18:49:31 local time CHINA
20150608 * Behind the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks:
Recently, President Obama said on the U.S. public radio that China could eventually join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement:
“They’ve already started putting out feelers about the possibilities of them participating at some point.”
However, that statement may reflect even more the White House’s concern about an impending TPP vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Only a day before the President’s statement, Wikileaks had announced an effort to crowd-source a $100,000 reward for the remaining chapters of the TPP deal (it has released three draft chapters of the deal in the past).
“The transparency clock has run out on the TPP,” Wikileaks founder Julian Assange urged.
“No more secrecy. No more excuses. Let’s open the TPP once and for all.”
What’s going on behind the TPP façade?
Why the Obama administration wants the trade deal?
Not so long ago, analysts were still predicting the U.S. growth rate to exceed 3 percent in the years to come.
Then came still another harsh winter and U.S. economy contracted -0.7% in the first quarter; almost a percentage point more than initially expected, according to revised data.
In addition to climate change, the short-term reasons extend from strong dollar and labor disputes at West Coast ports, to the plunge of oil prices, whereas consumer spending remains slow.
Disinflation may continue until the fall.
After contracting three separate quarters since the end of the recession in mid-2009, the current recovery has proved most disappointing since the 1950s.
As Washington is preparing for the post-Obama era, America’s economic growth is suboptimal relative to its potential. The proposed “free trade” deals with Europe and Asia are not likely to reverse the long-term growth trend.
In the medium- and longer-term, U.S. innovation and competitiveness have historically supported productivity and growth.
Today both are eroding. America’s structural erosion in innovation continues, as evidenced by significant shifts in student performance, R&D, and patents.
18:49:31 local time PHILIPPINES
* Justice for Kentex Workers! Ensure criminal prosecution of Kentex factory owners!:
Discharge from post Sec. Baldoz, Roxas, top officials of DOLE, DILG and BFP! Just compensation to Kentex fire victims and workers! Pass Workers SHIELD Bill!
Justice for Kentex Workers!
A seven-hour blaze gutted the factory of Kentex Manufacturing Inc., maker of rubber sandals that are popular in the Philippines, last May 13, 2015 at Tatalon Street, Barangay Ugong, Valenzuela City.
This is the deadliest industrial fire in the history of the Philippines: more than72 workers perished, several others are still missing, and over a hundred more lost their jobs.
The fact-finding mission conducted by labor groups in the Philippines a day after the Kentex tragedy revealed the company’s serious violations of occupational health and safety (OHS) standards.
These include the following: mishandling of highly flammable chemicals shown by absence of proper storage and labeling of the latter; absence of fire exits at the second floor; absence of fire alarms and drills; and, with the thick steel mesh that covered the factory’s windows, the virtual imprisonment of workers.
Our demands and fight for justice
We support the families of victims of the Kentex fire and the workers who survived the fire, the labor groups, church groups and people’s organizations – all who have come together under the Justice for Kentex Workers Alliance to demand justice for those who died and those who survived.
In particular we call on President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to:
1)Ensure the criminal prosecution of the owners of Kentex Manufacturing Inc. We demand criminal liability from the company owners who, in their desire to increase profits, willfully ignored workers’ health and safety standards, and laid out the conditions that resulted in the death of our loved ones.
2) Immediately discharge from their posts and to ensure criminal prosecution of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz and top officials of the DOLE and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Mar Roxas and top officials of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) who condoned the operation of a factory that proved to be fatal to workers.
read more and please sign.
* Global Day of Action: Justice for Kentex Workers:
Saturday, June 13, 2015 (All day)
World wide, and in your community!
Please support the global day of action in solidarity with the 72 workers who died, and 20 missing workers, in the Kentex footwear factory fire in the Philippines.
Together we’ll call for justice and safe workplaces
Things you can do:
1. On a pair of flip-flops or sandals, write “Justice for Kentex Workers!” or ” Safety for Workers!” or similar calls. Take a photo of the shoes at your workplace, union or organizational gathering, or in front the Embassy of the Philippines in your country. Post the photo in social media using the hashtag #JusticeforKentexWorkers. Please post the picture on June 13, 2015.
2. Write solidarity messages to the families and survivors. Share on twitter using #JusticeforKentexWorkers.
3. Write the Philippine government and the Department of Labor.
20150608 * DOLE conducts internal probe after Kentex fire:
The Department of Labor and Employment on Monday said it is up to the Ombudsman to determine if the complaint against officials of DOLE and the Bureau of Fire Protection has basis.
The complaint alleges negligence of official duty in connection with the deadly Kentex factory blaze.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said there is an ongoing internal investigation to determine the culpability of labor officials.
She said the DOLE has released notices to four personnel, including DOLE-NCR director Alex Avila, to explain their side.
“We expect that before the end of the week, all of them have submitted explanation on why they should not be changed administratively and on basis of all the submission, the administrative complaints committee will be tasked to evaluate whether there is any basis and what appropriate cases will be filed against them,” she said.
20150608-09 * Kentex fire victims’ kin, survivors seek charges vs. Roxas, Baldoz, 6 others:
Families of victims and survivors of the May 13 Kentex fire in Valenzuela City are seeking administrative and criminal charges against eight government officials, including Interior Sec. Mar Roxas and Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz.
In a letter complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday, victims and kin said they “seek the formal investigation and the filing of appropriate charges,” including negligence resulting in homicide and physical injuries, and neglect in the performance of functions.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150608 * Survivors ask Ombudsman to probe Roxas, Baldoz over Kentex fire:
Survivors of the Kentex fire and their families on Monday demonstrated before the Office of the Ombudsman as they prepared to ask the antigraft body to investigate the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for possible liability over the seven-hour fire at the slippers factory in Valenzuela that killed 72 people.
The survivors led by the Justice for Kentex Workers Alliance are set to file complaints against DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, DOLE National Capital Region Director Alex Avila, DOLE NCR Labor Compliance Officer Engineer Joseph Vedasto, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) fire chief Director Ariel Barayuga, BFP NCR director Senior Supt. Sergio Malupeng Soriano Jr., Valenzuela City fire marshal Supt. Mel Jose Lagan, and chief of the Fire Safety Enforcement Section Chief Ed Groover Oculam.
The officials will be made to face charges of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and physical injury and negligence of duty.
DOLE and DILG are being accused of failure to ensure safe work conditions for the workers of Kentex Manufacturing Corp., while the BFP is being sued for its delay in releasing the report on Kentex failing to comply with safety standards, said Remigio Saladero Jr., the victims’ lawyer.
20150608 * ‘Fire safety inspection certificate necessary for businesses’:
Malacañang yesterday defended the government’s “no fire safety inspection certificate, no business permit” policy amid criticisms that it could result in job losses.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma noted that the policy would ensure the safety of workers.
“The safety of workers and our people is the main objective of the government,” Coloma told state-run radio station dzRB.
“All considerations were weighed and the foremost consideration is ensuring that all workplaces have safety appliances like fire escape and sprinkler,” he added.
20150608 * Labor, fire officials must be held liable: Kentex group:
Labor and fire officials should be held equally liable for the deaths of 72 people in a tragic fire that gutted the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. sandal factory in Valenzuela City last May 13, the Justice for Kentex Workers Alliance said yesterday.
In a statement coursed through its legal counsel Remigio Saladero, the group said Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, DOLE-NCR Director Alex Avila, DOLE-NCR Labor Compliance officer Joseph Vedasto, and BFP chief Ariel Barayuga should not stay in office a minute longer.
“Kentex workers and families insist that DOLE and BFP official should be removed from office and jailed for their criminal negligence and for condoning the Kentex management’s occupational health and safety standards violations which has led to the worst workplace tragedy in the country that left 72 workers dead,” the group said.
The Justice for Kentex Workers was formed after the tragic fire and counts among its members the fire victims’ families, survivors and their supporters.
20150607 * Labor group fears new fire policy will lead to unemployment:
The new fire safety policy implemented by the government may lead to a higher unemployment rate, labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) warned.
The new policy requires businesses to present a fire safety inspection certificate first before they can be issued a business permit.
According to KMU chairperson Elmer Labog, the new policy will most likely lead to widespread retrenchment of employees.
Based on records, only 15 percent, or 43,779 establishments out of a total of 295,885, have a fire safety inspection certificate (FSIC) from the Bureau of Fire Protection.
Closure of establishments without the certificate will directly affect employees.
20150607 * Erap on Kentex blaze: Valenzuela execs not liable:
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada came to the defense of Valenzuela City officials yesterday, saying that they should not be penalized for issuing provisional business permits like the one issued to the Kentex slipper factory.
He said memorandum circulars issued by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) allow local government units (LGUs) to issue provisional business permits until the local fire marshal issues a fire safety inspection certificate (FSIC).
“It has been the practice of LGUs all over the country to issue provisional permits to ensure that the operation of business establishments will not be hampered. And this practice has its legal basis on the memorandum circulars issued by the DTI, DILG and BFP,” Estrada said.
He issued the statement as he aired his support for the Valenzuela City government, whose officials President Aquino said will be among those charged for the May 13 fire that destroyed the Kentex factory and killed 72 people.
The fire code, Republic Act 9154, provides that the certificate is a prerequisite for the issuance of a business permit.
20150606 * Valenzuela, BFP trade blame over fire safety inspection:
The word war continues between Valenzuela City and Bureau of Fire officials amid the pressures of keeping up with the fire code.
20150606 * Group fears mass layoff as business permits withheld:
A labor group on Saturday warned that many workers could lose their jobs if the government will insist on withholding business permits of companies unable to secure Fire Safety Inspection Certificates (FSICs).
Last Monday, President Benigno Aquino III held a press conference on the fire that killed 72 workers of Kentex Manufacturing Corporation in Valenzuela. He reiterated that companies need FSICs before being given a business operating permit.
But Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said, “Out of the 295,885 registered establishments in Metro Manila, only 43,788 or less than 15 per cent have been given FSIC’s by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).”
“We fear that this policy would mean massive layoffs for us workers,” it added.
20150605 * Compensation for Kentex fire victims on the way, says SSS:
Three weeks after the tragic slipper factory fire in Valenzuela City, the Social Security System (SSS) on Thursday said the agency was ready to hand out employees’ compensation to the families of the victims of the fatal seven-hour blaze that hit Kentex Manufacturing Inc. on May 13.
In a report by dzIQ Radyo Inquirer 990AM, SSS assistant vice president Luisa Sebastian said the agency already processed the benefit claims of 11 out of 72 victims after more than 60 casualties were identified by police forensic experts.
Beneficiaries are set to receive P20,000 worth of employees’ compensation, while another P20,000 in funeral benefits will be granted to them after the processing of applications.
