Board yet to propose minimum RMG wage
A board formed for recommending the minimum wage for garment workers could not come up with any proposal on the monthly rates even at its third meeting held in Dhaka yesterday.
The board's tenure expires on the 9th of this month.
The board was formed on April 9 this year for recommending a new salary structure for the over 4 million garment workers of Bangladesh for a six-month tenure.
The board was formed on April 9 this year for recommending a new salary structure for the over 4 million garment workers of Bangladesh within six months
However, Liaquat Ali Mollah, chairman of the Minimum Wage Board, said he was hopeful of representatives of both garment factory owners and workers proposing the salaries in the next meeting, to be held on the third week of this month.
Talking to journalists at his office in the capital after yesterday's meeting, he also said the minimum wage would be finalised through consultations among the representatives and board members by mid-November.
For an annual increment of 10 percent to 15 percent, as demanded by the union leaders, the government will have to amend the labour law as it currently allows up to 5 percent, said Mollah.
On workers demanding basic salary to be increased by 60 percent to 65 percent, he said the board would determine it through consultations among its members.
Regarding a demand for reducing the pay grades to five from seven, Mollah said there were 20 grades in public service and any such reduction would have to be brought about through discussions in the board.
While the meeting was taking place, different organisations of workers were chanting slogans in front of the office demanding hiking the minimum monthly salary to up to Tk 25,000.
They expressed anger over the delay in finalising the wages and handed over a proposal to the board chairman to press home their demands.
Only three meetings of the board took place although the provision states that the minimum wage should be announced within six months, said Garment Workers Trade Union Centre in a press release yesterday while demanding the Tk 25,000 minimum wage.
A platform of 11 workers' federations, including Garments Shramik Samhati Andolon, Bangladesh Textile Garments Federation and Garments Shramik Oikyo Forum, decried the delay even though the board's tenure was soon to expire.
The platform has been demanding that the minimum wage be raised to Tk 25,000, which involves a 65 percent raise in the basic wage.
The board can extend its tenure if needed, said Jafrul Hassan Sharif, a Supreme Court lawyer, alongside Md Towhidur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Apparels Workers Federation.
Rahman, under a new alliance with other trade unions, submitted a proposal to the board chairman demanding a minimum monthly wage of Tk 23,000.
Sirajul Islam Rony, a representative of workers on the board, said they would apply to the board chairman for extending the tenure.
Regarding the Tk 23,000 minimum wage demanded by the unions, he said a rational wage structure would be determined in consultation with the board members.
Different factors like calorie intake, transportation costs, house rent and food costs have to be brought under consideration for fixing the new salary, he said.
He also suggested that the government prevent landlords in industrial hubs in Savar and Ashulia from abnormally hiking house rent right after workers' wages are increased.
Moreover, the government should also sell essential commodities to workers at subsidised rates, he added.
Md Siddiqur Rahman, the representative of garment factory owners on the board, echoed the views of Rony.
He said the board members have already visited different garment factories in Dhaka, Chattogram and Habiganj and talked to the owners and workers and now were analysing their views to determine the wage structure.