Garment workers are getting 26 percent less in basic pay than what they should have under the new salary structure, according to the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB).
This happened as the minimum wage board that recommended the new salary structure for the garment workers did not take into consideration the 5 percent annual automatic increment while fixing the pay.
As a result, the garment workers in all seven grades are earning 26 percent less despite the hike, the TIB found.
The wage board was supposed to consider the 5 percent annual increment of last the five years since 2013.
The TIB also found that factory owners have raised the production target by 30 percent to 36 percent with the hike of the wage, which came into effect in December last year.
“As a result, the workers are under pressure to fulfill the time-bound production target,” Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of the TIB, told a press conference at his office in Dhaka yesterday.
He said workers even sometimes could not go to toilets as they had to fulfill the production target. If the target is not reached, in some cases the workers have to work overtime without any additional payment and factory officials hurl abuses at workers.
The TIB organised the media briefing to share its findings on “good governance in the RMG sector: progresses and challenges” on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse, which killed 1,136 workers and left injured more than 2,500 on April 24 in 2013.
“The safety in the garment sector has improved a lot after the Rana Plaza building collapse. Remarkable progress has taken place in safety, salary and other institutional capacity-building over the last six years,” Iftekharuzzaman said.
The TIB found that in cases of awarding licences, a section of officials of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) take Tk 50,000 to Tk 60,000 from factory owners in bribe. In case of licence renewal, the bribe amount is Tk 5,000 to Tk 7,000.
For the permission of master layouts of a structure, a section of DIFE officials accept Tk 50,000 to Tk 70,000 from service-seekers in bribe and in case of layout amendment, the amount is Tk 15,000 to Tk 20,000, the TIB executive director said.
He said nearly 4 lakh workers lost jobs because of the inspection of the factories by the Accord and the Alliance – the two international inspection agencies. However, all the workers were not paid compensation. Only 6,676 workers received the compensation.
The TIB says there are complaints against a section of officials of the department of trade union registration under the labour ministry that they take Tk 10,000 to Tk 15,000 in bribe for registering a trade union.
Iftekharuzzaman suggested abolishing the power of employers to terminate workers, extending of maternity leave for garment workers to 24 weeks from 16 weeks, setting up a speedy trial tribunal for quick settlement of the cases that have been pending for many years, and reinstatement of the workers who were terminated during the labour unrest for wage hike last year.
The survey was conducted in 80 garment factories in Dhaka and Narayanganj between May 2018 and April 2019, said Nazmul Huda Mina, assistant programme manager for research and policy of the TIB, while presenting the findings.