20150221 *Updated THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
21:01:17 local time CHINA
20150218 * Uniqlo Owner Cuts Hours at China Factories After Criticism:
Fast Retailing Co., Asia’s biggest clothing chain, said two of its China-based suppliers are reducing working hours following a report that criticized the factories making its Uniqlo garments for labor abuses.
Dongguan Tomwell Garment Co. has cut working hours of factory workers. Pacific Textiles Ltd. gave them one holiday per week and will introduce a system to reduce hours while keeping up production volumes next month, Yamaguchi, Japan-based Fast Retailing said today in a statement.
The efforts follow investigations taken after the Jan. 11 report from Students & Scholars Against Misbehavior, a Hong Kong-based non-governmental organization. Other steps include the ending of a system of fines, air quality and temperature checks, and training on labor rights for workers who aren’t represented by unions, Fast Retailing said, adding it’s still in a dialogue with SACOM on other issues it found contradicted with the NGO’s report.
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20150218 * Chinese textile industry struggles over slow moving global market conditions:
Slow moving global market conditions have hit China’s labor-intensive industries, especially garment and textile production.
As the textile industry struggles, cotton imports declined 44.9 percent year-on-year to 161,200 metric tons in January. This draws attentions to the challenges that domestic textile manufacturers face in a weak world market, according He Jingtong, a professor of international trade at Nankai University in Tianjin.
According to the General Administration of Customs, the nation’s fast-fading advantage in some of the sectors it once dominated are exports of garment and yarn products declined 12.4 and 7.6 percent to 96.86 billion yuan ($15.5 billion) and 59.47 billion yuan, respectively. Shoe exports dropped by 10.8 percent to 34.88 billion yuan,.
Even though the US economy stabilized, it could not compensate for the lethargic demand from the European Union, Japan and many emerging economies, said He.
Orders for garment and yarn products from developed markets have been dwindling since mid-2011.
20150220 * Top China cotton producer resists reforms in restive Xinjiang:
China’s top cotton producer, a quasi-military body formed 60 years ago to settle the far west Xinjiang area, is resisting a government policy that could force it to cut output in an industry employing hundreds of thousands in the restive region.
Beijing has pledged to end a costly stockpiling program that has artificially inflated cotton prices and in Xinjiang helped underpin an influx of Han Chinese workers, creating friction in an area home to the Muslim Uighur people.
Reluctant to accept the current weak market price, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) has asked the government to buy part of its crop and store it in state reserves, said two trade sources with knowledge of the issue.
21:01:17 local time PHILIPPINES
20150218-19 * We stand for workers’ right to strike!:
The Philippines’ genuine, militant and anti-imperialist labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno stands with the workers and peoples of the world in defending the right to strike.
We stand with the International Trade Union Confederation in upholding the right to strike.
We condemn big capitalists and pro-capitalist governments who want to render the International Labor Organization inutile when it comes to upholding workers’ right to strike.
They don’t want the ILO to be of any help to workers who hold strikes against the neoliberal austerity measures being implemented by pro-capitalist governments especially in Europe in response to the persisting global financial and economic crisis.
Even as we condemn attempts by big capitalists and pro-capitalist governments to any form of support for workers who hold strikes, we trust that workers will not be deterred by such attempts, even if they become successful.
We trust that workers will continue to use various forms of protests including strikes to fight for higher wages, an end to contractual employment, against illegal retrenchment, and for their trade-union rights.
We trust that workers will continue to exercise this most vital right until a day comes when this right’s existence and justness will become unquestioned by anyone.
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20150218 * Workers picket wage board, call for Cheap Labor President’s resignation:
Workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno held a picket in front of the government agency in Manila that’s in charge of the country’s regional wage boards to condemn the pressing down of wages amidst soaring prices and call for the resignation of Pres. Noynoy Aquino, whom they call “Cheap Labor President.”
The labor group said the creation of the regional wage boards under the National Wages and Productivity Commission through the enactment of the Wage Rationalization Law of 1989 is an attack on workers’ right to the minimum wage, and should be countered through the implementation of a National Minimum Wage in the amount of P16,000 monthly.
KMU also condemned Aquino for refusing to significantly increase the minimum wage amidst increases in fares for the MRT and LRT, in power and water rates, and in the prices of basic goods, saying not even the meager adjustments implemented yearly by the government was undertaken in 2014.
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20150215 * PH garments, hard goods exports seen rising by 15%:
Philippine garments and hard goods manufacturers expect their export earnings to increase by as much as 15 percent this year following the country’s recent inclusion in the European Union’s new generalized system of preferences (GSP+), the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. said.
The granting of GSP+ status to the Philippines will allow local companies to export more than 6,200 product lines at zero duty. These include some of the country’s most important exports such as processed fruit and foodstuffs; coconut oil; footwear; fish and textiles.
Robert Young, president of the Foreign Buyers Association of the Philippines, was quoted by Philexport as saying that the local garments and hard goods sectors were among those that would benefit from the GSP+ scheme as it would also cover footwear, garments and handicrafts.
“This means more business, more exports, more production and more labor generation for the Philippines,” Young said.
20150205 * Revival of garments sector forecast:
Trade officials are highly bullish of being able to revive the local garments sector over the next five years as more local firms start to take advantage of and benefit from the Philippines’ inclusion in the European Union’s new generalized system of preferences (GSP+) scheme.
Following a tour of the CS Garment Inc. factory in Cavite on Wednesday, Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo noted that the GSP+ scheme, which allows the Philippines to export more than 6,200 products to the EU at zero tariff, would especially be a big boost to the garments sector in terms of increasing exports, attracting new companies to tap local garments maker and setting up their own facilities in the country.
The garments sector used to be one of the strongest industries, employing some 600,000 workers. But its decline began in the mid-2000s following the lapse of the country’s exports quota of garments to the United States and Europe.
20150204 * Garments poised for ‘comeback’ with EU’s GSP+:
The Philippine garments industry is set to ride a “minor comeback,” with the Department of Trade and Industry and the European External Action Service expecting companies to start taking advantage of a zero-tariff scheme the European Parliament granted to Philippine exports in December.
20150114 * DTI promises aid in accessing GSP+:
The departement of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it is preparing an “aggressive game plan” to help Philippine exporters maximize the benefits of the European Union’s (EU) Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) tariff reduction scheme for developing countries.
20:01:17 local time CAMBODIA
20150220 * Senior Garment Workers Also Want Salary Raise:
Thousands of garment workers at one Phnom Penh factory, and about 100 more at another, protested Thursday over the new minimum wage set for the garment sector late last year, upset that those already earning higher salaries were overlooked.
After months of negotiations with unions and factories, the Labor Ministry decided in November to raise the monthly minimum wage for garment workers from $100 to $128. The new wage took effect in January, with the lowest paid workers picking up their first fattened pay checks this month.
About 3,000 workers from Quantum Clothing on Thursday demonstrated on factory-lined Veng Sreng Street demanding that those who were earning more than the minimum wage before January be given an extra $28 a month as well.
“We want the factory to give us another $28,” said Sok Sreymom, one of the protesting workers. “Without this money we earn very little. And we want the factory to give us more work to do so we can earn more money.”
Many factories have reduced overtime hours in recent months to cope with falling orders.
Chan Rath Keopisey, a local representative for the Free Trade Union, said the factory had agreed to provide more overtime and conceded to some other worker requests as well, including paid sick leave, but the workers were still deciding whether to continue protesting today.
20150220 * Chhouk Bandith still at large three years on:
Three female garment workers who were shot by former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith during a February 2012 factory demonstration called on the government yesterday to imprison the former politician, who has been on the run for three years as of today.
In June 2013, Bandith was sentenced by the Svay Rieng Provincial Court to 18 months imprisonment for firing his gun into a crowd of 6,000 workers protesting at the Kaoway Sports Factory in Bavet town’s Manhattan Special Economic Zone and subsequently injuring the three women.
He was also ordered to pay $9,500 in total compensation to the victims, but like the accused himself, the money is nowhere to be found, victims say.
“The three of us have been living for three years with injustice, so we would like to appeal to the government to seek to apprehend and jail Bandith to offer justice to us,” said Keo Near, who said she still suffers from the wounds she sustained from the shooting.
20150219 * Workers Want Safe Transport to Work:
After winning relief on housing, electricity and water rates, garment workers now want the government to act on transportation safety.
They complain they travel to work standing in the backs of open trucks like cattle.
