Minimum wage board formed for reviewing wages of readymade garment workers is going slow in making recommendations for minimum rates of wages as the board held only one meeting in four and a half months since its formation.
Workers’ representative on the board has blamed owners for the delay as the board sets the date for a meeting as per the owners’ wish.
Owners’ representative on the board has also admitted that their various business-related engagements have delayed the meeting.
The government on January 14 formed minimum wage board to review the wages for the readymade garment workers through the appointment of owners’ and workers’ representatives of the apparel sector and issued gazette notification on January 31.
After issuing the notification, the board held its first meeting on March 19 and decided that representatives of both owners and workers would submit separate proposals of minimum wages to the board before the next meeting to be held on April 25.
On April 24, the board postponed the second meeting showing ‘unavoidable circumstances’ as reason and the next date is yet to be set.
As per the section 139 (2) of Bangladesh Labour Act, the wage board should submit its recommendation to the government within six months after its formation.
‘Provided that the government may, on the request of the Wage Board, extend the period,’ the BLA stipulates.
‘I have talked to the chairman of the board and requested him for setting the next date for the meeting but the process is being delayed due to the owners,’ Shamsunnahar Bhuiyan, workers’ representative on the board, told New Age.
She said that setting wages for the workers was not so easy and the process would not be completed in two or three meetings.
Shamsunnahar said it was not acceptable that the board would not hold meeting without consent of the factory owners.
The meeting should be held as per rules and if the board was to wait for setting the date as per the owners’ wish it would take long time for making the recommendations, she observed.
Replying to a question, Shamsunnahar said she has sat with almost all the trade union federations in RMG sector and most of them demanded Tk 16,000 as minimum wages while two organisations demanded Tk 18,000.
‘It is true the meeting of wage board is being delayed due to the factory owners as we remain very busy with our business as well as our trade body,’ Md Siddiqur Rahman, owners’ representative on the wage board, told New Age on Tuesday.
He, however, hoped that the second meeting would be held soon.
Asked whether it would be possible to set minimum wages for the workers within the stipulated six months, Siddiq, also president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said whenever the meeting might be held, the RMG workers would get new wages from December this year.
Earlier, state minister for labour Mujibul Haque on May 12 said that the minimum wage board for garment sector would submit its proposal recommending wage hike for the workers to the government by the next three months.
After getting the recommendations from the wage board, the government will set the minimum monthly wages for the garment sector workers taking all things into consideration, he said while handing over the insurance claim cheques to the families of 429 deceased workers of the knitwear factories at Krishibid Institution Bangladesh in the city.
Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association organised the event.
Following Rana Plaza building collapse in April 24, 2013 that killed more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers, the government under the severe pressure from the national and international community had taken a measure to review the wages for RMG workers.
In December 2013, the government last reviewed the RMG workers’ wages setting the lowest amount at Tk 5,300 which was earlier Tk 3,000 and set in July 2010.
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