The report said five of 11 processed claims of compensation were “ready for pickup,” adding SSS was eyeing to finish the processing of funeral benefits within the day.
20150605 * Unsafe establishments in Valenzuela face closure:
The threat of criminal and administrative charges was enough for Valenzuela City Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian to change his tune.
Gatchalian issued an order on Wednesday revoking all business permits of establishments without a fire safety inspection certificate (FSIC) and serving notice of their closure.
The order came two days after President Aquino warned officials of Valenzuela City that they could be held liable for issuing Kentex Manufacturing Inc. a business permit despite its noncompliance with fire safety standards, a violation of the Revised Fire Code of the Philippines.
The slipper factory burned down on May 13, killing 72 people, mostly workers.
Aquino said Kentex violated fire safety regulations by not having automatic fire sprinklers, fire detection and alarm systems, and protected fire escape.
17:49:31 local time VIET NAM
20150607 * Female workers paid FDI pittance:
Female labourers working in foreign-invested enterprises receive an average monthly wage of VND5 million (US$229), much lower than that of male labourers and their peers in domestic companies.
This was revealed at a workshop held on Wednesday in southern Dong Nai Province to review a survey on income and living conditions for female migrants in FDI enterprises.
The survey was conducted in October and November last year in northern Bac Ninh Province, Dong Nai Province and HCM City. In each locality, researchers examined 13 enterprises, including 10 FDI and three non-FDI enterprises that were exporting garments, textiles, footwear and seafood products to the European Union.
According to the survey, access to safety equipment for women working for FDI companies was 10 per cent lower than those for female working in Vietnamese companies.
The migrant group also faced difficulties in finding housing, educating children and accessing health services due to problems with personal finances, administrative procedures and distance from their work place to those facilities.
20150606-07 * Clothing likely to remain top export: HSBC:
Clothing and apparel is expected to remain the country’s top export item in the foreseeable future, contributing almost 20 per cent of the projected growth in total merchandise exports in the decade to 2030, according to an HSBC report.
Global Trade Connection, released on Thursday, said Vietnam had also built up a strong presence in the global market for telecommunications in recent years and this should put it in a good position to meet rising demand for consumer goods in emerging Asia.
Indeed, behind clothing and apparel, ICT equipment would make the second largest contribution to Vietnam’s export growth in 2015-30. Vietnam’s geographical location in Asia, with good access to India, China and Southeast Asia, left it well placed to trade with fast-growing neighbours.
It was anticipated that the country’s fastest-growing export destinations in the decade to 2030 would be China, India and Malaysia, with exports to all these growing by at least 14 per cent a year.
Within emerging Asia, trade liberalisation had risen in recent years and free-trade negotiations between ASEAN members were well under way.
20150607 * Vietnam, Italy look to boost ties in garment, footwear and wood sectors:
Italian enterprises in the garment, leather & footwear, wood and automated machine sectors were introduced to investment opportunities in Vietnam at a recent workshop held by the Trade Office under the Vietnamese Embassy in Italy.
Addressing the event, Trade Counselor Bui Vuong Anh highlighted the potential for economic co-operation between the two countries, especially as Vietnam has recently signed free trade agreements (FTA) with the Republic of Korea and the Eurasia Economic Union and is looking to finalise negotiations for a FTA with the EU in the near future.
20150608 * Which industries benefit most from the FTA with the EAEU?:
The recently signed free trade agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) seeks to double bilateral trade to US$7 billion by 2015 and reach US$10 billion by 2020.
- Vietnamese firms face big changes following EAEU trade deal
- European media hails trade deal between Vietnam and EAEU
- PM meets Vietnamese businesses in EAEU’s member states
The FTA, signed May 29 in Burabai, Kazakhstan after more than two years of negotiations, marks a milestone in the relationship between Vietnam and EAEU members.
The pact marks Vietnam’s deepened integration into the international market and represents the first deal the EAEU – including Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan – has signed with a third side.
The Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas) in turn reports that Vietnam’s garment sector will be the biggest beneficiary as the agreement will make it easier for the industry to attract foreign investment.
read more. & read more.
20150606 * China to overtake US as Vietnam’s largest importer: HSBC:
Vietnam’s geographical location in Asia, with good access to India, China and South East Asia, leaves it well-placed to trade with fast-growing neighbors, according to a forecast by UK-based bank HSBC
Vietnam’s fastest-growing export destinations in the decade to 2030 will be China, India and Malaysia, HSBC said in its Global Connections report, which was released this week.
It expected Vietnam’s exports to all these markets to grow by at least 14 percent per year.
HSBC’s forecasts echoed the recent Doing Business report by the World Bank, which ranks Vietnam 75th out of 189 economies on the ease of trading across borders, well ahead of both China and India.
17:49:31 local time CAMBODIA
20150609 * Workers Blocked From Marching on PM’s Villa:
Authorities blocked more than 500 striking garment workers from marching on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in Phnom Penh on Monday as part of a protest for better pay and working conditions.
About 50 police officers and Meanchey district security guards prevented workers from the M&V International Manufacturing factory from marching across the Kbal Thnal overpass toward the city center at around 9 a.m.
After the standoff, workers then boarded trucks and tuk-tuks at about 11 a.m. and made their way to the Labor Ministry in Tuol Kok district, where representatives were refused a meeting with officials.
Dy Rothkhenrum, deputy governor of Meanchey, said he led forces to block the protesting workers as they had not requested permission from municipal authorities for their march.
“It does not mean we do not want them marching, but it is not good because it affected public order,” he said.
Roughly 2,000 workers staged a mass walkout at the factory, which supplies clothes to global fashion retailer H&M, on May 19 to ask their management to address 17 demands, including giving them a raise in their monthly transport allowance to $15 and a $1 daily lunch allowance.
They returned to the factory on June 2 on the municipal court’s orders, but left their stations again on June 4 as negotiations stalled.
20150608 * Police Free Garment Workers Locked In at Night by Factory:
Police in Phnom Penh were called up Friday night to order a Chinese-owned garment factory to release a group of employees it had locked inside in a failed attempt to make them work late into the night, officials said Sunday.
Norng Sothea, deputy military police commander of Meanchey district, said about 30 of the Kang Da garment factory’s 400 employees had agreed to work an extra three hours after their regular shifts ended at 5 p.m. on Friday.
But when the workers tried to leave at 8 p.m., they found the gates locked, trapping them inside.
Mr. Sothea said he received a call from the workers’ distraught relatives—who had started protesting outside the factory gate for the workers’ release—at about 10 p.m.
“After I got the information, I ordered the military police to intervene.
The workers’ relatives were trying to force the gate open, so we ordered the factory security guard to open the gates immediately,” he said.
“They had locked the gate and did not let the workers go home until 11 p.m.”
20150606 * Striking Workers Call for Phnom Penh Court to Revoke Order:
About 20 representatives for more than 2,000 striking workers—accused by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia of damaging the industry’s reputation—marched to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday asking it to revoke an injunction ordering them back to work.
The workers left their stations at the M&V International Manufacturing factory, which supplies global fashion retailer H&M, on May 19 to demand management address 17 points, including a raise in their monthly transport allowance to $15 and a $1 daily lunch allowance.
They returned to the factory Tuesday on the municipal court’s orders but walked out again Thursday as negotiations stalled once more, workers said.
Hem Sok Ponlok, president of the Cambodia Industrial Union Federation, said workers would be open to negotiations if the order is revoked.
“We hope we might have negotiations with the factory bosses, but we will still protest. We also hope the Arbitration Council will push the factory to negotiate,” he said.
The union leader refuted a GMAC statement dated May 30 which said that unions involved in the strike “seriously damaged and affected the economic situation of the company and caused a negative impact to the garments sector.”
20150606 * Strike order protested:
About 50 striking garment workers representing more than 2,000 employees from M&V International Garment Factory yesterday gathered outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court where they submitted a letter demanding a court order prohibiting their industrial action be scrapped.
Hem Sokponlok, president of Cambodian Industrial Union Federation, said the coalition of 10 unions wanted the May 26 “protection order” annulled to protect workers taking action against “severe working conditions”.
“The main purpose of our gathering today was to ask the court to find justice for our workers who were exploited by garment factory employers,” Sokponlok said.
20150609 * New Draft of NGO Law ‘Much Worse’ Than the Last, CCC Says:
An NGO umbrella group says it has seen a new, leaked copy of a controversial draft law that aims to regulate the country’s hundreds of non-government organizations—and that the latest version marks a significant step backward.
Soeung Saroeun, executive director of the Cooperation Committee of Cambodia (CCC), which counts dozens of the country’s NGOs as members, said the new draft is the version the Council of Ministers approved—with a few changes—on Friday, clearing its way to the National Assembly
“Overall, I think it’s much worse than the version we had before,” he said Monday.
Mr. Saroeun said the CCC could not share a copy without potentially revealing the source of the leak.
On the positive side, he said, it removes one contentious article that would have limited to 25 percent the share of their budgets that foreign NGOs could spend on overheads, a ceiling they have argued could seriously hamper their work.
20150609 * HRW asks PM to revise union law:
Human Rights Watch, in an open letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen, yesterday called for revisions to a controversial draft law governing labour unions that it contends would curtail labour groups’ activities.
Signed by the deputy director of HRW’s Asia division, Phil Robertson, the letter appeals to the premier to make public the latest version of the proposed legislation – which has been lambasted by labour rights advocates – to affected groups and civil society, and to amend its text so that it adheres to international standards.
“We are writing to urge that you immediately make public the latest draft of the proposed trade union law; consult with all stakeholders, including local and international unions and labor rights groups,” the letter says. “And revise the bill to bring it in line with international labor rights standards.”
20150608 * Rights Group Condemns Trade Union Draft Law:
The Cambodian government is trying to weather criticism over the lack of transparency concerning the proposed draft law on NGOs that is now in the hands of the National Assembly.
But another important draft law regulating trade unions is being heavily criticized for violating international labor standards and for the secretive legislative process that appears to have unilaterally pushed the law through without proper consultation from relevant parties.
Similar to the NGO law, or the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations, the draft law on trade unions has not been made public for review.
Over a year ago, volatile strikes and protests left five garment workers dead and upended the Cambodian garment sector—one of the primary industries that move the Kingdom’s economy.
Cambodia’s garment factories employ nearly 750,000 people in the country and account for 80 percent of Cambodia’s exports.
“Cambodia has long been in the international spotlight for wage protests, attempts to break up unions, excessive use of force against protesting workers, and repeated mass fainting in factories,” said Phil Robertson, an Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
20150608 * Cambodia: Proposed Union Law a Rights Disaster:
Make New Bill Public, Revise to Meet International Standards
Cambodia’s draft trade union law would violate the right to organize and be a major step backwards for workers, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Cambodia’s donors and global brands that source garments and other products from Cambodia should call on the government to ensure that any legislation on unions meets international standards and is considered only after full and meaningful public consultation.