“I really worry on my trip with the other workers to my workplace,” said Tong Soheang, a garment worker in Phnom Penh. She travels to work on a remok moto, basically a stretch tuk tuk, without the luxury connotations. For $10 a month, she gets a commute where the driver tries to make more money by dangerously overloading his trailer, and then speeding.
A recent Labor Ministry study indicates that half of drivers who transport garment workers do not have drivers licenses.
The Government National Social Security Fund (NSSF) insures garment workers during their work commutes.
“The NSSF is affiliated with some health centers to treat the workers if they have accidents, but it is hard [to get reimbursed] if injured garment workers go to private health centers that are not affiliated with the NSSF for treatment,” she added. “It goes very slowly. Sometimes the NSSF doesn’t seem to care for the garment workers.”
20150219 * Local Unions Join Right-to-Strike Campaign:
Three of the country’s largest unions on Wednesday added their voices to a global campaign urging member states of the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Governing Body, which Cambodia recently joined, to not revoke the option to go on strike as a fundamental right.
The call comes ahead of an ILO meeting in Geneva later this month between governments, unions and employers on the ILO’s Convention 87, which covers the right to organize and the right to freedom of association.
Cambodia, which ratified the convention in 1999, won a rotating seat on the 56-member Governing Body in June, giving it a vote on ILO policy for the next three years.
Amid mounting concerns that employers with ILO votes want to downgrade the right to strike, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) declared Wednesday a day of action in defense of the right.
In Phnom Penh, the ITUC’s local members—the Cambodian Labor Confederation, the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, and the Cambodian Confederation of Trade Unions—came together to publicly announce their support.
20150218 * Strike ends after factory concessions:
Striking workers at Kampong Speu province’s Hor Ling garment factory, where one staff member was allegedly struck with an electroshock weapon by a manager on Friday, will return to work today after bosses yesterday conceded to the majority of their demands.
About 200 workers have been striking since Saturday over poor working conditions at the factory and their Chinese boss’s alleged attack against 29-year-old former staff member Chouk Phally.
One of the workers, Kit Chenda, said the factory had agreed to 12 of the protesters’ 14 demands, including providing medical care and a canteen at the facility.
“The factory has already agreed, and they promised to improve the management so they are not pressuring workers or firing workers for no reason,” she said.
According to Chenda, the factory agreed to discuss unresolved points in June.
But the case of Phally, who says he fell unconscious after being shocked by one of the factory’s Chinese bosses, is being left to the local authorities, said Dam Chhun Hong, an administrative officer at the factory who attended yesterday’s negotiations.
20150219 * Three More Women Faint as Factory Reopens:
The Labor Ministry official in charge of garment factory faintings declared Wednesday’s reopening of a Svay Rieng province factory—where 100 workers fainted in the past week due to chemical fumes—a relative success, with only three more women collapsing while working.
The Taiwanese-owned You Li International factory was ordered shut after mass faintings on Friday and Monday, but was allowed to open on Wednesday on the condition that it improved ventilation.
Collective Union of Movement of Workers factory representative Pum Sokunthea said 10 additional fans were installed in the garment factory and that management had ensured its toilets—a source of fumes—were cleaned as promised.
“This morning we had three female workers continue fainting, but they were sent back to the hospital,” Mr. Sokunthea said by telephone Wednesday. “Today the situation was better than before.
“We had informed the factory of some problems before, but they never listened to us,” he said. “If they fixed the problem before, maybe there would not have been any problems occurring [now].”
20150218 * Factory to Reopen After Mass Faintings:
A garment factory in Svay Rieng province where more than 100 workers fainted in recent days invited six monks to drive out the building’s “bad spirits” on Tuesday and will reopen on Wednesday after agreeing to improve the facility’s ventilation.
Workers at the Taiwanese-owned You Li International factory, which has about 1,800 employees, collapsed after witnessing co-workers vomit while handling glue on two separate occasions on Friday and Monday.
The provincial labor department ordered the facility in Bavet City to close on Monday, citing “hot weather and a lack of oxygen” for the incidents.
On Tuesday, labor department deputy director Ou Sothoeun said the factory would reopen Wednesday and had a week to add more fans and clean the toilets to eliminate fumes.
20150217 * Women Push for Political Power:
Cambodian women are slowly penetrating politics, but they often find themselves sidelined into powerless positions.
“There are no female leaders of trade unions, even though female garment workers make up 90 percent of the system,” said Ou Ritthy, co-founder of Politikoffee, a public affairs youth group. “Women that have knowledge should be involved in politics in order to be models to other women.”
At the National Assembly, women hold 20 percent of the seats.
This number should grow to 30 percent in the 2018 election, argued Ros Sopheap, Executive Director of Gender and Development for Cambodia. She said women’s points of view are valuable for charting the nation’s future.
“Women provide a lot of benefit to society, but men never see their good points,” Ms. Sopheap said. “The culture of Cambodian society is still to discriminate and pressure women into certain lifestyles. Society doesn’t value women.”
20150217 * Garment Factory Shut After Mass Faintings:
Labor department officials in Svay Rieng province ordered a Taiwanese-owned factory shut on Monday after more than 100 workers collapsed in two separate incidents in less than a week.
Officials said 63 workers at You Li International (Cambodia) Garment Co in Bavet collapsed on Friday, and another 41 on Monday.
Union officials blamed the blackouts on chemical odors at the factory.
The factory employs about 350 workers to produce undergarments for the Japanese market. Its management said the closure is only temporary, and it will install additional fans and remedy odors emanating from the toilets.
Last year saw a surge in fainting incidents at Cambodian garment factories. More than 1,800 garment workers collapsed while at work in 2014, compared to 823 in 2013, according to the National Social Security Fund.
to read in BUSINESS BRIEFS.
20150220 * Exports to the US up only 2.5% last year:
Cambodian exports to the US increased just 2.5 per cent last year to $2.84 billion, up from $2.77 billion in 2013, according to data released by the US Census Bureau.
Nguon Meng Tech, director general of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, said the slow growth rate of Cambodian exports to the US was not a great surprise as the rate had remained steady for the last few years. But a drop in garment exports that he attributed to unrest in the industry last year was a worry, he said.
“This is at least lucky that we still get positive exports due to more export products available, especially rice,” he said.
Separate data released by the Garment Manufacturing Association in Cambodia (GMAC) showed garments – the Kingdoms major export to the US – dropped 13 per cent in the first 11 months of 2014 to $1.59 billion, compared with $1.85 billion in the same period in 2013.
GMAC officials declined to comment yesterday.
20150219 * BetterFactories Media Updates 19 February 2015, Three More Women Faint as Factory Reopens:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-02-19 Three More Women Faint as Factory Reopens
2015-02-19 Local Unions Join Right to Strike Campaign
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
21:01:17 local time MALAYSIA
20150219 * Glove Factory On Fire, Losses Estimated At RM2.2 Million:
A factory which manufactured gloves and cotton rags at the Small and Medium Industrial Area in Taman Makmur, Lunas, was partially destroyed in a fire yesterday, with losses estimated at RM2.2 million.
Kulim fire and rescue station chief, Senior Assistant Superintendent Ghazali Mahmud said the fire broke out about 7.30 pm and 22 firemen arrived at the scene about 15 minutes later after being alerted of the incident.
The firemen, assisted by 17 firemen from Hi Tech Park fire and rescue station and 38 volunteer firemen from Kulim and Seberang Perai, took about two hours to control the fire, he told Bernama when contacted today.
20:01:17 local time THAILAND
20150220 * Industry warned on labour:
Technology urged to deal with shortage
The labour shortage in the industrial sector is expected to be more severe over the next few years as many businesses are still labour-intensive, while the Thai education system has failed to produce skilled workers to meet rising demand, say the Industry Ministry and business leaders.
Udom Wongviwatchai, director of the Office of Industrial Economics, forecast Thailand would need to import more than 1 million migrant workers over the next few years to meet rising demand, especially in labour-intensive industries that utilise low-skill workers.
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19:31:17 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150219 * Most foreign investors evasive on human rights commitment: report:
Amid human rights concerns linked to the investment surge in Myanmar, too few companies publicly discuss their human rights policies and due diligence efforts, according to the findings of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre on February 17.
Only a handful of foreign companies investing in Myanmar were able to point to substantive actions when invited to publicly respond to questions on their human rights commitments in Myanmar, the UK and US-based centre reports after reaching out to over 100 companies through its “Myanmar Foreign Investment Tracking Project.”
The centre said only 57 out of 108 companies approached responded, and only 24 of them referred to human rights policies with respect to their investments or activities in Myanmar.
Even fewer described undertaking due diligence efforts prior to investing.
