21:13:01 local time NORTH KOREA
20150128 * News Analysis: Business opportunity grows in DPRK despite challenges:
Business opportunity in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is growing for potential foreign investors as the closed economy is pushing a new type of socialist economy through reform and opening despite challenges such as lack of information, communication tools and transparency, global DPRK experts said Wednesday at a forum held in central Seoul.
Top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un is known to have introduced a so- called “May 30 Measures” in May 2014 to grant more autonomy in managing factories and more incentives for farmers. South Korea’s Unification Ministry has said there is no clear evidence of such measures being adopted by DPRK.
Despite no official announcement from the DPRK, a few clues were found. Choson Sinbo, a pro-DPRK newspaper based in Japan, reported in January that the DPRK will “set up a collectivist system that can respond flexibly” and that “socialist enterprises will take the lead.”
The DPRK has many skilled, cheap labor force especially in information, communications and technology (ICT) and textile industries, said Paul Tjia, founder and director of GPI Consultancy, an independent Dutch consulting firm. He said low production costs and skillful workers may provide great opportunity for doing business in the country.
DPRK workers are especially skilled in garment processing.
Since 1970s, the DPRK has exported textiles to Eastern European countries, now to Germany, France and the Netherlands.
For example, the DPRK’s Korea Unha Trading Corporation, founded in 1976, has 70 factories and workshops and employs about 25,000 workers, producing some 450,000 sets of suits, 3 million pieces of jackets, 5 million winter clothes and 4.5 million sportswear and 1.5 million down wears every year.
20:13:01 local time PHILIPPINES
20150129 * Labor groups ask for P136 more in minimum wage:
They have jobs and most are employed yet they do not benefit the development. This is highly unfair and grossly unjust to workers and their families.
It is a social discrepancy that needs urgent attention from government and employers must take seriously into consideration,” TUCP partylist Rep. Raymond Mendoza said.
19:13:01 local time VIET NAM
20150130 * Strikes drop as negotiation skills improve:
The number of labour strikes has fallen at garment companies as a result of training offered by provincial Labour Federations to local companies’ trade unions, Dang Tan Dat, deputy head of the provincial Federation of Labour’s laws and policies division, said.
Since 2009, the training project has taken place in the southern provinces of Binh Duong, Dong Nai and HCM City.
It is conducted by the Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour with sponsorship from the International Labour Organisation and International NGO Union Aid Abroad APHEDA.
The number of strikes in the garment industry fell from 38 in 2011 to 10 in 2014 in the province, said Dat.
The project is called Strengthening Trade Union Capacity and Better Work Viet Nam.
It aims to improve the lives and working conditions of garment workers in Viet Nam through the development of a strong, representative and responsive labour movement, Hoang Thi Le Hang, country manager of Viet Nam–based Union Aid Abroad APHEDA, speaking at a recent conference about the programme.
The project also targets improved adherence to national labour laws and international labour standards.
Trade unions at companies receive training in understanding their rights and responsibilities under the law, and help in negotiation skills and labour agreements to ensure workers’ rights, said Hang.
20150130 * Labour relations better, but problems persist:
Employers using “sophisticated” ways to take “revenge” on union officials and the latter’s poor negotiation and communication skills were among labour relations problems highlighted at a workshop on Tuesday.
However, recent years have seen a marked improvement in the situation, workers’ union and labour federation officials asserted.
Union officials said that industrial workers were continuing to use work stoppages and strikes as a first option to make their claims because current legal procedures are cumbersome and time-consuming.
Mai Duc Chinh, vice president of Viet Nam Labour Confederation said at a workshop held in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) on Tuesday that workers were not following the two-step procedure they are supposed to.
He said workers were required to take their problems to district level labour arbitration councils first and their provincial counterparts next before corporate unions can organise a strike.
“But, in fact, over the last nine years, the Labour Arbitration Council of HCM City has only worked on a single case,” he said.
However, Cu Phat Nghiep, president of the HCM City-based Pou Yuen Company Workers’ Union, which has 83,400 employees, said: “Workers are aware of the strike procedure, but it takes too long and too many levels of management for them to have their voices heard.
20150128 * RoK firms wish to pour money into Tay Ninh IPs:
A delegation of 12 garment-textile businesses from the Republic of Korea (RoK) on January 27 had a working session with authorities of southern Tay Ninh province to explore the investment climate at local industrial parks.
read more. & read more.
read more. & read more.
20150128 * Indian apparel firms come knocking:
Representatives of nearly 40 Indian enterprises have paid a five-day trip to Vietnam to sound out business prospects on this market, especially the apparel sector.
Milind Hardikar, managing director of Welspun Group, one of the world’s leading producers of household apparel products, said the group is considering investing in apparel projects in Vietnam to turn out products for export to the United States.
Welspun has seen new opportunities in Vietnam as the country is determined to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, he told the Daily on the sidelines of the Vietnam-India trade forum in HCMC on Wednesday.
read more BUSINESS IN BRIEF 28/1. (19th item). & read more.
19:13:01 local time CAMBODIA
20150131 * Striking Workers Petition US Embassy for Help:
More than 100 workers from the Manhattan Textile and Garment Corp. factory in Kompong Cham province rallied outside the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh on Friday asking the country’s ambassador to pressure their management into reinstating three sacked union leaders.
The workers have been striking since December 22 after the American-owned factory defied an Arbitration Council ruling that would have seen the three Cambodian Alliance of Trade Union (CATU) leaders return to their jobs, but their protests have so far fallen on deaf ears.
In the absence of police or a security presence, protesters gathered peacefully outside the embassy at about 9 a.m. holding signs calling on U.S. chemical giant DuPont, which the factory supplies, and U.S. government representatives in Cambodia to force their employers to abide by the Arbitration Council’s nonbinding decision.
20150130 * Garment Workers Ask US for Help:
Manhattan Textile and Garment Corp. workers protested in front of the US embassy in Phnom Penh in an effort to push their factory to reinstate their union activists.
The company manufactures medical apparel for the US brand Dupond.
On Friday, about 30 garment workers came from Kampong Cham province to submit their letter of request to the embassy in Phnom Penh. They demand that the company reinstate three union activists: Jonh Theang, Phan Channy and Peng Phalla. They also demand that the Arbitration Council’s ruling in this matter be respected.
President of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions Yang Sophorn said that last year, the three activists and 3000 garment workers protested for the increase of the minimum wage to $160.
The three unionists were accused of inciting the strike but she said, “the garment workers went on strike of their own free will because they want a decent wage.”
20150130 * Manhathann workers’ petition to US Ambassador today, appealing for pressure Dupont to apply AC order! :
American companies denied arbitration order to reinstate union leaders. Today, over 100 workers come to US Embassy. Photo by Tola Moeun
20150130 * Unions Warn of Strikes Over Gov’t Rejection of New Branches:
A group of eight trade unions Thursday said the government has turned down every one of their applications to form local branches at the country’s garment factories since early last year and threatened mass strikes if the rejections continue.
At a press conference in Phnom Penh, union representatives said they had submitted a total of 103 applications for local branches since mass garment worker protests for higher wages were suppressed on January 3, 2014, when military police opened fire, killing at least five and wounding more than 40.
Having managed to get applications approved in previous years, they said, not one has passed the Labor Ministry since.
“The Ministry of Labor is listening to the employers because they don’t want to have too many unions in the factories because they will lead protests and strikes to help the workers,” said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.
Mr. Sina said his union has had all 12 of its applications turned down.
The factories often complain that the garment industry has too many unions, making it hard to settle labor disputes, and want thresholds raised for how many workers are required to start a union.
The Labor Ministry is in the process of writing a new Labor Law that might address the issue, but in May the International Labor Organization said the latest draft was overly restrictive on unions and was out of step with international conventions to which Cambodia is a signatory.
Ath Thorn, who heads the largest independent union in the country, the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said that previously he could get 10 to 15 branches approved a year but saw all 20 of his applications rejected in 2014.
He blamed the blockage on the Labor Ministry applying overly restrictive and complicated new rules that, for one, require the proposed heads of a local branch to submit police records obtained from the Justice Ministry.
20150130 * Unions wary of energy plan:
Some labour unions are suggesting reforms to state energy provider Electricite du Cambodge’s (EdC) plan to grant energy discounts to garment workers in Phnom Penh, saying yesterday that the current arrangement is “too complex to implement”.
More than two weeks ago, EdC announced that it will lower electricity costs to alleviate the financial burden on impoverished workers after they complained about homeowners charging staggering prices ranging from 1,000 to 2,500 riel ($0.25 to $0.62) per kilowatt.
But unions are dubious.
