RMG workers’ rep to propose Tk 16,000 as minimum wage

Staff Correspondent | Published at 10:45pm on July 07, 2018

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A file photo shows two garment worker sewing cloths at a readymade garment factory in Dhaka. Workers’ representative to the readymade garment sector wage board is likely to submit a proposal at the second meeting of the board recommending Tk 16,000 as minimum wage for the workers and to lower the job grades of workers to five from existing seven. — New Age photo

Workers’ representative to the readymade garment sector wage board is likely to submit a proposal today at the second meeting of the board recommending Tk 16,000 as minimum wage for the workers and to lower the job grades of workers to five from existing seven.
According to the sources, the workers representative to the wage board Shamsunnahar Bhuiyan on Saturday finalised the proposal through a meeting with the leaders of the garment trade union federations.
As per the decision of the first meeting of the wage board the representatives of both factory owners and workers are supposed to submit separate proposals of minimum wages to the board in the second meeting but the factory owners may submit their proposals after getting the proposals of workers representative, sources said.
‘We are yet to decide whether the proposals of minimum wages will be submitted to the board in the second meeting,’ Md Siddiqur Rahman, factory owners’ representative to the board and the president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association told New Age on Saturday.
Shamsunnahar said they would propose to reduce the number of grades of workers to the wage board to five from existing seven.
She said that most of the leaders of RMG sector trade unions proposed that number of workers grades should be lowered as very few number of workers worked in grade one and two while large number of workers remain low paid in grade 4-7 for long time.
Workers worked in lower grades were not getting promotion in due time, Shamsunnahar said.
Regarding the amount of proposed minimum wage, she said it would be disclosed on Sunday.
One of the sources said there would be no scope to set the amount less than Tk 16,000 as most of the trade union federations demanded Tk 16,000 and two federations demanded Tk 18,000 as minimum wages.
Meanwhile, Clean Clothes Campaign, a global alliance of workers’ rights groups in the garment industry, on Friday expressed its solidarity with the demands of workers in Bangladesh and urged the Minimum Wage Board to increase the minimum wage to Tk 16,000 without delay.
‘Since labour unions started voicing the concrete demand of the Tk 16,000 as minimum wage and organising related actions earlier this year, many workers and their representatives have been yet again subjected to extreme pressure including arrests and other threats to freedom of association and other human rights,’ the CCC claimed in a press release.
The platform condemned the repression and called on the government to ensure that workers’ rights are fully respected.
The CCC also appealed to major brands sourcing from Bangladesh to show leadership on the way toward living wages for garment workers.
It urged the brand including H&M, Gap, Walmart, Tesco, Inditex, C&A to make a long-term commitment to continue sourcing from Bangladesh after the wage increase and to increase the prices they pay their suppliers to allow for the wage increase to be met in practice.
The CCC demanded streamlining of the job grades that determine worker’s pay from seven to five; the introduction of currently inexistent promotion criteria, a 10 per cent annual pay increase; and a shortening of apprenticeship periods to the maximum of three months, along with a wage increase for apprentices from Tk 4,180 to Tk 10,000.
‘We fully support all workers’ demand and call for an immediate wage increase, so that workers’ earnings will enable them to finally lift themselves and their families out of the extreme deprivation they currently have to endure on a daily basis,’ Ineke Zeldenrust said in the statement.
The government on January 31 issued a gazette notification announcing the name of the owners’ and workers’ representatives of the board to review the monthly minimum wages for garment workers.
The first meeting of the board was held on March 14 and the second meeting is going to hold almost four months after holding its first meeting.
The present minimum monthly wage for the garment worker is Tk 5,300, which was set in 2013.
The first minimum wage board for garment workers was constituted in 1994 that fixed Tk 940 as minimum wage per month and the second one formed in 2006 fixed the minimum wage at Tk 1,662.50 while third board was formed in 2010 fixed minimum wage at Tk 3,000.