed at the Sun Best garment factory in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district on Thursday morning, according to a factory representative.
The representative, Ngeth Sopheak, said she thought the 66 female workers fainted out of fright after two electric short circuits caused wires to spark at the factory that morning.
“When the short circuit happened again, a garment worker ran away and fainted because she was afraid of the short circuit, and others surrounding her fainted too because they saw one person faint,” she said.
20150108 * Electric fault triggers stampede in Cambodian garment factory: police:
At least 63 workers at the Sun Best garment factory in south Cambodia’s Kandal province either got injured or fainted in a stampede triggered by an electric fault Thursday morning, the police said in its website.
“The electric fault occurred after factory electricians connected electrical wires improperly,” it said, citing Mean Samnang, police chief of Snuol district, where the incident took place.
He said some 1,750 garment workers were on duty when the incident happened.
“The electric fault triggered fears among workers and they tried to make their way out of the factory, which resulted in a stampede,” he said. “There was no fatality in the event, but some 63 workers were either slightly injured or fainted.”
read more. & read more.
20150108 * Ire raised over Kotop employees’ dismissal:
Unionists reacted angrily yesterday to the firings of more than 50 workers at a Phnom Penh garment factory who were let go in the wake of a 15-day strike.
Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) president Pav Sina said he would issue letters to the government and international brands that buy from Por Sen Chey district’s Cambo Kotop factory, including Gap Inc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
“I will send a letter to Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng tomorrow to quickly intervene on behalf of the fired workers,” he said, adding that he expects more workers to lose their jobs.
Dismissals came after the employees, who walked off the job on December 15 in protest of management’s termination of five CUMW representatives, returned to work on December 31. The firings occurred on January 2 and 3.
20150108 * Workers Earning Up to $200 to Avoid Salary Tax:
Low-wage workers will be able to earn up to $200 a month before their salary is taxed at the minimum 5 percent rate, raising the tax-free threshold by about $75 from the current $125, according to a notice released Wednesday by the general department of taxation.
According to the document, only workers earning above 800,000 riel, or $200, will be taxed on their salaries starting this month. The subsequent tax brackets will not be affected.
The change to the lowest income tax band aims to create a fairer wage scheme while giving those who are struggling financially some breathing space as living costs rise, said Sok Daravuth, secretary-general at the taxation department, which is part of the Finance Ministry.
“[W]e want to help low-salary employees have more income to respond to the living costs which have increased from year to year,” Mr. Daravuth said.
“And we want to narrow the income gap between high salary and low salary employees to increase the number of middle income people in society,” he said.
A report released in April by Deloitte University Press said Cambodia’s persistent budget deficit was caused by abysmally low tax revenues, which in 2013 amounted to just 5 percent of gross domestic product.
20150106 * Cambodia – one year on violence continues:
A year after five people were shot dead by police and 40 more were severely injured during wage protests in Phnom Penh on 3 January 2014, unionists in Cambodia are still being subjected to violence.
Last month, a locally elected president from IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the FTUWKC garment union, was brutally attacked with a metal bar by two unidentified men after she had been threatened by management to stop organizing at the factory where she works.
However, violence and intimidation did not deter unions and garment workers from taking to the streets again and again in 2014 to demand higher wages and better working conditions.
Thanks to their bravery, international solidarity and high-level negotiations between IndustriALL, the government, factory owners and local union leaders, the minimum wage for the garment industry increased from US$ 100 to US$ 128 in November 2014.
Despite this significant gain, the figure is below unions’ goal of US$ 177 per month and well below the living wage, estimated to be above US$ 200.
20150106 * One Year After the Strikes: Cambodia’s Garment Industry Stumbles:
One year ago, strikes, street protests, and then the killing of five garment workers rocked Cambodia’s largest export industry.
One year later, unions and opposition leaders held memorial events last weekend.
Now that the dust has settled, what is the view of managers in this core industry? Garment factories employ 750,000 people and account for 80 percent of Cambodia’s exports.
“In 2014, number of factories grew by 20 percent, but exports were flat – what does tell you?” asked Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia.
Garment Exports Flat or Down in 2014
Factory expansion came from momentum built up during the recent go-go years, he said. But garment export growth tailed down during the year, hitting 3 percent by the end of October. He forecast that 2014 closed in negative territory for Cambodia.
Now through March is normally a peak season for garment workers as clothes are sewn now to stock European and American stores with the Northern Hemisphere summer fashion lines. Mr. Loo says the best way to take the pulse is to walk down the Garment sector’s ‘main street’ – Veng Sreng Boulevard, just west of the airport.
“Usually, January-March is the peak season for orders,” said the representative of GMAC, a trade association with 577 members. “Now, if you walk down at 4 pm, you will see workers exiting the factories. It should not be the case. If workers work overtime, they get out at 6 or 6h30. This indicates that there are not enough orders for overtime. And that very few that had double shifts have shut that down.”
From the Workers: Not Enough Money
On a busy street near factories in Chbar Ampov, an army of garment workers spilled out of the Hoyear Garment factory for lunch. Their concerns were not unemployment, but inflation triggered by last week’s 28 percent increase in the miminum monthly wage, to $128.
“We’re happy for the $28 increase to our wages,” said Norm Socheata, a 35-year-old who has worked in the garment industry for 10 years. Noting that the monthly rent on her room had already jumped from $45 to $50, she complained: “We already spent more on food and other things like electricity and water.”
20150108 * BetterFactories Media Updates 08 January 2015, Workers Earning Up to $200 to Avoid Salary Tax:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-01-08 Workers Earning Up to 200$ to Avoid Salary Tax
* Raksmei Kampuchea Daily (Khmer Newspaper):
2015-01-08 Union: workers will receive two big gifts from Gov’t in 2015
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
20150107 * Garment and Footwear Memorandum of Understanding for new factory registration:
Supplier Registration Form here.
20150107 * BetterFactories Media Updates 07 January 2015, Trade Volume Exceeds $18 Billion in 2014:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-01-07 Trade Volume Exceeds $18 Billion in 2014
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
20150107 * BetterFactories Media Updates, 25-31 December 2014, Labour strikes plunge in 2014:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2014-12-30 Garment Workers Protest at S-Korean Embassy
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2014-12-25 Strike unfazed by court
2014-12-26 CLEC accuses factory boss of breaking law
2014-12-30 Cambo Kotop brings strike to Assembly
2014-12-31 Labour strikes plunge in 2014
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
20:55:35 local time BANGLADESH
* Interview – lawyer Chaumtoli Huq on Bangladesh garment worker struggles today:
Listen to an interview with Chaumtoli Huq, a Senior Researcher with the American Institute for Bangladesh Studies (AIBS) based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, also formally an Associate Professor of Law at New York Law School.
In this interview Chaumtoli speaks on the struggles of garment workers for justice over two years since the Rana Plaza factory disaster in Dhaka. Specifically this interview highlights the grassroots workers rights organizing that is taking place within garment factories in Bangladesh.
Also this interview points to the responsibility of consumers internationally to address the working conditions in Bangladesh, given that such a great amount of major fashion brands have their clothes produced in these factories, like GAP and H&M.
read more & listen.
20:25:35 local time INDIA
20150109 * Power loom workers seek wage revision:
More than 1,500 power loom workers picketed Theni-Madurai Highway at Andipatti pressing for their 11-point demands, including wage revision, here on Thursday.
Traffic was disrupted for an hour on this highway.
The police arrested agitators and released them in the evening.
They struck work for the past three days demanding wage revision talks.
When the power loom owners refused to meet the workers, members of five trade unions struck work.
20150109 * Micro and powerloom units go on strike:
Over a lakh powerlooms and thousands of micro and cottage units in the district downed shutters on Thursday, seeking withdrawal of the recent hike in power tariff for these units.
The indefinite strike by about 1.5 lakh job working powerloom units in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts entered the second day on Thursday.
Production loss because of the strike of the powerloom units is estimated to be about Rs. 30 crore a day.
The units decided to go on indefinite strike, protesting against the increase in electricity tariff.
