Feud deepens over minimum wage for garment workers
Owners' proposal to hike salaries only by 20 percent for garment workers was “illogical and inhuman”, a labour leader said yesterday.
“I urged the owners to reconsider the proposal as it is too low from our demand,” Sirajul Islam Rony, workers' representative to the minimum wage board for employees, told The Daily Star.
At a meeting of the panel, owners' representative Arshad Jamal Dipu proposed to increase the monthly basic salary by Tk 600 to Tk 3,600.
Earlier, Rony recommended a minimum wage of Tk 8,114 a month, a 170.5 percent rise from the current level, by taking into account the workers' daily calorie intake and expenses.
He said the members of the wage board will visit Vietnamese garment factories on September 29 to review the salary structure, as the Southeast nation is seen as a major competitor of Bangladeshi garment business.
Dipu said 2,200 out of nearly 4,000 active garment factories belong to the small and medium categories, which are unable to bear a huge hike in salary.
The cost of production is increasing by 12.5 percent a year, where prices of garment items have not been increasing at the same pace, he said. “Hidden costs of business are also on the rise.”
Moreover, the appreciation of the taka by 8.6 percent against the dollar is also a concern for garment business, as the net income is calculated in dollars, Dipu said.
On the other hand, the Indian rupee is depreciating against the dollar, which has emerged as a negative factor for the country's garment sector.
Bangladesh is losing its competitive advantage in global garment trade, he said.
“However, there is scope for negotiations for finalisation of the salary,” Dipu said.