The Cambodian government has told the media that the trade union law will be enacted in 2015, yet has not made a draft public or provided opportunities for feedback from workers, unions, or the public.
The last government consultation over the trade union bill was in May 2014, but Human Rights Watch has obtained an October 2014 draft of the law, which fails to meet international standards.
The government should withdraw the draft law from consideration, publicly disclose the current draft, and consult with experts, trade union members, and others to revise it to comply with international labor rights standards before resubmitting it for consideration.
20150606 * Government Approves NGO Law:
The Council of Ministers approved a much-criticized draft NGO law on Friday—removing two articles to make registration “simple and easy for NGOs”—and plans to send the law to the National Assembly next week, a government spokesman said.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the law, which NGOs fear will be used by the government to stifle criticism among civil society groups by restricting registration, would be sent to the National Assembly early next week after some revisions.
“The law was approved today and it will be sent to the National Assembly by Monday or Tuesday next week because we need to delete two articles and change some words,” Mr. Siphan said.
“The two articles were deleted because those articles seemed to make things complicated, so Samdech Prime Minister [Hun Sen] wanted to make it simple and easy for NGOs to register, which means eradicating bureaucratic issues,” he added.
read more. & read more.
20150606 * An unsure future for labour rights:
Q&A/ WITH DAVE WELSH, DEPARTING COUNTRY DIRECTOR FOR THE LABOUR RIGHTS GROUP SOLIDARITY CENTER
After five years as Cambodia’s country director for labour rights group Solidarity Center, Dave Welsh is moving on. Remaining with the Solidarity Center, Welsh will be working instead in Indonesia. Before bidding adieu, Sean Teehan sat down with Welsh to talk about the progress he’s seen during his time in the Kingdom and to look ahead at what still needs to be done in the industrial relations sector.
Since you’ve been here, what improvements have you seen in the treatment of factory workers?
On one level, if you’re looking at the ILO Better Factories sort of overall compliance trend, you would say in terms of overall compliance, there hasn’t been [improvement], in fact, there’s been a downward move. But I think, more specifically, when you’re looking at things like wages and you’re looking at unions’ ability to actually not just advocate on the ground, but to generate a lot of international attention on these issues, that’s improved dramatically. The space that unions have crafted for themselves – hopefully with some help from us [the Solidarity Center] – to be able to advocate for these issues and create change has, I think, expanded dramatically over the past four or five years.
How has the union movement changed since you’ve been here?
20150608 * Armani supplier pledges reforms:
An employee works at Kin Tai Garment factory last month in Phnom Penh. Last week after a meeting between Armani and the in-factory union’s president, an agreement was reached that is to see the installation of a long-awaited cooling system to bring hellish factory temperatures under control.
Photo by Kimberley Mccosker.
At an Armani supplier factory in Phnom Penh where workers struggled to stay conscious under boiling temperatures, employees erupted in cheers on Friday upon learning efforts are finally being made to bring about reforms.
A Post exposé last month of conditions at the Kin Tai Garment factory detailed the lives of garment workers who toil under extreme heat to produce clothes for the Italian fashion house’s Armani Jeans line.
In a bid to keep from fainting, they resorted to a traditional healing practice known as coining, which involved scraping at their skin with a metal object until it was raw.
But now, after years of reported inaction, the abuses are being addressed.
Chheang Thida, the in-factory union’s president, was called on Thursday to meet visiting representatives of the high-end label.
“They told me that they will try to help us with our concerns so I raised three main topics and they agreed to think to about it,” she said.
“The first thing is the temperature inside the factory. The second topic was about the seniority bonuses, and the third topic was about getting long-term contracts for those of us who have worked at Kin Tai for more than two years.”
The following day, Thida said, a “technical group” arrived at Kin Tai and began constructing water sprinklers for its metal roofs.
Joel Preston, a consultant with the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), which is in regular contact with unionists at the factory, said it was “fantastic to see them finally taking action”.
“The process has been far too long and drawn out [but] I hope this [addressing problems] now becomes the rule, rather than the exception”.
Though, he added, there is still “a long way to go”.
Issues of contracts, bonuses and paid leave still need to be addressed, and even the brand’s monitoring of its factories needs to be reviewed, he explained.
20150608 * BetterFactories Media Updates 06-08 June 2015, Striking Workers Call for Phnom Penh Court to Revoke Order:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-06-06-07 Striking Workers Call for Phnom Penh Court to Revoke Order
2015-06-08 Police Free Garment Workers Locked In at Night by Factory
* To read in The Phnom Penh Post:
2015-06-08 Armani supplier pledges reforms
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
18:49:31 local time INDONESIA
20150605 * Bekasi Police Raid Illegal Cosmetics Factory:
Bekasi City Resort Police raided a house that has been converted into an illegal cosmetic factory in Kemang Pratama, Bekasi.
“We’ve confiscated thousands of unbranded cosmetic packages,” said Comm. Sukardi, Chief of of the Bekasi Resort Police Drug Division on Thursday, June 4, 2015. The police have also arrested DD, a 39-year-old male suspected to be the owner of the house, along with nine employees as witnesses.
Investigation results revealed that the suspect manufactures and sells hazardous cosmetics. “The suspect obtained the substance [to make cosmetics] from the Ambasaris Market in Jakarta,” said Sukardi.
Based on witness testimonies, DD’s customers originate from Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi and even Central Java. “We are still gathering further information,” Sukardi said.
17:49:31 local time THAILAND
20150609 * B300 wage rate safe for now, Arak insists:
The 300-baht daily minimum wage is still in place, contrary to reports the National Wage Committee decided to cancel the scheme next year and replace it with a wage-float method, deputy permanent secretary for labour Arak Prommanee says.
Workers are still guaranteed at least 300 baht a day as the minimum wage under the provincial wage floating system, he said.
It is not yet clear how much the rate will be raised, but 300 baht a day will be the floor rate.
A feasibility study for the wage-float system was presented by National Institute of Development Administration (Nida) researchers at a seminar on Friday, according to Mr Arak.
Their study weighed the pros and cons of the approach.
For next year’s minimum wage, the provincial wage committees will consider whether the rates in their provinces should be increased, Mr Arak said.
20150609 * Minimum wage could only rise: govt:
The government yesterday said any change to the Bt300 daily minimum wage would see it increase, but suggested a more flexible wage policy could be introduced in the future.
20150608 * B300 wage here to stay, says ministry:
The Labour Ministry has clarified any change to the 300-baht national minimum wage will only be in one direction — higher.
Deputy permanent secretary Arak Prommanee, in his capacity as ministry spokesman, said on Monday earlier reports that the Wage Committee had resolved to scrap the B300 national daily minimum wage and to float the wage were misleading.
“Actually, they were just proposals made by the National Institute of Development Administration (Nida). They were revealed at Friday’s seminar for the sake of discussion. It’s definitely not a resolution of the committee,” he said.
For the wage in 2016, the committee told provincial committees to study and determine whether the wages should be increased and by how much, based on the cost of living in each province, he added.
“If any province thinks the wage shouldn’t be raised, the minimum wage in that province will remain at 300 baht. Under no circumstance will it be below that level,” he said.
20150608 * Labour rights groups opposed to plans to float minimum wage:
Labour rights groups are against any move to float the minimum wage, saying the move would be retrogressive and unfavourable for workers.
The latest decision on setting the minimum wage for 2016 was made last Friday by the national wage committee, which approved setting different minimum wages based on each province’s economic situation.
Floating the minimum wage was one method considered to increase it.Wilaiwan Saetia, president of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC), said the new payment-rate policy was not just for labourers as the provincial wage subcommittees have the power to set minimum wages.
20150607 * Workers left in dark on wage future:
The military government has declined to reveal whether workers in some provinces will face pay cuts when the 300 baht national daily minimum wage is scrapped at the end of the year.
The government has announced it is revoking the 300 baht national daily minimum wage — a core policy of the ousted Pheu Thai government — in favour of the old system where wages are set on a province-by-province basis.
Labour Ministry permanent secretary Nakhon Silpa-archa gave few details of the decision when he addressed a seminar involving wage committee members on Friday.
He was unable to say how much workers can expect to be paid in future, since remuneration will be based on the cost of living and the economy in each province.
20150606 * B300 wage to be scrapped next year:
The 300-baht national daily minimum wage will be scrapped next year, to be replaced by the old system where wages vary by each province based on the cost of living.
The rate will take effect until the end of this year, Labour Ministry permanent secretary Nakhon Silpa-archa was quoted by Thai media as saying at a seminar of wage committee members on Friday.
It remains undecided whether the daily minimum wage will be higher but the Wage Committee decided on Dec 8, 2014 to reinstate the old regime where wages vary by the cost of living and the economy of each province, he said.
“The ministry is studying the feasibility of floating wages and an appropriate way to set the rates,” he said.
20150609 * Leather makers not relocating bases despite slow exports:
Despite slowing exports of leather goods, Thai leather manufacturers have declined to move their production overseas, since most of them are small and medium-sized enterprises, and Thailand has high technology and advantages.
17:19:31 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150606-07 * Minimum wage deadline approaches:
A forum of employers, employees, civil servants, scholars and politicians will take place this month to discuss the minimum wage, according to Myo Aung, the permanent secretary from the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security.
Then a forum, comprising of all concerned organisations, will take place shortly.
* Workers promised flats:
In the run up to the general election a plan to build apartments for workers from industrial zones has been announced, according to Win Maw Tun, deputy minister for labour, employment and social security.
She reviewed MPs’ discussions on an employee-employer rights report, including a message sent to President Thein Sein on fixing minimum wage rates.
“I heard workers’ demands for housing during a field trip with MP Nyan Win in Hlaingthaya Township. The ministry wants to extend a helping hand to them and coordinated the development of housing to ensure that workers remain in the factories,” she added.
“Cutting-making-packing garment industries have insured that the monthly salary of a worker will be between Ks90,000 and Ks100,000, including other assistance and incentives.”
16:49:31 local time BANGLADESH
20150608 * ‘BD active to ensure safety in garment industry’:
Bangladesh at an international seminar in the United Sates has said the government is very much active and conscious to ensure safety in its garment industry.
State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroze Chumki and State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu came up with the assurance at the seminar titled ‘Transformation Challenges and Opportunities in Bangladesh Garment Industry’ on Saturday at the Harvard University at Boston said a PID handout here on Monday.
