Centre for Policy Dialogue on Sunday proposed Tk 9,228 as minimum monthly wages for readymade garment workers and Tk 10,028 for the workers having child.
At a dialogue on ‘Minimum Wage and Livelihood Conditions of RMG Workers’ held at BRAC Centre Inn in Dhaka, CPD research director Khondaker Golam Moazzem made the proposal while labour rights activists opposed it saying that the proposal was not consistent with the market prices.
Suggesting abolition of grade VII, Golam Moazzem in his presentation said that the minimum wage for the grade VI workers should be Tk 11,004 but he proposed Tk 10,028.
According to the presentation, ‘Taking into consideration of family size 4.4, total food and non-food cost are found to be Tk 22,435. With 2.1 earning members and 3 per cent savings on basic, the minimum wage for newly introduced grade VI workers should be Tk 11,004’.
Opposing the CPD proposal, Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed executive director of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies said that the wage proposal was contradictory with the findings.
‘CPD finds total family cost to be Tk 22,435 but proposes wage at Tk 10,028. CPD shows 2.1 earning members of family but it is the opposite of reality,’ he said.
Moazzem said that considering the slowdown in profit margin of enterprises as well as possible future business risk, the proposed minimum wage for the grade VI was proposed at Tk 10,028.
‘In case of workers having no children, the wage for grade VI workers would be Tk 9,228,’ Moazzem said.
He, however, said that Bangladesh’s RMG workers were getting less considering their productivity and there was scope for the factory owners to increase their wages.
Moazzem said that the food and non-food expenses of workers were higher than the overall national inflation as the statistics of national inflation did not indicate the real inflation in industrial areas.
Sultan Uddin Ahmed said that workers’ wages should be set taking into
account economy and social justice; it should not be a political issue.
‘Why will workers pay for lack of negotiation of factory owners and lack of efficiency of port. Workers cannot pay for the faulty monitory policy also,’ he said.
CPD chairman Professor Rehman Sobhan said that central element for the workers was not living wage but justice.
He urged the government and other stakeholders to take initiative for ensuring national justice and global justice for workers.
He urged factory owners to take workers as business partners and requested the government to discuss with the global buyers and brands so that they shared profits with the workers.
Montu Ghosh, president of Bangladesh Garment Workers Trade Union Centre, said that a healthy worker could ensure good production and factory owners should be more careful about the workers; needs.
Opposing the CPD proposal, he said that factory owners should review their wage proposal that has been submitted to the wage board and it shout be Tk 16,000.
Md Siddiqur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said that the cost of doing business increased and at the same time both prices and demand of products decreased on global market.
He said that wages of workers would be set considering needs of workers and capacity of factory owners.
Requesting all for not making any provocative comment on wage, Siddiq said that the wage board would set a logical wage considering the proposals of all parties.
Jolly Talukder, general secretary of Bangladesh Garment Worker Trade Union Centre, said that the CPD’s wage proposal was not consistent with the market prices and it was unacceptable.
She said that after every wage board, factory owners put huge pressure of work on the workers and forced them to meet high target of production.
Sirajul Islam Roni, president of Bangladesh National Garment Workers-Employee League, urged the government to take effective action to control house rent in the industrial belt.
Otherwise workers would not get the benefit of wage hike, he added.
‘I have requested buyers several times to increase the product price, otherwise you should not demand compliance,’ state minister for labour Md Mujibul Haque said.
He said that the government took many initiatives so that workers could be benefited.
‘We are going to amend the labour law incorporating provision for completing trial of cases in labour court within 180 days,’ Mujibul said.