Sunday, June 16, 2024

Board fixes Tk 5,300

Minimum Wage For Rmg Workers
Board fixes Tk 5,300
Employers disagree
The minimum wages board for the garment workers on Monday recommended Tk 5,300 as minimum monthly wage for entry-level workers, up by Tk 2,300 from the existing structure amid opposition from owners’ representatives. The minimum wage was decided through vote among the board members after the representatives of workers and owners failed to reach a consensus after long discussions at the ninth meeting of the wages board.
Both the employers’ representatives on the six-member wage board refrained from voting and signing the recommendations, alleging that the upward adjustment would hurt the apparel industry badly.
The rest four members, including the independent one, agreed on the minimum wage recommendation. The decision on the minimum wage was taken in the ninth meeting at the board’s Topkhana Road office.
‘It is a unilateral decision… The apparel industry which is facing great challenges both at home and on international market will be affected badly if the proposed wage of Tk5,300 is implemented,’ BGMEA president Atiqul Islam told New Age.
‘We cannot afford to pay more than Tk 4,200 as minimum wage,’ he said.
The $21 billion plus apparel industry currently employs more than four million workers. The current minimum wage for a Bangladeshi garment worker is the lowest in the world.
Of the Tk5,300, Tk3,200 has been suggested as basic wage, Tk1,280 as house rent (40 per cent of the basic pay), Tk320 as medical allowance (10 per cent of the basic pay), Tk 200 as transport allowance and Tk 300 as food subsidy.
‘The draft of the minimum wage of Tk5,300 for the garment workers has been finalised through voting among
the wage board members as per the section seven of the wage board ordinance. The recommendation will now be sent to the government press for gazette notification,’ the board chairman AK Roy said in a briefing after the meeting.
The objections and opinions, if any, on the recommendations, will be received and examined for 15 days after the gazette notification of the draft wage structure is published, he added.
‘After scrutiny of the objections, the board will prepare a final proposal, which will be sent to the labour ministry for next course of action,’ AK Roy said.
‘The wages in six other grades in the garment factories will be increased proportionately.’
Kazi Saifuddin Ahmed, a permanent representative of owners to the wage board, also labour adviser to Bangladesh Employers Federation, said that he did not sign the draft recommendation as the sector owners’ representatives on the board opted to stay out.
‘Being a representative of the employers, I could not sign the draft proposal as representative from the sector did not agree to
the proposal,’ Saifuddin said.
Fazlul Haque Montu, a permanent representative of workers to the wage board, said he had accepted the minimum wage proposal though the amount was insufficient to lead a decent life.
‘After a protracted bargain with the factory owners, we have achieved the new minimum wage for the garment workers and hope all apparel workers will accept the recommendation,’ Montu told reporters.
Sirajul Islam Rony, workers’ representative and member of the board, said he had accepted the proposal for Tk5,300 as minimum wage considering the overall situation in the apparel industry, though originally the demand of the workers was Tk8,114.
He lamented the stance of the factory owners, who did not budge from their previous position on minimum wage.
‘At on point of discussion, we proposed Tk5,300 as minimum wage but the employers did not agree. They preferred to fix the minimum wage at Tk 4,500 at the meeting,’ Rony told reporters.
The sector representative of garment factory owners, Arshad Jamal Dipu, also a member of the board, declined comments on the decision.
The government on June 6 formed the six-member minimum wage board with retired district judge AK Roy as its chairman.
Other members on the wage board are Professor Kamaluddin Ahmed, Bangladesh Employers Federation labour adviser Kazi Saifuddin Ahmed , Jatiya Sramik League executive president Fazlul Haque Montu, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) director Arshad Jamal Dipu and garment workers’ leader Sirajul Islam Rony.
The garment workers have long been demanding Tk 8,000 as minimum monthly wage, while the factory owners on October 31 offered Tk 4,250.
The existing minimum wage of Tk 3,000 has been effective from July, 2010. The first minimum wage board for garment workers was constituted in 1994 that fixed Tk 940 as minimum wage per month and the second one, formed in 2006, fixed the minimum wage at Tk 1,662.50.
The government formed the board on June 13 and published gazette of the board on June 26 for finalising the wage structure for the garment workers.
On October 31, the garment factory owners proposed a minimum wage of Tk 4,250 per month.

-With New Age input

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