Workers at a RMG factory in Gazipur making apparels for export. -Jahidul Islam
The government has fixed the minimum wage for readymade garment (RMG) workers at Tk 8,000, up from the current minimum wage of Tk 5,300.
State Minister for Labor and Employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu announced the new wage structure at a press conference at the Bangladesh Secretariat yesterday after around one and half hours negotiation with representatives of garment owners and workers at his office.
According to his announcement, of the new minimum wage of Tk 8,000 for garment workers, basic pay is Tk 4,100, house rent Tk 2,050 and the rest Tk 1,850 has been kept for additional costs. In the new wage, the basic pay has been raised by 51 percent. Chunnu said the new wage structure will take effect from December following the issuance of a gazette notification in this regard. Accordingly the next stages of the wage board will also go up, said the state minister.
The minister said the minimum wage had previously been set on December 1, 2013, adding the minimum wage was Tk 1662.50 in 2006, Tk 3,000 in 2010 and Tk 5,300 in 2013.
In February this year, the government formed the new wage board to review the RMG workers' existing wages. The garment owners proposed Tk 6,000 as the minimum wage, while the demand from workers was Tk 16,000. After bargaining, Tk 7,000 was fixed. But, both the owners and workers did not accept it, said the state minister.
Later on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina held a meeting with both parties and fixed the wage. The board disclosed the information about the new wage at a meeting held at its office yesterday, said Chunnu.
He said the new wage has been fixed following the Bangladesh Labor Law as there is a provision to re-fix wage once in five years. Siddiqur Rahman, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), in his reaction said the new wages have been fixed as per the decision of the Prime Minister.
Speaking to The Asian Age last night, he has described the pay hike as a burden for the garment owners. "It will be a big burden for us. We want cooperation and support from the government, workers and buyers to bear the burden. We will be able bear the burden if workers can increase their productivity by giving more attention to their work and buyers raise the price of the products."
Kalpona Akter, Executive Director of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), in her immediate reaction said they had been demanding Tk 16,000 as minimum wage for a worker. "We will now leave the matter to the Prime Minister for her kind consideration as the guardian of the workers," the labor activist said while speaking to The Asian Age yesterday evening.
The wage board's Chairman Syed Aminul Islam, board members BGMEA President Siddiqur Rahman, Prof Dr Md Kamal Uddin, legal adviser to Bangladesh Employers Federation Saifuddin Ahmed, National Shramik League's President Fazlul Haque Mantu, labor representative Begum Shamsur Rahman and labor ministry's Additional Secretary Syed Ahmed among others were present at yesterday's meeting.
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