“We really appreciate that the government announced this policy, but it just doesn’t sound realistic enough to implement,” said CLEC labour program head Moeun Tola.
C.CAWDU president Ath Thorn agreed, saying “some workers don’t have necessary documents to register for contracts and lack the time to pay the bill separately from their current utilities”.
20150128 * Union Complains of Spate of Illegal Garment Factory Firings:
Union leader Pav Sina on Tuesday said garment factories around the country illegally fired dozens of his local representatives last year, far more than in 2013, and urged the government to help get their jobs back.
Mr. Sina’s Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) is one of the fastest growing unions in the country and was among the more strident during negotiations between the unions and factories over a new minimum wage for the garment sector last year.
At a press conference Tuesday, he said 65 of his representatives at several factories were illegally fired in 2014 for carrying out legitimate union activity, a sharp increase from the four who were fired the year before.
Mr. Sina said the CUMW also saw a spike in membership, from 28,000 in 2013 to 35,000 last year, and accused the factories of targeting his union because of its growing popularity and activity.
20150127 * Unionist Warns Wal-Mart and Gap to Respect Workers’ Rights:
President of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) Pav Sina urged customers to burn the logos of international retailers if the corporations continue to use factories that don’t respect workers’ rights and freedoms.
In a press conference on Tuesday at CUMW’s head office, Mr. Sina said that certain factories are abusing the human rights of their workers through sub-standard work conditions.
After factories fired a number of his union’s officials due to a strike, he encouraged companies that use the factories to boycott their products.
Mr. Sina said those buyers included Gap, M&S, Wal-Mart, JCPenny, Gymboree, C&A, Charles Vogele and NoKo.
There are six factories who supply to these buyers, and the employers fired 65 of his union leaders and activists within the CUMW.
According to Mr. Sina, the global brands agreed to check their suppliers after he complained about his union’s expulsion.
Yet a month has gone by and the companies have not pushed the factories to reinstate the union officials.
20150124 * Cambodia’s Garment Workers Aren’t Backing Down:
Last January in Phnom Penh, the garment industry seemed to be coming apart at the seams: protesters thronged through the streets, several died after security forces opened fire and union leaders were detained for weeks without trial.
A year on, the unrest has subsided and workers are getting a modest wage hike, but the systematic suppression of unions continues to breed bitter outrage.
Last December, hundreds of workers rallied at the South Korean Embassy to demand justice at the Korean-owned Cambo Kotop factory, following the alleged illegal dismissal of union leaders who had planned a strike. They were opposing a court order to return to work.
Pav Sina, head of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) issued a public letter on Friday describing deteriorating conditions at the plant, which employs about 2,500 people and supplies brands like Gap and Walmart.
Nowadays, the workers’ rights and freedom are badly repressed by the company- management…. For instance, [when] the workers…talk to each other during their lunch time, the company always take photos and tell them to stop immediately, especially when the workers, employees talk about the union tasks.
20150124 * Three Garment Worker Districts To Be Fitted With New Wiring:
Electricité du Cambodge (EDC) announced on Thursday that new measures have been put in place to protect factory workers from fraudulent electricity charges.
The project is welcomed by garment workers and their trade unions.
In the Russey Keo, Meanchey, and Dongkor districts of Phnom Penh, wires will be run into the rooms of garment workers starting at the end of this month. The wiring and subsequent installment of an electricity usage meter are free of charge.
“The staff of Electricité du Cambodge will visit the garment workers and help them fill out the applications in their rooms,” the EDC statement said.
The EDC announced that all landlords and district authorities are to cooperate with its staff to ensure smooth operations.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said during the Russey Chrum Krom hydroelectric dam inauguration last week that the garment workers will only have to pay 160 riels ($0.04) per kilowatt-hour.
The government has allocated $2 million for this project.
20150128 * Canada continues granting duty-free for Cambodian products: ambassador:
Canada still continues offering trade privileges to Cambodia, Bangkok-based Canadian Ambassador to Cambodia Philip Calvert said here Wednesday.
The remarks were made during a meeting with Cambodian Foreign Ministry Secretary of State Ouch Borith. “The ambassador told me that Canada still continues providing Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) to Cambodia,”Borith briefed reporters after the meeting, explaining that under the GSP scheme, Cambodian products exported to Canada are duty-free.
20150127 * Reality Show Sends Fashion Bloggers to Work in Cambodian Factory:
What happens when you take three fashion bloggers out of their glamorous, comfortable lives in the West and throw them into a Cambodian garment factory?
For one month, three Norwegian fashion writers – Frida Ottesen, Ludvig Hambro and Anniken Jorgensen – worked in a garment factory near Phnom Penh as part of the reality show ‘Sweatshop Deadly Fashion’, produced by Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.
“That show is very important for my country to show other countries in the world that Cambodia still has a lot of problems with working labor,” Oudom Tat, a Khmer photojournalist and guide to the three Norwegian bloggers during the show, told Khmer Times.
“On the other hand, it is also a message to all giant buyers about their bloody trade.”
Forced to leave their bubbles of privilege, chic parties and $600 shopping sprees for a factory of horrors, the three Norwegians were pushed far beyond their limits.
The show made them eat, sleep and breathe like Cambodian textile workers. Challenged to survive on $3 a day, they experienced the unfairness of the textile industry firsthand and underwent deep internal transformations due to the conditions.
20150125 * BetterFactories Media Updates 28 January 2015, Union Complains of Spate of Illegal Garment Factory Firings:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-01-28 Union complains of Spate of Illegal garment Factory Firings
2015-01-28 Ministry Outlines Procedures for Business Hiring Foreigners
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2015-01-28 Labour Ministry tries to clarify permit rules
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
20:13:01 local time INDONESIA
20150128 * Govt urged to raise minimum wage:
Workers in Jambi have urged the government to raise the provincial minimum wage to Rp 1.9 million (US$151.8) from the current Rp 1.7 million.
The Indonesia Welfare Labor Confederation’s (KSBSI) Jambi coordinator, Roida Pane, explained that the recent decrease in fuel prices did not affect the price of staple foods that kept skyrocketing following the government’s earlier decision to increase subsidized fuel prices in November 2014.
“The price of fuel is down, but high food prices remain a problem. If it was only the fuel price that increased it would be no problem, but the fuel price hike triggered increases in staple food prices,” Roida told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
The activist said KSBSI had met with the Jambi Remuneration Council, but it had not issued any recommendation for the government to revise the minimum wage in the province. One of the reasons the workers stopped staging rallies to protest the minimum wage was the administration’s assurances that food prices would soon decrease following the lowering of fuel prices.
18:43:01 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150129 * Myanmar garment industry ‘could soon employ 1 million workers’:
Myanmar garment industry is booming with strong prospects that it could employ as many as 1 million workers within the next few years, according to a leading industry figure.
U Myint Soe, chairman of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association said about 250,000 workers are currently employed in this industry after foreign countries lifted economic sanctions in 2012, prompting growth.
The industry is on the upturn and the industry could be employing 1 million workers within the next few years, he told Mizzima on January 27.
Local and foreign manufacturing interest is growing in the industry.
20150128 * Ministry urged to set national minimum wage:
The Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM) said it will suggest the Labour, Employment and Social Security Ministry to set minimum wages for whole country based on the eight-hour daily working period.
This stage of the process will end on 28 of this month. Based on information collected before that day, we will submit a recommendation to the ministry to set up a countrywide minimum wage.
For the ministry to set up a minimum wage equally for the entire nation, the survey should be conducted with considerations for variances regional development,” said Win Zaw, a member from the CTUM.He continued: “Our union agrees that setting up a minimum wage should be based on eight working hours per day, not including subsidiary, allowances and overtime fees.”
20150123 * After Long Delays, Govt Begins Moving on Minimum Wage:
After a delay of nearly two years, the government announced on Friday it would this month conduct a survey on household living costs in order to determine a nationally set minimum wage.
The government had planned since early last year to conduct the survey, and the plan has finally materialized after the Union Parliament voted to approve a tripling of lawmaker salaries on Thursday.
“We will start collecting data on Jan. 26 in all states and divisions including Naypyidaw,” Aung Htay Win, a director from the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, told The Irrawaddy on Friday, adding he expected the survey to be completed in two weeks.
With the assistance of civil society organizations, labor representatives and employer groups, the survey will be conducted across more than 22,000 households in 108 townships, based on a representative sample of household size, socioeconomic level, occupation, earnings and expenses.
“Each seven-member team will collect data in one township. After we finish the survey, we will calculate the output and send it to committees tasked to determine the minimum wage in each state and division,” said Aung Htay Win.