Harvard University South Asia Institute and Harvard University Centre for the Environment and International Sustainable Development Institute (ISDI), Inc jointly organized the seminar.
20150605 * Accord Statement on Fire at Dignity Textile Mills Limited, Natun Bazaar, Sreepur, Gazipur:
On Sunday the 31st of May, a fire broke out at Dignity Textile Mills Limited, a factory producing for Accord signatory companies.
On the 1st of June, the Accord sent an engineering team to assess the situation and undertake a preliminary investigation.
The fire started just before 2 PM while many of the workers were outside the building having their lunch.
There were approximately 1000 – 1500 workers in the building at the time the fire alarm sounded.
Our investigation suggests that workers exited the factory in an orderly manner and there were no casualties.
The fire continued to burn for over 24 hours and during that time a substantial part of the steel structure collapsed.
The exit stairwells and the elevator enclosure which are required to be fire separated from the floor areas remained intact and did not suffer smoke or fire damage.
The Accord inspected the building on May 11, 2014. Among other findings, an automatic sprinkler system was required to be installed throughout the building. The Accord undertook a follow-up inspection on March 31, 2015.
While many of the issues related to electrical safety were corrected, the factory had not yet installed the sprinkler system.
Had a properly designed, installed and maintained fire sprinkler system been in place, those 3,000 garment workers employed at the factory would be at work again.
The fire at Dignity Textile Mills highlights the importance of accelerating all required corrective actions in a timely manner.
The Accord will continue to monitor the situation at the factory and
continue its work to make RMG factories in Bangladesh safe.
20150609 * US duties on Bangladeshi apparel an injustice:
The way some governments reacted to the illegal migrant issue was appalling, says Bangladesh’s permanent representative to the UN
Imposing higher duties on apparel exports from Bangladesh to the US is not only inhuman, but also an injustice, as the US government receives lower tariff from other developing and developed countries, a UN official said.
Not only is the US imposing higher duties on Bangladesh at 16.72 percent, it also did not stand beside the nation after the Rana Plaza building collapse, the deadliest industrial accident that took the lives of more than 1,130 workers in 2013.
“Rather, as a punishment, the US suspended the GSP (generalised system of preferences) status for Bangladesh after the industrial accident,” said AK Abdul Momen, ambassador and permanent representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations, in an interview with The Daily Star last month.
The suspension of the trade privilege for Bangladesh just after the accident does not put the US in good light; it is also not expected from them as they showed their generosity towards Bangladesh in many instances earlier, he said.
20150609 * Exports bounce back in May:
Exports bounced back in May after a dip in April, raking in $2.84 billion, up 4.44 percent from a year earlier.
“Our exports could have been more,” said Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the apex body of the garment sector that typically accounts for 80 percent of the export earnings.
Garment products fetched $2.35 billion in May, up 6.33 percent year-on-year.
20150609 * Export earnings target falls short by 6.0%:
The country’s overall export earnings recorded a marginal growth during the July-May period of current fiscal year 2014-15.
The export receipts stood at $28.14 billion showing a 2.83 per cent growth during the period though it fell short of target by 6.01 per cent, according to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data released Monday.
However, the single month earnings bounced back in May 2015 with earnings worth $2.84 billion marking a 4.37 per cent growth. The merchandise shipments last month failed to achieve the target set for the month by 8.57 per cent.
In April 2015, the export earnings witnessed a negative growth of 0.55 per cent, the data showed.
20150608 * RMG exports to US market keep rebounding in April:
Apparel exports to the United States continued to rebound in the January-April period of 2015—thanks to an increased volume of order as the outcome of safety inspection in the readymade garment factories made the buyers confident.
Readymade garment exports to the US market in the first four months of 2015 grew by 7.03 per cent to US$ 1.82 billion from US$ 1.70 billion in the same period of last year, according to the data of the office of textiles and apparels under the US Commerce Department released on Friday.
Exporters said that following the Rana Plaza building collapse, the US buyers were waiting to know the status of factories and now they have started to place increased volume of orders as factory inspection reports have been published.
US buyers are now more confident as they found faults in less than 2 per cent of garment factories in Bangladesh, they said.
20150608 * Woven exporters cheer as EU proves to be blessing:
Exports of woven garment to the European Union (EU) are increasing in recent times, helping exporters compensate the loss from the US market, industry insiders said.
Despite a weakening euro, they said shipment of woven items to the market of 27-nation regional bloc is on the rise, driven by relaxed rules of origin made effective in 2011.
Shipment of woven apparel to the US market edged down by 1.6 per cent, but export of woven products to the EU posted a 7.0 per cent growth in July-April of the outgoing fiscal year, compared with the same period a year ago, according to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data.
The country’s shipment of woven and knit products to the EU market amounted to $5.29 billion and $7.13 billion respectively during the same period, the data showed.
Exporters blamed the tragic industrial accidents including the Rana Plaza building collapse and Tazreen fire as well as 2013 political turmoil for the downtrend in apparel exports to the US last year.
Moreover, India and Vietnam are grabbing orders shifted from China as they are more competitive than Bangladesh, Aslam Sunny, vice president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), said, adding Bangladesh Taka is appreciating against US dollar while currencies of Vietnam and India are depreciating, making imports from Bangladesh costlier.
“And the GSP facility is one of main reasons why (our) woven exports are increasing in the EU market, despite woes in the US,” said Mr Murshedy, also former president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
20150607 * Pry textile millers for raising EDF limit to $25m, refund period to 270 days:
Primary textile millers sought on Saturday facilities including raising the limit of Export Development Fund (EDF) to $25 million from $15 million and repayment period to 270 days from 180 days.
They also demanded extension of the facilities to their other sub-sectors like weaving, dyeing and printing-finishing.
20150607 * Plea to drop 1.0pc tax at source on exports:
Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) Saturday sought withdrawal of 1.0 per cent tax at source on export proceeds, saying it would hinder the growth of the country’s largest foreign currency earner apparel and textile sectors.
Terming the proposed hike of such tax to 1.0 per cent from 0.30 per cent not time-befitting, EAB President Abdus Salam Murshedy in a statement said, “Bangladesh will lose its competitiveness in the global market and its potentiality will also be hampered in future due to such decision.”
read more. & read more.
20150607 * Tax at source to put negative impact on RMG: CMCCI:
Chittagong Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in its budget reaction said 1 per cent tax at source proposed in the budget for FY 2015-16 would have a negative impact on exports.
Vice-president of the CMCCI AM Mahbub Chowdhury made the comment on the budget proposals. He said the lion’s share of the export earnings comes from the RMG (ready-made garment) sector. So, imposition of source tax on RMG is illogical, he added.
RMG owners have shouldered wage enhancement of the workers while garment owners are facing problems adjusting with compliances enforced by foreign buyers, Mr Mahbub said.
Huge interest incurred on bank loan, factories run on diesel-run generators due to lack of adequate electricity and political instability have pushed the industry people at their back because foreign buyers offer orders at reduced prices. On the other hand, the ports have enhanced charges threefold, he added.
20150606 * Proposed hike in tax at source to affect RMG sector, say trade bodies:
Country’s apparel exporters on Friday opposed the budget proposal for increasing tax at source to one per cent on export and demanded to continue the existing tax at 0.30 per cent.
The proposed tax hike at source on exports is completely illogical and it would affect the future of readymade garment sector, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Atiqul Islam said at a press conference on the proposed budget.
He pointed out that the sector was facing a lot of challenges including safety inspections of buyers groups and image crisis caused by the political turmoil that occurred in first three months of the current year.
On an average Tk 5 crore had to be spent by each factory to make the unit compliant as per the corrective action plan provided by the brands and buyers groups, Atiqul said.
He said that the cost of production increased by 10 per cent in 2015 from 2013 as expenditure in workers’ wages increased by 15 per cent in the period.
read more. & read more.
20150606 * Apparel bodies for withdrawal of 1.0pc tax at source:
Trade bodies’ budget reactions
Strongly opposing the government’s proposal to increase tax at source on export proceeds, the leaders of the country’s apparel and textile sectors Friday demanded withdrawal of the same.
They apprehend that the rise in tax at source will further slow down exports as the production cost will go up and the highest foreign currency earner will lose global competition.
20150605 * ‘Source tax raise to hinder RMG production’:
Three top trade bodies of the country have observed that the proposed tax raise at source on exports will hamper the flow of production in garment sector.
BGMEA President Atiqul Islam made the observation in reaction to he budget that Finance Minister AMA Muhith placed in parliament on Thursday.
20150608 * BJMA demands withdrawal of increased tax at source:
The Bangladesh Jute Mills Association has demanded that the government should withdraw its proposal to impose an increased tax at source of one per cent on export prices in the national budget for the next fiscal year.
In the budget for the outgoing fiscal year the rate is 0.60 per cent.
The association has demanded that the government should set the tax at source at the rate of 0.30 per cent.
The hike in tax at source will put a negative impact on the sector as the demand for jute and jute goods decreased on the international market due to political instability in the Middle East, economic recession in the eurozone and appreciation of the US dollar against the Indian rupee, the trade body said in a news release issued on Saturday.
20150608 * 8 jute mills in Khulna go on strike:
State owned Jute Mills CBA and non-CBA Oikya Parishad has enforced a 24-hour strike at eight state-run jute mills in Khulna division to press home their six-point demands.
The strike that began from 6am on Monday will continue till 6am on Tuesday.
The Parishad called the strike on Sunday afternoon.
Major demands of the Parishad include adequate budgetary allocation to the state-run jute mills, payment of wages, dues of the jute mill workers and introducing a 20 percent dearness allowance.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150609 * Brand Bangladesh as ‘lucrative’ leather sourcing destination:
Managing Director of Apex Footwear Syed Nasim Manzur has urged stakeholders to brand Bangladesh in the international market as a lucrative sourcing destination for leather products.
He made the call at the 11th annual general meeting of Leathergoods & Footwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB), held Saturday in the city.
In his speech, Mr Manzur, also outgoing president of the trade group, spoke on the challenges that member factories had to face in the previous year such as tannery relocation and making industry more green, drastic fall in EURO value, supply chain disruption owing to domestic political conflict for long time.
20150608 * Seminar on relocation of Chinese companies to Bangladesh June 11:
Bangladesh Indenting Agents’ Association (BIAA) and China Council for the promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) is going to organise jointly an international seminar titled on “Relocation of Chinese Labour Intensive and High Tech Industries to Bangladesh” on June 11, 2015 in Kunming, China for relocation of Chinese hi-tech and labour intensive industries to Bangladesh.
About 100 manufacturers, industrialists, business entrepreneurs of both the countries will attend the seminar.
