Many garment owners may not be able to pay workers under the new wage structure from January as money flow in the sector has been squeezed by the ongoing political impasse, industry insiders said yesterday.
Garment makers plan to delay implementation of the new salary structure by 15-20 days, as they will not be able to implement it in one go.
“I think 60 percent garment factories may be able to implement the new salary scale timely and the remaining 40 percent may fall behind,” said Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
More than 3.5 million workers are employed in nearly 4,000 active garment units, according to data from BGMEA.
“But the garment makers must implement the salary structure, even if there is a delay, as it was finalised by the government,” he said.
The flow of work orders also began declining as political chaos is scaring off international retailers, he said. “The volume of orders has been declining since March.”
“We hoped we would implement the new salary scale with increasing prices from the retailers. But the retailers are now reluctant to increase prices,” he said.
According to a government decision, garment makers will have to implement the salary structure from December, meaning, most workers will receive the salary by January 7.
The wage board headed by Judge AK Roy finalised the minimum wage for garment workers at Tk 5,300 a month, raising it from Tk 3,000. In addition, workers have been divided into seven grades under the new structure.
“We are also worried over the current political situation as many garment owners have informed us that they might not be able to implement the new salary structure timely,” said Sirajul Islam Rony, the workers' representative in the immediate past wage board.
“But owners should pay workers in time even in bad times as they made profits before,” Rony told The Daily Star by phone.
If owners think they will face problems in implementing the new scale, they should discuss it with the workers earlier, so as to avoid any kind of unrest in the sector.
Nazma Akter, president of Sammilito Garment Sramik Federation, a garment workers' platform, said the real picture in the sector can be seen after January 5, when most factories will pay their salaries.
“But many factory owners have already expressed that they might not be able to implement the structure timely for a reduction in work orders.”