18:13:01 local time BANGLADESH
20150129 * Many workers still go uninsured:
In factories not in BGMEA or BKMEA fold
Tens of thousands of workers employed by garment factories that are not affiliated either with BGMEA or BKMEA, two apparel sector apex bodies, remain outside the group insurance coverage due to their non-compliance with lawful requirements, insiders said.
According to Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE), some 800 out of its listed 3,498 factories are not members of any of the two bodies — Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).
Industry insiders, however, claimed that the figure would be much higher than that of the official one.
The 3,498 factories have created employment for about 2.20 million workers, according to DIFE official website.
In 2014, DIFE inspectors inspected some 2,267 factories. Of the total factories, 1,387 were the members of BGMEA and 290 of BKMEA while the rest were not affiliated with any of the two associations.
According to the DIFE survey report, 90 per cent and 94 per cent of the BGMEA and BKMEA member factories had group insurance for their workers while more than 50 per cent of the non-member factories failed to comply with the group insurance requirements.
20150129 * Employment injury insurance: A boon for the workers:
Employment Injury Insurance Programme (EIIP) is an insurance mechanism for providing financial benefits to employees injured in workplaces during the tenure of employment.
This insurance, in essence, covers physical injuries, accidental deaths and occupational diseases. The EIIP can do more for the well-being of the workers and/or their dependents than a conventional insurance policy in that it addresses the issue of in-kind health care and the rehabilitation of the injured employees in the financial, medical and vocational formats.
Typically employment injury is a built-in coverage under the employer liability insurance in some Asian countries.
The EIIP has successfully been recognised for protecting workers’ rights and establishing harmonious industrial relationship.
Moreover, EIIP is administered on low cost and no-fault basis which means that the premium charged would be the least and the employers would be strictly liable to comply with the obligations.
Strict liability is the liability without any fault on the employer’s part in the incidents of worker’s injury, and is imposed by law on the employers because of their socially and economically privileged positions.
STATE OF WORKPLACE ACCIDENTS IN BANGLADESH: Recent statistics from International Labour Organisation (ILO) shows that every year 2.3 million people (6,300 per day) die from workplace accidents and occupational diseases and the resultant economic loss amounts to $1.25 trillion (roughly 04 per cent of the global GDP).
In Ready-Made Garments (RMG) sector of Bangladesh, the recent-past incidents of physical injuries and death toll, particularly in the collapse of the Rana plaza and the fire incident of Tajreen Fashions have seriously tainted the country’s image to the buyers’ community and subsequently many pressure groups and rights organisations have raised their voice for workplace safety and security of the workers.
20150128 * 2 workers burnt in city factory fire:
Two workers received burn injuries when a fire broke out in a shoe factory at Siddique Bazar in city’s Bangshal area on Wednesday.
Kibria Rokon, younger brother of ‘Mahi Shoe’ factory owner Suman, said the fire might have originated from an electric short-circuit at the factory while Sagar, 18 and Rajib, 16, were working in the afternoon.
Sagar and Rajib sustained burn injuries as the fire spread immediately.
Later, the injured were rushed to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital.
20150126 * Fire breaks out at Gazipur cotton Mill:
The fire originated in a storehouse at the factory, its coordinator says
A fire has broken out at a cotton mill at Bagherbazar of Gazipur Sadar upazila.
Deputy Assistant Director Akhtaruzzaman Liton of the Fire Service and Civil Defence at Gazipur, said the fire broke out at the ground floor of the two-storied Pharmosa Polly Cotton BD Limited around 1:15pm on Monday.
“Seven units of fire-fighters are trying to douse the fire,” said Liton.
The fire official said the cause behind the fire could not be known yet.
The fire originated in a storehouse at the factory, said its coordinator Khorshed Alam.
The mill which manufactures fabrics was inaugurated nearly a month ago, he added.
Moreover, it could not be ascertained immediately whether there were any casualties, said the factory official.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150125 * Apparel factory catches fire in Gazipur:
At least two workers were injured while trying to douse fire at apparel factory Kader Synthetic and Compact Spinning Mill at Konabari BISIC industrial area in Gazipur city on Saturday.
Sixteen units of fire service doused the fire that started at about 7:15am after about six hours at about 2:00pm.
Two committees were formed by Gazipur district administration and fire service to investigate the fire incident.
Fire service sources said that the fire originated at the ground floor of the two-storied building and at once spread to the whole area including the first floor.
Sixteen units of fire service from Savar EPZ, Kaliakair, Joydevpur, Tongi , Mirzapur and Dhaka headquarters rushed the spot to douse the fire.
The fire fighting activity was hampered due to shortage of water, fire service officials said.
The flame spread to an adjacent four storied residential building used by the officials of the factory. Two of the workers injured while they tried to control the fire.
read more.& read more.
20150126 * Bangladesh garment factories still have massive safety problems:
It has been more than a year since Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza building collapsed, killing 1,138 garment industry workers who had been crammed into an unsafe building.
American and European retailers promised to insist on better conditions in the factories they buy from.
But they still have a long way to go: A consortium of European companies announced last week that they found more than 80,000 safety problems in the 1,106 factories they inspected since the Rana Plaza disaster.
More than a tenth of the facilities were so bad that they required immediate retrofitting for production to proceed — or even evacuation.
The clothing industry has largely been a blessing for Bangladesh, a densely populated country with huge amounts of spare workers seeking employment.
Actual per capita gross domestic product and actual income have doubled since 1997, in part because the country established itself as a center of ready-to-wear apparel manufacturing.
Trade accounts for more than half of the country’s gross domestic product, up from a third over the same period.
The country faces increasing competition from neighbors, but its $22 billion garment manufacturing business remains a crucial global production hub.
That is why discussions about boycotting firms that do business in Bangladesh or punishing the country with trade restrictions were counterproductive.
Demands for worker safety should not become a pretext for protectionism, which would hurt the masses of poor who would be put out of jobs.
But growing trade and decent conditions are not incompatible: There is no excuse for forcing workers into fire traps or structurally unsound towers such as Rana Plaza.
Primary responsibility lies with Bangladesh leaders, who should enforce existing standards, crack down on fly-by-night operators and provide the predictability that promotes investment.
But Western retailers have a role, too — to use their massive market power to demand better of their suppliers.
20150126 * Workers-police clash injures 10 in Ashulia:
The injured workers have been admitted to local hospitals
At least 10 workers of a garment factory have been injured in a clash between the workers and police at Burirbazar of Ashulia.
Additional police have been deployed in front of the factory to avert further untoward situation.
Workers said police tried to remove them while they were staging demonstration demanding the reopening of their factory on Monday morning.
At one stage, the workers engaged in altercation with the police personnel and locked in a clash.
Later, police charged batons and dispersed the workers to calm the situation. At least 10 workers were injured in the police action. They were admitted to local hospitals.
20150128 * Made in Bangladesh with Blood, Sweat, Tears and Hunger:
Despite lack of natural resources, tremendous pressure of overpopulation and persistent political violence, Bangladesh has maintained a 6+ percent GDP growth rate over the last 5 years.
How has that happened?
With endless blood, sweat, tears and HUNGER.
We’re hungry: for three meals a day, for economic freedom, for recognition of our hard work, for dignity. Racing on an uneven playing field means our labour has to remain cheap.
But then what’s labour when life here is cheap?
“Made in Bangladesh”, the dance production which had its Bangladesh premiere on January 26, puts the working condition in the RMG industry on stage – creating the ambiance of a “sweat shop”, where workers are put to a Herculean test.
They have to work harder, faster, better – all the while keeping labour cost cheaper than competitors.
There are no bathroom breaks either, we’re told.
20150127 * Bangladesh Garment Workers Win Bargaining Pacts at 5 Factories:
Standing strong in the face of a long and difficult struggle for their rights, Bangladesh garment union leaders at five factories in the East-West Industrial Park Ltd. group negotiated collective bargaining agreements in recent days that include increases in the food allowance, improvements in canteen facilities and provisions for union leaders to assist members.
The five union factories are affiliated with the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union Federation (BIGUF), which helped negotiate an earlier agreement in May 2014 to resolve hostilities and lay the groundwork for good-faith bargaining.
The Solidarity Center provided legal and other technical assistance to workers throughout the process.
Hamidul Islam, general secretary of the Rumana Fashion Ltd. Workers Union, which represents workers at one of factories in the group, said that despite the challenges leading up to the victory, “This is really just a starting point (for our union).
We will be able to help workers the most if we can continue to discuss with the management about how to create a better working environment.”
20150130 * RMG factory assessment programme under govt-ILO initiative stumbles:
Inconsistency in info, owners’ non-cooperation blamed
The garment factory assessment programme under the government-ILO joint initiative is facing hurdles due to inconsistency in factory information and non-cooperation from the owners, sources said.