The seminar will be chaired by BIAA President Mr. M S Siddiqui. Mr. Wang Qingmin, Chairman of Yunnan Chamber of International Commerce will deliver welcoming speech. Sr. Vice-President of BIAA Dr. Jaglul A Mozumder will present key-note speech. Professor Mr. Wang Dehua, Director of South Asia Research Center of Tongji University, Mr. Asif Ibrahim, former president of DCCI will deliver their speech.
In the second session, B2B meetings have scheduled with participation of both countries to make the Seminar more creditworthy.
This is a golden opportunity for Bangladeshi entrepreneurs to get in contract with Chines counterpart and play due role for economic development of the country.
20150608 * Garment makers seek to build warehouses in India:
BGMEA aims to boost apparel exports to Indian market
Bangladeshi garment makers yesterday demanded 50 acres of land in Gujarat to build warehouses to supply apparel items directly to retail shops across India.
Warehousing is necessary as Bangladesh seeks to boost its annual garment exports to the Indian market to $1 billion in three years from about $100 million now, Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association or BGMEA.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150608 * MNCs under NBR scanner:
Multinational companies evade taxes abusing transfer pricing in different ways including capital flight …
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has geared up its activities to prevent money laundering and tax evasion by multinational companies (MNCs), with their associated companies abroad, through transfer mispricing.
The NBR has taken up the move to curb tax evasion by MNCs through abusing transfer pricing as it found such practices across the world.
MNCs evade taxes abusing transfer pricing in different ways including capital flight, transfer of dividend and profit to its permanent establishments or parent companies, over-invoicing and under-invoicing during transactions of goods and services within their associated enterprises, according to NBR officials.
Different studies show, the country lost a huge amount of tax and capital each year by way of transfer mispricing.
According to a study by the Washington-based Global Financial Integrity, Bangladesh is losing $1.8 billion every year through capital flight due to misuse of transfer pricing.
The study conducted in 2011 also stated that the country suffered the highest amount of illicit financial flow of $34.8 billion from 1990 to 2008.
20150604 * Women Garment Workers in Bangladesh Fight to Improve Working Conditions:
Anju Begum comes from a poor family in Bangladesh. Without an education and like many others before her, she took a job at a garment factory when she was a teenager.
It’s been more than 15 years since that day, and she still finds herself at a factory, sewing garments for the Western world.
She’s still poor, but something about her has changed.
Her eyes aren’t hardened from the years of manual labor or the lack of money saved.
She feels stronger, more purposeful.
And she appears before a film crew, stands tall with her face in full view, and speaks as if she had years of training before a camera.
“My name is Anju Begum. I am the president of my union. I am also a woman.”
Begum’s story of empowerment emerged on the heels of some of the world’s deadliest disasters in the garment industry. Two years ago, the Rana Plaza building collapsed just outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, killing more than 1,130 people and injuring some 2,500 more.
Eight stories of concrete crushed people who were threatened to work that day, despite definitive warnings that the building was unsafe. That accident came just five months after a fire at the Tazreen Factory killed 112 people who were trapped inside.
Chaumtoli Huq, a lawyer and senior research fellow at the American Institute for Bangladesh Studies, met Begum and was inspired by her story.
She and a local filmmaker, Mohammad Romel, teamed up to create a documentary on the workers’ rights movement.
After an initial crowd-funding campaign, they met 101% of its $8500 goal, and shooting began.
Anju Begum was one of several women they interviewed.
She probably never knew she’d someday become such a powerful voice in one of the biggest garment manufacturing industries in the world. Begum credits her union, the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Federation (BIGWF), for helping her gain the confidence she needed.
It educated her about her rights as woman, and empowered her to stand up to an abusive husband. Begum said, “most women are not aware of their rights, because most of us are not educated, especially Bangladesh women workers…
As a woman, I know my rights, and I can make other women aware of their rights, then we can move forward together.”
20150609 * Trust Fund meets $30m target to pay off all victims, families:
Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund has finally met its target of $30 million, required to compensate all the victims and their families of the industrial tragedy, said a statement of International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Rana Plaza Coordination Committee, representing all industry stakeholders, announced on Monday that it has raised the fund, required for ensuring full, fair and equitable payment to all victims in the coming weeks.
According to the statement, over $27 million had been raised by April 2015, and the committee had paid out 70 per cent of the awards promised to over 2,800 claimants.
Further donations, including one significant sum pledged late last week, mean that the target of $30m has been reached, and all final payments can be made now.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150608 * Rana Plaza victims’ compensation scheme secures funds needed to make final payments:
ILO Director-General encouraged by milestone reached but also says that important business remains to be dealt with.
The Rana Plaza Coordination Committee announced today that it has raised all the funds required to enable the scheme to make full payments to all victims in the coming weeks.
The Committee which represents all industry stakeholders had estimated that US$30m was required to ensure that all victims can receive fair and equitable compensation according to ILO Conventions.
By April 2015, the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza accident, over $27m had been raised and the Committee had paid out 70 per cent of the awards promised to over 2800 claimants. Further donations, including one significant sum pledged late last week mean that $30m has now been reached and all final payments can be made.
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder was encouraged by the action taken by the Government of Bangladesh, the country’s employers, workers, international brands, trade unions and NGOs on the Committee to ensure that fair compensation can now be paid to all victims of this terrible tragedy.
“This is a milestone but we still have important business to deal with. We must now work together to ensure that accidents can be prevented in the future, and that a robust national employment injury insurance scheme is established so that victims of any future accidents will be swiftly and justly compensated and cared for,” he said.
20150608 * funds now available to complete payments under the Rana Plaza arrangement:
On April 24th 2013 1134 people were killed and hundreds were injured when the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh collapsed.
The unprecedented scale of the disaster meant a coordinated, systematic approach was required to ensure the victims, their families and dependents would not have to endure ill-health and financial hardship resulting from the death of a family member or life changing injuries.
RPCC announce that sufficient funds now available to complete payments under the Rana Plaza arrangement
June 8th 2015
The Rana Plaza Coordination Committee are delighted to announce that the $30million target required in the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund has been met, following a large anonymous donation received in the last few days. For the full amounts received and pledged see www.ranaplaza-arrangement.org/donors.
With the funding target now met the Rana Plaza Claims Administration will begin work to finalise and pay all of the Awards agreed under the Arrangement, including loss of income payments, medical care and supplementary payments, to all eligible beneficiaries.
We expect that this work should be complete and all final amounts paid to beneficiaries over the coming weeks.
We will continue to provide progress reports until the final claims are processed and awarded.
The RPCC would like to thank all those who have dedicated so much time over the last two years to help design and implement such a ground-breaking initiative. In particular we would like to thank the ILO in Geneva and Dhaka for chairing and designing the programme, the Commissioners who have overseen the practical implementation of the Arrangement, the RPCA staff, members of the Coordination Committee and all those who agreed to donate to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund.
20150608 * Rana Plaza victims: Final compensation payments within weeks:
The Rana Plaza Coordination Committee has announced that it has raised all the funds required to enable the scheme to make full payments to all victims in the coming weeks.
The Committee which represents all industry stakeholders had estimated that US$30m was required to ensure that all victims can receive fair and equitable compensation according to ILO Conventions, according to a message received here from Geneva.
By April 2015, the second anniversary of the RanaPlaza accident, over $27m had been raised and the Committee had paid out 70 per cent of the awards promised to over 2800 claimants.
Further donations, including one significant sum pledged late last week mean that $30m has now been reached and all final payments can be made.
20150608 * Rana Plaza Donors Fund meets $30m target:
The Clean Clothes Campaign, an international organisation campaigning for the garment workers’ rights, on Monday announced that the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund has finally met its target of $30 million, following a large anonymous donation.
The CCC has been campaigning since immediately after the disaster in April 2013 asking the brands and retailers linked to Rana Plaza factories to compensate the victims.
‘Now all the families affected by the Rana Plaza collapse will receive all the money they are owed,’ said Ineke Zeldenrust of the Clean Clothes Campaign in a press release. ‘They can finally focus on rebuilding their lives. This is a remarkable moment for justice.’
20150608 * WE WON!! Rana Plaza workers get full compensation:
The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) is delighted to announce a major campaign victory with the confirmation that the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund has finally met its target of $30 million, following a large anonymous donation.
The CCC has been campaigning since the disaster in April 2013 to demand that brands and retailers provided compensation to its victims.
Since then over one million consumers from across Europe and around the world have joined actions against many of the major high street companies whose products were being made in one of the five factories housed in the structurally compromised building.
These actions forced many brands to finally pay donations and by the second anniversary the Fund was still $2.4 million dollars short of its $30million target.
A large donation received by the Fund in the last few days has now led to the Fund meeting its target.
“This day has been long in coming. Now that all the families impacted by this disaster will finally receive all the money that they are owed, they can finally focus on rebuilding their lives. This is a remarkable moment for justice,” said Ineke Zeldenrust of the Clean Clothes Campaign.
“This would not have been possible without the support of citizens and consumers across Europe who stuck with the campaign over the past two years. Together we have proved once again that European consumers do care about the workers who make their clothes – and that their actions really can make a difference.”
The Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund was set up by the ILO in January 2014 to collect funds to pay awards designed to cover loss of income and medical costs suffered by the Rana Plaza victims and their families when the Rana Plaza building collapsed in the garment industry’s worst ever disaster.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150603 * $1,000 for a Dead Family Member—Is That Justice for Bangladesh’s Garment Workers?:
Two years later, more than 1,100 dead, and millions of dollars in unpaid compensation. Amid the social toll of the 2013 Rana Plaza factory disaster in Bangladesh, activists can now count a modest victory in the victims’ struggle for justice.
The government this week announced 42 criminal prosecutions against clothing factory owners and officials, including the leading businessperson behind the giant compound, Sohel Rana.
They are charged with causing workers’ deaths through neglect and the regulatory failure to act on evidence of severe building hazards.
But taking stock of the lingering aftermath of the country’s worst industrial atrocity, activists now demand a different form of accountability—from both industry and the state.
“It’s outrageous that it took more than two years for these charges to be filed, particularly given the number of people who were killed and the clear evidence pointing to the fact that the death toll could have been prevented and that the collapse wasn’t simply an accident,” says Bangladeshi labor activist Kalpona Akter in an e-mail to The Nation.
Despite international outrage, global efforts to fix the labor crisis in garment factories have been hobbled by corporate and official impunity, according to the International Labor Rights Forum’s field report from Bangladesh.
Victims’ families still struggle to meet basic needs despite the millions that multinational companies have donated into a still-underfunded compensation trust.
The analysis reveals ongoing systemic problems in the industry’s low-cost export production chain, with thousands of factories paying millions of impoverished workers—mostly women—pennies an hour.
