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RMG minimum wage to be finalised Nov 21

DHAKA, NOV 11: The government will finalise the minimum wage structure for readymade garment (RMG) workers on November 21 as the apparel sector apex bodies Monday’s meeting with Labour Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju ended without any concrete resolution. “We have discussed all aspects of the issues and decided to finalise the minimum wage structure on November 21,??? said the minister while addressing the press after the meeting. He also urged the RMG workers to attend their respective works from Tuesday (12 November 2013).

“Factory owners rejected the Wage Board (WB) proposal and appealed for review of the minimum wage structure,??? said the minister adding that the government would finalise the wage structure after discussing the issue with the WB. The Wage Board recommended Tk 5,300 as minimum wage, on November 4, including food subsidy for garment workers amid objections from the apparel manufacturers. The factory owners rejected the proposal terming it exaggerated and beyond the ability of the owners. The owners, however, proposed Tk 4,250 while the workers demanded a monthly minimum wage of Tk 8,114.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), at a joint press conference on November 5, formally rejected the Wage Board’s proposal. They also threatened to shut down all garment factories unless the decision is reviewed Leaders of the apparel sector apex bodies -the BGMEA and the BKMEA — set with the minister on Monday to resolve the existing wage-related disputes with the Wage Board.

The minister informed that they would sit with the Wage Board to scrutinise objections and opinions if any and make its final recommendation for minimum wage for the workers.“The industry will not be able to sustain the recommended salary unless the government make any consideration. Many small and medium factories will face difficulties in implementing the salary structure,??? said a member of the WB also a director of BGMEA while talking The Independent.

The meeting was attended among others by Labour and Employment secretary Mikhail Shiper, BGMEA president Atiqul Islam, BKMEA president Selim Osman, BGMEA former presidents Anisul Huq, Salam Murshedy, BGMEA representative in WB Arshad Jamal.

According to factory sources, only a few factory owners will be able to pay the proposed Tk 5,300 as minimum wage. Seventy per cent of the factories are of small and medium categories that could not afford it, said an apperal manufacturer terming the proposed wage ‘illogical and unrealistic’.

If the government does not consider our demands, including affordability of the industry, neither the BKMEA nor the BGMEA will take the responsibility for implementing the proposed wage structure, he noted.

Meanwhile, thousands of RMG workers took to the street at various parts of Ashulia, Gazipur on Thursday, held rallies and staged demonstrations press home their demands for implementation of the minimum wages. The minister urged the workers to go back to their works adding that they would be affected largely if the industries close down. “We are losing our markets due to hartal, works stoppage and unrest and the neighbouring India is reaping the benefits,??? he said urging all to be cooperative.

According to sources, the new wage structure is likely to be effective from this month (November). Some 20 per cent of the country’s four-million-odd garments workers fall  under the category of minimum wages, while the remaining 80 per cent are sewing operators and old workers.


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