IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, a platform of the readymade garment sector workers’ federations, on Sunday demanded Tk 16,000 as the monthly minimum wage for the RMG workers and lowering the number of job grades to five from the existing seven.
At a press conference held at the Dhaka Reporters Unity in the capital, the platform announced its seven-point demand that also included yearly 10 per cent pay increment.
The IBC also proposed that a worker in the grade-5 should be upgraded to the grade-4 after completing his/her job at least one year at a stretch while workers in the other grades should get upgraded after finishing their job under their respective grades at least two years at a stretch.
The platform also demanded that factory owners pay their workers, who work under the piece-rate system, on the basis of the grade-3 pay structure during off-season.
As per the proposals made by the IBC, the grade-5 will be the lowest grade in the wage board and workers in the grade would get Tk 10,643 as basic pay, Tk 4,257 as house rent (40 per cent of the basic pay), Tk 250 as medical allowance, Tk 200 as travel allowance and Tk 650 as food allowance.
The platform would submit its seven-point demand to the recently formed minimum wage board on Wednesday after holding a demonstration in front of the National Press Club in the city.
Md Towhidur Rahman, secretary general of the IBC, read out the written speech at the press conference.
He alleged that the newly formed wage board was progressing at a slow pace.
‘With the malnourished workers, it is quite impossible for the country to achieve $50-billion export earnings’ target from readymade garment by 2021,’ he said.
Towhid said that the RMG workers of Bangladesh, the second-largest apparel exporter in the world, were the lowest paid in the globe and they were not able to afford a standard intake of 3,000 calories a day with the existing monthly minimum wage of Tk 5,300.
‘It’s become a tradition that after hiking wage, garment factory owners avail any kind of incentives from the government but workers do not get any benefit from the government,’ Nazma Akter, president of the Combined Garment Workers Federation, said.
Along with the wages, she demanded rationing system, accommodation and education facilities for the workers and their family members from the government.
Amirul Haque Amin, former chairman of the IBC, said that the government appointed workers’ representative to the wage board under the political consideration and the representative was yet to hold any consultation with the RMG sector trade union leaders.
‘We, the IBC, represent 90 per cent of RMG sector trade unions and the workers representative to the wage board should discuss with us what should be the reasonable minimum wage for the garment workers,’ he said.
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