New wages for Dhaka’s garment workers

July 30th, 2010 - 2:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, July 30 (IANS) Bangladesh has announced new wage scales for its ailing garment industry but the workers are still persisting with their Taka 5,000 ($71) minimum wage demand.
Many of the workers’ collectives threatened a stir Thursday, minutes after the government formally announced the new scales. An apprentice will get Taka 2,500 under the new wage scale. The current minimum wages paid to workers is Taka 1662.50 per month.

Local Government Minister Syed Ashraful Islam asked lawmakers representing Dhaka, Naryanganj and Gazipur constituencies, where a majority of readymade garment manufacturing units are located, to be ready to face any “disorder”, New Age newspaper said Friday.

The minister said: “A quarter is trying to cause unwanted incidents using the issue of the wage board.”

Labour Minister Khandaker Mosharraf Hossian announced the new wage structure Thursday.

It came amidst months of industrial violence during which workers have died, numerous man-days have been lost and factories have been frequently vandalised and closed down.

Employing 3.5 million workers, Bangladesh’s readymade garment sector is the highest money-spinner. It netted $12 billion in foreign exchange last year.

However, poor working conditions and wages and absence of collective bargaining system in industrial units have left the garment sector turbulent, causing delays in meeting export commitments.

The employers had ‘lobbied’ with the government to delay the announcement for four months and demanded compensation before the wages were revised, media reports said Friday.

The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry has advised employers to accept the new wage structure and implement it to avoid further industrial violence.

The wage rise marks an increase from 57 percent to 108 percent, the latter at the apprentice level, as per a table published by The Daily Star.

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