These findings echo concerns raised by local communities and human rights organizations that human rights issues are not being adequately addressed as foreign companies invest in resource-rich Myanmar.
20150219 * Amnesty issues stark human rights warning on Myanmar to UN:
Myanmar’s backsliding on human rights reforms – only a few months before the general elections – underscores the necessity of the UN Human Tights Council to adopt a strong resolution on the situation of human rights in the country and to extend their mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, according to Amnesty International on February 18.
The international rights group has just issued a written statement to be presented at the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council to be held from March 2 to 27 in New York.
The NGO says Human Rights Council resolutions on the situation of human rights in Myanmar and the mandate of the Special Rapporteur have been critical to demonstrating the international community’s support for human rights in Myanmar and have made a positive contribution towards improving the human rights situation there.
20150211-18 * Myanmar authorities warns of taking action against violent striking workers in Yangon:
Myanmar’s Yangon regional government has warned of taking action against violent striking workers in some industrial zones in north of the city blocking the entrance of some foreign-invested factories, official report said Wednesday.
Demanding more payment, the striking workers in Shwepyitha and Hlaingtharya Industrial Zones have blocked the entrance of the foreign-invested factories, preventing both other workers to return to work and employers and staff to go outside the factories and stopped the run of container vehicles, causing loss to both the workers and the employers, a statement of the Yangon regional government was quoted as saying.
The incident is taking place amid negotiation between the employers and the workers, sponsored by the Labor Ministry.
However, the series of workers’ issues have impacted on foreign investors’ deal for orders, factory employees said.
The foreign employers are urging the authorities to help reasonably settle the issues.
The two industrial zones are the biggest ones in Yangon.
to read. & to read. & read more.
20150219 * Myanmar an option for Indian textile entrepreneurs:
Favourable government policies, low wages, shorter sea route and growing garment exports make Myanmar an attractive option for Indian textile entrepreneurs, says Rajesh Kumar Shah
The garment sector in Myanmar has grown enormously since the lifting of economic sanctions by Western nations in 2012, after a gap of 15 years. Today, it employs over 250,000 people and accounts for 10 per cent of export revenues earned by the country.
In 2014, Myanmar’s garment exports were estimated at US$ 1.5 billion in terms of FOB value, which has doubled in the last three years alone. The National Export Strategy (of Myanmar) wants to increase the country’s garment exports to about $4 billion by 2020.
Like Vietnam, Myanmar too is not self-sufficient in raw materials and imports many of its garment sector requirements. Second, unlike Bangladesh which has strong knitwear and woven apparel segments, most of the apparel exported by Myanmar are non-knitwear.
On the other hand, India is rich in cotton, and manufactures various kinds of yarn and fabric in large quantities, which are both supplied to the domestic industry and exported. This presents an opportunity for India to export its textiles, and also to invest in the Southeast Asian country for setting up textile and garment manufacturing units.
18:46:17 local time NEPAL
20150219 * Trade unions against removing ‘right to strike’ from ILO convention:
At a time when the ruling parties are calling for a moratorium on all types of banda and strikes, three trade unions affiliated with the ruling parties and the main opposition party are rallying their support in favor of the international demand of the trade unions to uphold the provision of ´rights to strike´ in an ILO (International Labor Organization) convention.
Organizing a press meet in the capital on Wednesday, Nepal Affiliate Council of International Trade Union Confederation said that the dispute raised by the employer party in the ILO should be now referred to the International Court of Jurist (ICJ) for the settlement.
The employer group in ILO has been denying the existence of any ´right to strike´ in the ILO Convention 87 on freedom of association since 2012.
The employer group is also arguing that the interpretation jurisprudence of the convention also does not fall under ILO.
19:01:17 local time BANGLADESH
20150219 * 9- 11 burnt in N’ganj spinning mill fire:
At least nine people received various degrees of burn injuries as a fire gutted a spinning mill at Kanchpur in Rupganj of Narayanganj early Thursday.
The injured were rushed to the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, our correspondent reported.
The fire might have been originated from a gas pipe leakage at New Dhaka Nawab Ali Spinning Mill at around 2:15am, fire service and civil defence sources said.
Four fire fighting units rushed to the spot and doused the blaze at around 3:00am, they said.
The financial losses could not be estimated immediately.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150218 * EU team favours doing more for RMG workers’ rights:
A visiting delegation of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights has urged local RMG manufacturers to do more for ensuring workers rights and to continue progress in reaching at a sustainable level.
The team made the call at a meeting with the leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), International Labour Organisaion (ILO) and representatives from Bangladesh Labour Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) held at EU mission office in Dhaka yesterday.
“Lots of things are yet to do to ensure labor rights in the RMG sector,” BGMEA President Shahidullah Azim told the Dhaka Tribune, quoting Cristian Dan Preda, team leader and vice president of the human rights sub-committee of the EU parliament.
20150218 * Company in Bangladesh Agrees to Union Peace:
After wielding intense pressure against a Bangladeshi apparel maker over assaults on union leaders outside its factories, Western companies have agreed to resume business with that manufacturer, on the condition that it stay committed to halting further violence and make peace with its labor unions.
VF, which makes North Face and Nautica, and PVH, the parent of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, as well as Gap, El Corte Ingles and other companies, had cut off or threatened to cut off orders from the company, the Azim Group, last year over the incidents at two of its factories in Chittagong.
But now, after weeks of negotiations, these companies have agreed to resume business with Azim because it has promised to recognize and bargain with the unions at the two factories where the violence occurred.
20150218 * European action plan on the Bangladesh Accord on Fire & Building Safety:
On 12 February, more than 40 trade union representatives from the European garment and retail companies that have signed the Accord gathered in Brussels to discuss how they can provide concrete support and further protection for their colleagues in Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh Accord on Fire & Building Safety, signed after the Rana Plaza disaster that cost the lives of over 1,100 garment in April 2013, is a landmark in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It is the first time that trade unions and garment brands worldwide have come together in the monitoring of a legally-binding instrument of this kind.
The Accord has six key components:
- A 5-year legally binding agreement between brands and trade unions to ensure a safe working environment in the Bangladeshi ready-made garment industry
- An independent inspection programme supported by brands in which workers and trade unions are involved
- Public disclosure of all factories, inspection reports and corrective action plans (CAP)
- A commitment by signatory brands to ensure sufficient funds are available for remediation and to maintain sourcing relationships
- Democratically-elected health and safety committees in all factories to identify and act on health and safety risks
- Worker empowerment through an extensive training programme, a complaints mechanism and the right to refuse unsafe work.
The meeting in Brussels explored the pressure that European worker representatives in European Works Councils, local works councils and trade union structures can exert on their own European employer for fulfilling commitments towards workers at the factories of their suppliers and subcontractors, as laid down in the Accord.
20150220 * No plan to enact CSR law: Chunnu:
State minister for labour and employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu Thursday said there is no plan to enact a Corporate Social Responsibility law to bring the corporate sector under legal bindings as this is a new concept.
He also said it is difficult to keep the child labourer out of work in the present socio-economic condition of the country, especially from the largest informal sector like agriculture.
“Some child rights workers have demanded a law on the CSR policy for children which at the moment I think would be something harsh for the companies to follow,” said Mr Haque, adding the policy is a ‘primary’ step of toward enacting a law.
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20150219 * 17 new economic zones okayed:
Japan to get special economic zone at Sripur, China at Anwara
The government on Wednesday approved a proposal for setting up 17 economic zones, including three private ones, to attract both local and foreign investments to boost the country’s economy.
The decision was made at the second meeting of the governing board of Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority held at the Prime Minister’s Office in the city with BEZA governing board chairman and prime minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
20150220 * Textile and apparel sector wants spl credit support:
Stakeholders of the country’s textile and apparel sector have asked for providing special credit support and enhancing the existing cash incentive to help exporters recoup their losses caused due to the prevailing political stalemate.
Their other demands included suspension of interest on ‘forced loan’ during the period and transfer of all other credits into a blocked account for two years without any interest.
They also sought 35 per cent reduction of insurance premium to safeguard trade and business during the current situation and fixing of lorry risk insurance rate at 0.02 per cent.
20150220 * EP for unity of democratic bodies to restore peace in BD:
Expressing continued concern about forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and state of freedom of expression in Bangladesh, the visiting European Parliament (EP) delegation has called for consolidating democratic institutions to restore peace and stability in the country.
“… We need Bangladesh as a strong partner. The respect for human rights and democracy will be an essential component for Bangladesh to realise its full potential in order to reach its declared goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2021,” said head of the delegation in a press statement issued on Thursday.
