Fix Tk 8,114 as minimum wage
RMG workers tell ownersStaff Correspondent
Apparel workers at a rally in Dhaka on Saturday warned that they would launch a strong movement if the factory owners did not accept their demand for Tk 8,114 in minimum monthly wage.
Rejecting a proposal of the owners’ representative to athe sector’s minimum wage board for fixing the wage at Tk 3,600 a month, they called for the prime minister’s intervention to enhance their minimum monthly wage to Tk 8,000 from the existing Tk 3,000.
The workers also demanded a ban on the activities of Hefajat-e-Islam terming it a ‘terror outfit’ which was campaigning against women working in garment factories and other sectors.
Several thousand workers from across the country joined the rally at Suhrawardi Udyan organised by Garment Workers Coordination Council, a combine of 43 organisations campaigning for apparel workers’ rights.
Shipping minister Shajahan Khan, also the convener of the combine, at the rally called upon the garment factory owners to accept the demand for Tk 8,114 in minimum wage. ‘We seek the prime minister’s intervention for the increase in the minimum wage,’ he said.
Shahjahan appealed to the conscience of the factory owners to fix the minimum wage to enable the workers to meet their daily requirements.
The government on June 6 set up the six-member minimum wage board with retired district judge AK Roy as chairman. The workers’ representative to the board on August 18 proposed Tk 8,114 in the minimum gross monthly wage for a worker while the owners’ representative on September 17 proposed Tk 3,600 a month, a 20 per cent increase on the existing wage of Tk 3,000.
Garment Workers Coordination Council member-secretary Badruddoza Nijam read out the charter at the rally. He said garment workers had rejected the owners’ proposal as it was unrealistic and illogical.
He also termed Hefajat a terror outfit and urged the government to take effective steps to stop its activities as the Islamist group it was campaigning against women working in garment factories and other sectors.
The charter also urged the United States to restore the GSP facilities for Bangladesh.
Labour leader Shirin Akhter said the factory owners’ proposal for Tk 3,600 as minimum wage was unacceptable.
Workers’ leader Kaiser Ahmed said garment workers would not leave the streets until their demands were met.
Abul Hossain warned that the RMG owners would face a tough movement if they used the tactic of buying time over the workers’ demand.
The speakers castigated Hefajat-e-Islam chief Shah Ahmed Shafi for his sermon at Hathazari, the video clip of which was widely circulated on social websites Facebook and YouTube a few months ago.
They said that some so-called Islamist clerics were issuing sermons using objectionable and vulgar expressions about women and urged all to resist such campaigns.
They alleged that some factory owners in Gazipur and Savar had obstructed workers from attending the rally.
Labour leaders Osman Ali, Babul Akhter, Quamrul Anam, Lovely Yasmin, Shamima Nasreen, Sirajul Islam Rony, Nazma Akhter, among others, spoke at the rally.
The last wage board on July 27, 2010 increased the garment workers’ monthly minimum wage to Tk 3,000 from Tk 1,662.5 while the 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 annually.
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