Life is still cheap in the industry. According to ILRF’s research, “The amounts of money given to workers who lost an arm or a leg or a family members was often $1000 or less.…
For a garment worker who survived on sewing or perhaps an entire family that depended on that income, getting $1000 is wholly inadequate when the worker has lost his or her ability to earn a living.”
(Even before the disaster, many victims were so desperately poor, they apparently returned to work at a compound clearly on the verge of collapse.)
Although Bangladeshi officials bowed to public pressure by raising garment-industry minimum wages and facilitating the creation of more unions, workers continue to face systematic violence.
“Very few of those unions…have been able to exercise their right to bargain collectively and several of their leaders have been brutally beaten,” the ILRF reports.
Chaumtoli Huq, an attorney researching labor issues in Bangladesh, says the prosecutions should be viewed in the context of the government’s other political troubles, including the migrant labor crisis that has left many impoverished Bangladeshis stranded at sea attempting to flee to Malaysia.
In Huq’s view, “The Government of Bangladesh’s labor record is abysmal…. In both migrant sector and garments, workers are vulnerable to abuse, and I think the timing of the action by Government now probably relates to a need to show some action.
The current government has appealed to the public on the grounds that it has improved economic conditions for the average working class citizen, but what is being consistently shown is that the government is not protecting workers from precarious employment.”
16:19:31 local time INDIA
20150608 * Garment factories compromise on safety, with overtime being the norm: report:
A report prepared by the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) and Perspectives team, which investigated the February 12 violence in garment factories in Udyog Vihar, has revealed how the workers were regularly harassed and allegedly beaten up by the company management.
Also, the report says, they were forced to work under precarious conditions on low wages, with overtime becoming a norm rather than an exception.
On February 12, hundreds of workers at garment factories in Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon, came out on the streets and pelted stones at some of the factory buildings in response to the rumoured death of a fellow worker, Sami Chand.
It was later revealed that Sami Chand had not died, but had been assaulted two days earlier by the staff of the company where he worked — Gaurav International.
After investigating the matter, the team found that the latest incident of a worker being beaten up by company officials was just one in the series of many incidents that are common in garment factories in and around the Delhi-Gurgaon border.
“Workers and local activists claim the former are regularly harassed, beaten, not paid adequately and verbally abused by the company management and bouncer-turned-guards. It is quite common for the worker to be attacked with a pair of scissors, a handy tool, by the supervisor/management or labour contractors. Women workers are often subjected to sexual abuse,” the report said.
Exploring a possible connection between the working and living conditions of the workers and recurring incidents of attacks and violence, the team found that though workers were paid minimum wages as per a Haryana government notification, the purchasing power of the wages had been falling continuously with the monthly basic salary of one of the most privileged kinds of tailors (Sampling Tailor) being a mere Rs.6,203 after the latest revision in 2015.
“Low salaries have made overtime a norm. According to some accounts, many workers put in an overtime of 100 hours per month (at present, legally, only 50 hours of overtime is permitted per quarter i.e. for three months),” said the report.
20150609 * ‘Pro-liberalisation policies have hit people hard’:
Pro-liberalisation policies of the Union and State governments have hit the common man hard and increased the disparities in wages, said Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) district unit secretary Balakrishna Shetty.
Addressing a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s Office, here on Monday, he said even post-graduates were getting a pittance as salary.
Besides labour laws not being implemented properly, the Centre was planning to merge 44 labour laws into four statutes.
Hence, the government had finalized a draft ‘Labour Code on Wages’ Bill, which does not provide for dearness allowance or enforcing minimum wages.
But there were enough provisions for removing workers and slashing wages.
20150609 * CITU protests against Centre’s ‘anti-people’, ‘anti-labour’ decisions:
Activists and workers on Monday took out a procession and staged a protest outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office here against the Centre’s “anti-people” and “anti-labour” decisions.
The protest was organised under the banner of the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) as part of a nationwide protest.
Later, in a memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, the CITU leaders urged Mr. Modi to abolish the ‘contract system’ and fix minimum monthly wages of Rs. 15,000 for workers in unorganised sectors.
They also demanded the benefits of provident fund scheme and pension scheme for all sections of labourers and workers, and regularisation of services for all anganwadi workers and accredited social health activists.
Weakening of labour laws
Our Bidar Correspondent reports:
Members of CITU took out a protest in Bidar on Monday against what they called the weakening of labour protection laws by the Union government.
They walked to Ambedkar Circle holding placards and shouting slogans against the government.
They complained that the Union government had taken regressive steps like regularising child labour in family and industries. In the name of reforming labour laws, the government was pushing some bills only to weaken the existing labour welfare laws, they said.
20150608 * CITU protests against Union Govt policies:
Hundreds of factory workers led by Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) staged a protest in the city on Monday condemning the “anti-people” and “anti-labour” policies of the BJP-led NDA Government.
The CITU office bearers said they wanted to highlight the failures of the Centre in not fulfilling its promises and living up to the expectations of the people.
Though oil prices have collapsed in the international market, Centre has hiked the prices of petroleum and related products on five occasions in the last one year without giving relief to the people, according to the CITU.
It said there was no difference between the BJP-led NDA and the Congress-led UPA Governments and described them as two sides of the same coin.
20150608 * 3 more jute mills shut in Hooghly:
More than 12000 workers were rendered jobless on Sunday, when the authorities of India Jute Mill in Serampore, Hastings Jute Mill in Rishra and North Brook Jute Mill in Bhadreswar issued suspension of work notices.
This happened within 24 hours of the visit of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who met and spoke to jute workers in Rishra on Saturday.
The mill authorities pointed out day-to-day labour problems and increasing cost of raw material as the reasons behind the move. Earlier, five jute mills out of 15 in Hooghly were shut down.
to read. & read more.
20150608 * Textile makers face pressure of cheap Chinese import:
Urges the govt to remove 12.5% tax on yarn
Indian textile manufacturers face the pressure of cheap import of synthetic yarn from China.
They blame the 12.5 per cent excise levy on the product for not being able to compete in price, and have urged the government to remove it.
In the first 11 month of 2014-15, staple fibre import rose to $197 million as compared to $149 mn in the same period of 2013-14, showed data compiled by the Synthetic & Rayon Textile Export Promotion Council (SRTEPC).
In the past two years, Chinese cost of manufacturing has gone up — wages, energy and financing. Consequently, their export share has gone down by 10-12 per cent.
However, the capacity additions made in two years have resulted in excess availability of synthetic yarn and fibre, says the industry here, alleging this being dumped in India.
20150607 * Power struggle looms large in Kolkata’s Phulia homes:
The unrelenting sun could not deter the weavers of this little town where every house is a handloom workshop.
They assembled in the Tangail Tantujibi Unnayan Samabay Samity building, then met in the BDO Hall. They’d met PM Modi after his return from China, to hand him a memorandum of their woes concerning powerloom.
And now, CM Mamata Banerjee too will be in Dhaka with him. What better time to remind them that, besides ‘Tin Bigha’ land and water flowing down Teesta, the two Bengals are still knitted through the warp and weft of saris?
A two-hour drive from Dum Dum took Jaya Jaitly, founder-president of Dastkari Haat Samiti, to Phulia, her second stop after Indore and before Bhagalpur.
She’s on a mission to witness, record and advise weavers, some of whom are continuing with the heritage of their forefathers, some of whom are changing with times.
For Ruby Pal Chowdhury, general secretary of W B Crafts Council, the route is a weekly outing. She collects their treasures for Artisana at Chowringhee Terrace; Jaitly provides them with an all-India forum at Dilli Haat, in Chennai, in Karnataka….
But decorated mastercraftsman Ramananda Basak and his brethren are besieged at home. Powerloom products are capturing this bastion of handloom heritage just miles from Krishnagore and Nabadwip.
Handloom and powerloom textiles play a significant role on both sides of the Indo-Bangla border.
They generate employment and increase income for the people and the governments.
But, under an Indo-Bangla cooperation treaty, Bangladesh can send 37 items to India duty free. This includes powerloom products.
20150608 * Textile MSMEs look to drop in raw material prices to check fall in profit margins:
The textile sector accounts for about 14 per cent of India’s industrial production and nearly 12 per cent of the country’s export earnings.
CRISIL has analysed the performance of more than 200 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the textile sector, rated on the basis of their financials during the period 2011-12 to 2013-14 (financial year April 1 to March 31).
The analysis reveals that while net sales have registered a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20 per cent, the operating profit and net profit margins have declined by 10-30 basis points (one percentage point is 100 basis points) during the three-year period.
20150609 * Textile entrepreneurs press for relaxation of cabotage rules:
A group of textile entrepreneurs from Tirupur cluster and its hinterland called on State Industries Minister P. Thangamani for requesting the State Government to represent the grievances of the textile sector pertaining to cabotage rules and subsidy under Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) to Centre.
Prabhu Damodaran, secretary of the Texpreneur Forum which coordinated the pleas, told The Hindu that the present cabotage rule prevents the foreign vessels from carrying cargo from one Indian port to another even if the ship from abroad has adequate space left after off-loading certain quantity of cargo in one of the Indian ports en-route to another Indian port.
“These restrictions are hampering the transportation of raw materials like cotton from Gujarat via sea route as services by Indian vessels between one Indian port to another port are much lesser when compared to the foreign vessels shuttling between our ports.
If cotton is transported instead by lorries, only smaller quantities can be forwarded and also the transportation costs goes up steeply,” he said.
20150606 * Taxes, imports damaging ‘made in India’ synthetic textiles:
The synthetic textiles industry has sought a complete recast of excise and customs regime for itself, relating it with cotton, to be able to compete with Bangladesh, China and Vietnam and not lose out on the ” Make in India” campaign.
“A poor man wearing synthetic shirt of Rs 200 bears highest excise and tax burden, whereas a rich man wearing cotton shirt of Rs 1,000 bears no excise or taxes,” said Anil Rajvanshi, chairman of the Synthetic and Rayon Textiles Export Promotion Council (SRTEPC).
“This has fragmented and weakened the industry. You have to save this industry or else we will not be able to sustain and give way to countries like China, Vietnam and Bangladesh to march past India,” Rajvanshi wrote in a letter to textiles minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar.
20150609 * 3 shoe majors to set foot in West Bengal:
International shoe brands Clarks, Hush Puppies and Caterpillar will soon be manufactured in Bengal with Farida Group from Chennai, the country’s largest footwear company, setting up a unit at Gosaipur in South Dinajpur, which will churn out 3,000 pairs of branded shoes a day.
Farida Group chairman Rafeeque Ahmed told TOI that the unit would begin commercial production by the end of the year. “When the unit begins full-fledged operation, it will have a 3,000-strong, all-women workforce,” he said.