Meanwhile, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) recently hired two companies to assess garment factories that remained outside the purview of western retailers’ inspection programmes, they added.
The two companies have been entrusted with the task replacing Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) because the latter failed to progress its job on time, they added.
Confirming the ILO’s recruitment of the said companies, labour secretary Mikail Shipar said that the inspection programme is facing some problems as some of the owners are not cooperating in this regard while address and contact details of a good number of factories are not correct as per the provided list.
“TUV-SUD Bangladesh Pvt Ltd and Veritas Engineering and Consultant are the two companies that will inspect some 1,200 garment factories which are not covered by either Accord or Alliance,” ILO country director Srinivas Reddy told the FE.
20150129 * Bangladesh: Year Marred by Attacks, Abductions, Killings:
Lack of Justice Fuels Serious Human Rights Violations
The Bangladesh government failed to prosecute security forces for serious abuses including killings, disappearances, and arbitrary arrests, Human Rights Watch said in its 2015 World Report, released today.
Government forces committed serious abuses both leading up to and after the January 2014 general election, while members of opposition parties engaged in violent and indiscriminate attacks to impose economic blockades and to enforce a boycott of the January polls.
In spite of well-documented evidence, the government took no steps to ensure accountability for any election-related violence or for other violations by its security forces. The sole exception was the arrest in May of several members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) who were implicated in a high-profile contract killing of a local politician.
After years of increasing restrictions on civil society, the government introduced a draft bill that would formalize restrictive practices and policies, and make access to foreign funding particularly onerous.
The government also introduced a new media policy that imposed unacceptable limits on free expression and speech.
Although the government had amended its labor laws after the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory, workers continued to report intimidation and violence when attempting to form or join unions.
In a positive move in 2014, two groups of North American and European retailers completed their fire and safety inspections of more than 2000 factories in the ready-made garment industry following an agreement after the Rana Plaza tragedy. Although they made their reports public and repairs have begun in some factories, inspections conducted by the government of other factories have not been made public and it remains unknown if any repairs have been undertaken.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150129 * Trade bodies for speedy solution to deadlock:
Leaders of different trade bodies of the country on Wednesday submitted two separate memoranda to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia demanding an immediate solution to the ongoing political deadlock for greater interest of the country’s economy.
In the memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister, they sought steps against those who are engaged in activities that were destroying the economy and for keeping the supply chain for the country’s largest foreign currency earning sector — readymade garments (RMG) unhindered.
A group of businessmen from 10 trade bodies led by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Atiqul Islam went to the PMO and handed over the memorandum to an official of the PM’s office.
read more. & read more.
20150128-29 * Bangladeshs clothing industry urges PM, BNP chief to save economy:
Bangladesh’s apparel industry have urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia to save the economy, hit hard by the ongoing political unrest.
Several organisations of ready-made garment (RMG) manufacturers and exporters submitted memorandums to Hasina and Khaleda’s offices Wednesday. The BNP-led coalition, which sat out the 2014 parliamentary polls, is enforcing an indefinite blockade since Jan 5 to press for a snap election.
Hasina on Wednesday told Parliament that arson attacks between Jan 5 and Jan 26 had killed 26 people and left another 133 burnt.
read more. & read more. & read more.& read more.
20150128 * Heed RMG warnings:
End blockades to restore confidence and secure livelihoods
BGMEA, BKMEA and the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association are holding a human chain today to demand more security to help overcome the disruption being caused by blockades and strikes.
With millions of people and the bulk of the country’s export earnings dependent on garment exports, there is no room for error in failing to take heed of the warning signs facing the industry.
The last 20 days have seen production drop by around a quarter as supplies of raw materials and deliveries have been delayed or lost altogether.
20150127 * RMG sector suffers 25% output loss due to blockade:
The ongoing political turmoil has been disrupting production and supply chain of basic raw materials in the country’s apparel industry, putting attainment of the sector’s targeted export earnings at great risk, industry insiders said.
According to them, the country’s largest foreign currency-earning sector has already suffered a 20-25 per cent production loss over the last 20 days of non-stop blockade and political impasses.
They, however, feared that if the situation prolongs further, it would lead to huge losses for the sector on account of shipment delay and cancellation of orders thus affecting overall export earnings.
“To meet the apparel export target of US$26.89 billion, we will have to ensure shipment of the RMG products worth about Tk 7.0 billion a day. But shipment of products worth about Tk 2.15 billion is being hampered each day due to production disruption following the political impass,” Md Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BMGEA) told the FE.
20150130 * Imperatives for Bangladeshi exporters:
The European Union (EU) as a destination market plays a very important role for Bangladesh.
There are at least two reasons for this.
The first one pertains to the abundance of labour in Bangladesh.
Due to this abundance, Bangladesh has a competitive edge in the production of labour-intensive products. This is not just a mere accident that labour-intensive product like ready-made garments (RMG) has been by far the largest export of Bangladesh for decades.
EU countries cannot afford to produce the labour-intensive commodities due to their high wages, which compels them to depend on other countries for products like RMG. Bangladesh is one of their natural choices for it.
20150127 * Bangladesh RMG makers lose EU market share:
“The productivity of Bangladesh garment industry is lower than that of other leading players on the global market”
Bangladesh’s RMG sector is gradually losing its share in the European Union market due to factors like political unrest and lack of compliance, which gives boost to its global competitors.
According to Eurostat data, the country’s apparel export registered slow growth in July-October period last year compared to its competitors.
In 10 months of last year the country earned 11.7% RMG export growth in the EU market while Vietnam posted 22.88% growth, Cambodia 25.41% and Pakistan 28.26%.
20150127 * Garment exports to US on the decline:
Garment exports to the US, Bangladesh’s single largest export destination, declined 3.17 percent year-on-year to $4.64 billion during January-November last year, due to a slowdown in work orders after the Rana Plaza building collapse.
Bangladesh was the sixth largest sourcing country for the US during the period though Bangladesh’s position was third even a few months ago, according to the US Department of Commerce.
Exports to the US started declining when retailers from North American countries took a wait-and-see approach after the Rana Plaza disaster, said Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
20150125 * Bangladesh loses appeal among global firms for political unrest:
Bangladesh has lost its appeal as a frontier market to the multinational companies taking cue from the political front, according to a new study.
Corporate sentiment towards all three South Asian frontier markets—Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan—were among 10 countries that experienced the steepest declines in corporate sentiment, said the latest WSJ/FSG Frontier Market Sentiment Index released recently.
“South Asia seems to be losing its appeal,” it said.
Frontier markets are less advanced capital markets from the developing world and countries with investable stock markets that are less established than those in the emerging markets.
Vietnam is not the only market in the region to attract more interest. Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos were all in the top five of countries that saw the greatest improvement in sentiment.
Central and Eastern Europe’s frontier markets were also among the top gainers, a refreshing change for countries such as Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria that had been some of the worst performers in previous surveys.
20150126 * Garment makers to form human chain Wednesday to demand security:
The apparel and textile businesses will form a human chain in Dhaka on Wednesday demanding security as the ongoing political violence is disrupting smooth operation of their business.
The decision was taken yesterday at an emergency meeting of the leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Bangladesh Textile Mills Association, and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association at the BGMEA office in Dhaka.
“Buyers are continuously making queries about the political situation in the country,” BGMEA President Atiqul Islam told The Daily Star after the meeting.
20150125 * Garment buyers threaten to shift orders:
A group of US-based garment retailers has threatened to shift work orders from Bangladesh to other destinations if political deadlock does not end soon, BGMEA President Atiqul Islam said yesterday.
“The retailers said they are thinking of an alternative to Bangladesh as the ongoing blockade is hampering timely shipment of garments,” Islam said, quoting an email he received from some retailers yesterday.
The buyers also said they will not travel to Bangladesh to check samples of goods due to political violence, especially arson attacks on vehicles, according to Islam.
20150130 * Export orders slow down due to continuing blockade: Tofail:
Orders from the foreign buyers for Bangladeshi export goods have slowed down, thanks to the wrong signals they are getting about the country for the non-stop blockade imposed by the BNP-led political alliance to unseat the ruling party.
A senior minister of the cabinet on Thursday came up with the disclosure on the 24th day of the blockade enforced by BNP to press home their seven-point demands including fresh polls under a non-party caretaker administration and dialogue to reach a consensus over the issue.
Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed said placement of orders had slowed down for the locally made export goods.
20150130 * Garment exports to new markets on the rise:
Garment exports to new destinations are increasing substantially though shipments to traditional markets have been on a downward curve.
The new markets are promising mainly due to the government’s stimulus package, aggressive marketing by exporters and relaxation of the “rules of origin” by some countries.