On Thursday, over 50 per cent of the micro and cottage industries in Coimbatore district also stopped production for a day and about 1,500 micro unit owners observed fast from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. here, demanding withdrawal of power tariff increase or subsidy from the State Government for these units towards power cost.
20150109 * Textile town comes to a standstill:
The strike casts its shadow on Sircilla with four weavers, including an owner, reportedly committing suicide
An eerie silence prevails in the otherwise bustling Sircilla textile town following the indefinite strike launched by the powerloom weavers demanding an increase in their wages, a demand which has been pending since two years.
The busy streets and narrow by lanes, which reverberated with the sound of powerlooms producing fabric, have been deserted.
All the 36,000 and odd powerlooms have stopped producing fabrics, saris and other dress material since 11 days following the strike.
Every day around 21 lakh meters of fabric production is hampered.
Though, the Revenue and Labour Department officials held several rounds of talks with the trade union leaders and powerloom owners to end the crisis, no settlement was reached. In the meantime, the strike had cast its shadow on the textile town with four weavers including an owner reportedly committing suicide due to unemployment following the strike.
20150109 * Powerloom weaver ends life:
A powerloom weaver committed suicide by drowning in the Kargil lake on the outskirts of Sircilla textile town on Thursday.
Reports reaching here said that M Rajesh (40) was working on the powerlooms. Following the strike he could not get employment and debts increased. Unable to clear the debts , he reportedly committed suicide.
He is survived by his wife and son.
The locals pooled money to perform his last rites as the family was in abject poverty.
20150108 * Powerloom Owner Commits Suicide in Karimnagar:
Unable to bear mental stress, a debt ridden owner of a powerloom in Sircilla committed suicide by hanging from the ceiling on Wednesday.
Samala Gouraiah (57), was the owner of 8 powerloom units at Ganeshnagar in Sircilla town.
He was suffering from acute financial problems for few days.
His left hand got fractured and the recent strikes of powerloom workers made matter worse for him.
Weaving works decreased resulting excess monetary burden.
Unable to bear the stress, he took the extreme step. Sircilla police registered a case and took up investigation.
20150107 * Power-loom weavers, workers stage rasta roko demanding hike in wages:
Power-loom weavers and workers staged a rasta roko here on Tuesday under the banner of various trade unions alleging that officials and merchants are not responding to the issue of increasing wages even though they sat on an indefinite strike for eight days.
Power-loom weavers and workers took out a massive rally in the town demanding hike in wages. Later, they staged a rasta roko at Ambedkar Chowrasta.
A trade union leader Dasaradham said that cloth industry in Sircilla is in crisis with power-loom weavers and workers going on an indefinite strike.
20150107 * Coimbatore powerloom observe strike over power tariff hike:
Nearly 1.4 lakh powerlooms in Coimbatore and nearby Tirupur districts today remained silent, following strike by the owners, protesting against the 15 per cent increase in the power tariff.
The districts have over two lakh power looms, out of which 1.4 lakh were operated by Job Workers, who wanted the Government to convert the hike as subsidy, to relieve them from the burden, sources in the powerloom association in Somanur, said.
There would be a production loss of rs.20 crore due to the one-day strike, they said.
Meanwhile, members of nine industrial associations, particularly small and medium industries, today staged a demonstration in the city, seeking withdrawal of hike in the power tariff.
The increase will adversely impact the industries, which were reviving after a 70 per cent power cut for the last two years, the memebrs of the associations, said.
20150109 * Cotton corporation staff threaten strike:
The Cotton Corporation of India Employees Union (CCIEU) on Thursday threatened to go on strike by suspending cotton purchase in Adilabad district if working conditions do not improve forthwith.
The Union alleged that pressure exerted by various sections of people had begun to tell even on the health of the employees.
The warning, contained in a representation made to the CCI Adilabad Branch Manager Arjun Dave, came in the wake of the Bhainsa Cotton Purchase Officer Balchandra H. Nimje suffering a heart attack during the day.
The Union maintained that the officer was working under tremendous pressure from different sections of people.
19:55:35 local time PAKISTAN
20150108 * Mill workers protest delay in salary release:
Scores of workers of a textile spinning mills blocked traffic on Wednesday on Faisalabad-Pirmahal Road near Zakirabad for two hours over the non-payment of their salaries for the last 45 days.
They told reporters when they demanded salaries, the management pushed them out of the textile mills premises.
Later talks were held with the mills management through police officials, and mills general manager Siddiq promised to pay their salaries over which they ended their protest.
20150108 * Aptma demand for immediate remedial measures against Indian yarn dumping:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) has demanded for immediate remedial measures against the anomalous increase in dumping of Indian cotton yarn by the Ministry of Commerce (MoC).
There is 100 percent rise in dumping of Indian yarn mainly fine counts meant to produce and launch around 140 products under different popular brands annually which is putting the viability of local textile industry at stake.
On Wednesday, Aptma Chairman S M Tanveer said that import data suggested 26,000 tonnes of Indian cotton yarn was dumped in 2013-14 against around 17,000 tonnes in 2012-13. The dumping phenomenon has reached 2,500 tonnes per month during July-Nov 2014-15.
With India imposing 10 percent customs duty on yarn import besides 12percent countervailing duty (CVD) and 4percent Special CVD, which brings the cumulative impact of 30pc on import stage, in Pakistan there is a nominal import duty of 5 percent and nothing more. Therefore, Pakistan is an ideal market for dumping purposes.
read more. & read more.
THE BALDIA FACTORY FIRE
20150107 * Few lessons learned two years on from Baldia factory fire:
More than two years after a fire tore through a Karachi clothing factory, killing 255 workers, no-one has been prosecuted over the catastrophe, one of the deadliest industrial accidents in Pakistani history.
The abandoned hulk of the Ali Enterprises factory, which supplied cheap clothes to Western retailers, now stands as a monument to a disaster many would rather forget.
A little after 6pm on September 11, 2012, fire broke out in a factory storeroom housing jeans and t-shirts made by the 1,000-strong workforce for stores in Europe.
Trapped inside, one of the workers, Riaz Parveen, rang his wife Nazia.
“He told me, ‘There’s a huge fire in the factory, if I can’t get out of here I won’t be coming home’,” mother-of-three Nazia told AFP tearfully.
Riaz and his brother Rafaqat never came home. Their charred bodies were found in the ashes of the factory.
A judicial probe into the blaze was damning, pointing to a lack of emergency exits, poor safety training for workers, the packing in of machinery and the failure of government inspectors to spot any of these faults.
Two years later the victims’ families have received a total of $1.67 million in immediate compensation paid by the factory owners and the German company KIK, which bought much of the production.
Negotiations are still going on for long-term benefits.
Nazia got the equivalent of $7,000 which allowed her to buy a small plot of land in the city, but she is still angry at the factory owners and their European partners.
“The workers were paid barely 100 rupees for making clothes that sell for much much more money,” she said.
“They’re sucking the blood of the poor. We are illiterate and uneducated and they exploit this weakness. We realised this when they paid us the compensation.”
A murder case was registered against the factory owners, but it has never come to trial.
22:55:35 local time CHINA
20150102 * Shoe factory workers show that collective bargaining is already a reality in Guangdong:
Guangdong’s new Regulations on Collective Contracts in Enterprises (广东省企业集体合同条例) went into effect yesterday, 1 January.
However, just last month, several thousand shoe factory workers in Guangzhou showed they already know how to negotiate a deal with management through collective bargaining.
More than 2,500 workers at Lide Shoes took strategically-timed strike action in December that succeeded in bringing management to the negotiating table and led to an agreement on the payment of social insurance and housing fund contributions, overtime and annual leave payments as well as high-temperature subsidies.
After two strikes and three rounds of bargaining, Taiwanese-owned Lide agreed on 17 December to pay social insurance contributions dating back to 1995 and to a one-off compensation package of between 2,000 yuan and 12,000 yuan, depending on employees’ years of service. T
he company was also forced to disclose any future relocation plans and continue the dialogue with the workers’ representatives. Management further agreed in writing that it would not retaliate against those representatives.