Peace and stability should not be restored at the expense of civil and political rights. Freedom of expression is a fundamental pillar of a pluralistic and vibrant democracy, the statement also said.
The EU Parliament delegates also met trade union and business leaders, environmental activists, representatives of local and international civil society, members of minority groups, senior political leaders, the Speaker of Parliament, and members of the government.
They also visited an RMG factory in Dhaka and exchanged views with Accord representatives, trade union leaders and industry stakeholders to gain insight into implementation of the Sustainability Compact and to assess labour conditions.
While welcoming the progress achieved through inspections and consultations, they called for further support to Accord, and working towards a supportive environment to ensure effective rights to collective bargaining, and full implementation of the amended Labour Law, including in the EPZs.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150219 * Violence worries EU delegation:
The visiting European Union (EU) parliamentary delegation has expressed concern over the ongoing violent political situation in Bangladesh.
The concern was expressed at a meeting held by the EU delegation with civil society members and representatives of different UN bodies in Bangladesh at the EU office in Dhaka yesterday evening.
Coming out of the meeting, the EU team did not say anything to journalists.
While talking to reporters, Transparency International, Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said, “They [EU team] are concerned about the overall situation. They wanted to know how the crisis can be ended.”
Replying to a question, he said, “I don’t think the delegation will put any pressure on the government to hold dialogue. Rather, they are thinking of finding out a way for solution [to the crisis], or finding another way they can play a role.”
He said the team was mainly concerned about the progress in implementing the government’s promises to improve the working conditions in the RMG sector following the Rana Plaza tragedy.
The team visited a garment factory yesterday and expressed their satisfaction over the improvement of the factory’s working conditions, he added.
read more. & read more.
20150218 * ‘EU team not concerned about HR situation’:
The visiting EU parliamentary delegation did not express any concerns about the human rights situation in Bangladesh, claimed State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam today.
Shahriar was speaking to journalists after the European Parliament’s sub-committee on human rights met him at the foreign ministry in Dhaka.
“We told the delegation that the law enforcers have been kept alert as part of the root level security measures taken by the government…They have understood that the people of Bangladesh have rejected the ongoing violence,” Shahriar said.
The state minister said the delegation was mainly concerned about the progress in implementing the government’s promises following the Rana Plaza tragedy.
They visited a garment factory yesterday and expressed their satisfaction over the improvement in the factory, he added.
20150219 * Business leaders to seek remedy from court:
Efforts underway to file writ petition
The business community will go to court next week, seeking a remedy from the ongoing political impasse that has severely affected day-to-day businesses activities.
“We are losing money, losing business,” said Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, a former president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
BGMEA is leading the move to file a writ petition with the High Court, seeking security from arson attacks — to ensure a smooth transportation of goods vehicles.
The move comes after some trucks and covered vans have been vandalised or burnt in arson attacks.
The garment makers and textile millers are facing challenges in transporting goods between the factories and the port due to the political crisis.
20150218 * Blockade pushes workers, small traders to the brink:
Workers of small and medium factories, shops, hotels, restaurants and transport sector are suffering economic hardship because of delay in payment of their wages amid a protracted blockade enforced by the opposition alliance.
Factory owners and traders said sluggish business caused by disruption of supply chain and fall in both demands and production was forcing them to delay payment to their workers.
Workers’ leaders told New Age that the owners of small and medium factories and wholesale and retail shops were delaying payment to their workers or paying them partly on the pretext of sluggish business.
Workers and small traders were already struggling to meet their daily expenses and many of them who remained unpaid for about two months have been forced to spend from their savings, they said.
20150217 * Political turmoil hits RMG sector:
Managing Director and Chairman of Hameem Group AK Azad, also former president of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), said that the readymade garment (RMG) sector is at the highest risk and will collapse due to the ongoing political turmoil in the country.
He also claimed that the order from the buyers has decreased 40 percent in January from the regular flow.
Expressing apprehension, the former business leader said many factories will be closed if the present situation continues.
Slowly but surely RMG sector is going backward in our country while India, Vietnam and other developing countries are reaching to a positive growth in this sector, AK Azad said.
He also said that last year the economic growth of RMG sector reached to 11 percent while the growth has fallen to 2 percent this year.
20150218 * Blockade disrupts cotton supply:
Production at most of the country’s textile units has fallen significantly following a supply disruption of raw cotton due mainly to the countrywide blockade and shutdowns, industry insiders said.
The production in textile sector largely depends on imported cotton, they said adding a significant quantity of the raw materials remains stuck up at Chittagong Port in absence of adequate transportation facilities.
Due to the short supply of raw cotton the overall production in the textile sector declined by around 20 to 25 per cent over the last one month.
Sources concerned said most of the textile mills are facing short supply of raw cotton following transportation disruption caused by the prolonged blockade and hartals.
According to the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), the platform for cotton importers and spinners, the textile manufacturers have imported 4.31 million bales (each bale equals to 480 pounds) of cotton in 2014 from several countries including the US, India, Pakistan, Australia, Uzbekistan and other countries.
20150218 * Garment makers demand fair price from EU retailers:
Garment makers yesterday asked European retailers to pay prices which are proportionate with the rising costs of production at factory level.
The exporters raised the issue of fair price at a meeting with the visiting European Union parliamentary delegation in Dhaka.
The cost of production has been increasing by the year at the factories but the prices for per piece of garment remained the same for years or even declined in some cases, Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said after the meeting.
After the industrial disasters of Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza collapse, a lot of progress has taken place in workplace safety and compliance in the garment sector, Islam said at the meeting.
The delegation also wanted to know about the status of factory inspection by Accord and Alliance. Both the agencies have completed their primary inspection of about 1,700 factories in September last year.
Now the Accord and Alliance are monitoring the progresses made on the feedback given after the primary round of inspections.
The EU is an important trading partner for Bangladesh as 60 percent of the country’s exports are destined to this bloc every year.
Officials from different ministries and the US embassy in Dhaka were also present at the meeting.
20150218 * Tanneries to be shut down if not relocated in time:
Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu yesterday said the government will shut down tanneries in the capital’s Hazaribagh if any of them should fail to relocate to Savar Tannery Estate by June next year.
Allotment of plots to those factories will also be cancelled, he told parliament replying to a question from an Awami League lawmaker.
The government will take tougher measures to improve the environment in the capital, added the minister.
The new tannery estate, said Amu, has been set up on 199.40 acres of land in Savar and Keraniganj. The construction of all the infrastructures except for a Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) and a dumping yard has already been completed.
20150217 * Hazaribagh tanneries to be shut if not shifted to Savar: Amu:
Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu today told the parliament that the government would shut down the tanneries at Hazaribagh in Dhaka if they are not shifted to the Savar Tannery Estate in time.
Moreover, allocation of plots against the name of the factories will be cancelled, he said while replying to a tabled question from an Awami League lawmaker.
“The government will take strict steps to improve the capital’s environment and for public interest,” the minister said.
The tannery estate has been set up in Savar and Keraniganj on 199.40 acres of land to shift the Hazaribagh tanneries, he added.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
20150221 * Italian fashion house to pay to victims’ fund:
Italian fashion retailer Benetton has agreed to pay into an international compensation fund for victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in which 1,138 people died.
The move follows pressure from campaigners who had accused the company of dragging its heels over financial aid to survivors and families of victims in the run up to the second anniversary of the disaster on April 23.
More than a million people signed a petition on the campaigning website Avaaz urging Benetton to pay up or face embarrassing protests during next week’s Milan fashion week.
Benetton said how much it would put into the Rana Plaza Trust Fund was still being worked out in collaboration with a “globally-recognised third party” which was seeking to establish the principles underlying how much international companies who used the factory as a supplier should pay.
20150221 * Benetton bows to Rana Plaza pay up campaign:
Italian fashion retailer Benetton has agreed to pay into an international compensation fund for victims of the Rana Plaza building collapse at Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka in which 1,138 people died.
The move follows pressure from campaigners who had accused the company of dragging its heels over financial aid to survivors and families of victims in the run up to the second anniversary of the disaster on April 23.
More than a million people signed a petition on the campaigning web site Avaaz urging Benetton to pay up or face embarrassing protests during next week’s Milan fashion week.
20150220 * benetton has promised to pay into the Rana Plaza compensation fund:
20150219 * Global Unions say to Benetton ‘Pagare’/Pay Up!:
Countdown to second Rana Plaza anniversary: Benetton pay up on Rana Plaza compensation!
Benetton is the only major international brand confirmed to have sourced clothing from Rana Plaza which has not paid a cent into the compensation fund for victims.
