The government has formed a wage board for reviewing the minimum wages of workers of rice mill sector, by including an owners’ representative from a little-known association.
The labour ministry on March 6 issued a gazette notification appointing AKM Khorshed Alam Khan and Mahbub Bin Saif as representatives from owners and workers respectively.
Owners’ representative to the wage board Khorshed Alam is the president of Bangladesh Auto Rice Mill Owner’s Association which has only a few members, said sector leaders.
When Khorshed was asked about his representation in the wage board, he told New Age on Saturday that he had no knowledge that the government had included him in the wage board. ‘I am hearing this from you [New Age] for the first time,’ he said.
K M Layek Ali, secretary of Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mill Owners Association, which is one of the largest associations, said that khorshed had no right to represent the rice mill owners as his organisation had only a few members.
‘The government knows we are the leading association in the sector and most of the rice mills are our members. So it is a puzzle that how the ministry has appointed him [Khorshed] as the owners’ representative to the wage board,’ Layek Ali said.
He also said that Khorshed’s rice mills had remained closed for the last four-five years due to nonpayment of electricity bill.
Khorshed, however, claimed that that his mill had remained closed for one year due to upgradation of machinery and it would be operational soon.
‘The information of the default of electricity bill is not true and it is nothing but propaganda against me,’ he said.
The workers’ representative in the wage board Mahbub is the adviser of Chenchua Baghmara Bazar Rice Mill workers Union in Mymenshing.
As per the labour act, the minimum wages for a sector have to be reviewed every five years.
The minimum wages for the workers of rice mill sector were last set in the year of 2012 with minimum monthly pay of Tk 5,520.
Replying to a question Khorshed said that he did not know when the last wage board for the rice mills workers was awarded and what the amount of minimum pay was.
Layek Ali said that there were some 17,000 registered rice mills across the country and of them, the number of auto mills was 550.
He said that more than 8 lakh workers including 2.5 lakh women worked in the sector.
As per the usual procedure, the wage board, headed by Syed Aminul Islam will now sit for meetings and hold negotiations to set new wage.
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