20141225 * Update on Shenzhen Aritgas strike:
Due to Artigas’ unpaid social insurance and housing funds, more than one thousand workers of Shenzhen Artigas Leatherwear Co. Ltd. (Qing Sheng) went on strike on December 10, 2014.
The strikers demand the company pay in full the unpaid social insurance and housing funds.
The strikers even stay over many nights at open space near the factory gate in order to stop the shipping of products. On the morning of December 18, more than 200 anti riot police entered the factory forcefully and violently repressed the strike.
The brutal action made a number of workers fainted and injured with fractures, including passers-by. More than twenty workers were arrested. Though the workers were released after being detained for 12 hours, they were then guarded by the police and forced to return to work.
21:55:35 local time VIET NAM
* Wage negotiations key to raising salaries for workers:
As workers struggle to make ends meet, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Pham Minh Huan talks to Thoi bao Ngan Hang (Banking Times) about how employers keep salaries low.
The ignorance of enterprises about minimum wage regulations is often blamed for employees’ low salaries. What is your opinion about that?
It is not that the employers do not understand the regulation. They clearly know how to apply the minimum wage, but they take advantage of the loopholes. The Government is able to establish a salary floor but not a compulsory payment level, as the payment grades are dependent on different work positions and employees’ capabilities.
Many enterprises are deliberately paying skilled employees an amount just a little higher than the minimum wage so that they do not breach the law. That is an example of taking advantage of the law. However, we should also consider the financial situation of the enterprises. There are currently many companies facing business trouble, making it difficult for them to raise salaries.
How about sanctions for enterprises that violate the law?
We did find some violations but the number was not high. Like I said, the employers did not pay the skilled workers less than the minimum wage, so it was not possible to say that the employers breached the law.
Sanctions exist but the fine amount is very low. It is going to be raised to more than VND70 million (US$3,360) soon, which is still not too high. In fact, the highest sanction will be publicly naming enterprises that violate the labour law. Global brands will always look for the manufacturers whose products are “clean” in terms of quality as well as legal compliance. Therefore, it is not likely that those brands will place orders with manufacturers that violate the law, especially the labour law. That is what truly matters, in my opinion, not the few dozens of millions that we fine enterprises.
Other countries like Bangladesh and Laos have raised their minimum wages significantly recently, some by as much as 100 per cent. How about Viet Nam?
It should be noted that those countries’ minimum wages were constant for a very long time, while our minimum wage has been gradually increasing. I would also like to stress that the minimum wage is closely related to labour productivity. Increasing labour productivity, not administrative measures, is the fastest way to raise payments.
21:55:35 local time CAMBODIA
20150106 * ILO Urges Global Brands to Help Pay for New Minimum Wage:
The International Labor Organization (ILO) is urging global brands to help absorb the costs Cambodia’s garment factories will have to bear owing to a $28 jump in the monthly minimum wage for garment workers that takes effect this month.
The hefty wage hike, from $100 to $128, was announced by the Labor Ministry in November and makes for a more than doubling of the minimum wage since 2012, when it stood at $61.
Though the new wage falls well short of what some of the country’s more strident unions were demanding, employers say dozens of the more than 500 garment factories in the country may be forced to close down, a move that would put tens of thousands out of work. In response, some of the brands buying from Cambodia have promised to pay more for their orders to help the factories cope. But some of the biggest brands have not.
In a statement released Monday, the ILO urges all brands to join in.
It says the latest raise will push the average monthly wage in the garment industry, including overtime and bonuses, from $183 to $217, and increase factory costs by nearly 20 percent, all while the prices the factory’s buyers are paying stagnate or even drop.
Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, which represents the country’s export factories, welcomed the statement, but said it would make little difference unless the buyers start to face the same price increases in the countries Cambodia is competing with, such as Bangladesh and Vietnam.
“It’s a good gesture…but the ILO has zero leverage over the buyers,” he said.
20150106 * Brands urged to step up:
In an open letter to global apparel brands that buy from factories in Cambodia, the International Labour Organization urges the companies to “play their part” in absorbing the financial strain local garment factories expect from the Kingdom’s new minimum wage.
The January 1 letter estimates that factories in Cambodia will take more than an 18 per cent hit from the Ministry of Labour’s November decision to hike floor salaries from $100 per month to $128 in 2015.
“It is important that all sides work together to ensure Cambodia’s garment industry remains economically viable”, said Maurizio Bussi, the ILO’s country director for Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, is quoted as saying in the letter. “We call on the global brands to play their part. We have received encouraging signals that key buyers will honour the pledge they gave the Cambodian Government in September.”
20150105 * ILO urges garment buyers to help absorb new minimum wage:
The International Labour Organization (ILO) called on companies sourcing garments in Cambodia to help the local industry absorb a new minimum wage of $128 a month which went into effect on January 1.
In a statement, the ILO said its estimates showed that average wages including bonuses and overtime were likely to rise from $183 to $217 a month.
“The pay rise is expected to increase factories’ wage bills by approximately 18.7 per cent,” the statement said, noting that this was on top of earlier increases that more than doubled the minimum wage since 2012 when it was $61 a month.
20150105 * ILO calls on global garment buyers to help absorb Cambodia’s new minimum wage:
Global garment brands who source their products from Cambodia should play a part in helping the industry absorb the new minimum wage of US$ 128 per month, according to experts from the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The new minimum wage for the approximately half-a-million workers in Cambodia’s garment and footwear industry came into effect on 1 January 2015. As a result, average wages (which include bonuses and overtime) in the garment industry are likely to rise from US$ 183 to US$217 per month, according to estimates made by the ILO’s Country Office for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR.
The pay rise is expected to increase factories’ wage bills by approximately 18.7 per cent. It comes on top of earlier adjustments that have more than doubled the minimum wage since 2012, when it stood at US$ 61.
At the same time, the prices that Cambodian factories receive in their main markets have been stagnating or declining. For example, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has calculated that prices for apparel imports from ASEAN countries have fallen by 4.5 per cent since June 2012.
“Caught between these two forces, factories have seen a substantial fall in their operating margins over the past three years”, said Malte Luebker, the ILO’s Senior Regional Wage Specialist.
“ In principle, factories can respond by increasing efficiency, using measures that range from better work organization to energy conservation.
However, our research shows that these gains are gradual and will only enable factories to cover a small share of the expected wage increase”.
read more: 20150105 ILO PR-Cambodia garment wage.
20150105 * Police Prevent Veng Sreng Slaying Commemorations:
Monks, activists and workers gather on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Street on Saturday for a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the brutal repression of a nationwide garment-sector strike there on January 3 last year. (Licadho)
Led by monks and CNRP lawmaker Real Camerin, the group began moving along the street before they were met by a familiar scene as hundreds of military police bearing AK-47s set up an armored police line.
Rath Srieng, the commander of Phnom Penh’s military police forces, who last year personally directed the suppression of the strike, was again on the scene directing the forces.
When marchers tried to sidestep the narrow police line on the wide street, the commander seized some of the marchers’ flags and grabbed a megaphone.
“When you violate the law, the authorities have the right to keep public order,” Maj. Gen. Srieng shouted over the megaphone. “City Hall does not allow you to hold this [march], therefore you have to break up.”
In an apparent fit of rage, and in video footage that was widely shared on social media, Maj. Gen. Srieng then pushed a young woman who criticized his actions.
“Do not protest! It is my right!” Maj. Gen. Srieng said to her.
The commander then turned to a monk next to him and threatened his arrest.
“If you do not break up, I will take you away, because you are the one who is leading this,” he said.
The marchers never pressed past the police line and soon dispersed, as Maj. Gen. Srieng’s forces monitored tuk-tuks and cars passing back into the city for activists.
Asked why forces armed with AK-47s were sent to the march, military police spokesman Kheng Tito said Sunday it was standard.
“It is normal since ‘armed forces’ are equipped with weapons,” Brig. Gen. Tito said.
