Banglasdeshi workers strike
Thousands of Bangladesh garment workers blocked roads and attacked factories outside the capital Dhaka yesterday demanding a US$100 minimum monthly wage. The workers, many carrying sticks, walked off the job in dozens of garment factories, which make apparel for the world’s top retailers, and protested for hours on highways in the major industrial areas of Gazipur, Mouchak and Ashulia. Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest garment exporter, with apparel shipments from its 4,500 factories accounting for 80 percent of its US$27 billion annual exports. However, the vast majority of the nation’s 3 million workers earn a basic monthly wage of 3,000 taka (US$38) — among the lowest in the in the world — following a tripartite deal between unions, the government and manufacturers in August 2010.
Tissue factory taken over
A state agency on Friday ordered the temporary takeover of a factory that produces toilet paper in what it called an effort to ensure consistent supplies after embarrassing shortages earlier this year. Critics of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro say the nagging shortages of products ranging from bathroom tissue to milk are a sign his socialist government’s rigid price and currency controls are failing. They have also used the situation to poke fun at his administration on social media networks. A national agency called Sundecop, which enforces price controls, said in a statement it would occupy one of the factories belonging to paper producer Manpa for 15 days, adding that National Guard troops would “safeguard” the facility.
Upgrades aid AT&T sales
AT&T Inc, the second-biggest US wireless carrier, said it would report third-quarter smartphone sales similar to the 6.8 million it had from April to June, aided by new upgrade programs. The result will be a record for any third quarter in AT&T’s history, the company said in a statement on Friday. Fourth-quarter smartphone upgrades will decline from a year earlier, though, because some customers went ahead and got new phones already. AT&T began providing an option in July to pay for phones and tablets on an installment plan, with the ability to upgrade yearly. The promotion mimicked a service by T-Mobile US Inc, and Verizon Wireless and Sprint Corp have since made similar offers. The program will help Dallas-based AT&T expand its base of smartphone users by 1 million this quarter, it said. AT&T also said it expects to report a total of 10 million subscribers to its U-verse television and Internet services, with overall consumer landline sales growth similar to last quarter’s 2.4 percent year-over-year expansion.
NYSE volume surges
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) won its biggest share of US equity volume in almost four years amid changes to the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average, as well as the expiration of derivatives. NYSE Euronext’s market captured 23 percent of volume yesterday, the most since reaching 25 percent on Dec. 18, 2009, and topping the peak of 22 percent set a year ago, according to Bloomberg data.