Rules of origin are the criteria that are used to define where a product was made. The origin of a product is important because it will determine how it is treated at the border of an importing country and the origin may impact the import duty payable and admissibility into the country.
Apparel exports to new destinations — all markets except the EU, the US and Canada — rose 15.47 percent year-on-year to $1.87 billion in the first six months (July-December) of the current fiscal year, according to Export Promotion Bureau.
The major new export destinations are Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and Turkey.
20150128 * RMG export hits $24.58b last year:
Country earned $24.58 billion from the Ready Made Garment (RMG) sector in 2014, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday told the parliament.
He informed the parliament in response to a question raised by AKM Shajahan Kamal MP (Laxmipur-3).
The commerce minister said, a number of initiatives have been undertaken to increase export earnings from the RMG sector.
About the strategy for increasing the RMG export Tofail said the government is following export friendly monetary policy duty policy and promotional policy.
He further said the government organise RMG trade fair, home textile fair and theme based different fair to expand the market.
Not only that, but the government also sends government and private commercial delegations for diversification of product export and expanding the market Tofail added.
“The government is providing incentive to the RMG exporters against export earning who export their product out of the EU and USA market” He further said the government is giving importance for compliance in the factories for the good will of RMG sector.
20150124-25 * 100 workers fall sick having feast in Comilla :
Over 100 workers fell ill after taking food at the annual feast of a fibre factory in the BSCIC Industrial Area here on Saturday.
Factory sources said the workers were provided with special meals at Farid Fibre Factory on the occasions of annual feast.
However, the workers started falling sick after taking the meal.
Of the sick workers, 27 were admitted to Comilla General Hospital while 38 others to Comilla Medical College Hospital.
Resident medical officer at the general hospital Dr Mujibur Rahman the workers fell sick due to food poisoning.
to read. & to read.
20150127 * A Tannery Worker Poisoned by Toxic Chemicals (Extra Scene from “Toxic Tanneries”):
Bangladesh’s leather industry is worth a billion dollars a year, but that value comes at a significant human cost to the many workers employed in the country’s leather tanneries.
The process of tanning leather hides is highly toxic. Workers face appalling conditions and are exposed to dangerous chemicals that also pollute surrounding waterways.
VICE News traveled to Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, and visited the tannery district in the city’s Hazaribagh neighborhood — ranked by international research organizations as one of the most polluted places on Earth — to investigate the conditions in which workers produce leather that is exported and sold all over the world.
In this extra scene, VICE News correspondent Tania Rashid meets 17-year-old tannery worker Mohammad Rahman, who has developed a series of health problems from working in the leather industry his whole working life.
Without adequate safety equipment provided by his employer, daily exposure to the chemicals used when treating raw leather hides have taken their toll on Mohammad’s health.
20150129 * Relocation of tanneries:
Relocation of the tanneries from Hazaribagh to Savar Leather Estate has missed a number of deadlines since 2004.
Whether it will miss yet another timeframe now freshly set by April next only the future can tell. Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu sounds confident enough that this time there is no scope for failing on the set target. In fact, he warned that failure on the part of any plant to comply with the order will be at a heavy cost.
The erring plant will be demolished and the industrial plot at the new location will be cancelled as well. In the past too, ministers concerned coaxed and threatened tannery owners with undesirable consequences but somehow they managed to stay where they are now. Let it not happen once again.
20150125 * Leather sector needs value addition to tap global export market:
Experts, entrepreneurs say at BoI seminar
Experts and entrepreneurs on Saturday said that the government and businesses should take immediate steps to enhance productivity and value addition in the leather sector to explore huge untapped international export market.
Tanneries should also be environment-friendly and should fulfil other compliance issues to keep protected its global market particularly in European Union, they said.
They also emphasised on ensuring political stability for the growth of the sector and the overall economy.
At a seminar on ‘leather and leather goods: next to RMG’ organised by the Board of Investment in a city hotel, they also said that tannery owners should relocate their factories from the city’s Hazaribag to the Tannery Industrial Estate at Savar within the stipulated time.
20150125 * Tanners seek Tk 55b soft loan for Savar relocation:
Tannery owners on Saturday demanded assurance of Tk 55 billion as soft loan from the government to expedite relocation of the hazardous tanneries from Hazaribagh in Dhaka to Savar.
The demand came at a discussion meeting on “Leather and Leather Goods: Next to RMG” organised by Board of Investment (BoI) at a city hotel.
The industry people were also in favour of foreign investment only in backward linkage of the leather sector to protect local businesses.
“To shift our industry to Savar Leather Industrial Park from Hazaribagh, we need more than Tk 55 billion soft loan which could be payable in 15 to 20 years”, chairman of Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters Association M Abu Taher said.
20150126 * Textiles ministry, Privatisation Commission at loggerheads over state-owned enterprises:
Cabinet committee may give a decision on denationalisation
The textiles and jute ministry and the Privatisation Commission are at loggerheads over who would denationalise the state-owned enterprises under the ministry.
Against the backdrop, the Privatisation Commission sought intervention of the cabinet committee on economic affairs, which is likely to give a decision on the matter today.
In a proposal, the commission said the ministry has taken an initiative to denationalise some state-owned enterprises that fall under the jurisdiction of the commission. According to the Privatisation Act 2000, the ministry cannot denationalise the enterprises, the proposal said.
The commission said no other ministry, except the textiles and jute ministry, has taken such an initiative to sell any state-owned enterprise.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
20150125 * Labour leaders call for adequate compensation:
Garment labour leaders on Saturday at a human chain demanded adequate compensation for the Rana Plaza victims and punishment of the owners of the building on charge of killings the workers.
More than 1,300 people, most of whom were garment workers, were killed in the building collapse at Savar Bus Stand in Savar. Bangladesh Garment Sramik Sanghati formed a one hour human chain in front of the collapsed building at Savar Bus Stand at 11:00am to press home their demands.
Family members of the affected workers also attended. Taslima Akhter, the coordinator of the organisation, alleged that family members of the affected workers did not get adequate compensation so far.
She called on the owners of factories, the government and buyers to come forward and provide adequate compensation to family members of the affected workers.
17:43:01 local time INDIA
20150127 * The rhythm of voices raised for their rights:
The percussion beats of a thappu broke the silence in villages on the city’s southern fringes on Monday. A group of women were singing folk tunes to create awareness on a government notification on increased minimum wages for garment factory workers.
The caravan, carrying members of Garment and Fashion Workers Union, made a stop at villages around Chromepet, Chengalpettu and Madurantakam to campaign for the rights of the industry workers. Residents gathered on the streets as K. Anushya and her team sang ‘ Onnu Serunga ’ (be united) to the rhythmic beats of the thappu.
“Some enthusiastic villagers have joined us as we proceed to our next destination,” said Ms. Anushya, who works in a garment unit in Tambaram. The 25-member team also staged plays on different themes, from long hours of work and low wages, to sexual harassment.
Meghna Sukumar of the union said: “Instead of restricting the campaign to speeches, we adopted a lighter note to reach out to young women workers.”
Nearly three lakh workers, mostly women, are employed in over 5,000 garment units around Chennai. Most of them earn around Rs. 4,000 a month.
The union president, Sujata Mody, said the campaign was organised to support women who are fighting for an increase in their wages for several years. Several garment units have sought an interim stay on the government notification that fixes Rs. 7,000 as the minimum wage for workers.
A signature campaign was also held and this will be submitted along with a petition to the Chief Minister to implement the notification.
A caravan makes a stop at villages on the fringes of Chennai to campaign for rights of garment industry workers
20150126 * Fire in cotton shop at Amroli:
Huge quantity of cotton and finished cotton material was gutted in a fire in Sahara Cotton Works located in Amroli on Sunday morning.
However, there was loss of life or injury to anyone.
Officials of fire department said that fire erupted around 10 am. “The unit was making cotton mattresses, pillows and other products, which was all gutted. It appears that the fire was due to short-circuit but we are investigating,” said the official.
They are also probing possibilities of foul. It took nearly an hour to douse the fire.
20150124 * 200-250 child labourers rescued in Hyderabad:
Around 200 children employed at bangle-making and footwear workshops in Aman Nagar area in the Old City were rescued early on Saturday by the city police.
The children, mostly boys aged between 4 and 12 years, hail from Bihar and were working since the last few months. They were allegedly paid meagre amounts ranging from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 5,000 per month, the police said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) V Satyanarayana told reporters that the workshop owners paid a few thousand rupees as advance to the parents of the children.
“After paying the money the children were brought to the city and were employed at the factories. It is a hazardous industry and children are exposed to chemicals.
They are forced to work for 14 hours a day,” he said.
read more. & read more.
