Garment makers yesterday threatened to shut down all factories if the government does not revise down the minimum wage recommendation of Tk 5,300 within the next 15 days.
“The recommendation of Tk 5,300 as entry-level wage is suicidal for the garment sector,” said Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, at a joint press conference with Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Before the press conference the BGMEA and BKMEA held an emergency meeting with their general members where the minimum wage of Tk 5,300 was unanimously rejected.
“The sector does not have the capacity to absorb the 77 percent wage rise,” Islam said, adding that the two garment makers' platforms would appeal to the wage board today to revise down their recommendation.
He said the 77 percent higher minimum wage was simply imposed on the garment owners as the board chairman [Justice AK Roy] finalised it without consulting the owners' representative.
“There are some other motives behind the recommendation for this figure as everybody knows it is beyond the means of the sector. We, the garment owners, refuse to accept this figure.”
The BGMEA president said the owners' recommendation is Tk 4,500 per month and the board will have to go with it. “We will meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and seek an exit policy if our recommended salary amount is not finalised.”
Islam said the wage board's recommended salary would erode the sector's competitiveness by 37 percent as the cost of production has already increased 13 percent over the last few years.
“This is a conspiracy salary structure. This is also illogical and unacceptable,” AKM Salim Osman, president of BKMEA, said.
Meanwhile, workers of at least 88 garment factories in Gazipur and Savar abstained from work yesterday and staged demonstrations to realise their original demand for Tk 8,114 as minimum wage.
However, BGMEA Vice-president Shahidullah Azim said production in at least 40 garment factories in Gazipur and Savar were suspended under section 13/1 of labour law, which states “no work, no pay”.