Labour leaders have alleged that the real representation of the readymade garment sector workers has been ignored in the wage board formed on Sunday for the RMG sector as the government has violated rules in appointing workers’ representative to the board.
Like the previous wage boards, this board would also be dominated by the RMG factory owners in the absence of the real representation of sector workers, they said.
‘On behalf of 16 trade union federations, IndustriAll Bangladesh Council had submitted to the labour ministry the name of the workers’ representative for the RMG sector wage board but the government did not accept it,’ Mojibur Rahman Bhuiyan, chairman of IndustriAll Bangladesh Council, told New Age on Monday.
He said that the IBC would convey its dissatisfaction over the appointment of workers’ representative to the wage board to the labour ministry.
The government on Sunday formed the minimum wage board to review the wages for RMG workers, appointing Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Md Siddiqur Rahman and Jatiya Shramik League women affairs secretary Shamsunnahar Bhuiyan as the owners’ and workers’ representatives respectively to the wage board.
Babul Akter, president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers
Federation, said that the government had violated labour rules as it did not appoint workers’ representative to the RMG sector wage board from the highest-represented workers’ federation.
According to the article 121 of the labour rules, if the highest-represented workers’ federation does not nominate representative for the appointment to the wage board, the labour department would seek representative for such appointment from the second highest-represented and third highest-represented workers’ federations.
As per the rules, if there is no registered trade union in the sector, the department would seek representative from national federations involved with the sector.
If there is no national federation with such connection, then the government would appoint workers’ representative to the wage board based on its own decision, the labour rules stipulate.
‘Although the government has violated rules in appointing workers’ representative to the wage board, we appreciate the government for its initiative to review wages as the RMG workers have been suffering severe financial hardship,’ Babul, also former secretary general of the IBC, told New Age on Monday.
He demanded Tk 16,000 as monthly minimum gross pay for the apparel workers.
Garment Workers Trade Union Centre president Mantu Ghosh and general secretary Joly Talukder expressed their dissatisfactions over the appointment of workers’ representative to the wage board saying that the real representation of the garment workers in the board has been ignored.
The labour leaders feared that the RMG sector wage board might be dominated by the garment factory owners as two leaders of the party in power were appointed as the workers’ representatives (one as permanent and another as temporary) to the board who would not able to protect the interest of workers.
The GWTUC, however, expressed its satisfaction over the formation of wage board for reviewing the wages for garment sector workers.
The organisation will stage a demonstration in front of the National Museum in Dhaka on January 26 demanding Tk 16,000 as the minimum wage for RMG workers.
Bangladesh Trade Union Centre general secretary Wajed-ul Islam Khan, however, said that it was very difficult to appoint workers’ representative from the RMG sector to the wage board as there were more than 70 trade union federations in the sector.
‘It’s not important for a person to be a RMG sector trade union leader to be appointed to the wage board as workers’ representative. The important thing is whether the workers’ representative is knowledgeable about the determination of minimum wages considering the present situation,’ he said.
‘I think Shamsunnahar Bhuiyan is capable as the workers’ representative as she has a long history of struggle for establishing worker rights,’ said Wajed.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Apparel