20150126 * ‘Rehabilitate rescued children’:
The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has asked the authorities concerned to take necessary measures to rehabilitate the children who were rescued from bangle units on Saturday.
The city police rescued around 200 children employed at the bangle making units during a search operation.
The commission asked the police to register cases under Section 370A of Indian Penal Code while directing social welfare department, Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan, National Child Labour Programme to fully engage themselves in the rehabilitation of the children.
20150125 * 220 kids freed from slavery:
The city police on Saturday rescued 220 child workers, including three girls, from bangle-making units at Talabkatta and Bhavani Nagar during a routine cordon and search operation.
Apart from the rescue, 22 persons, including two pahelwans, were arrested. The children, who were in the age group of six and 14, were found to be living in hazardous conditions.
Around 3 am, a 500-member strong search party, led by DCP (South Zone) V Satyanarayana, started the cordon and search operation to nab criminal elements staying in these localities.
They chanced upon a person near an industrial unit at Aman Nagar B locality in Talabkatta, who started fleeing on seeing the police.
Nearly 150 children were found engaged as workers in the factory of a person later identified as Yasin Pahelwan. Searches were carried out in six buildings owned by Yasin Pahelwan, Salim Pahelwan, Afzal and others.
20150125 * Rescued children narrate horrific tales:
The glitter and allure of the bangle market of Lad Bazaar in the Old City came crashing down after child trafficking reared its ugly head on Saturday.
As it turned out, instead of going to school, children as young as six years of age were employed in crafting laakh bangles
in deplorable conditions. As many as 22 children were herded into a small, dingy room where they were forced to work day in and day out with little time for rest. One such story is that of Rahul (12) from Badi Naka in Bihar.
Brought to the city around a week ago, Rahul was being trained for making bangles under the watchful eye of his masters.
Poverty forced his parents to send him away.
20150124 * No end to child labour:
Despite efforts by the labour department, nearly 1.5 lakh children, include differently-abled youngsters, continue to toil in various industries
Despite a steep drop in the number of child workers in the State over the previous decade, recently released Census data reveals over 1.5 lakh children are still labouring under the sun and in dingy factories, every day.
In an effort to root out the practice once and for all, the Labour Department launched an intensive 11-day campaign on January 21, with its officers conducting raids in all districts. The department has also launched a signature campaign at the trade fair in Chennai.
“We want to create awareness among the public. At the trade fair, people visiting our stall are signing on the board that displays slogans against child labour,” a senior official of the Labour Department says.
Besides Chennai, which is thronged by a large floating population on a day-to-day basis, neighbouring Tiruvallur and Villupuram top the list of districts employing children.
“Our effort is mostly directed at identifying children who are forced to work and those employed for economic reasons,” says the officer, adding the 1.5-lakh child-labourer population includes differently-abled children and those who have to take care of their younger siblings in the absence of parents.
Rescued children are either enrolled in nearby schools or taught in bridge schools before being mainstreamed.
Child labour continues to exist in textile industries, agricultural fields during cotton plucking, brick kilns, beedi-making units and matchstick factories in Tamil Nadu.
20150130 * Leather factory workers stage protest for pay hike:
Over 200 workers of a private leather factory on Thursday staged a protest on the Beach promenade and threatened to jump into the sea demanding increase in wage and job security.
The workers claimed that they had been slogging for long hours in private factory for a meagre salary.
The workers have been agitating over the past few days in a bid to draw the attention of the government to their demands for an increase in the minimum wages.
‘No medical facilities’
The protestors alleged that over 550 workers had been employed in the factory and had no access to medical facilities.
Senior police officials pacified them and assured that a meeting would be arranged with factory representatives and officials of the Labour Department following which they dispersed.
20150128 * Powerloom owners to go on strike on Feb 2:
Powerloom owners from the state will go on a daylong strike by shutting their units on February 2 to protest against the hike in power tariff by the state government recently.
Pratap Hogade, secretary of the state-level powerloom owners’ associations, said the decision was taken during a meeting of members of the associations at Bhivandi on January 25.
More than 2,000 powerloom owners participated in the meeting.
“The powerloom business is already facing a slowdown. With the state government withdrawing subsidy to the powerloom units, it has resulted in 25% hike in power tariff. The powerloom unit owners cannot pay such a huge amount and hence, have decided to go on a one-day strike on February 2,” Hogade said.
20150128 * Wage code to replace all related laws:
The government plans to introduce a “wage code,” that will replace Central laws pertaining to wage related matters and cover both the organised and the unorganised sectors.
Though the government had invited comments in July last year on the draft Minimum Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2013, which included setting a national minimum wage floor, the new “wage code” once finalised will subsume key laws, including the Minimum Wages Act 1948 and the proposed amendment.
“The wage code will set basic provisions related to payment of wages and bonuses. Once this is finalised, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, will no longer be in place.
The aim is to reduce the number of laws employers have to comply with,” a senior government official said. The details of the code were still being worked out.
20150129 * Wages for hosiery workers likely to be revised:
The State government is considering the recommendations submitted by the committee formed to revise the minimum wages for hosiery sector units.
It is also studying the proposals submitted by another committee formed to implement minimum wages for knitting units.
According to a Labour Department official, the reports were submitted to the State government recently.
The official told The Hindu on Wednesday that the committees had representatives from the industry, trade unions and the government.
The government formed the committee for hosiery unit workers in 2013 and the report was submitted a couple of months ago. The minimum wages were fixed almost four decades ago and had not been revised after that.
20150126 * Hosiery manufacturers voice against fixation of minimum rates of wages:
Hosiery manufacturers in Tirupur cluster have voiced against any further fixation of minimum rates of wages for workers in the hosiery sector here.
The opposition comes in the wake of the initiation of process by the authorities concerned in the State who had constituted a committee for revision of minimum wages for employment in hosiery sector after a gap of over five decades.
South India Hosiery Manufacturers Association president A. C. Eswaran told The Hindu that besides the fact that the said committee did not even have a representative from our association, the major representative body for hosiery manufacturers in the entire South India, there was no need for fixing minimum wage rates at a time when wage revision pact were signed frequently in clusters like Tirupur.
20150125 * Labour woes ahead of reforms:
Centre has set the ball rolling for radical changes in labour laws, instrumental to its ‘Make in India’ campaign
Around 2011, a few months before a Chennai-based garment-export unit employing around 200 workers had shut down, delay in salaries prompted a number of workers to quit on their own.
Subsequently, a few workers appealed to the newly-formed Garments and Fashion Workers’ Union for justice.
One of the first things the union did was to ensure the number of workers in the factory does not fall below 100.
If it did, the owner could have closed the factory without needing an approval of the government, and would thus not be liable to pay retirement benefits to the workers. The issue was resolved after all the dues of the workers were paid in accordance with government norms.
Meghna Sukumar, organiser, Garments and Fashion Workers’ Union in Chennai, argues that if the government’s proposals to amend labour laws, particularly the changes in the Industrial Dispute Act 1947, were implemented, the workers of the factory would have been laid off, with no dues paid.
In contrast, in jute mills in West Bengal, poor demand forced many employers to curtail working hours, leading to unruly protests by workers and even the murder of a jute mill owner last year.
20150128 * Sudden hike in minimum wages for tailors leaves industry shocked:
The textile industry is unable to come to terms with the exorbitant increase in minimum wages for employment in the tailoring industry.
Coming as it does after 10 years, the 64 per cent increase is considered sudden, huge and one that cannot be absorbed by the industry.
Citing the gazette notification dated December 3, 2014, textile industry sources pointed out that basic minimum wage for a cutter in tailoring industry has been hiked from Rs. 2,306/month to Rs. 5,789 across all municipal corporations (classified as Zone A), and for the machine operator/tailor to Rs. 5,639 from the earlier Rs. 2,215/month.
Incidentally, there are as many as 8 schedule employment (under the Minimum Wages Act) relating to textile and clothing sector such as cotton ginning, pressing and waste cotton industry, handloom and weaving industry, handloom silk weaving industry, hosiery manufactory, powerloom industry, silk twisting industry, tailoring industry and apprentices in textile mills.
Besides these, there are many industrial establishments engaged in the manufacture of knitted and woven garments and made-ups (home furnishings).
However, it is confusing as the Tamil Nadu Government had already notified the minimum wages for hosiery manufactory.
20150124 * Textile industry wants timely review of minimum wage than sudden raise:
The Textile and clothing sector has around eight schedule employment (under the Minimum Wages Act) such as cotton ginning, pressing and waste cotton industry, handloom and weaving industry, handloom silk weaving industry, hosiery manufactory, powerloom industry, silk twisting industry, tailoring industry and apprentices in textile mills.
