The owners and workers' representatives to the wage board for apparel workers were asked to place their proposals on the minimum salary at its first meeting yesterday.
Senior District Judge Syed Aminul Islam, chairman of the board, made the call, said Siddiqur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), who attended the meeting as the owners' representative. On January 14 this year, the government formed the board that is responsible to recommend a new minimum salary scale for the country's 36 lakh garment workers within six months.
“We mainly got introduced to each other in the first meeting,” said Rahman, adding that all the members of the board were present at the meeting. “We will again sit on April 25,” he said.
He, however, did not say anything about by how much the wage could go up or when the new wage would be announced.
The minimum wage board was formed after the BGMEA requested the government to hike the salaries of the garment workers mainly to avert labour unrest.
In December 2016, nearly 100 factory owners were bound to shut their production units in Ashulia and Savar because of massive demonstrations run by hundreds of workers for a wage hike.
The factories were reopened after a negotiation with the labour ministry and trade unions.
A four-member permanent wage board already exists. Whenever a board is announced afresh, two additional representatives—one each from the owners and the workers—are usually included.
The three other permanent members of the wage board are: Kazi Saifuddin Ahmed, labour adviser to the Bangladesh Employers' Federation (owners' representative); Fazlul Haque Montoo, executive president of Awami League's workers front Sramik League (workers' representative); and Kamal Uddin, a teacher of Dhaka University (independent member).
Begum Shamsunnahar, women affairs secretary of Awami League (workers' representative) and Rahman of the BGMEA have been added to this year's board.
The minimum wage was last fixed at Tk 5,300 in 2013, up from Tk 3,000 in 2010.