The government has published a draft pay scale for readymade garment workers with five grades from Tk 12,500 to Tk 14,750 in the wake of deadly protests for an increase in wages.
The Minimum Wage Board has recommended four pay grades for other employees of the RMG factories, from Tk 12,800 to Tk 18,800, according to a notice dated Saturday.
Objections to the draft must be submitted to the board within 14 days. The government will finalise the wage after reviewing the objections.
Bangladesh raised the minimum monthly wage for garment workers by 56.25 percent to Tk 12,500. The new wage will take effect from Dec 1.
The new wage structure was discussed at a meeting at the Ministry of Labour and Employment last Tuesday before the announcement was made by State Minister Monnujan Sufian.
Garment worker protests have engulfed Dhaka, Gazipur and Ashulia for several days, with at least four workers killed and several vehicles torched.
Many factories shut down indefinitely after attacks by protesters, who had demanded a minimum wage Tk 23,000. Their representatives submitted a proposal with Tk 20,300 as the minimum wage.
The gazette notification with the draft pay scale says the basic salary of the workers will rise by 5 percent a year after readjustment to the new scale. Workers of sweater and other factories with piece rates will also get a 5 percent increase.
Under grade-1, the top tier, the basic salary is Tk 8,200. The net salary with house rent, and medical, transport and food allowances under this grade will be Tk 14,750.
The basic salary under grade-2 is Tk 7,800, grade-3 Tk 7,400, grade-4 Tk 7,050 and grade-5 Tk 6,700.
The net salary under grade-2 is Tk 14,150, grade-3 Tk 13,500, grade-4 Tk 13,025 and grade-5 Tk 12,500.
The net salary of factory employees will be Tk 18,800 under grade-1, Tk 15,950 under grade-2, Tk 15,200 under grade-3 and Tk 12,800 under grade-4.
WORKER GROUPS OBJECT TO NEW PAY SCALE
A platform of 11 organisations under the leadership of workers’ leader Taslima Akhter objected to the new pay scale for them.
They demanded Tk 25,000 minimum wage, citing price rises over the five years since the last raise.
The worker groups also alleged the new pay scale cut the number of grades as per their demand, but in such a way that will deprive the workers instead of benefiting them.
Several leaders said they hope Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will intervene and raise their salaries further.
They also argued that the owners should not object to raising the minimum wage after a large group of Western buyers of Bangladeshi garments agreed to raise purchase prices considering the pay hike.
“If the buyers agree to pay for a rise in wage, the workers may get their expected salaries with an increase in the owners’ capabilities, the buyers’ participation and the government’s efforts,” said Taslima.
Faruque Hassan, president of owners’ group Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Entrepreneurs Association, said they will wait until the Western buyers raise purchase prices.
“We will sit with them and hold case-to-case discussions to check for which jobs and factories they are raising the prices. We can’t say anything until then,” he said, speaking at a press conference in Dhaka.