20150105 * Answers sought for Veng Sreng:
Families of those shot dead on Veng Sreng Boulevard in January last year have called on National Assembly President Heng Samrin to summon Defence Minister Tea Banh and Interior Minister Sar Kheng for questioning over the brutal crackdown in a letter obtained yesterday.
Five people were killed when heavily armed security forces opened fire on protesters and bystanders during a minimum garment wage protest. A teenage boy, believed to have been shot, remains missing. Dozens were injured and arrested, while a number of protesters were themselves violent.
“A great number of police, armed forces and soldiers under the Ministry of Interior and the Defence Ministry cracked down brutally on workers, civil society and monks,” says the letter, also from survivors.
“We propose that the defence minister and interior minister clarify in the National Assembly the events that led to the shootings, the boy going missing, the 23 arrests and the many injuries.”
Vorn Pov, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), spent months in prison after “observing” a protest that ended in a violent crackdown and his arrest on January 2. Yesterday, he called for the authorities to pursue those responsible for the violence.
20150104 * CNRP Condemns Strike Violence on First Anniversary:
On the first anniversary of last year’s violent demonstrations on Veng Sreng Street, which resulted in four deaths and the disappearance of one person, about 100 supporters gathered on Sunday to remember the victims at the headquarters of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).
CNRP officials took the opportunity to again condemn the authorities’ crackdown and their role in the violence.
President of the Sam Rainsy Party, Kong Korm, accused the government of employing strong-arm tactics aimed at simply keeping the ruling party in power.
He pointed out that people who have money and power are rarely arrested and sentenced. “Powerful people who committed crimes on Veng Sreng Street – the CNRP have had to struggle to make them responsible and to recognize what they did.”
Acting president of the CNRP, Pol Hom, asserted that the workers did not use violence during the melee. He added that he saw the workers dancing to highlight their demands for a minimum wage of $160.
“I asked to attend as a witness that workers did not use violence. There are only authorities that used violence,” he said.
The wife of protester Sam Ravy who died in January last year, Chhive Panith, said that she did not receive justice. She added that her husband participated in the protest only to demand the minimum wage of $160. “I will file a complaint via the CNRP to find our justice,” Ms. Panith said.
20150104 * CNRP commemorates Veng Sreng’s deadly clash:
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party on Sunday commemorated Veng Sreng’s deadly clash at its headquarters in Meanchey district, Phnom Penh capital after being banned by Phnom Penh City Hall from holding the ceremony at the Freedom Park.
In a press release issued Saturday, the CNRP expressed regret over the Phnom Penh City Hall’s decision that didn’t allow it to hold a religious ceremony at the Freedom Park and in front of Canadia Industrial Park for the workers who were killed on Veng Sreng street on outskirt of the capital in January 2014.
20150103 * Hundreds gather at Veng Sreng for commemoration then prevented from marching to Borei Keila:
This morning hundreds of people gathered at the site of last year’s fatal shootings on Veng Sreng Road to remember the dead and missing.
Families of the victims and some of those wrongfully imprisoned following the violence spoke to the crowds. Security forces including Brigade 70 and 90 soldiers were visibly patrolling in the area but did not attempt to prevent the gathering.
Supporters then attempted to march to Borei Keila to mark the three-year anniversary of the forced evictions of Borei Keila communities but after marching almost 3km were blocked by over 100 military and riot police who grabbed, shoved and hit some participants. Marchers were allowed to proceed in vehicles only.
20150103 * Authorities Ban CNRP Garment Worker Commemoration:
On Saturday morning, Phnom Penh authorities denied permission for the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to hold a ceremony commemorating the one-year anniversary of the violent confrontation between military forces and garment workers on Veng Sreng Street.
According to a press statement from the municipality, authorities will not allow the CNRP to hold the ceremony at Freedom Park. However they said the CNRP could hold commemoration services at other pagodas in the capital.
CNRP lawmaker Ho Vann told the Khmer Times “I regret that Phnom Penh authorities don’t allow us to hold the Buddhist commemorative ceremony, because yesterday we had a meeting with them and they agreed the ceremony could take place.”
Mr. Vann said, “Even though tomorrow, we will conduct the ceremony at our CNRP headquarters, it just doesn’t mean that we are afraid of the authorities, – but we follow and respect the comments of our party president Sam Rainsy [who] told us to keep [activities] non-violent.”
20150103 * The calm after the storm:
One year ago today, gunfire from heavily armed security forces killed at least five people on the capital’s Veng Sreng Boulevard. The deadly violence – and a crackdown on opposition supporters in Freedom Park the following day – also landed devastating blows to a united protest movement fast gaining momentum
In the final days of 2013, a protest movement was sweeping up thousands of young people across the country.
After a year of industrial unrest typified by largely unconnected factory strikes, garment workers and non-government-aligned unions suddenly found themselves unified and in full voice over their demands for a $160 monthly minimum wage.
When the government offered workers just $95 in late December 2013, workers poured onto the streets. Factories were ordered shut. In just a few days, workers had brought a multibillion-dollar industry to a standstill.
At the same time, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party – in the middle of a parliamentary boycott – was marching down major roads and using Freedom Park as a peaceful stronghold from which to voice their demands for a new election.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy told garment workers to hold out for $160 and boasted of his party’s own movement being a “a giant wave that cannot be stopped”. The two protest paths soon converged.
“The CNRP was riding on momentum . . . it was a perfect storm,” recalled Ou Virak, chairman of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.
But in the first few days of 2014 everything changed. Government security forces carried out crackdowns on strikers and protesters. On this day last year, security forces stormed along Veng Sreng Boulevard, a garment factory hub on the capital’s outskirts, firing indiscriminately at workers and bystanders.
At least five people were killed. Dozens more were wounded. One 16-year-old, last seen with a gunshot wound, is still missing.
20150103 * A Year On, Killings on Veng Sreng Remembered:
Within a matter of days, a strike that began on Christmas day in 2013 spread across the country and shut down Cambodia’s largest export industry. Hundreds of thousands of garment factory workers stopped work as unions demanded an increase of the monthly minimum wage to $160.
Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), quickly called for action to restore investor confidence in the $5-billion-a-year industry.
“The government is the only organization, the only body that can resolve this problem,” Mr. Loo said on December 27 as the strikes were escalating.
“The problem we are referring to is, number one, the hooliganism, and, number two, the demonstrations.”
On January 3, a year ago this Saturday, the government deployed hundreds of military police armed with AK-47 assault rifles to the heart of the protests on Phnom Penh’s largely industrial Veng Sreng Street.
In just a few hours, the forces had killed five workers and injured more than 40 others, most struck by bullets or severely beaten.
Speaking from hospital beds around Phnom Penh in the ensuing days, the surviving victims said that after the military police arrived they began firing their weapons in the air, before aiming directly at workers who refused to flee the area.
Local rights groups identified Kim Phalin, 29; Yann Rithy, 26; Sreng Vibol, 22; Ouk Pheak, 23; and Sam Ravy, 26, as the five killed. Unions corroborated the figure, despite persistent rumors that more were slain.
“I saw 10 of them put up a wall of riot shields, and then I saw a gun poke through and it shot at me,” said Hem Ouen, 23, on January 7 as he recovered from a bullet wound at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital.
“If you didn’t run away, they would just pick you out and shoot you,” Mr. Ouen recalled, admitting he had been throwing rocks at the military police when he was shot.
Others threw crude Molotov cocktails and set fire to piles of tires. Yet the strike was easily suppressed by the government’s armed forces, and by that afternoon the streets were locked down.
“Everyone is too afraid to strike now so no one ever considers it, even though it’s only strikes that can find a solution for us,” said Chhiv Phanith, a garment worker whose husband Sam Ravy was one of the five killed on January 3, speaking on Veng Sreng Street this week.
20150103 * A Year After Deadly Cambodia Protest, Families Await Answers:
A Tribute to Cambodia’s Fallen Garment Workers
A year after military police opened fire on a group of labor protesters here killing five, their families still mourn and hope for justice.
