Garment workers form a human chain in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka yesterday to demand arrest of the owner of Tazreen Fashions where a fire killed 112 people last year. The workers also sought compensation from western retailers who sourced garments from Tazreen. Photo: star
Nearly 40 percent of the garment factories in Dhaka and its adjacent areas could not implement the new wage structure from December 1 last year as agreed, a BGMEA survey found.
“It will take another two to three months for full implementation of the wage structure as the garment sector is passing through testing times,” said Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
The survey conducted between January 10-22 covered 596 factories in Dhaka and its adjacent areas and 350 in Chittagong.
Only 5 percent of the factories in Chittagong have implemented the new salary for garment workers so far.
The reason for the low implementation in port city, Azim says, is that most of the factories there are vulnerable ones. “The factories in Chittagong are not as capable as the ones in Dhaka.”
As things stand now, most of the non-implementing factories have assured the workers that the new wage board would take effect within next few months, due to which there have been no reports of labour unrest yet, he said.
Echoing with the views of Azim, Amirul Haque Amin, president of National Garment Workers Federation, said workers are lodging complaints every day but few can be resolved through discussion with the owners.
“According to our preliminary estimates, about 50 percent of the factories could implement the new wage structure and the remaining 50 percent failed because of various problems.”
Nazma Akter, president of Sammilito Garment Sramik Federation, a garment workers' platform, reiterated Amin's words. “Many are also not receiving salary with the right grades.”
In November last year, the government finalised a minimum wage of Tk 5,300 for garment workers, a raise of 77 percent to be implemented from December 1.