Garment workers’ minimum wage fixed at Tk 3,000

July 29, 2010

The wage board has recommended raising the minimum monthly pay for garment workers to Tk 3,000 from Tk 1662.50.
The proposed raise is 80 percent on the present wage of an entry-level worker, board Chairman Ikteder Ahmed said on Tuesday.
Of the amount, Tk 2,000 will be the basic pay while Tk 800 or 40 percent of the basic will be paid in house rent and Tk 200 in health allowance, he said.
The board handed over the draft recommendations to Labour and Employment Minister Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain on Tuesday.
The non-grade workers have been brought under the grading system keeping the seven wage grades unchanged, he said.
The minister is expected to announce the minimum wage for garment workers today.
The recommendations were made on the basis of a consensus among majority of the six-member board. The owners’ representative, Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, was present at the final meeting but did not sign the draft recommendations, Iktedar added.
Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said the owners’ representative would sign the deal today with some conditions such as security for factory owners and release of stimulus funds.
The announcement came after a meeting between the leaders of BGMEA and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).
Other conditions include a four-month timeframe for implementation of the proposed wage structure, zero tax at source, reduction of vessels’ turnaround time at the Chittagong port and suspension of minimum charge for the use of power and gas.
In reaction to the proposed pay structure, Towhidur Rahman, a coordinator of the Garment Sramik Oikya Parishad, said, “Tk 3,000 is not enough. I urge the government to reconsider the proposed pay structure.”
Workers have demanded fixing the minimum wage at Tk 5,000 as the prices of essentials and house rent have gone up, he said.
Labour leaders and garment workers yesterday protested the proposed pay.
“We reject the proposed wage structure. We will stage demonstrations against the proposed pay in early August,” said Mushrefa Mishu, president of Garment Sramik Oikya Forum, at a rally in the capital’s Muktangon area.
The forum, a platform for 40,000 workers, organised the rally.
Shamsunnahar Bhuiyan, the workers’ representative in the board, said the raise has been recommended considering all issues.
The board also reviewed the proposals from the central bank, Centre for Policy Dialogue, a private think tank, and Consumers Association Bangladesh, she said.
“Almost all proposals recommended an average increase of 70 percent. But we decided to raise the wage by 80 percent. I think it is not enough for a worker to maintain a family. But we had to consider the business situation,” she said.
The board recommended retaining all existing facilities such as attendance bonus to give a worker the chance to earn a reasonable amount at the end of the month, Shamsunnahar said.
Several incidents of labour unrest over the last few months prompted the government to form the third minimum wage board in January.
The board headed by Ikteder Ahmed was given the responsibility to fix the minimum wage for 3.5 million garment workers.
The first minimum wage board, constituted in 1994, fixed Tk 940 as minimum wage for garment workers.
The second one, formed in 2006, set the minimum wage at Tk 1662.50.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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