Pheng Kosal was among the demonstrators killed January 3, 2014, while demanding higher wages. His $100 monthly salary had helped his single mother and his seven siblings survive.
Since Kosal’s death, his mother Keo Sokmeng, 50, has struggled to support the family on her own salary, also just $100 a month. From that, she must pay the rent on their small house, as well as water, electricity, school fees, food and other expenses.
“I relied on him more than [on] the other kids, since he was the most educated and the smartest,” Keo Sokmeng said.
Her son had been a good student, but he quit school after his father died and went to work for a garbage collection company. He studied to become a mechanic and, once he was qualified, got a better-paying factory job.
“He loved his job…. He had never caused me any trouble,” Keo Sokmeng said. “The money he got from his job he helped me support his brothers and sisters.”
Since losing that income, Keo Sokmeng said, she has had to send two of her children to live with relatives.
“My 16-year-old-daughter stays with my sister in Kampoong Cham,” she said. “My other son went to his uncle’s house in Kandal.”
The loss of Pheng Kosal has devastated her family. “If I had known that the military shot people, I would not have let him go”said Keo Sokmeng, referring to the protests.
20150103 * Veng Sreng clash commemoration illegitimate: Spokesman:
Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said on Saturday that commemoration and procession of unionists and civil society activists are illegitimate and that authorities will take measure against what is illegal.
The spokesman made comments after some 300 Buddhists, land rights and civil society activists gathered on Veng Sreng street to commemorate the 1st anniversary of deadly crackdown which left five dead, over 30 injured when there was a bloody clash.
The commemoration ceremony aimed at urging the government to take responsibility and find justice for the victims.
20150102 * One year after deaths, NGOs slam inaction:
As a year approaches since government security forces shot dead at least five people on Veng Sreng Boulevard at the height of garment strikes and opposition protests, rights groups have condemned the lack of thorough investigations, including into the disappearance of a missing teenager.
Khim Saphath, 16, was last seen nursing a bloody chest wound after heavily armed security forces opened fire on strikers last January 3.
“The government claims to have investigated [his] disappearance, to have conducted forensic tests on the remains and determined that they are not those of . . . Sophath,” a statement from 35 NGOs says.
But authorities, the statement adds, have provided no details of the forensic investigation. They have also not requested DNA samples from Sophath’s family members for comparison. Human remains suspected to be Sophath’s were found near the notorious Brigade 70’s base in Kampong Speu province in May. At one point, they were in the possession of an opposition activist, but it is unclear at what stage the government took hold of them.
20150101 * Veng Sreng Anniversary: Still no Justice for the Dead, Missing and Injured:
One year on from the state violence of early January 2014 which led to the deaths of at least four men and the hospitalization of dozens, the disappearance of a teenage boy and the wrongful imprisonment of 23 union leaders, activists and workers, we the undersigned civil society organizations condemn the lack of progress made in investigating these human rights violations and in punishing those responsible.
On January 3 hundreds of people will gather at the site of the shootings on Veng Sreng road to mark the one-year anniversary of the violence and to call for justice for those affected.
“On Saturday we will gather to remember those killed and missing as a result of last January’s violence and to stand with their families and friends,” said Moeun Tola, Head of CLEC’s labor program. “As we do so we also recall and condemn the government’s continued failure to establish a credible and independent investigation into the bloodshed.”
January’s violence followed days of widespread strikes over the minimum wage which converged with long-standing protests by the CNRP over the conduct and results of the July 2013 National Assembly election.
As the peaceful protests continued to grow the government’s patience wore thin and the mass protests were brought to a swift and brutal end on January 3 when mixed security forces shot and killed at least four people.
At least 38 others were taken to hospital to be treated for their injuries, mostly from bullet wounds.
15-year-old Khem Sophath disappeared that day having last been seen lying on the ground with an apparent bullet wound to his chest.
20150101 * In memoriam: Shootings to be marked by unions, CNRP:
About 100 unionists and Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) members are to hold a gathering on Sunday in front of the Canadia Industrial Park on Veng Sreng Boulevard, a year after military officials shot dead five protesters.
Organised by CNRP Phnom Penh capital council member Morn Phalla, attendees will memorialise and pray for those killed during the January 3, 2014, demonstration supporting a nationwide garment worker strike, he said yesterday.
The shootings came amid a crackdown that also saw CNRP supporters forcibly driven from Freedom Park on January 4. “The ceremony will be led by Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha with about 100 people,” Phalla said.
20141231 * Labour strikes plunge in 2014:
Strikes in 2014 plummeted by nearly half compared with the year before, leading some to surmise that dialogue between factories and unions had improved, while at least one advocacy group suggested it was intimidation that kept workers from picket lines.
In a speech yesterday, Prak Chanthoeun, chief of the Ministry of Labour’s Committee for the Settlement of Strikes and Demonstrations, said 276 strikes occurred this year, a steep decline from the Ministry of Interior’s tally of 418 in 2013.
“The factory strikes in 2014 were still a considerable problem,” Chanthoeun said at a training course for industrial problem solving. “The main factors that led to protests were factory bankruptcy, suspensions of union leaders and wage negotiations – including for benefits such as food and transportation bonuses.”
Cambodia’s largest export industry began 2014 in disarray amid a 10-day nationwide strike that started late the previous year. Hundreds of thousands of strikers walked off the job and into the streets, protesting the Ministry of Labour’s decision to raise the minimum monthly wage from $75 to $95, $65 less than an independent union campaign demanded.
Unions abruptly put the strike on hold after police and military authorities first violently broke up peaceful protests near the Yakjin Factory on January 2, then responded to a riotous protest outside the Canadia Industrial Park on Veng Sreng Boulevard a day later by firing automatic weapons into crowds of demonstrators. At least five were killed, with dozens more injured.
20141231 * CNRP to commemorate death of workers die in fatal crackdown:
Opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has sought permission from Phnom Penh City Hall to commemorate the death of factory workers shot dead during fatal crackdown in January on Veng Sreng street on the outskirt of capital.
A letter sent Monday by Morn Phalla, chairman of CNRP’s executive committee, said that the commemoration ceremony to be attended by Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha as well as 100 participants is set for January 4, 2015.
Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong hasn’t made any response to the request so far.
21:25:35 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20141229 * Trade unions group to propose K5,000 minimum daily wage:
The Federation of Trade Unions of Myanmar will submit a proposal urging the authorities to set a minimum daily wage of K5,000 [US$5] in Myanmar, U Aung Lin, the federation chairman told Mizzima.
The federation will submit the proposal letter to the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security in January 2015.
“The Federation of Trade Unions of Myanmar will propose the minimum daily wage at K5,000, excluding additional bonuses,” U Aung Lin said on December 26.
“Moreover, we will propose different amounts of gratuities and different amounts of salary increments based on job types. The Ministry will review all the results of the survey and all the proposals of employers and employees, and it will announce the minimum wage around April,” he said.
The federation’s proposal to set a minimum daily wage at K5,000 is based on a survey determining the cost of living in more than 60 townships.
20:55:35 local time BANGLADESH
* Garment exporters look to a buoyant year:
The increasing numbers of international orders, boosted by ebbing worries on regulatory incompliance and a stable political front, promise a tempting 2015 for garment makers.
Favourable factory inspection reports by two retailers’ groups — Accord and Alliance — have shed some positive light on safety and labour standards, industry insiders said.
The Accord cleared more than 98 percent factories as safe in its report last September, which was a highly desirable achievement for the sector with horrible compliance track records leading to major losses of life and property.
“The inspection cleared the misconception on poor compliance by the Bangladeshi garment sector. It boosted retailers’ confidence in the sector,” said Bakhtiar Uddin Ahmed, general manager at Fakir Apparels, a garment maker in Narayanganj.
* BGMEA, Chinese co to conduct viability study on RMG park:
BGMEA and a Chinese company will jointly carry out feasibility study and environmental impact assessment on establishment of the proposed garment industrial park at Baushia of Gazaria in Munshiganj, mainly to accommodate the non-compliant units, sources said.
