Just two days before the much-awaited second meeting of the Bangladesh Wage Board to determine minimum wage structure for the apparel industry, labour unions have upped the ante demanding BDT 16,000 as the minimum wage.
Three workers’ federations, affiliated to the IndustriALL, the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), Bangladesh Revolutionary Garment Workers Federation (BRGWF) and Akota Garments Workers Federation (AGWF), organised a rally in Dhaka demanding a base wage of BDT 16,000 for apparel workers.
Addressing the rally, Amirul Haque Amin (President-NGWF), Salauddin Swapan (President- BRGWF) and Kamrul Hasan (General Secretary- AGWF), called upon the Government, the BGMEA and the buyers to come forward in ensuring BDT 16,000 minimum wage. They also called upon other labour organisations/worker bodies to remain united and play a constructive role in this regard.
The government and the factory owners should realise that it is not possible to enhance productivity or improve quality without ensuring better living standard and health care facilities to the workers, the speakers underlined.
They cited increasing cost of living, spiralling commodity price, labour wage in the adjacent countries, etc, to justify their demand for the same. The speakers also criticised the delay in convening the second meeting of the Wage Board, expected to be held on July 8 now. Earlier it was decided to meet on April 25 but was reportedly postponed due to the busy schedule of the BGMEA leaders.
In the first meeting held on March 14, it was decided that the owners’ and the labour representatives would submit separate recommendations for a new minimum pay structure.
Despite the demand of BDT 16,000 as minimum wage, which the workers’ representatives at the upcoming meeting is expected to put forth, BGMEA has reportedly ruled out the possibility of accepting the same, levelling it an ‘impossible demand’.
They said the new pay structure would reflect ‘both the requirements of a garments worker and the capacity of an owner’.