Textile union appeals to global brands over fair wages, jobs

A fashion show in India, where one trade union is urging global garment brands to help improve working conditions. (Reuters)
Updated 16 February 2018

Textile union appeals to global brands over fair wages, jobs

CHENNAI: An Indian trade union has asked 130 global garment brands for help in a dispute with a major label supplier in a rare move by workers that campaigners said spotlights an unmapped part of the supply chain.
The Garment and Textile Workers Union (GATWU) said a demand for fair wages and the reinstatement of more than 50 employees dismissed in recent months from Avery Dennison’s factory in southern Karnataka state was from the “invisible worker.”
Unions and activists say as companies volunteer to map their supply chains, labor violations at the end of complex manufacturing and distribution networks are often hard to spot.
“We wrote to brands because these workers are part of their supply chain and are being treated unfairly,” said Jayaram Kottagarahalli Ramaiah, an adviser at GATWU, which has an active membership of more than 5,000 workers in Karnataka.
“Workers tried to talk with management in recent months, wore black bands in protest and some went on a hunger strike, but to no avail,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
California-based Avery Dennison — which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of labels, graphic tags and price tickets to the apparel industry — has denied all allegations.
In a complaint to Avery Dennison’s management, the global brands and the state labor department, the union said many of the workers had been employed on contract for at least five years and should have been made permanent staff.
Calling the terminations illegal, GATWU accused the company of not paying minimum wages and benefits, and of threatening to close the factory should contract workers unionize.
Under Indian law, companies may hire contract workers for jobs that are not part of their “core work,” but must ensure payment of the minimum wage and access to benefits.
Avery Dennison’s director of human resources for South Asia, Saurav Kumar, said engaging contract employees was both common practice and legal. Permanent jobs were offered to workers based on the company’s requirements.
“Currently, a recruitment drive is going on ... Contract workers who have the experience of working on machines in Avery Dennison are being given preference over external candidates,” he said.
The dispute is the latest in a series of rows between workers and management in India’s multibillion-dollar textile and garment industry that employs about 45 million workers.
Campaigners have complained that a growing number of workers at suppliers have been suspended or dismissed within days of joining unions or attending union events.
Brands have expressed concerns over accusations of discrimination against unionists, said Martin Buttle of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), which brings together brands, unions, factory-owners and civil society groups.
Avery Dennison is not an ETI member but does supply labels to many ETI members, including H&M, Gap and Inditex.
“ETI members recognize that the human rights of workers, including their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, should be respected,” Buttle said.
Avery Dennison had “agreed to keep them updated on their actions,” Buttle said.
Gowrish Venkategowda, 32, said Avery Dennison’s factory told him on Feb. 1 that his services as a data-entry operator earning 12,000 rupees ($187) a month were no longer needed.
“Then they went and hired people on daily wages to do the job I have done for the last 14 years,” he said.


OPEC sees small 2020 oil deficit even before latest supply cut

Updated 12 December 2019

OPEC sees small 2020 oil deficit even before latest supply cut

  • OPEC keeps its 2020 economic and oil demand growth forecasts steady and is more upbeat about the outlook

LONDON: OPEC on Wednesday pointed to a small deficit in the oil market next year due to restraint by Saudi Arabia even before the latest supply pact with other producers takes effect, suggesting a tighter market than previously thought.

In a monthly report, OPEC said demand for its crude will average 29.58 million barrels per day (bpd) next year. OPEC pumped less oil in November than the average 2020 requirement, having in previous months supplied more.

The report retreats further from OPEC’s initial projection of a 2020 supply glut as output from rival producers such as US shale has grown more slowly than expected. This will give a tailwind to efforts by OPEC and partners led by Russia to support the market next year.

OPEC kept its 2020 economic and oil demand growth forecasts steady and was more upbeat about the outlook.

“On the positive side, the global trade slowdown has likely bottomed out, and now the negative trend in industrial production seen in 2019 is expected to reverse in 2020,” the report said.

Oil prices were steady after the report’s release, trading near $64 a barrel, below the level some OPEC officials have said
they favor.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers, a group known as OPEC+, have since Jan. 1 implemented a deal to cut output by 1.2 million bpd to support the market. At meetings last week, OPEC+ agreed to a further cut of 500,000 bpd from Jan. 1 2020.

The report showed OPEC production falling even before the new deal takes effect.

In November, OPEC output fell by 193,000 bpd to 29.55 million bpd, according to figures the group collects from secondary sources, as Saudi Arabia cut supply.

Saudi Arabia told OPEC it made an even bigger cut in supply of over 400,000 bpd last month. The Kingdom had boosted production in October after attacks on its oil facilities in September briefly more than halved output.

The November production rate suggests there would be a 2020 deficit of 30,000 bpd if OPEC kept pumping the same amount and other factors remained equal, less than the 70,000 bpd surplus implied in November’s report and an excess of over 500,000 bpd seen in July. OPEC and its partners have been limiting supply since 2017, helping to revive prices by clearing a glut that built up in 2014 to 2016. But higher prices have also boosted US shale and other rival supplies.

In the report, OPEC said non-OPEC supply will grow by 2.17 million bpd in 2020, unchanged from the previous forecast but 270,000 less than initially thought in July as shale has not grown as quickly as first thought.

“In 2020, non-OPEC supply is expected to see a continued slowdown in growth on the back of decreased investment and lower drilling activities in US tight oil,” OPEC said, using another term for shale.