Orient International Holding Company Ltd (OIH) will finance the cost, while Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) will provide the necessary technical support to conduct both the study and the assessment by April to develop the park, they added.
“OIH and BGMEA have signed an agreement on December 14 in this regard, and the report is expected to be finalized by April,” BGMEA vice president Md Shahidullah Azim told the FE.
* China set to offer FTA to Bangladesh:
China has offered to sign a free trade agreement with Bangladesh to try to narrow a growing trade gap, the Bangladeshi foreign minister said yesterday.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the proposal during talks with his counterpart in Dhaka in a move which local exporters described as a “huge development.”
“The Chinese minister has offered to sign a free trade agreement,” Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali said.
“The Chinese government is well aware of the existing trade gap and they have assured us they want to minimize it,” Ali added after meeting Wang.
Ali did not say whether Bangladesh would sign up to any such agreement.
There was no comment from the Chinese minister, who wrapped up his three-day visit to Bangladesh yesterday. He met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the main opposition leader Khaleda Zia.
* 300 new garment factories spring up in 2 yrs as 450 down shutters:
More than 300 new apparel units were set up in the last two years while 450 factories were closed down facing a flurry of odds including recent wage hike and safety and compliance requirements.
Of the total new units, new entrepreneurs established some 137 while the rest emerged as part of expansion of the existing ones, Md Shahidullah Azim, vice president of the BGMEA told the FE.
Leaders of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said non-compliance, western retailers’ audit, recent wage hike, and previous year’s (2013) political turmoil had negative impact on orders, resulting in the shutdown of the readymade garment (RMG) units.
On the other hand, the new factories were set up maintaining safety and compliance requirements despite odds that especially emerged after the Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza building collapse.
The new units have created employment for about 1,80,000 workers though about 2,50,000 were rendered jobless due to the factory closure, he noted.
* Stitching a shroud and a shirt:
A historic tale backed by human stories that tells of the systemic exploitation of Bangladeshi garment workers over the decades
The horrific conditions in which Bangladesh’s garment workers fulfil the relentless demands of the global fashion industry became the focal point of global outrage last year when Rana Plaza, an eight-storey building in Dhaka, collapsed killing 1,100 people.
The tragedy highlighted not only the rock-bottom wages in the industry, and the fact that deaths and injuries were far from a rare occurrence, but also the pressures on the workers as it emerged that they continued to enter the building despite warnings of hazard, for fear of losing their jobs or docked wages.
While the poor conditions of many employed in the long supply chain that forms the global fashion industry — whether in China, Sri Lanka or Cambodia — are well known, that conditions in Bangladesh often fell below that shoddy average became all too clear.
Jeremy Seabrook, a British journalist, researcher and the author of books about poverty in Britain and South Asia (Pauperland: Poverty and the Poor in Britain, and People Without History: India’s Muslim Ghettos) has turned his attention to Bangladesh in The Song of the Shirt, a lyrical, historical study of the country’s relationship with the textile and garment industry over several centuries.
Once a dynamic global centre of the weaving industry, serving the Mughal Empire, as well as the Dutch, British, French, Portuguese and Armenians, it lost its place to the cotton mills of northern England as the British empire tightened its stranglehold on the continent and forcibly shifted industry back to British shores.
But the tide turned yet again, as the 20th century firmly placed Bangladesh back at the heart of the global garment industry and its demand for “limitless cheap garments”.
20:25:35 local time INDIA
20150106 * Powerloom weavers’ strike continues:
Powerloom weavers have decided to continue their indefinite strike, which entered the eighth day on Monday, following the failure of talks between the trade unions, powerloom owners, Revenue and Labour Department officials in Sircilla textile town on Monday.
The powerloom weavers launched their indefinite strike demanding 30 paise for 10 pics of fabric produced on the looms.
During the talks, the powerloom owners agreed to increase the wages to 19 paise per 10 pics of fabric against the existing rates of 17 paise per 10 pics.
Refuse to budge
In order to resolve the crisis, the Revenue and Labour Department officials suggested the rate of 20 paise per 10 pics of fabric produced on the looms.
20150106 * Powerloom weaver’s son commits suicide:
A powerloom weaver’s son reportedly committed suicide by hanging from the ceiling following a family dispute over financial problems in Sircilla textile town on Monday.
Reports reaching here said that P. Sridhar, 26, son of a powerloom weaver, Rajesham, was working as an auto driver. Rajesham was unable to find employment due to an indefinite strike by powerloom weavers.
Three days ago, Rajesham attempted suicide by consuming pesticide and is undergoing treatment. On Monday, Sridhar committed suicide.
Weaver ends life
Nalgonda Staff Reporter adds: A 38-year-old weaver committed suicide by jumping before a speeding train near Aler Railway station on Monday.
The deceased has been identified as Manglapalli Prabhakar, a native of Kolanupaka in Aler mandal.
Sub-inspector of Police, G. Janakiramulu, said the deceased had been getting no offers in the recent months.
He had also gotten addicted to liquor in the recent past due to some financial problems.
Prabhakar came to Aler to visit his in-laws’ house on Sunday.
His body was found on the railway track. A case has been registered.
20150104 * Sircilla powerloom weavers’ strike enters sixth day:
The indefinite strike launched by the powerloom weavers of Sircilla textile town demanding increase in wages entered the sixth day on Saturday.
The AITUC and CITU trade unions had called for the indefinite strike demanding increase in wages of powerloom weavers from the existing Rs. 0.17 paise per 10 pics to Rs. 0.30 paise per 10 pics of fabric produced in the loom. The other demands are bonus for weavers and eight-hour working shift.
The strike has cast a shadow on the entire textile town with those working in allied sectors going without work since five days.
20150103 * Sircilla powerlooms to get subsidy:
The powerloom units in the textile park at Sircilla in Karimnagar district will soon get 15 per cent subsidy from the State government and 20 per cent subsidy from the Centre under the Textile Upgradation Fund (TUF) scheme.
The decision was taken at a meeting held here on Friday by Industries Minister J. Krishna Rao with the officials of the department. Ministers K.T. Rama Rao (Panchayat Raj) and C. Laxma Reddy (Energy) also attended the meeting. Funds for the subsidy schemes of the State and Central governments would be released soon. Funds would also be released for construction of roads, drainage system and culverts in the textile park and work on a scheme to increase water supply will be take up soon, the Industries Minister said.
20150101 * Powerloom weavers’ strike continues:
The indefinite strike launched by powerloom weavers of Sircilla textile town, demanding an increase in their wages and other benefits, entered its second day on Wednesday.
The powerloom weavers took out processions and rallies, demanding that the government resolve the crisis in the sector. Later, they staged a dharna in front of the RDO office, demanding that the government hold talks with the owners.
20141231 * Loom Weavers Begin Strike, Saree Production Hampered:
The owners of power looms in Sircilla, who were happy with the bulk orders for sarees given by some major private traders of Tamil Nadu recently, are now a worried lot due to the ongoing strike by the workers that might hit saree production.
The workers under the aegis of Sircilla Power Loom Weavers (SPLW) association have launched the strike on Tuesday demanding the power loom owners to increase wages.
It may be recalled that the Sircilla power loom owners got a big boost in the form of bulk orders for sarees and dhotis from Tamil Nadu. About 1,000 owners took the work order from Raja Rani Weaving Company and two other companies from Tamil Nadu to weave sarees.
According to sources, 1.73 crore sarees and 1.72 crore dhotis will be distributed and the TN government would purchase the sarees through private agencies and will distribute the sarees and dhotis to the poor during Sankranti (Pongal).
SPLW is demanding for better wages ie. rise to 30 paise from 17 paise for 10 pics (a measurement). In view of the failure of talks with Sircilla Polyester Manufacturing Association (SPMA), SPLW began its strike on Tuesday. About 36,000 power loom units have come to stand still due to the strike.