IndustriALL Global Union and its sister global union UNI are leading demands for Benetton to do the right thing and pay into the fund.
The fund is US $9 million short of the US $30 million needed to fully compensate the victims, as the countdown to the second anniversary of the tragedy on 24 April begins.
Pressure is mounting on the Italian clothing giant Benetton after one million consumers signed an Avaaz petition calling on the company to pay compensation to victims’ families and the survivors of the deadly Rana Plaza factory collapse.
18:31:17 local time INDIA
20150219 * Cotton farmers stage demonstration:
Farmers staged a demonstration here on Wednesday urging the government to open a permanent office here, ban Bt cotton and enact a Cotton Control Act.
R. Raja Chidambaram, State secretary, Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam, who led the agitation, said Cotton Corporation of India (CCI), which would procure cotton here on February 23, should provide more than the market price along with incentive.
The Central Government should permit them to export cotton after announcing the price since traders and mill owners purchase cotton from farmers at less price and export it at higher price. It should also take steps to procure cotton for a higher price this year.
20150218 * Weavers oppose raid in Salem:
Officials say the raids will continue in power loom units
Over 500 weavers surrounded officials of the State Handloom Enforcement Wing, Salem Zone, when they raided a power loom unit here on Tuesday. The police had to intervene to release them.
A team led by Assistant Handlooms Enforcement Officer K. Selvaraj, along with two women officials, raided the unit belonging to Chitturaj and found pure silk saris being produced there.
Mr. Selvaraj said that according to rules, 11 items, including pure silk saris, should not be produced in power looms.
20150218 * Record for implementing workplace management:
When the small group of workers and employees of Sri Jayajothi and Company Limited, Rajapalayam, began to implement a few simple rules for effective workplace management from 2005, they did not realise the positive impact it would have years later.
The company was conferred the ‘model company award’ by Japanese foundation ABK-AOTS for 2014 for the highest score in the country with regard to quality, workplace efficiency and organisational excellence.
They were in the city to address a session on ‘5S effective workplace management’ at Productivity Week celebrations organised by Madurai Productivity Council on Tuesday.
“Despite most of our workers having limited education, they initiated these principles for workplace efficiency by studying their own departments and coming up with ideas which would help save time, money and resources and improve production and efficiency,” said D. Venkadesan, General Manager.
20150218 * Garment trader arrested:
Crime Branch officials on Tuesday arrested S. Sudalaimuthu (37), a native of Tirunelveli, on charges of duping two garment suppliers to the tune of Rs. 40 lakh.
Inspector (Crime Branch) K. Sunderrajan said that the accused was arrested from Dharapuram for duping S. Maruthacahalam and Mani Kutty, the garment suppliers based in Tirupur.
In 2013, the accused had paid a minimal advance and purchased huge volumes of garments worth Rs.22 lakh from Maruthachalam, and another consignment worth Rs. 18 lakh from Mani Kutty.
Though he had taken away the full load, he did not fulfil the payment obligations in the trade and absconded, the Crime Branch officials said.
20150219 * Export of ready-made garments goes up:
Exports of ready-made garments from the country in January this year has increased by 15%over the exports made in December 2014 and showed an increase of 9.21% compared to the exports in January 2014.
According to latest official statistics, Rs. 9,869 crore worth of ready-made garments from country were exported in January this year.
But the experts and entrepreneurs feel that the progress is far from satisfactory considering the staggering strides made by China in the global textile arena.
“China this year eyes $300 billion worth exports of textiles and clothing with a growth rate of five per cent.
But our overall annual exports of ready-made garments presently is just $15 billion, which is only equivalent to that five per cent margin of growth which China plans to achieve,” pointed out Prabhu Damodaran, a market analyst and secretary of Texpreneurs Forum formed of different stakeholders in the textile industry.
Though the global consumption share of apparels made of man-made fibres had been inching to 65 per cent, cotton remains the main raw material for the production of ready-made garments from prominent clusters like Tirupur constituting about 85 per cent of the total volume.
20150217 * India to continue sops for textile exporters despite US demand to do away immediately:
Washington argues that New Delhi no longer qualifies to give concessions for textile exporters under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules as it attained export competitiveness in the textile sector eight years back.
But India has decided to continue with export sops for the sector in the new fiscal and, probably, the following two years as well.
Despite the US demanding that such incentives be done away with immediately. India will stick to its stand, the Centre will not feel compelled to withdraw export incentives for the textile sector while announcing the Budget (for 2015-16) or the Foreign Trade Policy.
As per WTO’s Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, export subsidies can be given only by countries that have not attained export competitiveness, which is defined as attaining a 3.25 percent share in world trade for a product for two consecutive years.
Members get eight years to phase out their export subsidies once they reach export competitiveness.
20150220 * ‘Pollution charge has hurt our reputation’:
The leather industry is under a cloud after the Ranipet accident. M Rafeeque Ahmed, chairman of Council For Leather Exports, says course correction is underway
The recent Ranipet incident (where 10 workers drowned in the toxic sludge of a collapsed common effluent treatment plant) draws attention to the need for closer regulation of tanneries. What measures are enforced or being planned by the industry to prevent recurrence?
Post Ranipet, the industry has woken up. In a meeting last week, the All India Skin and Hide Tanners Mer chants Association vol untarily proposed to set up our own expert com mittee. We will have a body comprising environ mental experts, with a background in leather pollution control, inspect all 400 fully operational tanner ies and common effluent treatment plants in the state so lacunae can be highlight ed. We will ask violators to make necessary changes or close down. The team will start auditing in the first week of March. All our tanneries observe safe disposal practices.All these places are regularly monitored by the pollution control board and our own association’s auditors.
Who is to blame for the accident? TNPCB? Tanneries? Treatment plant operator?
20150217 * The march down south:
Though migration of labour from the east has helped revive the plantations in southern India,questions remain on the long-term implications, Vishwanath Kulkarni reports
As the harvest season starts in Coorg, Karnataka, coffee planter MC Kariappa has a lot of issues to contend with — productivity, weather and, the biggest worry of all in recent times, paucity of labourers.
So when a dozen labourers from Assam landed at the gates of his coffee plantation at Madapur in January, at the start of the harvest season, Kariappa heaved a sigh of relief.
Though not adept at, or trained to work in coffee plantations, these migrant labourers -– both men and women — proved useful for Kariappa in harvesting Arabicas, the mild and premium variety of coffee. “Some of them are as good as the local workers, picking up to 100kg of ripened coffee a day,” says Kariappa, relieved that the harvest this year went off smoothly.
Migrant workers are now a common sight in Coorg’s coffee plantations, especially during the harvest season, as the country’s key coffee-growing region has been facing an acute shortage of labour over the past few years.
Traditionally, plantations in Coorg and Chikmagalur attracted migrant workers from the drought-prone regions of North Karnataka and the plains of neighbouring Mysuru. This pool of labour now increasingly prefers urban centres such as Bengaluru, as jobs in malls, petrol bunks and garment sector are better paying.
There is less toil too, compared to work in the plantations.
“Growth in the South is creating employment opportunities. And migration is a healthy sign for the economy,” says Gopinath Parakuni, founder and General Secretary of CiviDep India, a non-governmental organisation working among labourers in the plantation, construction and garment sectors.
Workers moved to the plains and the knitwear cluster of Tirupur began to emerge as a hot destination for jobseekers back then.
18:31:17 local time SRI LANKA
20150219 * A nod for private sector wage hike:
The National Labour Council has agreed to increase the salaries of workers in the Private Sector parallel to the salary increase in the public sector, Cabinet Spokesperson Minister Rajitha Senaratne said today addressing the weekly Cabinet Briefing held at the Government Information Department on Thursday (19).
The Government has called on the National Labour Council to increase the salaries of workers in the Private Sector parallel to the salary increase in the Public Sector.
Accordingly it has been agreed to increase the private Sector salary by 15% – 35% according to profits and to increase the minimum salary level to Rs.10,000.
The Minister pointed out that although the privater sector salary increase are covered by Wage Board, the shops and hotels does not come under the Wage Board. However, the Minister said that their salaries too should be increased by 15%.
20150218 * Sri Lanka Marxist party trade union to commence agitation campaign based on seven issues:
The trade union wing affiliated to Sri Lanka’s Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), the National Trade Union Centre (NTUC) today vowed action against the government based on seven issues faced by public, private and estate sector workers in the country.
JVP Politburo member and President of the National Trade Union Centre (NTUC), K.D. Lalkantha called on the government to take urgent steps to address the issues faced by the working masses.
