Bangladesh moves to revise minimum wage for garment workers

The government has opened initiatives to revise the minimum pay for workers in the garment industry, which accounts for over 80 percent of Bangladesh’s exports.

Published : 14 Jan 2018, 11:19 AM
Updated : 14 Jan 2018, 04:28 PM

The existing minimum monthly wage of Tk 5,300 or almost $65 came into effect from Jan 1, 2014.

On Sunday, the labour and employment ministry formed a panel by including a representative each from the trade body and labour organisation to its existing four-strong permanent wage board.

“The committee will file a report with its recommendations in six months, after which the government will finalise the new wage structure,” State Minister Mujibul Haque told the media.

The RMG workers’ organisations are demanding Tk 16,000 as minimum wage, citing rise in cost of living following inflation.

Around 4 million workers, mostly women, are involved in the around $28 billion industry in Bangladesh.

Despite being the second largest exporter of garment products, the country often faces allegations that all its factories do not follow the pay structure.

The horrible conditions of the garment factory workers drew huge international attention after the 2012 Tazreen Fashions fire and Rana Plaza collapse in 2013.

The foreign buyers and the local entrepreneurs, under fire from rights groups, took steps to reform the industry, especially workplace condition.

“We hope we’ll be able to give a new pay structure for the RMG sector within five years from the last one,” the state minister said.

The permanent wage board panel headed by a retired district judge has a member who is not involved with any industry.

When the government wants to readjust the pay structure of any industry, it adds one representative from the workers and owners from each of the corresponding industry.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association President Siddiqur Rahman and Jatiya Sramik League’s Women Affairs Secretary Shamsunnahar are the two new members of the panel that will review the pay structure of the clothing industry.

Former FBCCI president AK Azad, an RMG sector entrepreneur, and Labour Secretary Afroza Kha, among others, were also present.

“We are going through a very critical period. We achieved only 6 percent growth (in export) against a target of 14 percent. The other countries are surpassing us in growth, because we lack basic materials like a deep sea port,” Azad told the media.     

“We will lag again if a worker unrest takes place,” he added.

He also alleged some organisations were trying to provoke the workers to agitate.