Bangladesh sets BDT 8,000 as min wage for RMG

BDApparelNews Desk
14 September 2018  

A worker at a garments industry of Bangladesh.

A worker at a garments industry of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has fixed BDT 8,000 as minimum wage for its apparel industry workers – half of what the pro-labour organisations and several unions had been demanding for months.

State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque announced the new salary structure for the 3.6 million labour force at a press conference held at his ministry on September 13, 2018. He said, the wage structure will be implemented from December.

The last wage board, formed back in 2013 had fixated BDT 5,300 as the minimum wage. After five years, according to the labour law, the new wage structure has been set – what is a hike of nearly 51 per cent. A gazette will be made public in this regard soon, which will elaborate the further wage structures of other positions in the apparel industry.

Though the minister did not say when the gazette will be published, but said it will be out soon. However, the minister assured that the factory owners will be following this wage structure for new recruits once the pay structure is formally implemented in December.

According to what could be known, the basic pay in the BDT 8,000 minimum wage structure is BDT 4,100. Further breakdown includes BDT 2,050 as house rent, BDT 600 as medical allowance, BDT 350 as transport allowance, and BDT 900 as food allowance.

Back in February, Bangladesh Government formed the wage board to fix the new minimum pay structure for apparel industry workers. During meeting, the factory owners, led by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (BGMEA), had proposed BDT 6,360 as the minimum wage – a 20 per cent hike. The workers’ representative in the board had proposed BDT 12,020.

It is to be noted that Bangladesh’s apparel makers had told the Government to provide them with cash incentives or tax waivers as they “lacked the capacity to provide the workers with the increased wages.” In line with their demands, the government has cut down on source tax on export proceeds and corporate tax for the garments industry.

Among those present during the minister’s press conference were Syed Aminul Islam, chairman of the minimum wage board, Md Siddiqur Rahman, member of the wage board and president of BGMEA, Dr Md Kamal Uddin, a neutral member of the board, and Begum Shamsun Nahar, the workers’ representative at the board.

PROTESTS FOLLOW

The new wage board drew widespread flak among the pro-labour organisations and several trade unions which have been drumming for a BDT 16,000 minimum wage.

The following day, on September 14, several organisations including Garments Sramik Trade Union Centre, Garments Sramik Front, Bangladesh Garments Sramik Sanghati and Garments Sramik Adhikar Andolan, a platform of 12 organisations, demonstrated in capital Dhaka rejecting the latest wage board.

They organised protest programmes near Jatiya Press Club on Friday morning, gathering in big numbers, to press for implementation of BDT 16,000 as wage board.

“The government is in favour of the factory owners,” said Joly Talukdar, general secretary of Garments Sramik Trade Union Kendra. She called upon the government to overlook the demands of 5,500 factory owners and instead look up to the 40 lakh garment workers.