The seven issues highlighted by the NTUC is to include all allowances paid to the public sector workers to their basic salary next month, introduce legislation to increase the salaries of private sector workers, grant permanent employment to manpower workers, legalize the Cost of Living index calculated by the Census and Statistics Department, increase the daily wages of estate sector workers, grant duty free permits to public sector officials to purchase motorbikes and to immediately inform banks of the new interest rates for deposits made by senior citizens.
20150220 * Paradigm shift in apparel sector imminent: stakeholder:
The apparel industry will be in for a shock in the near future, and all stakeholders would be in safe hands only if they change their mindsets and focus on disruptive concepts, according to a highly regarded figure in the industry.
“If it’s my money, I would not invest a single dollar on traditional assets. I’ll use the assets I’ve invested in; land, machines, processes etc. I’ll flog it, treat it as a cash cow and milk as much cash as I can out of the system. This model is dead, there’s no doubt about it,” Brandix Lanka Limited Director Udena Wickramasooriya told a recent event organized by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.
He said that the apparel industry has been stagnant since the 1940s, with no innovative steps taken. Jeans, shirt or suit designs have generally remained similar, while the quality has dramatically dropped, and the prices rising to twice of what is reasonable, even after accounting for inflation.
He compared apparel with the photography industry. The number of photographs taken had recorded steady growth over the decades till the early 2000s while the cost of processing a photograph dropped.
18:01:17 local time PAKISTAN
20150219 * Law to ensure labourers’ safety soon:
Provincial Minister for Labour and Human Resources Raja Ashfaq Sarwar has said the Punjab Occupational Safety and Health Council, after a consultation with all the stakeholders, will give a final shape to an effective mechanism and laws for ensuring the protection of life of labourers and saving them from accidents in factories, kilns, stone grinding units besides trade and commercial institutions.
A sub-committee, comprising District Labour Officers, representatives of Industries and Finance Departments, is being constituted for the selection of new employers and employees in the Minimum Wages Board.
He stated this while presiding over the meetings of the Occupational Safety and Health Council and Minimum Wages Board at the Civil Secretariat on Wednesday.
20150218 * Short circuit: Fire guts shoe factory in Rawalpindi:
Fire broke out at a single storey commercial building in Rawalpindi gutting a shoe factory in the jurisdiction of the New Town Police Station on Tuesday.
The factory located in Khayaban-e-Sir Syed and owned by 47-year-old Gul Daraz, manufactured plastic shoes.
“Apparently the fire broke out due to a short circuit that engulfed the whole factory in no time,” said Sajid Khan, a worker in the factory. The building filled in with smoke and the fire made it difficult for them to shift anything, he added.
The presence of plastic shoes and chemicals in the factory made matters worse.
20150218 * ILO, PTEA sign partnership agreement:
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) have forged a unique partnership to promote decent work in garment and textile industry in Faisalabad.
The signing ceremony was held at Islamabad on Tuesday.
Dignitaries from the government, President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry(FPCCI) Mian Muhammad Adress, representatives of employers and workers organisations, representatives of diplomatic missions in Pakistan including the German Embassy and the Royal Embassy of Netherlands participated amongst other bilateral development partners.
The Partnership Agreement includes a comprehensive framework on improving industrial relations through training and compliance with International Labour Standards including occupational safety and health, wages, nature of employment, discrimination and other forms of mal-practices.
read more. & read more.
20150217 * Violation of minimum wage law:
In the 2014-15 budget, the federal government and the provincial governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have raised the minimum wage from Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 per month for unskilled workers.
Sindh province has also raised its minimum wage from Rs 10,000 to Rs 11,000 per month. But Balochistan province has decided to retain its earlier minimum wage of Rs 9,000 per month, which was raised in 2012.
In Pakistan, however, minimum wages are determined by the Minimum Wage Boards constituted under the Ordinance 1961, which applies to all industrial establishments’ employees whether skilled, unskilled or apprentices, and even domestic workers, but the Ordinance has been dishonoured by most industries.
20150220 * GSP Plus Textile industry for making best use of facility: APTMA chief:
Chairman APTMA S M Tanveer has said the textile industry of Pakistan is focused on making the best use of GSP Plus facility from the EU, which is an evident from the fact that country’s exports to EU have increased by 29 percent during January to November 2014.
He was speaking after welcoming the Ms Jean Lambert, Chair, Green/European Free Alliance and EU Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark along with other members of the mission at the APTMA Punjab office. Group leader APTMA Gohar Ejaz, besides the APTMA members, was also present on the occasion.
20150219 * Textile industry: APBUMA chief hails government policy:
Hailing the Government decision to allocate Rs 65 billion for TISF (Textile Investment Support Fund) and enhancing the export target from $13 billion to 26 billion, Khawaja Jalal-uddin Roomi Chairman of All Pakistan Bedsheet and upholstery Manufacturers Association (APBUMA) said, while addressing the members of the association.
He said that owing to prudent economic policies initiated by the PML-N govt in all sectors of economy including the textile industrial sectors and as a result of it the textile exports during the period of July-January 2014-15 increased by 10% generally, while exports in all value added categories showed higher increased bed wear by 20%, hosiery and readymade garments by 10%.
20150219 * Ministry starts textile policy’s implementation:
According to officials, textile officials held first meeting with Ministry of Planning on Tuesday and meeting with Ministry of Finance is expected in next week.
In next five years we will spend around Rs65 billion out of which around Rs25 billion would be provided by Planning Commission, in order to discuss the financing and the execution of the textile policy plans, we had a meaningful meeting with Planning Commission officials, said an official.
According to the new policy, Planning Commission would cater for Rs 23.
40 billion through PC-1 to be allocated for skill development of handloom workers, textile exhibition, hand-knotted carpets, hand-knotted carpet training, SME, trainings, product development & innovation fund, skill development programme, textile universities, world textile centre, weaving city, mega and minor cluster development and better cotton initiative.
20150218 * Efforts to promote industries:
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed has said that the government is making all-out efforts to promote export-based industries.
During a visit to the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) head office, the minister emphasised the need for reviving sick industrial units for quick results.
The minister said that all stakeholders are being taken on board for an early resolution of issues and for framing a workable policy and strategy.
20150218 * UK minister hails perks to textile sector:
Federal Textile Minister Abbas Khan Afridi has said that Pakistan will fully avail the preferential market access for textile products under the GSP Plus scheme.
During a meeting with visiting British Minister for Cabinet Office and Paymaster Francis Maude on Tuesday, Afridi said the textile sector was one of the most important industrial sectors of Pakistan as it was not only the highest foreign exchange earner but also employed 40 per cent of the country’s industrial workforce.
According to an official statement issued after the meeting, he said the government had always been taking measures to develop the textile sector through various support schemes, policy interventions and capacity building.
20150217 * Finance ministry not releasing export funds:
The Ministry of Finance is holding up around Rs26 billion on account of Export Development Fund that should be used for the promotion of export activities only, alleged the Pakistan Leather Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (Plgmea) on Monday.
The Export Development Surcharge (EDS) is being collected at 0.25 per cent on all categories of exports, except defence exports, since 1999.
The Export Development Funds Act was amended in 2005 which made it mandatory for the Finance Division to transfer the entire amount of EDS collected in a fiscal to the Ministry of Commerce.
Patron-in-chief Plgmea Fawad Ijaz Khan blamed the finance ministry for not transferring the EDS to the commerce ministry.
20150217 * Pakistan Textile ministry to introduce new legislation to strengthen the textile industry:
The Pakistan Ministry of Textile Industry to introduce new legislation to undo multiple overlapping laws and ordinances.
The final draft of the proposed Act is prepared in consultation with industry stakeholders would be discussion in the upcoming textile policy board meeting after submission to the Law Division for vetting soon.
The new legislation aims at implementing the textile policy, strengthening the structure of textile industries and to maintain complete data on production of these units.
20150218 * Prgmea Chairman urges Prime Minister to take up SMD issue with Turkish PM:
Garments exporters on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to help convince his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, to waive ‘Safeguard Measures Duty’ (SMD) of 42.2 percent which Turkey has placed on Pakistan’s apparel imports.
Talking to Business Recorder, the Chairman of Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (Prgmea), Ijaz A Khokhar, said that Turkey had placed the extra Customs Duty on apparel imports from Pakistan, hampering mutual trade growth.
20150220 * Knitwear producers: Energy shortage forces industry to refuse orders:
Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association (PHMA) Chairman Usman Jawwad has said that the government has failed to develop the knitwear sector according to its export potential, due to which novices like Bangladesh and Vietnam are taking Pakistan’s place in the international market.