Two other shoe majors—UP-based Super House and Allanasons from Mumbai—are also in the process of finalizing investment in the state.
Announcing the entry of three leather majors into Bengal, state finance minister Amit Mitra pitched it as a major boost to the leather industry here. Bengal, which has been the largest exporter of leather and leather goods, had recently slipped to the second spot with Tamil Nadu overtaking it.
Now, industry analysts believe Bengal will be able to reclaim its numero uno position.
20150609 * Monsoon forecast forces farmers to stick to cotton:
Motivated by the higher prevailing rates of cotton, farmers in Punjab are opting for the fibre crop. Last year, farmers suffered on account of fall in exports and damage to crop due to untimely rains.
Raw cotton is selling in the range of Rs 4,600-4,800 per quintal, which has driven farmers to pick the fibre crop again this kharif season.
Even in neighbouring Haryana and Rajasthan, area under cotton is likely to go up. While sowing of the crop is nearly over in Punjab and Haryana, officials and experts said about 15% planting was still pending in Rajasthan.
Farmers in the cotton belt, comprising Bathinda, Mansa, Barnala, Muktsar, Fazilka and Faridkot, are preferring to grow cotton given the forecast of deficient monsoon rainfall in Punjab.
Weaker monsoon and erratic power supply may force farmers to spend more on water-intensive paddy crop for which they have to draw groundwater using diesel-run pumpsets.
20150608 * Maharashtra government reduces price of Bt Cotton Seeds:
The Maharashtra government has issued a notification which makes it mandatory for seed companies selling the varieties Bt Bollguard 1 and 2 to cut prices by Rs 100.
However, there will be no change in the price of non-Bt Hybrid Cotton seeds, the government said.
Since 40 companies did not comply with provisions of law, the government has confiscated 30.26 lakh Bt seed packets and cancelled 40 licences, state agriculture minister Eknath Khadse said.
The Maharashtra government had earlier appealed to Bt Cotton seeds producers to reduce prices by Rs 100 for 450 grams in view of the agrarian distress in the state. There are 104 organisations registered to produce Bt Cotton in the state.
16:19:31 local time SRI LANKA
20150606 * European Union to restore GSP Plus facility before December – Govt.:
*Responds positively to Sri Lanka’s re-application
*Removal of ban on fish exports also expected
The government expects the European Union to restore the GSP Plus facility which was withdrawn in 2010 over the previous regimes failure to comply with international labour regulations and its poor human rights record before the end of this year.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith P. Perera said in Colombo last week that the EU had responded positively to Sri Lanka’s re-application for the GSP Plus facility and talks between the two sides were proceeding smoothly.
“We expect the special GSP concessions to be restored before the end of this year,” he said.
The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government, he revealed, had engaged the EU constructively unlike the previous administration which had adopted a confrontationist attitude resulting in a large number of Sri Lankan exporters especially in the garment sector and other small and medium scale industrialists being left in the lurch.
15:49:31 local time PAKISTAN
20150607 * Women liberation: Bill for women’s protection set to be tabled before PA:
The Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Bill has been approved by the Standing Committee on Social Welfare and Baitul Maal and will be placed before the Punjab Assembly in the coming session, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The committee met on Friday and was informed about various concerns raised by civil society organisations which the Law Department took note of.
According to the draft of the approved Bill, the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence 2015 includes protection from crimes including abetment of an offence; domestic abuse; emotional, psychological and verbal abuse; economic abuse; stalking; and cybercrime.
It has provisions for Violence against Women Centres (VAWC) and shelters to be established in all districts under a phased programme.
The draft says an aggrieved woman or an authorised person representing the aggrieved, including a women protection officer, would be able to submit a complaint in court to obtain a protection order, residence order or monetary order.
The penalties for filing a false complaint, breach of court orders and tampering with GPS tracker exits are imprisonment and fine.
20150609 * On governance: ‘Public money is being spent irrationally’:
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Ejaz Chaudhry said on Monday the country’s economy was struggling but the government had spent millions of rupees on purchasing vehicles for ministers and secretaries.
“The government has purchased three dozen vehicles for Rs205 million in violation of rules,” Chauhdry, a political adviser PTI chairman Imran Khan, said in a statement. He said the government had failed to provide relief to the common man.
He accused government of stealing people’s mandate. He criticised the government for announcing various taxes in the budget. He said raising minimum wage from Rs12,000 to Rs13,000 was not enough. “Can they [government leaders] make both ends meet with a monthly income of Rs13,000?”
PTI leader Yasmin Rashid accused rulers of living luxurious lives at the expense of the nation.
She said 60 per cent of the population lived below the poverty line. She said government’s policies had added to the woes of the people.
20150607 * APWC for fixing minimum wage at Rs20,000:
All Pakistan Workers Confederation, in an emergent meeting of trade unions’ representatives and workers held Saturday at Bakhtiar Labour Hall, passed a resolution declaring that the proposed federal budget for 2015-16 had not wooed the social and economic sufferings of the poor masses and the working class.
The federal government, instead of raising revenue for the welfare of the common citizens by taxing the elite and feudal lords and crony and capitalists who are transferring their wealth to Swiss bank and Dubai, has reduced tax collection this year 7.
5% than previous year 10.
At the same time, it has raised the expenditures of the President and Prime Minister’s Houses @ 8% than the previous year whereas paltry rise in the pay and salaries and pension of the employees and pensioners was only @7.
5% while the minimum wages had been fixed only Rs.13000 per month, whereas, the Punjab Assembly in a resolution passed unanimously had decided to raise their monthly allowance @ 100%.
20150609 * Conference of trade unions’ reps, workers held:
National conference of trade unions’ representatives and workers was held on Monday under the aegis of All Pakistan Workers Confederation at Islamabad Press Club against the proposed privatization of national public utilities on the behest of IMF and federal budget which failed to tackle aggravating unemployment and rising poverty.
A large number of the various trade unions’ representatives, member of Senate Mrs Nafisa and representatives of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and civil society including Jawad Ahmed addressed the conference.
At this occasion, veteran trade union leader Khurshid Ahmad, general secretary of the Confederation, urged the working class and civil society to galvanize their struggle and asked the government to raise the wages and salaries of the workers and pensions at least 50% and also fix the minimum wages Rs20,000 per month.
20150606 * Trade unions dub budget ‘pro-elite’:
Labour and trade unions rejected on Friday the federal budget of 2015-16, calling it disappointing, anti-labour and pro-business-cum-ruling class.
They also criticised the PML government for awarding, what they said, peanuts to government employees and unskilled labour in pay, pension and daily wages.
Mutahidda Labour Federation Punjab general secretary Hanif Ramay said the federal budget appeared to be the budget for the business class as the man on the street hod get no relief as usual.
He said only Rs1,000 increase to the daily wages of unskilled labour had disappointed the labours as 80 percent of the private industry was not even paying the minimum wage of Rs12,000.
20150606 * Workshop on Water efficiency in textile industry:
A two-day workshop on “Water efficiency in textile industry” concluded on Friday. The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) organised the workshop.
The project on the water efficiency in the textile industry will be implemented by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The main objective of this workshop was to unveil the initiative and devise its road map that will lead to efficient use of water resources in the textile mills.
APTMA spokesman said, “Pakistan is on the verge of being classified as a ‘water scarce’ country where 69 percent of industrial water is being used in textile process.
It has been experienced that 20 to 30 percent of water can be saved in textile industry by just adopting better housekeeping practices.”
20150606 * Package for textile industry:
The government on Friday announced that the special package unveiled last year under the Textile Policy 2014-19 will remain available for the sector during 2015-16 as well.
In his budget speech, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that under the Textile Policy 2014-19 financial package of Rs64.15 billion has been approved in order to double the textile exports and create 3 million additional jobs by the year 2019.
The benefit of drawback of local taxes and levies scheme will remain available to the exporters in 2015-16 under which they would be entitled to the drawback on FOB values of their enhanced exports if increased beyond 10 per cent of their previous year’s exports, as per the rates: garments (4pc), made-ups (2pc); and processed fabric (1pc).
20150607 * Incentives for textile sector in budget:
The government has announced to continue drawback of Local Taxes & Levies Scheme for the textile exporters in the FY 2015-16 under which they will be entitled to the drawback on Freight on Board (FOB) values of their enhanced exports, if increased beyond 10 percent of their previous year’s exports.
The federal Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar while presenting the federal budget 2015/16 in the Lower House of the Parliament announced that the rates will be four percent for garments, two percent for made-ups and one percent for processed fabric.
Textiles industry is the mainstay of Pakistan’s economy. It accounts for more than 50% of our exports value and is the single largest employment provider in the manufacturing sector.
20150607 * PYMA decries imposition of taxes, duties:
Downpour of taxes, duties, levies and cess through budget, mini-budget and pre-budget has given a crushing blow to business trade industry and economic activity in the country.
Pakistan Yarn Merchants Association (PYMA) Central Chairman Qaisar Shamas Guccha, Zonal Chairman Akram Pasha and Zonal Vice-Chairman Adnan Zahid expressed these apprehensions while talking to media on Saturday.
20150607 * Budget lacks measures to help textile exports: PTEA:
Budget makers have failed to give direction to industrial progress, trading activity, reduction in cost of doing business and enhancing the competitive edge of Pakistani goods in international market.
Government has not addressed the challenges hurting the exports. Responding to the budget measures, Chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) Sohail Pasha and Vice Chairman Rizwan Riaz Saigal, in a statement here on Saturday, pointed out the glaring shortcomings of federal budget 2015-16.
Foremost objective of the budget is to give the direction and fillip to manufacturing, business and trade of the country enabling these sectors optimum utilization of available resources in order to maximize their output increasing their contribution and share to the GDP.
But contrary to expectations, no heed had been paid towards this most important sector of national economy and architects of the budget have failed to realize the importance of major irritations besetting the economy and outline a strategy for their solutions, they said.
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20150606 * Budget fails to cheer textile sector:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) termed the budget disappointing while Lahore Chamber of Commerce of Industry (LCCI) and others have termed it ‘growth-oriented’.
Chairman APTMA S M Tanveer said the government has provided nominal relief for new investments and increase in exports.
‘It is squeezing exports of the zero rated sector by collecting non-refundable taxes on many of its inputs including diesel used for power generation, Gas Infrastructure Development Cess and other local taxes, while these taxes are refundable in competing economies,’ he said.
20150606 * Aptma terms budget ‘anti-export’:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association Chairman S M Tanveer has said the federal budget 2015-16 is an anti-exports budget.
He was reacting soon after to the budget speech of Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. The association chairman listened to the budget speech with the top association leadership at the Punjab House. Chairman Sheikh Muhammad Akbar and group leader Gohar Ejaz was also present.