20141230 * Sircilla weavers go on strike:
Life in the textile town of Sircilla on Tuesday came to a standstill following the indefinite strike launched by powerloom weavers demanding increase in wages. All the 36,000 and odd powerlooms remained closed and 20,000 weavers participated in the strike.
The powerloom weavers were demanding increase of wages from the existing 7 paise per 10 pics to 30 paise per 10 pics of cloth, eight hours in a shift and 8.33 per cent bonus.
The busy streets wore a deserted look as the strike had its impact on allied sectors of dyeing and warping units.
Powerloom workers union affiliated to AITUC president Samala Mallesham said that they held four rounds of talks with the owners of the powerlooms, but in vain. “The Revenue and Labour Department authorities had also intervened, but the owners did not respond. We are forced to go on strike at the cost of our wages,” he added.
20150102 * Textile manufacturers seek time to fulfil export obligation:
Textile mills have sought additional two year time for textile units to fulfil the export obligation under the export promotion capital goods scheme, according to a memorandum submitted by some of the textile associations.
Southern India Mills’ Association, Confederation of Indian Textile Industry, Indian Cotton Federation, Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council, South India Spinners’ Association, Powerloom Export Promotion Council, Madurai Spinners Association, India Spinning Mill Owners Association and SIMA – Cotton Development and Research Association submitted the memorandum to Union Commerce and Industries Minister Nirmal Sitharaman at a meeting here recently.
The associations said that majority of the textile manufacturers were unable to fulfil the EPCG obligation because of global recession in 2008-2009, 2010-2011, and 2014-2015.
Hence, the manufacturers require additional time and the export obligation should be just six to eight times of the duty saved.
In the year 2013, India’s share in the global market in cotton yarn was 32.92 per cent, cotton fabric was 3.53 per cent, cotton made ups was 11.25 per cent and garments was 3.86 per cent.
Indian products were expensive by 20 per cent to 25 per cent in the international market due to high fiscal levies on manmade fibre.
The centre should remove the import duty, special additional duty and reduce the central excise duty on manmade fibre and remove the anti dumping duty.
20150102 * Power loom units struggle to reach target for freebies:
Power loom units in the region went through a rigorous struggle to meet the target set by the State government for production of saris and dhotis meant as Pongal freebies to the poor people.
The 38 weavers’ cooperative societies in Erode district and 46 in Namakkal district literally burnt the midnight oil to race towards the target of several lakhs of saris and dhotis, overcoming odds, according to representatives of weavers’ cooperative societies.
In Erode district, the weavers cooperative societies were set a target to produce 72 lakh saris and 76.5 lakh dhotis. In the neighbouring Namakkal district, a target to manufacture 43 lakh saris and 65.8 lakh dhotis was set.
20141231 * Push comes to shove when govt talks labour:
The government aggressively pushed through labour reforms, even during its early months in power.
The government took up changes in law that were pending for some years, and got some of them passed despite strong opposition from trade unions.
The coming months may see speeding up of more controversial reforms. If 2014 saw ideological confrontations and symbolic protests, 2015 may see incidents of aggressive stances.
The Rajasthan government has already passed acts and is implementing changes that were seen as anti-labour, including amendments to the Industrial Dispute Act. The Modi government may introduce some of these acts sometime next year.
The Centre successfully amended two major laws — the Apprentice Act and Labour Laws (Exemption from Filing Returns and Maintaining Registers).
The Winter session of Parliament passed amendments to both the acts despite strong protests by trade unions namely CITU, AITUC, INTUC, HMS, and the Bharatiya Majdoor Sangh (BMS). The amendments also faced opposition inside Parliament from parties including the CPM, CPI and the Janata Parivar parties.
The labour law amendment will exempt companies employing up to 40 workers from many obligations. Earlier, the exemption was available to companies that had 10-19 workers.
The Bill further amends the original law, the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act, 1988, which had made maintenance of registers and filing returns in a specified format mandatory.
20150102 * Textile industry seeks FTAs:
The Union Government should give a thrust to textile and clothing sectors in the trade agreements proposed with Russia and European Union and should also address some of the bottlenecks that the industry faces, according to textile industry representatives.
These were among the demands in the presentations made recently to Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman here at a meeting organised by the Tamil Nadu Spinning Mills’ Association, South India Hosiery Manufacturers’ Association, Karur Exporters’ Association, Erode Textile and Garment Exporters’ Association, Tamil Nadu Autolooms Cloth Manufacturers Association, Texpreneurs Forum and Andhra Pradesh Spinning Mills’ Association.
Since duty free import of garments is permitted in India from Bangladesh, a lot of Chinese fabric also comes into India through Bangladesh. However, Bangladesh imposes high duties on import of fabric from India. The norms should be modified, stipulating use of yarn and fabric of Indian origin as a pre-condition to allow duty free import of garments from Bangladesh.
Brazil imported textile and apparel items worth seven billion dollars in 2013-2014 and of the 2.5 billion dollars worth apparel items it imported, just 142 million dollar worth garments were from India. Textile items should be included under the existing India-Mercosr preferential trade agreement.
20150102 * Tirupur knitwear exports get a boost:
Knitwear exporters from Tirupur who use Tuticorin port more often than any other port to despatch the apparel consignments to various foreign destinations have every reason to be cheerful.
The New Year order issued by the Centre extending round-the-clock customs clearance facility to Tuticorin seaport, among the 14 more additional seaports brought under the facility, is expected to be a boost for sending garments at the last moment too.
“Since almost 70 per cent of the export consignments from Tirupur cluster are sent through Tuticoirn port, the latest order that has come into the effect with immediate effect will be immensely helpful to the entrepreneurs here.
19:55:35 local time PAKISTAN
20150101 * Rights of working women: Gender discrimination, low wages irk female labourers:
Industrial workers, mainly women, are exposed to difficult working conditions which are detrimental to their well-being and could prevent them from contributing to the national economy.
This was said by speakers while addressing the Women Workers Convention arranged by the Rural Development Project (RDP) in Haripur on Thursday. The event was attended by factory owners, industrial workers, teachers and home-based workers.
During the convention, industrial workers and teachers shared concerns about their working conditions.
Tahira Bibi, an industrial worker, said many women face gender discrimination and are paid below the minimum wage.
“We have also been deprived of ESSI, EOBI and other facilities which we are entitled to under labour laws,” she stated. ESSI is the Employee Social Security Institution while EOBI is a body that provides old age benefits.
Another industrial worker, Mukhtiar Bibi, claimed there are no separate toilets and changing rooms for women at the factory she works for.
20150104 * Power supply: Prioritise value-addition, garments makers tell govt:
The value-added textile industry should be given priority in the supply of energy, demanded the Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) on Saturday.
The body cited the example of Bangladesh where the industry was given priority by the government, adding that Punjab is currently without adequate supply of gas.
PRGMEA Central Chairman Ijaz Khokhar said the government has allocated about 100 mmcfd gas to the entire industry, but currently facilitation is only provided to the spinners.
He urged the commerce ministry to focus on the apparel sector, which can potentially generate more foreign exchange, contribute to taxes and increase employment. Khokhar said the sector has potential to generate around $500 million through enhanced exports to the EU.
“The government, in a meeting with the stakeholders of the industry, had decided that priority will be given to the processing units in gas supply,” he said. “But the entire allocation has been hijacked by the spinning sector despite them having alternate resources for energy.”
20150104 * Value-added textile chain without gas in Punjab:
The Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) on Saturday demanded the govt to prioritize value-added textile industry in energy supply on the patron of Bangladesh, as the garment industry is presently without gas in Punjab.
Prgmea Central Chairman Ijaz Khokhar said that the government has allocated about 100 MMCFD gas to the entire export-oriented industry but now the spinners are being facilitated only.
He requested MoC to keep focus on apparel industry which can generate foreign exchange, contribute to local taxes and generate employment, he added. He said if the government resolves all issues the apparel sector alone can generate $500 million by enhancing its exports to the EU.
He said that govt in a meeting with the stakeholders had decided that gas supply will be supplied to the processing units as priority number one but the entire allocation has been hijacked by spinning sector despite the fact that they have alternate energy resource.