Jawwad, while briefing members of the Lahore Economic Journalists Association, said that it is distressing that the country is refusing orders because of the uncertain power and energy supply.
Additionally, the high cost of doing business has sharply reduced profit margins, with sparse availability of electricity and gas has reduced production volumes.
read more. & read more.
20150219 * PTEA ( & APTMA) hails government move to restore gas supply:
The Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has appreciated the government decision to restore gas supply to the energy-starved textile sector in Punjab and saved jobs of millions of blue collar employees.
This would help revive the idle manufacturing capacity and boost exports. However; they demanded to increase the gas quota for processing and hosiery industry to 33 percent and for spinning and captive power to 8 hours per day.
Speaking at a joint press conference at the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association here on Wednesday, PTEA Chairman Sohail Pasha thanked the government on restoring gas supply to export-oriented textile industry in the province.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150219 * SNGPL restores gas to textile industry after 10 days closure:
The SNGPL has announced to restore gas supply to textile industry in Punjab after suspension of around 10 days, but this restoration is partial, as the industry will be provided gas only for four hours a day.
The SNGPL will supply four hours gas supply to the Punjab textile industry’s captive power and 20 percent for processing use by Wednesday evening. It will be followed by further increase in gas supply on daily basis.
APTMA chairman SM Tanveer, addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, said that the industry will fight for 24 hours a day gas supply as stipulated in recently-announced Textile Policy 2014-19.
read more. & read more.
20150219 * Gas supply to Punjab textile sector restored partially:
After more than a week, gas supply to the textile sector in Punjab was partially restored on Wednesday.
“The Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd (SNGPL) has informed us that the Punjab textile industry will be getting gas supply from 6pm to 10pm from today,” All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) chairman SM Tanveer told newsmen at a press conference.
“Gas supply to the entire textile industry was suspended on Feb 9 without any reason. The move came right after approval of the Textile Policy 2015 by the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet. We are demanding round-the-clock gas supply for the viability and affordability of the sector,” said Tanveer.
20150218 * Gas supply suspension: APTMA to hold emergent meeting on February 20:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) will hold an emergent general body meeting on February 20 to chalk out strategy against gas supply suspension to Punjab-based textile mills from February 9, 2015.
According to industry sources, the textile millers are prepared to protest against the situation, as it is becoming difficult to continue with the situation any further.
They said the mills operations are under threat due to gas supply in Punjab. Further, they said, it is not possible for them to meet deadlines for exports orders.
20150217 * Japan prefers Sri Lanka, India for textile imports:
Japan Ambassador Hiroshi Inomata on Monday said poor security situation in Pakistan was main hurdle to Japanese investment.
Besides, high rate of import duty deters Japan from importing textile from Pakistan, he said while addressing the members of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“Japan is the world’s largest importer of textile and prefers Sri Lanka and India with relatively low ratio of taxes,” he stated.
20150217 * Bilateral trade: Japan to continue support despite hurdles:
Japanese investors are reluctant to invest in Pakistan due to the law and order situation in the country, said Japanese Ambassador to Pakistan Hiroshi Inomata during his visit to the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) on Monday.
Besides security, the ambassador also identified high taxes on the export of textiles, as another reason why Japan is not prioritising imports from Pakistan.
Compared to Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka have low tax rates on textile exports, he said, adding that despite these drawbacks Japan is still interested in increasing bilateral trade relations with the country and will support all activities initiated in this regard.
20150220 * Sustained demand for good quality cotton keeps prices up:
Regular demand for good quality cotton from both spinners as well as the exporters kept lint prices on the higher side.
Moreover, tightness in the US market, buying by local mills for the higher grades, steadiness in the prices of Indian cotton and some movement in yarn sales kept fibre prices in good demand.
In token of these positive signals, the Karachi Cotton Association (KCA) increased the ex-gin price of grade three cotton by Rs 50 per maund (37.32 kgs) and pegged it at Rs 4,950 per maund on Thursday.
Seedcotton (Kapas / Phutti) prices from Sindh reportedly ranged from Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,300 per 40 kgs, as per quality. In the Punjab, seedcotton prices were said to have extended from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 per 40 kilogrammes in a steady and stable market.
THE BALDIA FACTORY FIRE
20150220 * Names of Baldia factory fire suspects put on ECL:
The interior ministry on Thursday placed the names of six accused of the Baldia factory fire in the Exit Control List (ECL) on Thursday to prevent them from fleeing the country.
The accused are Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee’s (KTC) former incharge Hammad Siddiqui, Javed Shakeel, Muhammad Rizwan Qureshi, Abdur Rehman alias Bhola, Asghar Baig and Majid Baig.
The Sindh government had requested the federal government to place the names of accused in the ECL after a Joint Interrogation Team (JIT) report was made public for their alleged involvement in the Baldia factory fire, which claimed 259 lives.
20150220 * Names of ‘MQM men’ blamed in Baldia fire JIT report placed on ECL:
The interior ministry has placed six names, including those of five Baldia factory fire suspects described as senior Muttahida Qaumi Movement activists in a joint investigation team (JIT) report, on the Exit Control List, said an official on Thursday.
While the home department claimed that all the six names had been recommended by the police on the basis of the JIT report, the sixth name was not mentioned in the recently publicised JIT report.
The Sindh home department official said the provincial authorities received confirmation from Islamabad that the names of all the six people, which had been recommended by the police investigators for further investigation, were placed on the ECL and all the institutions concerned were informed about it.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150219 * IG Sindh puts forward names of officers to probe Baldia factory fire:
Ghulam Haider Jamali, Inspector General Sindh Police, on Wednesday wrote a letter to the provincial Home Department, seeking formation of a team of investigators to further probe the Baldia Town factory inferno that devoured over 250 people.
The IG suggested appointment of Additional IG Crime Khadim Hussain Bhatti as head of the proposed team besides induction of DIG Crime Branch Mushtaq Shah as member of the panel.
He also proposed inclusion of representatives of FIA and Rangers for the investigation team.
The IG said that the probe team is being formed under the directives of the prime minister and in the light of JIT report.
20150219 * 2012 fiery incident: New JIT formed to probe Baldia factory fire:
The provincial government has constituted a new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into the 2012 Baldia Town factory fire incident which claimed the lives of around 259 workers in Karachi.
The decision was taken by the Sindh Home Department after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered reinvestigation by forming a new JIT during the apex committee meeting held at Governor House Sindh in Karachi recently.
According to the notification issued by the Home Ministry on Wednesday, the newly formed body would be headed by Additional IG Sindh Police’s Crime Branch Khadim Hussain Bhatti while officials of other law enforcement and intelligence agencies including Director Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and DIG Crimes Mushtaq Maher will be members of the team.
Earlier, a report prepared and submitted to the Sindh High Court by a JIT blamed Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for the incident, however, the party had denied its involvement and termed the charge ‘fictitious’ and ‘biased’. It had also demanded for reinvestigation of the Baldia garment factory fire incident.
The newly formed JIT will reinvestigate the Baldia incident and also analyse the previous JIT report before sending it to the federal government upon completion.
20150218 * New JIT to re-investigate Baldia factory fire:
Karachi- The Government has constituted a new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into 2012 Baldia factory fire, that left over 260 workers dead in Karachi.
A report prepared and submitted in court by a previous JIT blamed Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for the incident; however, the party denies its involvement. Sources said, the newly formed body would be headed by Additional IG, Khadim Hussain Bhatti, comprising Director FIA Shahid Hayat, DIG Mushtaq Mahar and officials from Rangers and security agencies.
Describing the incident’s enquiry a “very serious matter”, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, two days back, had promised reinvestigation. He vowed to bring the culprits to book for justice to victim families.
20150218 * Investigating high-profile crimes: JIT reports inadmissible in court, say legal experts:
Although the reports of interrogation conducted by joint investigation teams (JITs) lack the status of legally admissible evidence in courts of law, they can still help law enforcers trace those responsible for high-profile crimes, such as, most recently, the Baldia factory fire.
Legal experts believe that these JITs help aid law enforcement agencies in their investigations while working on cases of extremism, terrorism and ethnic violence.
What is a JIT?
In high-profile criminal cases, the provincial home department constitutes a JIT to probe into the matter.
“These teams comprise of members of the Inter-Services Intelligence, the Military Intelligence, the Intelligence Bureau, the Federal Investigation Agency, the Rangers and the police,” explained a government law officer.
“The involvement of the agencies working under the federal and provincial governments varies, depending upon the nature of the incident.”
