RMG workers reject owners’ proposalMoloy Saha and Mohiuddin Alamgir
Apparel worker rights groups on Wednesday rejected a proposal of owners’ representative to the minimum wage board for Tk 3,600 a month, a 20 per cent increase on the existing wage of Tk 3,000, at the fifth meeting of the board.
Labour leaders termed the proposal ‘illogical,’ ‘unacceptable’ and ‘inhuman.’ They said that owners ‘in a manner typical of their class character’ had shown their ‘greedy attitude.’
They said that they would by no means agree the proposal as it is nothing but a joke with apparel workers.
Owners’ representative to the board Arshad Jamal Dipu on Tuesday said that they had prepared the proposal considering the profitability of the industry, goods prices and inflation.
According to the proposal, the minimum monthly basic wage is Tk 2,400, the house rent is Tk 960 and a medical allowance of Tk 240.
A permanent labour member on the wage board, Fazlul Haque Montu, also the Jatiya Sramik League’s executive president, said that the owner’s proposal ‘is unexpected and surprising in view of the current market prices.’
‘We have strongly opposed the proposal at the board meeting as it is a joke with apparel workers,’ he said.
‘The proposal is completely illogical and also
inhuman,’ the workers’ representative to the board, Shirajul Islam Rony, said.
Shirajul at the third meeting of the board on August 18 proposed Tk 8,114 in the minimum gross monthly wage for a worker.
Labour leaders even rejected the proposal of the workers’ representative and demanded Tk 8000 in the minimum basic wage, with the gross amount reaching about Tk 13,000 citing goods price spiral that have taken place over the years.
Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad, a combine of labour organisations, at a meeting on Wednesday criticised the owner’s proposal for Tk 3,600 in minimum wage. SKOP leaders also called on workers to be ready for a movement to realise their demand.
The Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre general secretary, KM Ruhul Amin, told New Age that the proposal of the owners had showed their irresponsibility towards the workers.
The workers were suffering much with the wage they get because of spiralling goods prices.
In many factories, the announced minimum wages has yet not implemented, Ruhul said adding that they would not accept the proposal.
The Jatiya Garments Sramik Federation president, Amirul Haque Amin ,termed the proposal ‘unrealistic and inhuman.’
The Garemnt Sramik Oikya Forum president, Mushrefa Mishu, said that the owners’ proposal was not acceptable.
The apparel sector will face yet another round of unrest if the wages are not increased to a satisfactory level, she said.
The Bangladesh Trade Union Centre president, Shahidullah Chowdhury, and the general secretary, Wajed-ul Islam Khan, in a statement also rejected the proposal of the owners. They called on the owners to increase the wage .
The Garments Sramik Sangram Parishad, a combine of seven workers rights groups, on Wednesday rejected the proposal of the owners saying that the proposal was unacceptable and inhuman.
The next board meeting is due for October 21.
The government on June 6 set up the six-member minimum wage board with retired district judge AK Roy as chairman.
The last wage board on July 27, 2010 increased the monthly minimum wage to Tk 3,000 from Tk 1,662.5 while workers demanded Tk 5,000.
The first minimum wage board, instituted in 1994, set Tk 940 in monthly minimum wage for apparel workers. The second, set up in 2006, set Tk 1,662.50 a month in minimum wage.
About four million people, mostly women, are working in about 5,000 factories in the export-oriented apparel sector that fetches nearly $20 billion 1 year.
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