RMG MINIMUM WAGE
Labour leaders reject workers’ representative’s proposalMoloy Saha and Mohiuddin Alamgir
Worker’s representative to the minimum wage board for the readymade garment workers proposed minimum gross wage of Tk 8,114 for a month, almost half of many labour organisations’ demand.
Labour leaders rejected the workers representative’s proposal to the wage board and demanded that the minimum basic pay for a worker should be Tk 8000 and the minimum gross wage should be around Tk 13,000 a month, citing manifold rises in the prices of essentials over the years.
The government on June 6 formed the six-member minimum wage board with retired district judge AK Roy as its chairman and Dhaka University professor Kamaluddin Ahmed, Bangladesh Employers Federation labour adviser M Saifuddin, Jatiya Sramik League executive president Fazlul Haque Montu, Bangladsh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association director Arshad Jamal Dipu and gamrnet worker leader Sirajul Islam Rony as members.
Sirajul, also ruling Awami League-backed Bangladesh National Garments Workers-Employees League president, placed the proposals in the third meeting of the wage board on August 18, proposing Tk 8,114 as the minimum gross monthly wage for a worker.
According to the proposal, a worker needs Tk 300 for clothing, Tk 500 for treatment, Tk 300 for transportation, Tk 200 for recreation, Tk 375 for toiletries, Tk 500 for festivals and Tk 500 for family help in a month to lead a standard life.
Sirajul proposed seven grades in the wage structure for garment workers and 30 per cent of the basic pay as house rent.
Samajtantrik Sramik Front general secretary Razekuzzaman Ratan demanded Tk 18,500 and Garment Sramik Trade Union Kendra general secretary KM Ruhul Amin demanded Tk 13,000 as the mimimum gross wage.
Garment Sramik Sangram Parishad coordinator Rafiqul Islam Pathik demanded Tk 8,000 as the minimum basic wage.
Garment Sramik Oikya Parisahd chairma Amirul Haque Amin, however, said that the minimum gorss wage should be fixed at Tk 10,000, but they were demanding Tk 8,200 considering the overall situation in the sector.
The labour leaders said the living cost of a worker increased substantially but the wages did not increase in accordance with the expenditure.
The labour leaders said that they would not accept the Sirajul’s proposal for fixing Tk 8,114 as gross wage.
Garment Sramik Oikya Forum president Mushrefa Mishu said they did not support Sirajul’s proposal. She demanded Tk 8,000 as the minimum basic wage.
Sirajul, however, said, ‘We have prepared the proposals based on the recommendations and opinions of several federations and organisations of the workers,’ Sirajul said.
He said, ‘We made the proposal keeping in mind the owners’ capability.’
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturuersa and Exporters Asscoaition repressentative to the wage board, Arshad Jamal Dipu, said that the board would do everything in accordance with the law.
The Minimum Wage Board secretary, Abu Hasanat, told New Age that the board would sit for the fourth meeting on September 2.
‘If we get proper assistance from both owners and workers, we will make our recommendations within the stipulated six months,’ he said.
Criticisms grew in home and abroad over the pay and perks and workplace safety in the readymade garment factories following a devastating fire at Tazreen Fashions in November 2012 that claimed at least 112 lives and the collapse of eight-storey Rana Plaza, housing five garment units, at Savar on April 24 claiming lives of more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers.
About four million people, mostly women, are working in nearly 5,000 factories in the export-oriented apparel sector that fetches nearly $20 billion 1 year.
Wages in Bangladesh’s readymade garment sector fell 2.37 per cent from 2001 to 2011 in terms of real purchasing power parity, reported The Washington Post on July 12, citing a recent study conducted by US-based Workers Rights Consortium and Center for American Progress, a US think-tank.
According to a recent study of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies, the living cost of a worker increased 2.5 times since the implementation of the last wage board awards on November 1, 2010, its assistant executive director Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed told New Age.
The labour leaders said that although the garment workers were constributing in export earning, they were getting lowest pay.
According to them, per hour average wage of a garment worker is 18 cents in Bangladesh, 40 cents in Nepal, 44 cents in Sri Lanka, 48 cents in Pakistan, 51 cents in India and 86 cents in China.
The last wage board on July 27, 2010 had increased the minimum monthly wage to Tk 3,000 from Tk 1,662.50 for a worker, while the workers had demanded Tk 5,000.
The first minimum wage board, constituted in 1994, had fixed Tk 940 as minimum wage per month for garment workers. The second one, formed in 2006, fixed the minimum wage at Tk1,662.50 per month.
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