20150217 * Tajikistan supports proposal of Chinese company to build two cotton processing factories:
Tajikistan’s Minister of Agriculture Qosim Rahbar at the end of the last week met Mr. Chen Dao Chuan, Director of Closed Joint-Stock Company (CJSC) Chuntai Dangara Sin Sil Textile where the two discussed issues related to bilateral cooperation in the field of agriculture, including cultivation and construction of two cotton processing factories in Tajikistan.
The new factories are expected to be constructed in the Dangara and Jilikul districts of the Khatlon province. The design works for the new factories are nearing completion, the ministry said on Monday.
Chen Dao Chuan reportedly expressed gratitude to the Tajik government for allocation of 15,000 hectares of land in the Dangara district for cotton cultivation.
* Delays in announcing new policy tool can put Zimbabwe clothing manufacturers in jeopardy:
The Zimbabwe clothing sector is already on its knees further delay from the government in announcing a new policy instrument to clothing manufacturers to import duty free clothes and textile material can put the feasibility of the sector in jeopardy.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should not delay to issue the clothing manufacturers rebate, said Joseph Tanyanyiwa, secretary-general of the National Union of the Clothing Industry.
As recently that most players in the clothing industry were contemplating sending their workers on forced leave while others have reportedly failed to resume operations following their annual shutdown last December as their materials were being held at the bonded warehouse.
As the National Union of Clothing Industry they want the window for clothing and textile employers to continue to import on duty free to avoid risk of the industry shutting down again.
* Zimbabwe: unions grill government over labour flexibilisation plans:
The Zimbabwean government has been accused of reneging on its promise to improve workers’ rights after it announced plans to amend labour laws to make way for labour flexibilisation.
Presenting the 2015 budget in December, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the country’s labour laws needed to be relaxed in order to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).
He said the current laws gave too much protection to workers and threatened the viability of companies which are struggling to maintain “unsustainable salary scales’.
“The cost structure of our companies is not sustainable, we cannot compete with other companies in the region…our labour costs are too high,” he told an audience of business leaders at the BUY Zimbabwe Awards in December.
Furthermore, at a Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries 2015 Economic Outlook Symposium in Harare last week, Chinamasa called for a total salary freeze across all sectors.
The government is proposing, amongst other measures, that salary negotiations be done at company level, as opposed to a sectoral level.
* Liepaja textiles industry is in serious standby mode due to lack of work:
The Leipaja clothing and textiles industry historically have been one of the most developed industry that operated more than 80 companies, of which most are lingerie producers.
The textile industry is in a very serious standby mode at the moment as more than 500 workers in the textiles industry in Liepaja have been asked to go on annual leave due to lack of work according to Girts Kronbergs, head of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry branch in Liepaja.
Small textile companies that fully depend on their exports to Russian market were affected already in the latter half of 2014. Now it is the large companies, too, that are beginning to feel the impact of the Russian crisis.
The companies are not laying workers off, but workloads are decreasing and workers are being told to take vacation. That is not a bad solution. The large companies, if they have to cut output, can count on their workers when demand rises again, explained Kronbergs.
The fact that there are no massive layoffs proves that companies are finding a way to solve their problems. But according to approximate estimates, over 500 workers are on annual leave, said Kronbergs.
20150219 * The tyranny of a few: a supply chain story:
Industrial and retail supply chains worldwide suffer from the unfair trading practices of big buyers, which can vary from short-notice volume changes to demanding illegal payments for promotions and placement.
Many large retailers as well as many of their most important suppliers insert appalling conditions into their procurement contracts with farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): the same ones who produce (or co-produce) much of the food and products we use every day.
Such practices were the topic of a recent communication by the European Commission, which put them on the policy agenda for future action.
To the average person, it is shocking and even inconceivable that farmers’ associations and cooperatives have to pay hundreds of thousands of euros for supermarkets to accept their products and place them on shelves or that cosmetic producers have to buy back their stock if it remains unsold after a given date.
Struggling business owners usually trickle down the cost to labour or terminate workers’ contracts.
The stories of textile factories in Bangladesh and shoemakers in Nicaragua are similar.
Workers must work in precarious jobs in order to buffer market fluctuations. In addition, long working hours are required so that unrealistic production goals can be met.
20150219 * Hands off our right to strike!:
Workers around the globe staged a series of protests against employers’ attempts to challenge and potentially remove workers’ fundamental right to strike. This right is an integral part of the ILO Freedom of Association Convention 87.
On 18 February, a global day of action in defence of the right to strike was called by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and supported by IndustriALL Global Union. Workers of the world brought to their governments an uncompromising message to stop attacking workers’ right to strike.
The global call is a response to the attacks of Employers’ Group within the International Labour Organization (ILO) over ILO Convention 87 (C87) or the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize. C87 ensures the fundamental right of all workers to strike.
In Geneva, IndustriALL Global Union together with sister global unions BWI, IUF, PSI and UNI, representing collectively over 100 million workers, delivered letters to the missions and representations of the countries where workers’ right to strike is challenged or not supported. One of them is Turkey, where recently IndustriALL affiliate Birlesik Metal Is has faced a ban on its metal industry strike under the argument that it is “prejudicial to national security”.
The joint union delegation also visited Angolan and Indian missions and delivered letters demanding that governments of these countries “immediately support the global right to strike and end their opposition in the ILO Governing Body to referral of the dispute over this matter to the International Court of Justice.»
20150213 * Response to CEO of H&M on Guardian article ‘reducing consumption will create a social catastrophe’:
Fashion Revolution responds to the article in The Guardian last week by Karl-Johan Persson, chief executive of H&M
Karl-Johan Persson, chief executive of H&M, was right when he told the Guardian last week that there are no easy answers when trying to balance environmental, social and economic risks and opportunities in a complex global society.
One does have to commend H&M for helping to thrust social and environmental issues into public view. In the world of corporate ‘fast fashion,’ H&M is certainly leading the way in looking for sustainable solutions.
The retailer is putting significant effort and money into sourcing ‘sustainable’ cotton, increasing living wages for some of its garment workers, encouraging its customers to recycle unwanted clothing, and developing new innovative ways to re-use materials.
But is it really about more than the bottom line, as Persson says? He told the Guardian that, “if we were to decrease 10% to 20% of everything we don’t need, the result on the social and economic side would be catastrophic, including a lot of lost jobs and poverty.”
Firstly, where do these facts come from? Where’s his evidence that proves if we all start buying less cheap stuff, people will definitely lose their jobs and slide into destitution?
This is an age-old fundamental concept of capitalist economics. But c’mon, in the today’s real world, the global picture is more complex than the simple theory of aggregate demand.
Secondly, the Scott Trust (who owns the Guardian) holds the value that ‘the voice of opponents no less than that of friends has a right to be heard’.
Finally and most importantly, Persson’s public message is very dangerous. His view is one that reduces our collective role to ‘consumers’ rather than active participants in everyday society with agency and voice.
It demands a system in which people are just ‘consumers’ with virtually no other purpose than to buy stuff. And to keep on buying, more of it, forever.
It implies that we as consumers, as human beings, have no power to change the way that fashion is made and sold. This is simply not true. We vote with our dollars every time we buy something, and Persson is telling us to keep on voting for a broken system.
If you read between the lines, you’ll see that Persson’s message is a purely capitalist one, whereby its very nature is infinitely expansionary.
But of course, we live on a planet of finite resources with millions of tonnes of textiles unceremoniously dumped into landfills the world over each year and unwanted charity shop clothing sent to Africa, decimating local markets and livelihoods.
20150218 * Steven Greenhouse on Keeping the Labor Beat Alive:
The longtime New York Times labor reporter on the state of the American labor movement and labor journalism.
When Steven Greenhouse announced his retirement from the New York Times in December 2014, after nearly two decades on the labor beat at the paper of record, a collective gasp went up from the American labor movement. Not only was Greenhouse an ace reporter covering unions and workers’ issues at the paper, but his departure left only one reporter, the Wall Street Journal’s Melanie Trottman, covering labor at a major national daily.
The Times has not said whether it will seek a replacement. But Greenhouse isn’t disappearing from the labor beat just yet. He’s already filed his first freelance pieces and plans to write a follow-up to his 2008 book, The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker.
Just hours after returning from his first post-retirement vacation, Greenhouse spoke to In These Times about the mainstream media’s fickle interest in workers’ issues, the culture of mediocrity throughout much of the movement and the smart new organizing strategies that could breathe some new life back into labor.
Almost all of your fellow reporters at the New York Times covered beats that were also covered by many other reporters at many other publications nationwide.
But when you retired, you were one of the only national labor reporters left. Did that feel lonely?