Besides this, there are many industrial establishments engaged in the manufacture of knitted and woven garments and made-ups (home furnishings).
Some of them cater to both – the domestic and export markets.
Industry sources are yet to come to terms with the exorbitant increase in minimum wages for employment in the tailoring industry.
Coming as it does after 10 years, the 64 per cent increase is considered sudden, huge and one that cannot be absorbed by the industry.
The last revision took place in 2004.
While admitting that the revision was being notified after 10 years, a cross section of industry stakeholders said that they were not against an increase in the basic minimum rate, but feel that a periodical review of the same would have been better than a sudden and steep increase.
Yet another confusion that seems to have cropped up is from the fact that the TN Government had already notified the minimum wages for hosiery manufactures.
If the unit does both – knitted and woven fabrics and engages the same machine operator, under which schedule of employment should such tailors be classified, posed an industry source.
To tide over such issues and bring in more clarity, the Southern India Mills’ Association Chairman, T Rajkumar, has proposed to bring the minimum wages across the state under one schedule in respect of the textile sector.
The state should come out with a comprehensive policy on minimum wages in consultation with industry stakeholders, whether it is powerloom, tailoring or textile mills, the minimum wages (which is the barest minimum for the textile sector in TN) should be only one.
20150130 * India ahead of China in readymade garments exports:
Amid concerns over several larger overseas buyers seeking reduction in prices in the wake of a drop in cotton prices, here’s some silver lining for garment exporters.
Export of readymade garments from India has grown faster than those shipped from China for a bulk of 2014, although the rise is on a much smaller base.
According to UN Comtrade data, during January-October 2014, India’s garment exports rose 14.6% to $14 billion. In contrast, exports from China were 6.5% higher at $145 billion, which in value terms is 10 times higher.
The news will come as some sort of a relief to Indian exporters, many of whom have been asked to reduce costs by 6-8% by their overseas buyers, who want a share of the higher margins due to a steep fall in cotton prices, which account for a major chunk of the overall costs.
20150128 * New textile policy after Budget, says textile commissioner:
About 13 textile parks are in various stages of consideration
The government is set to introduce new textile policy immediate after the Union Budget scheduled to be held on February 28, said Kiran Soni Gupta, Textile Commissioner.
She was inaugurating The Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI)’s 60th National Garment Fair, the two-day event in Mumbai on Wednesday.
She said that 13 textile parks are in various stages of consideration. The government has sanctioned 61 textile parks of which 55 are operational.
20150125 * Maharashtra’s new textile policy helped rekindle interest in textile sector:
Maharashtra’s 2011 textile policy has been the main motivator as it offers capital and interest subsidy on the investment made by textile companies which renewed interest in textile sector.
In the last two years the State has managed to get investments to the tune of Rs. 7,099 crore and has created employment potential for 45,953 persons.
The policy has managed to get 731 projects, out of which 10 big projects have brought in Rs. 2,426 crore investments. Another 477 projects with an investment ranging Rs. 10 and Rs. 50 crore have led Rs. 2,523 crore, while 22 project with investment between Rs. 50 and Rs. 100 crore have brought in Rs. 2,000 crore investment.
20150124 * ‘Exports to Latin America from Tirupur can double’:
Latin American market offers a lot of opportunities for Indian ready made garment exporters, said Rengaraj Viswanathan, a former Indian Ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay and also an expert on Latin America, here on Friday.
He was talking to The Hindu while here to attend a conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry.
Latin American buyers were showing tendency to source more from countries other than China which presently holds 50 per cent share of its import market, he said.
20150124 * Textiles Minister urges Odisha to apply for Textile Park:
Union textiles minister, Santosh Gangwar has urged the Odisha government to submit a proposal to set up a Textile Park.
The minister said this while attending the National Workshop on Promotion of Handloom with Fashion being held in Bhubaneswar.
He said priority on allotment of Textile Parks would be given to states, which currently did not have any of them in their state.
20150129 * MPCB orders closure of Nagardhan-based cotton mill:
The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board’s (MPCB) high-level committee – consent appraisal committee – has decided to issue closure notice to Nagardhan-based Suryalaxshmi Cotton Mills, around 45km from the city, near Ramtek.
The committee has found the industry to be a habitual defaulter of consent conditions and causing pollution to a great extent.
The committee took the decision following reports from the MPCB regional office, Nagpur. The committee headed by principal secretary of environment department Ajoy Mehta took the decision in a meeting on January 21. The minutes of the meeting reached the regional office on Wednesday.
20150126 * Monocropping to hurt cotton farmers in Gujarat:
A monocropping culture, driven by healthy returns, threatens to hurt cotton farmers in Mehsana and other districts in the country’s largest cotton-producing State, say agriculture experts working in the region.
As the price of cotton slips due to excess supply and China scaling back on purchases, farmers in north Gujarat risk mounting their losses and the likelihood of reduced sowing in May.
They had increased cotton plantings over the last decade due to higher yields driven by Bt cotton varieties.
“Cotton acreage has kept increasing since 2003-04, when Bt cotton was first introduced in the area. Farmers only realise that it’s a problem when the market crashes.
There is lower production this year, in part due to unseasonal rains, and prices have declined,” said Manish Patel, programme coordinator of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) located in Kherva.
Bt cotton is genetically modified (GM) one with Bacillus thuringiensis gene being inserted in it to resist bollworm attacks. Over 95 per cent of cotton grown in the country is GM.
Patel believes that while the technology did little harm, poor practices involved in cultivation has led to problems ranging from lower production of other crops, depleted soil and rising crop diseases, such as parawilt and root rot.
“For instance, farmers don’t take our advice about following refuge area guidelines to plant non-Bt varieties as a control for pests.
Parawilt has appeared in greater numbers over the past three years.
While Bt varieties resist pest attacks, borers now attack pulses, wheat, tomato and tobacco, something which didn’t happen as much earlier,” said Patel.
20150123 * Leather factory employees picket Assembly:
Over 300 employees of a private leather factory on Thursday picketed the Legislative Assembly demanding increase in wages and job security.
The workers, mostly women, proceeded to the Assembly to meet Chief Minister N. Rangasamy and voice their concern.
The watch and ward staff in the Assembly denied them permission following which the workers picketed the main gate of the Assembly.
The protesters alleged that over 550 workers were employed in the factory and they had no access to medical facilities.
The workers also demanded that the management raise the minimum wages.
Senior police officials intervened and pacified them following which they withdrew their protest.
20150124 * Textile dept decides to take up issue on duty rationalization with PM:
This is for first time that the Indian department of textiles has taken up the issue of “duty rationalization” with the PM, although it has noted that the approvals of other ministries are key to making such plans a reality.
At present, man-made fibres attract a 12% excise duty while cotton fibres attract none. Similarly, imports of some of the raw materials for producing man-made fibres are taxed heavily and those of their finished products are taxed lower.
This intricate duty structure in man-made fibres, for long a major irritant in the development of the textile sector, could be altered in sync with global practices if the latest recommendations of the textile ministry are accepted by the Prime Minister’s Office.
The industry has long been demanding a reduction in the excise duty on man-made fibres, saying such a disparity is preventing domestic producers from scaling up operations and, consequently, India’s textile market continues to be cotton-driven. Such a situation also hurts India’s export competitiveness in the man-made textile segment. While man-made fibres account for around 70% of the world’s total fibre consumption, they make up for less than 30% of domestic demand.
20141230 * One garment unit to be set up in each of Indian NE states:
All of the eight Northeastern states in India, which missed the fruits of industrial revolution, are all set to have one garment manufacturing unit in each of their capitals.
Entrepreneurs hailing from these eight states and with a background in textiles will get an opportunity to manage these apparel units under a new model initiated by the union government.
Under the new policy, the central government will finance the cost of 300 stitching machines for each of these units, while state governments will provide 1.5 acres of land, nearby or in their respective capital cities.
17:43:01 local time SRI LANKA
20150125 * Apparel industry will maintain growth momentum:
Sri Lanka’s apparel industry has shown continuous growth over the years, Joint Apparel Association Forum, General Secretary Tuly Cooray told Sunday Observer Business.
An export centric agenda and a favourable policy framework will pave the way for the apparel industry to maintain the growth momentum while retaining the number one slot in export revenue generation, he said.
The industry will be in a position to achieve the targeted export value for last year. Exports for the first eleven months of the year recorded a value of US $ 4,302.4 million. The target set for 2014 was US $ 4.8 billion.
“Our target is to become a five billion dollar industry this year and we are confident of achieving it,” he said. Sri Lanka is no longer a mass producing country.
17:13:01 local time PAKISTAN
20150129 * Government urged to implement new textile policy forthwith:
Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has urged the government to implement new textile policy immediately for next five years.
