39pc female apparel workers denied minimum wage: study

June 28, 2014

Thirty-nine per cent of female garment workers are still receiving lower than the government-set minimum wage of Tk 5,300 that was raised in December last year, a study revealed on Friday. Bangladesh Mahila Parishad has conducted the study titled ‘Women in Readymade Garment Industry: Understanding Capabilities and Vulnerabilities of Female Garment Workers in Bangladesh’.
The study shows that the living condition of the female garment workers has improved but venerability remains as 65 per cent
of sever workers are not covered by any pension scheme after finishing the job.
The study reveals that the lower wage is one of the prime vulnerability for the workers as average monthly wage is Tk 6,661 which is much less than their monthly minimum expenditure.
According to the study, most of the female workers lose jobs when they reached aged 35 and fall in serious economic hardship after leaving the job.
The age of 87 per cent of woman garment workers are between 18-35 years and only 5 per cent workers are above 35 years and rest of the workers are below 18 years, the study finds.
Dhaka University professors Zahid Chowdhury and Samina Luthfa presented the study report at a programme at CIRDAP auditorium in the city.
According to the study, most of the woman garment workers are living with health risk as 90 per cent of the 1,034 respondents say they have to share their toilets with about 22 other people and kitchen with five other families.
The study finds that a large number of respondents are missing important protein elements such milk and egg. Only five per cent of workers are able to drink milk while one third of the female workers manage to consume egg.
The study shows 30 per cent of workers are not sure about the structural state of the factory and 56 per cent of respondents think that in absence of trade unions their rights are not secured.
Despite low wages, verbal and physical abuse, an increasing number of women are moving to the garment sector to earn more
autonomy as individuals which is absent in rural communities and household work, the study mentioned.
Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies research director Binayak Sen said if the factory owners remained strict on anti-trade union attitude it might be the biggest issue for the global community on Bangladesh’ RMG sector.
He urged the government as well as the factory owners to ensure pension scheme for all garment workers.
Urging the garment factory owners to change their mindset, Dhaka University economics professor MM Akash said owners should think for the wellbeing of the workers reducing their profit margin.
He requested to conduct a study on the earning and spending of the garment owners.
Former president of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers Exporters Association Anwar ul Alam Chowdhury Parvez and Bangladesh Mahila Parishad president Ayesha Khanam, among others, spoke at the programme.

-With New Age input

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