20150103 * Exporters dispute official statistics: garments exports post 10 percent growth:
The country’s garments export posted a robust growth of 10 percent to US 826.836 million dollars in July to November 2014-15, but exporters disbelieved the official statistics, saying “the ground realities contradict the growth.”
Overall readymade garments export shows a US 73.395 million dollars growth in July to November 2014-15, comparing to the apparel export of US 753.441 million dollars in July to November 2013-14, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
In term of volume, the garments export grew by 1,043,000 dozens (9.09 percent) to 12,540,000 dozens in July to November 2014-15 from 11,497,000 dozens in July to November 2014-15. However the valued added textile exporters rejected the growth projected through official statistics.
20150101 * Textile policy draft to be ready in few days: Afridi:
Federal Minister for Textile and Industries Abbas Khan Afridi has said that draft of the new textile policy (2014-19) would be ready in a few days and then forwarded to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet next week for approval.
“The textile sector alone has the potential to steer the country out of its financial crisis and “we have started focusing on exporting value-added products instead of raw materials to achieve this objective,” said Abbas Khan Afridi in an exclusive interview with media.
He stressed the need for formulating a comprehensive and long-term policy, and said both the government and industry were committed to fully exploiting the potential of all related sectors of textile.
Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi further said that the government was giving top priority to the value-added textile sector to provide jobs opportunities to people and increasing textile exports by $2 billion per annum under the new proposed textile policy (2014-19).
20150104 * Cotton market: prices ease further after PCGA report:
Easier trend persisted on the cotton market on Saturday as the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) issued it’s fortnightly phutti arrivals figure, depicting a modest rise against the last year, dealers added.
The official spot rate was unchanged at Rs 4,900, they said. In the ready session, around 5,000 bales of cotton changed hands between Rs 4250-5250, they said.
In Sindh, prices of seed cotton were down by Rs 100 to Rs 1500 and Rs 2300, in Punjab prices were lower by Rs 150 to Rs 1600 and Rs 2700, they said. According to the market sources, the PCGA issued it’s fortnightly report till December 31 at 13.95 million bales, showing an increase of 8 lac bales against the last year. Commenting on the fresh decline in the prices, cotton analyst, Naseem Usman said that Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) to sell cotton to it’s mills, which may cause further slide in the rates.
20141231 * What policy? Industrialists slap minimum wage law in the face:
Rs4,000 per month. That is the worth of Firdous who works at a local garment factory for 12 hours every day.
As she looked at the panelists with worn out eyes and spoke about her plight, they assured her that there were a lot of others like her who could speak up together, make a union and get the rights they deserved.
Firdous was attending the Women Workers’ Convention, along with 60 other women from her area. She had been promised she would be educated about her constitutional rights and civil liberties as a female member of the workforce.
The other eight participants included female workers from Hyderabad.
The minimum wage was set at Rs11,000 for the fiscal year, 2014-15 by the Government of Sindh. Most of the workers at the convention were not even getting half the amount.
A female labourer, who works for a private contractor of a spices manufacturer, told The Express Tribune that she gets paid Rs10 to peel every kilo of ginger, taking home Rs4000 per month. Yet another worker claimed she had worked in a garment factory for the last 10 years for Rs3000 to Rs4,500 per month.
20150102 * Fire destroys 220 cotton bales procured by TCP:
Some 220 cotton bales worth Rs 6.5 million (approximately) procured by Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) have been burnt/damaged in two different fire incidents in TCP godown in as many weeks.
Sources told Business Recorder that although the state-run grain trader has constituted two committees to probe into the fire incidents, however, it is reported that they have been failed to fix the responsibility or evaluate the actual reason.
“Most probably on both occasions fire broke out due to a metal wire, being used for packing of cotton bales,” said a TCP official. However, he confirmed that TCP is still unable to find out or probe the actual reason of fire incidents that burnt two lots of cotton bales stored in TCP Pipri godown.
20141231 * Govt urged to implement labour laws:
Speakers at a workshop on Tuesday stressed that the government should ensure enforcement of laws dealing with the rights of labourers.
The two-day workshop ‘labourers rights and responsibility of media’ was organised by the Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF) in collaboration with the Balakot Press Club. Journalists from Balakot, Abbottabad and Mansehra attended the workshop.
“It is unfortunate that laws guaranteeing rights to labourers do exist but because of lack of their implementation this important segment of society is facing serious problems,” said Zahoor Ahmad Awan, PWF central general secretary, while speaking at the inaugural session of the workshop.
Mr Awan said that the PWF had been working to end discrimination and sexual harassment against women labourers. “Though owing to the efforts of human rights organisations and labour unions cases of sexual harassment against women labourers at work have come down drastically, but still a lot needs to be done in this regard. The media should play its due role to eliminate the practice,” said Mr Awan.
20141224 * Two weekly holidays hurt powerloom sector:
Sadiq Mehmood, a powerloom worker, was taking sips of tea sitting on a wooden bench in the Faizabad area while discussing with his fellow labourer the two weekly holidays announced by his employer.
“I will get a rickshaw to make up for the deficit in my earnings due to holidays on Sundays and Mondays. Like the workers, the factory owners are also facing financial constraints finding no other way but to go on for a two-day closure,” said visibly dejected Sadiq Mehmood.
The surge in electricity prices, decline in rate and demand of fabric and cotton have forced a number of the powerloom owners to sell their units and dozens of others to opt for two weekly holidays.
Faisalabad is known as the textile capital of Pakistan, having thousands of power looms in Sidhar, Dhandara, Samanabad, Faizabad, Dhudiwala, Ghulam Mohammad Abad, Jaranwala Road, Sargodha Road, Razaabad, Lakar Mandi and other areas.
The powerloom sector is informal but feeds countless families of its workers.
* Ethiopia: Booming business, underpaid workers :
Low wages have attracted foreign players to the poor African country, but labourers are hoping for better salaries.
Lunch break is over at the Huajian shoe factory and workers assemble in perfectly aligned two-row formations, march, salute, and return back to their work stations.
“Our factory is a bit like a military organisation. The labour here is not highly educated so we have to use a very simple way to communicate and organise them,” said Nara Zhou, Huajian’s spokeswoman, as she walks through the aisles of the large factory hall.
Red banners with writing in Chinese, Amharic and English hang from the ceiling, bearing lofty slogans such as “China-Africa friendly and harmonious enterprise, to win honour for the country”, and “High level of democracy”.
They are excerpts of speeches given by the company’s president, Zhang Hua Rong, a former military officer who established Huajian’s operation in Ethiopia in 2012, Zhou explained.
Within a few years, foreign companies such as Huajian have helped build up Ethiopia’s nascent footwear industry from scratch.
Today, the company employs about 3,000 workers in Ethiopia and generates $20m worth of exports by producing shoes for international brands such as Guess, Naturalizer and Toms destined for US and European markets.
Somewhere there are countries
Cities, Centers, Theaters
Somewhere there are worlds
Listening to the
Mountains of histories, experiences
Rivers of feelings (showing the currents)
Seas with tears
Deserts of suffocating heat, drought, deadly, apathetic
But who listens?
Who climb the mountains Anyone looking for a getaway in the mountains
Who seeks the source
Who brings what refreshment, life
To a person’s history, experiences, feelings, thinking
Who takes the time
Who provides the space
Who can really tell, let be
Who dares to listen
Do you have time or are you too busy
For the other
What does it mean solidarity
Somewehere there are countries
Cities, Centers, Theaters
Somewhere there are worlds
Inside the other
Many people live in fear of the violence by governments and employers, bosses
Many people live from day to day to survive
Many people (workers) live in a apathy
These people have a right to be heard,
They must not be ignored
20141221 * message from ducs:
Attempts have been made to re-activate the daily publication of the bulletin, -through other ways of working/searching-, but so far not with enough success.
So, due to this and other reasons the publishing of the (almost) daily bulletin will be stopped for a longer period of time.
Maybe somewhere in the next year it starts it again.
(The website- archives and special overviews remains online.)