Undervalued garment workers | The Daily Star
12:24 AM, September 24, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:24 AM, September 24, 2013

Undervalued garment workers

Undervalued garment workers

Garment workers, whose toils fetch the country $19 billion in export earnings, the highest among all industrial sectors, get one of the lowest wages.
Thanks to cheap labour, the industry thrived over the last three decades and has gone on to become the second biggest apparel sourcing destination in the world after China.
"This is exploitation. Garment workers in Bangladesh are not only the worst-paid in the world but also locally," said Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmmed, assistant executive director of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies.
The average wages in the garment sector, which provides jobs for 36 lakh workers, are the second lowest in Asia after Myanmar.
Undervalued garment workers Since 2010, the government has reset the monthly minimum wages for 24 industrial sectors, including the garment industry that raised the pay to Tk 3,000.
“It is true there are differences in traits among the sectors, but even after accounting for those differences, the garment sector's wages are not sufficient," said Khondaker Golam Moazzem, additional research director of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
An improvement in efficiency and productivity also added vigour to the growth of the industry and facilitated increased economic activities in other areas, he said.
But the garment workers, who mostly migrated from suburbs for livelihoods, have not got their dues in line with the improvement in productivity and efficiency.
"We have seen some adjustments through the minimum wage in 2010, but it is inadequate."
Moazzem, however, pointed out that the garment workers get some fringe benefits -- such as attendance allowance, production bonus and Eid bonus -- that are not available to the workers of some other sectors.
Meanwhile, in response to extensive criticism the government in June formed a wage board for the sector. The labour organisations demanded the minimum monthly wage be raised to Tk 8,114 from Tk 3,000, but the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) proposed only a Tk 600 hike.
"We have proposed for a decent wage for workers to survive, but the owners' proposal reflects dishonour to the workers and public opinion," said Ahmmed.
He said the workers demanded the minimum wage to be higher than the figure placed on the wage board.
“Tk 8,114 is the lowest they can do with, and the owners' refusal to agree to it has created anger among the workers. They are taking to the streets because of this."
He said the workers demanded the minimum wage to be higher than the figure placed on the wage board.
“Tk 8,114 is the lowest they can do with, and the owners' refusal to agree to it has created anger among the workers. They are taking to the streets because of this."

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