Textile exporters have expressed grave concern over government’s delay to implement new textile policy which carries the measures to increase country’s textile exports to US 26 billion dollars by 2019.
Sohail Pasha, Chairman and Rizwan Riaz Saigal, Vice Chairman of PTEA here on Wednesday revealed that government announced several schemes like complete settlement of all outstanding refund claims, rationalisation of refund regime, drawback of local taxes on 10 percent increase in annual exports, establishment of Exim Bank, duty free import of textile machinery and reduction of mark-up rate for export refinance in the budget 2014-15, but due to absence of any textile policy, the sector is not getting benefits from these schemes to improve its efficacy.
20150129 * Textile industry to get refunds by February-end: zero-rating request rejected:
While assuring textile industry to clear pending refund claims by end-February 2015, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has rejected the request of the industry for a major policy shift to restoring sales tax zero-rating facility, replacing lower sales tax rates.
Sources told Business Recorder here on Wednesday that Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas khan Afridi presided over a meeting on the issues of textiles sector with Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
20150129 * Textile producers blame govt for fast shrinking industry:
With each passing day, the delay in the textile policy is preventing the sector from producing effectively and the dejected millers have not missed an opportunity to raise their voice.
The value-added textile sector on Wednesday hit out at the government for its failure to announce the policy, saying the indifference has proved detrimental for the industry.
Speaking at a press conference at the Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association (PHMA) House here, representatives of different value-added textile associations said despite being seven months into the current fiscal year the policy is not in sight.
20150128 * ‘Govt has failed to announce textile policy 2014-19 despite lapse of 8 months’:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) showed concern over 8-month delay in Textile Policy 2014-19, reflecting lack of interest of federal government in promoting and protecting textile industry.
APTMA Chairman S M Tanveer said delay in announcement of textile policy 2014-19 further suggested the government was not different from the previous one, which had allocated Rs 180 billion in Textile Policy 2009-14 whereas it disbursed only Rs 28 billion, which was 15 percent lower of the allocation.
He said both India and Bangladesh announced their textile policies and registered 2008-2013 a growth of 94 percent and 160 percent respectively in exports against merely 22 percent of Pakistan during 2009-14.
The world textile exports also grew by 45 percent on an average during the same period, he said.
Dubbing federal textile ministry as toothless and failed ministry, he said an undue delay in announcement of textile policy 2014-19 has already left Pakistan far behind against the region counterparts.
He said today 30 percent of the industry capacity was non-operational, exports were stagnant and no new investment has taken place since 2006.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150128 * Textile-specific subsidies in India make Pakistan industry uncompetitive: APTMA:
Group Leader APTMA Gohar Ejaz has cautioned the government that overloaded textile-specific subsidies in India has made Pakistan’s textile industry uncompetitive.
According to him, the weaving industry of Pakistan has come to halt by fifty percent due to the flooding of imported as well as smuggled cloth from regional countries.
He has also sought apology from the people of Pakistan for not creating jobs during last five years due to circumstances beyond industry control.
“The textile industry cannot fight with the government policies in the region,” he said and urged the government of Pakistan to enable the industry to compete regionally. read more.
20150128 * Merchants for resumption of foreign flights from Faisalabad:
The Pakistan Yarn Merchants Association Tuesday demanded immediate resumption of International flights from Faisalabad airport, refund of textile exporters and establishment of the Lahore High Court Bench at Faisalabad to give a push to development and progress of the city.
Talking to reporters, the association’s leaders Qaisar Shams Guccha, Sheikh Muhammad Akram Pasha and Adnan Zahid Butt said Faisalabad is the third big city of the country as well as a hub of textile in the country.
More than 300,000 power loom units, 1,500 sizing and dying units, 1,000 garments manufacturing, 2,000 textile exporting units besides 6 universities and thousands of commercial and industrial establishment were operating in the area.
20150128 * Textile mills mull filing Indian dumping complaint:
Textile manufacturers are set to file an anti-dumping complaint against Indian cotton and cotton-yarn imports with National Tariff Commission (NCT), an industry official said on Tuesday.
“We are all set to file an anti-dumping case against Indian traders with the National Tariff Commission (NTC),” said SM Tanveer, chairman of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA). “We have hired an Islamabad-based advocate Saifullah Khan.”
Industry official said yarn import from India rose by more than 100 percent to 26,000 tonnes in the last one year.
20150125 * Seed sellers: Registration of 100 companies may be cancelled:
A large number of cotton seed companies are likely to be deregistered by the Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department over their dubious activities and poor performance regarding provision of seeds.
To this effect, the Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department had constituted five committees for monitoring and evaluating the registered seed companies. These committees were constituted on the directives of a joint action group headed by the Punjab governor in a meeting held on December 26 last year at the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.
According to a source in the ministry, the registration of over 100 cotton seed companies are likely to be cancelled over their failure to meet the criteria.
20150125 * Import of cotton yarn: PYMA demands imposition of 15 percent RD:
Pakistan Yarn Merchants Association (PYMA) has demanded imposition of 15 percent regulatory duty (RD) on import of cotton yarn from India.
PYMA Zonel Chairman Muhammad Akram Pasha and Zonal Vice-Chairman Adnan Zahid Butt talking to newsmen here on Saturday said that during the six months in 2014, July to December total quantity of yarn imported from India was rupees 15.8 billion while in the same period of preceding year the total import was rupees 4.2 billion.
Thus within six months the import of Indian yarn quadrupled, impacting negatively on the local market.
read more. & read more.
20150124 * Exporters panicky at drop in textile exports:
Textile exports of Pakistan have witnessed a drop of 6.38 per cent in December last as compared to 2013, causing a panic among exporters.
Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) Chairman Sohail Pasha said the unprecedented energy shortage and lack of working capital were the prime reasons for the significant drop in exports despite GSP Plus status.
He apprehended export situation might worsen in the future as the textile industry in Punjab had been deprived of fuel and working capital.
Giving details, Mr Pasha said Pakistan exported textile products worth $1.175bn in December as against exports of $1.255bn in same month of previous year. Export of value-added items also witnessed negative growth as cotton cloth came down by 13.62pc, bedwear 11.54pc, towels 11.39pc and made-ups 10.04pc.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150124 * Textile exports PTEA expresses concern over 6.38 percent decline:
The Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has expressed deep concern over drop of 6.38 percent in textile exports in December 2014 despite the availability of GSP Plus benefit.
Unprecedented energy shortage and lack of working capital are the prime reasons behind the substantial drop in exports.
Commenting over the prevailing situation, Sohail Pasha, Chairman, and Rizwan Riaz, Vice Chairman of the PTEA, apprehended that export numbers in coming months might be even worse as the textile industry in Punjab has been deprived of its basic fuel and working capital and textile exports witnessed 6.38 percent decline in December over the same month of the outgoing fiscal.
Giving details, they said that the country exported textile goods worth $1.175 billion in December as against exports of $1.255 billion in the same month of previous year showing a big decline of 6.38 percent.
20150129 * Botswana textiles to US increased by over 50pc under AGOA:
Botswana companies have failed to take full advantage of AGOA because of lack of raw materials and complications arising from US rules of origin despite of that according to the statistics from US Department of Commerce, Botswana exports to US under the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) increased by 53 percent from $5.5 million (P52 million) to $8.5 million (P80 million) in the first 11 months (Jan-Nov) of the year, mainly on the back of increase in textile and apparel.
While Botswana is empowered to export 6,500 products under AGOA, textiles have benefited the most, being easy to establish with a relatively low cost of labour.
20150126 * Mexican authorities bully Bata workers:
In Mexico, a union leader was taken into custody last week and a further eight workers threatened with detention in an attempt by authorities to end workers’ two-and-a-half year struggle to stop footwear giant Bata outsourcing to home workers.
Epifanio García Carrillo, an executive committe member of the Sindicato Único de Trabajadores de Calzado Sandak, was taken into custody on 20 January.
The independent union represents workers at Bata’s subsidiary in Tlaxcala, where members have been blockading the Calzado Sandak plant since August 2012. Unionists want to prevent the company from removing machinery and illegally shifting production from the unionized plant to unregulated home-based workshops.
As if it wasn’t already hard enough for workers to stand up for their rights in a country known for its rampant violation of freedom of association and its perverted ‘protection contracts’, it seems that the authorities and the government are getting the courts on side to make the situation even harder.
This latest move sends a chilling message to workers: ‘if you occupy your factory, albeit legally, we will have you arrested’.
IndustriALL Global Union continues to lend its support.
UPDATE: After eight days in detention, Epifanio García Carrillo was released on 28 January. All charges against him have been dropped.