Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association has instructed its members not to provide any benefits to the workers beyond the new wage structure set by the government for the garment workers.
At a meeting on Thursday the BGMEA leaders suggested its members to maintain the newly announced wage structure strictly saying that if any factory provides allowance or benefit other than wage and allowance set in the wage order that might upset workers of other factories that will not be able to provide those, meeting sources said.
The meeting held at Hotel Radisson in the city was presided over by BGMEA president Siddiqur Rahman.
The labour ministry on November 25, last year announced the new wages for the RMG workers through a notice setting Tk 8,000 as the minimum wage making it mandatory for the factory owners to implement the new wages from December, 2018.
As per the rules, workers would receive the new wages within the first seven working days of January but the RMG workers in Ashulia, Narayangonj and Gazipur started demonstration and work abstention rejecting the new wage structure.
Workers claimed that although the minimum wage rose to Tk 8,000 from Tk 5,300, the basic wages were not increased equivalently for workers of different grades.
In face of labour unrest, labour ministry hold a meeting with BGMEA, labour leaders and law enforcement agencies and requested workers not to go for agitation before national elections.
The labour ministry also promised that the inconsistency, if any, in the newly announced wage structure would be resolved after the national elections.
Following the elections, the RMG factory owners instructed its members not to go beyond the structure of newly announced wage and urged the government to take stern action against the workers who are involved with the demonstration rejecting the wage structure.
‘It is a big challenge for the many garment exporters to implement the new wage structure as the cost of doing business is being increased while the prices of pre-cuts are being decreased,’ Faruque Hassan, senior vice president of BGMEA, told New Age on Saturday.
Replying to a question Fauque said that all the factories should follow same standard. If any factory provides allowance or benefit other than wage and allowance set in the wage board it might create unrest among the workers in other factories who are not getting extra benefits.
Earlier, the government had created scope for the owners to curtail extra benefits for the workers through changing some conditions in new wages for readymade garment workers in a notice, published in the Bangladesh Gazette, on November 29.
As per the prior announcement, the government had said that if any worker would get allowance or benefit other than wage and allowance set in the wage board, he or she would continue to enjoy the benefit under the section 2(10), 108 and 336 of Bangladesh Labour Act 2006.
The latest notification of labour ministry said that the worker would enjoy benefit other than wage and allowance set in the wage board if it is offered in accordance with Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006 and Bangladesh Labour Rules, 2015.
One more BGMEA members said that the new wage might be a blow on the sustainability of the small and medium garment factories and they demanded 10 per cent general incentive to remain competitive in the global market.
According to the meeting sources, RMG exporters expressed dissatisfaction as the banks were yet to introduce 9 per cent interest rate.
In the meeting, many of the influential BGMEA members said that the government should devalue the local currency against dollar to remain competitive as most of the competitors of Bangladesh diminished their currencies against dollar.
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