Tanveer said all steps taken in the federal budget 2015-16 were anti-spinning industry. “It will add further to the cost of doing business of the textile industry in Pakistan,” he added.
20150606 * PLGMEA terms federal budget as balanced:
Fawad Ijaz Khan Patron-in-Chief Pakistan Leather Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PLGMEA) and Atif Ashraf Chairman PLGMEA have termed Federal Budget 2015-16 balanced for Leather Garments and Leather Goods Exporters.
Atif Ashraf was thankful to the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for accepting the long outstanding demand of Leather industry to exempt the local purchase of raw hides and skins from sales tax.
20150609 * Not even a single deal reported on cotton market in post-budget session:
Not a single deal reported in post-budget session on the cotton market on Monday, dealers said.
The official spot rate did not move any side at Rs 5500, dealers said. Commenting on the lacklustre business on the cotton market, cotton analyst, Naseem Usman said rising uncertainties over the issue of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC), raise in value-addition and increase in power rates forced main participants to take a sideline to observe prevailing development.
20150607 * South Punjab: ‘Illegal sugar mills damaging cotton sector’:
Setting up unlawful sugar mills in south Punjab will have detrimental effects on the cotton and ginning industries of this area. This was stated by Citizen Commission Convener for Economic Development Mujtaba Amjad Pirzada in a statement.
He said that south Punjab produced 5 million bales of cotton during the previous season.
More than 500 cotton ginning factories are operational that reflects the volume of cotton production in this area.
Despite stay orders of higher courts, unlawful construction of sugar mills in Bahawalpur and Muzzafargarh is being carried out, blatantly disregarding the imperatives of the national economy and local needs.
He said that incessant construction of sugar mills is destroying the economic balance of the area and, consequently, the land is barren speedily due to salinity and water logging.
He further stated that the construction of sugar mills is disregarding national laws, rules and regulations, and hurting the textile and cotton industries.
He emphasised that the cotton industry holds an important place in the economy and hence, any destructive effect could create serious repercussions.
20150608 * School health: ‘Noise from power looms affecting learning at schools’:
Noise pollution from power looms impedes students’ ability to learn in schools near industrial zones.
This was observed by Rabia Qurban Baghdadi, a faculty member of the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, in her study titled Impact of Power Looms Operating in Faisalabad on Minds and Faculties of Schoolchildren.
The report, made public on May 15, says while the power loom industry was major source of employment in Faisalabad, noise pollution from looms was affecting cognitive development of schoolchildren, especially those under the age of 10 years.
The report notes that this could be one of the factors behind high drop-out rates.
“When children cannot understand lessons, they are unable to respond to teachers positively. This is often frustrating for teachers who scold them or punish them for failing to grasp various concepts,” she wrote.
20150608 * Official apathy: Case lingers on as prosecutor yet to be appointed in Baldia factory fire case:
Amid changing investigations, chilling revelations and apathy on the part of the government, the Baldia factory fire case is making little headway. Three years have passed since the deadly fire claimed the lives of hundreds of labourers, yet the authorities seem to have little interest in prosecuting the case.
Hearing the case on Friday after a 21-day gap, the West district’s additional sessions judge, Naushaba Kazi, expressed displeasure over the vacant place of the state’s counsel and observed that if the authorities did not assign a lawyer by the next hearing, the court will formally approach them again.
Four months on, the government has yet to task an attorney to pursue the case since the resignation of special public prosecutor Shazia Hanjrah. Hanjrah, a high court lawyer, had detached herself from the case following the unearthing of a stark joint investigation team’s (JIT) report that had changed its trajectory.
20150606 * Court slams govt for failing to appoint prosecutor in Baldia factory fire case:
Slamming the government for failing to take interest in Baldia factory fire tragedy, a district and sessions court in Karachi adjourned on Saturday the hearing of the case till July 4, Express News reported.
Fire in Ali Enterprises – a garment factory in Baldia Town – burnt 259 people alive on September 11, 2012.
District and sessions court judge Noshaba Qazi said the non-appointment of a special public prosecutor in the case clearly shows lack of interest on part of the government. The court, as a result, decided not to hear the case.
In February, Shazia Hanjrah had detached herself from the case as special public prosecutor, citing the lack of cooperation of the investigators.
20150607 * Report sought on ‘arrest’ of absconder in factory fire case:
A sessions court on Saturday directed the police to inform it about the whereabouts of an absconder in the Baldia factory fire case.
The owner of the ill-fated industrial unit, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, and his two sons, Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, general manager Mansoor and three gatekeepers have been booked in the tragic incident in which over 250 workers were burnt alive in September 2012.
On a previous hearing, one of the defence lawyers, through an application, submitted that the law enforcement agencies had picked up Shahrukh, an absconder in the case, and since then he had been missing.
Additional District and Sessions Judge (west) Naushaba Kazi called a report from the police on the next date as to whether the absconding accused was in custody.
The court also issued a notice to the investigation officer of the case, SP Sajid Sadozai, over his absence and adjourned the hearing till July 4.
20150608 * SACTWU members in cotton textile secttor to receive an 8.5% wage increase:
The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) is pleased to announce that its members in the Cotton Textile sector will receive an 8.5% wage increase this year.
This is in consequence of a wage agreement signed between SACTWU and the South African Cotton & Textile Processing Employers’ Association (SACTPEA), in August last year.
The agreement was negotiated and concluded under the auspices of the National Textile Bargaining Council (NTBC).
Approximately 5000 cotton textile sector workers spread in 71 companies nationally, will benefit from the agreement.
The new wage rates will range between R27.28 per hour for a Grade 1 worker in this sector, to a new hourly rate of R31.30 for a Grade 5 machine operator. There are only 5 occupational grades applicable in this sector.
This will mean a significant cash injection into the South African economy, of about R7.8m in additional wages, over the next 12 months.
20150607 * Load-shedding forces large numbers of workers into unpaid short-time:
Many workers and factories in the clothing, textile, footwear and leather (CTFL) manufacturing sectors are struggling under the load-shedding crisis which has afflicted South Africa.
For workers, the crisis often leads to short-time (when workers are sent home during load-shedding and periods thereafter and do not earn any wages during this time).
These are some of the findings of a survey conducted by the SA Labour Research Institute (SALRI), the research wing of the SA Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU), in preparation for the union’s Fashion Imbizo, taking place in Cape Town on 9 June 2015 under the theme: “Energising the CTFL sector: the energy crisis and emerging opportunities”.
The survey covered 112 companies nationally in the CTFL and allied industries engaged in the manufacture of, amongst others, fibres or yarn, knitted or woven fabric, wearing apparel, leather, footwear, general leather goods and handbags. These companies employ almost 17,000 workers.
The intention of the survey was to identify the effect load-shedding has on the industry and workers and what companies are doing to mitigate this.
As a result of load-shedding, 17% of workers in companies surveyed have been put on short-time, meaning about 1 in 6 workers have sat at home at some stage with no pay due to load-shedding.
In addition, 14% of workers are facing the possibility of short-time in the near future.
There is also concern of future retrenchments occurring as a result of problems with the supply of electricity.
20150605 * SACTWU settles general goods and handbags leather sector negotiations:
The Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has settled its 2015 wage negotiations for the General Goods & Handbags leather sector.
The settlement was negotiated under the auspices of the National Bargaining Council for the Leather Manufacturing Industry of South Africa.
A 7.5% wage increase was agreed to, with the Association of South African Manufacturers of Luggage, Handbags & General Goods, which is the organisation representing employers in the sector. The trade union agency fee has also been increase from R12.75 to R14.75 per week.
The wage increase comes into effect nationally on 1 July 2015 and is effective for a one year period.
This sector covers 83 factories in the sector, employing approximately 2000 workers.
* Asean Has Potential to Seize China’s Crown as the World’s Factory, Report Says:
Indonesia and its peers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations peers are well-positioned to take up China’s role in the global supply chain as the region prepares for economic integration at the end of the year, according to a report by a global business consultancy.
“As China’s population ages and the workforce becomes more expensive, Asean can offer the full value chain to multinational companies, from, say, research and development in Singapore, to labor-intensive manufacturing in Indonesia and Vietnam, supported by business process outsourcing in the Philippines,” Paolo Tavolato, head of Asia Pacific at TMF, an Amsterdam-based global consulting firm, said in a statement on Monday.
In the report, “The Asean Community: Capturing the Zeitgeist of Rising Asia,” Tavolato cited Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology — the largest electronics component manufacturer in the world — and its plan to shift production to Indonesia from China over the next three to five years as an example.
“The [Asean Economic Community] would enable the creation of a seamless pan-Asean manufacturing hub in a unified economy instead of individual countries,” he added.
* If your clothes aren’t already made out of plastic, they will be:
Polyester has been a fixture in our closets since 1951.
That’s when the first polyester suits, made from fabric created not by a textile mill but by the American chemical company DuPont, went on sale.
It has come a long way since. Today, polyester is no longer the ugly, uncomfortable material of awful 1970s double-knit leisure suits, the kind that necessitated a marketing campaign to rehabilitate the fabric’s image.
Nowadays, polyester is easy to miss unless you check fabric tags rigorously.
It’s already ubiquitous in our most basic garments, such as t-shirts, dresses, and jeans, while calling almost no attention to itself—and that’s the point.
It has become essentially invisible, even as it rapidly takes over our wardrobes.
As production of cotton, the world’s most popular natural fiber, has plateaued, polyester has stepped in to fill the void.
Because it’s inexpensive, easy to blend with other materials, remarkably improved in its look and feel, and no worse for the environment than conventionally grown cotton, it has allowed us to keep churning out more and more cheap clothes without a hiccup.
That basically means that our clothes are increasingly made of plastic. Polyester is a polymer, or a long chain of repeating molecular units.
The most common variety is polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, a plastic derived from crude oil that’s used to make soda and ketchup bottles.
When melted, it has the consistency of cold honey, and if you squeeze it through a spinneret, kind of like the shower head in your bathroom, you get long, continuous filaments.
Draw those filaments out into thin fibers, weave lots of those fibers together, and you have a fabric.
In theory, cotton is biodegradable and polyester is not.
But the thing is, the way we dispose of clothing makes that irrelevant.
For cotton clothes to break down, they have to be composted, which doesn’t happen in a landfill.
“They need to go to a facility that chops them up and then gives them water and oxygen and nutrients and that kind of thing,” Greer tells Quartz. “Suffice it to say that very, very little solid waste has that disposal destiny.”
The bottom line is that while the rise of polyester is not good news for the planet, a big increase in cotton production wouldn’t be any better.
Squashed at the bottom of a landfill like this, even cotton takes an eternity to break down.(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)