The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association on Thursday expressed its intention to reach a settlement over the minimum wage for garment workers through negotiations with labour leaders before submitting the agreed amount as a joint proposal to the newly formed wage board.
The government formed the wage board on January 14 to review the minimum wage for readymade garment sector workers.
BGMEA leaders said they were trying to reach a consensus over the minimum wage to prevent any possible workers’ unrest during negotiations by the wage board over the minimum wage.
The trade body on Thursday held a meeting with the RMG sector trade union federations’ leaders and sought their cooperation to keep the workers calm during the negotiation for the minimum wage in the wage board.
The BGMEA held the meeting with the leaders of 16 garment worker federations affiliated with IndustriALL Bangladesh Council and the trade body would hold another meeting with the leaders of other federations next week.
‘It was a regular meeting with the IBC leaders and we have sought their cooperation to set the minimum wage for the garment sector without any untoward situation,’ BGMEA vice-president Mahmud Hasan Khan Babu told New Age after the meeting.
The BGMEA has requested the labour leaders to inform the trade body first if there is any grievance over the labour situation, he said.
‘If the BGMEA fails to address the issue, the labour leaders can inform others,’ Babu said.
He also said that on the first day of the discussion initiative the BGMEA had learnt about the opinions of the trade union leaders over
the minimum wage for garment workers.
The leaders at the meeting demanded Tk 16,000 as the minimum wage and further discussion on the amount would be held in the next round of meeting with the leaders, the BGMEA leader said.
‘To avert any untoward situation centring setting of the minimum wage for RMG workers, we want to settle the amount through negotiations with labour leaders,’ Babu said.
A series of meetings would be held with several groups of trade union federations before submitting proposals to the wage board by the BGMEA and living standard of workers and strength of the sector would be considered in this regard, he added.
‘We have reiterated our demand of Tk 16,000 as the minimum wage for workers at the meeting with the BGMEA,’ IBC general secretary Md Towhidur Rahman said.
The BGMEA at the meeting proposed submitting a joint proposal over the minimum wage to the wage board and the labour leaders, who were present in the meeting, informed the trade body that it would be decided in the IBC meeting whether they would go for joint proposal or not, he said.
Towhidur said that the BGMEA sought cooperation from the labour leaders so that garment workers do not take to the streets centring the wage issue.
BGMEA president Md Siddiqur Rahman presided over the meeting held at the Apparel Club in the city.
At the meeting, Garment Tailors Workers League general secretary Badruddoza Nizam alleged that leaders of some left leaning trade unions were instigating workers to take to the streets over the minimum wage.
Towhidur, however, told New Age that it was not the observation of the IBC but a personal comment of Badruddoza Nizam.
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