Advocacy group decries BGMEA's wage proposal

FE Report | Published: July 22, 2018 10:51:43 | Updated: July 23, 2018 10:37:25


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A foreign anti-sweatshop advocacy group has strongly condemned the owners' minimum monthly wage proposal for ready-made garment (RMG) workers in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) proposed Tk 6,360 as the minimum wage for the workers.

"We strongly condemn the proposal handed in by the BGMEA as well as the entire wage revision process so far," said Ineke Zeldenrust of the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC).

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The EU-based anti-sweatshop advocacy group made a plea to global brands to take action in this regard.

"The Bangladesh garment industry employers' association has shown utmost disregard for workers' wellbeing and for their lives outside of garment factories," it said.

The CCC, which advocates for improved pay and conditions and workers' empowerment in garment and sportswear industries, made this statement on Friday.

On July 16, the factory owners' representative to the minimum wage board proposed Tk 6,360 as the minimum monthly wage for an entry-level worker.

But the workers' representative proposed Tk 12,020 for the same.

The current minimum wage is Tk 5,300 set in 2013.

It has ever since been widely criticised as insufficient to meet the workers' bare necessities.

The proposed amount does not meet any living wage standard in Bangladesh, the CCC said.

Employers have been showing disregard for the legally required pay rises for the past five years, it added.

The Labour Act (Amendment) 2013 stipulates that the basic pay be increased by five per cent per annum.

RMG workers have been deprived of annual enhancements ever since the current minimum wage was implemented.

The proposed "increase" of the basic wage from Tk 3,000 to Tk 3,600 that is nothing but playing catch-up with statutory demands, Mrs Zeldenrust added.

This delay in fixing fresh respectable minimum wage has cost the workers hundreds of dollars over the years.

The CCC said this proposal is contravening the broad consensus among trade unions and their federations, including the Bangladesh council of IndustriALL.

According to the global trade union federation, the new minimum wage should be set at Tk 16,000.

The CCC wrote to major brands sourcing apparels from Bangladesh in April with the same plea.

It requested that brands demonstrate leadership on the way to a living wage by publicly supporting workers' demand for Tk 16,000 as minimum wage.

They should also make a long-term commitment to sourcing from Bangladesh after the pay rises, it said.

The CCC also expressed concern over repression and harassment of trade union leaders.

So far, several brands have expressed their general support for a wage increase, but they have not meaningfully acted upon this by taking the requested steps, it said.

Mrs Zeldenrust said, "If brands truly want to support the fair engagement of workers in the negotiations, they will speak out now. Silence means inaction!"

"… We once again call upon all brands to take action before the Minimum Wage Board meets again at the end of August," she asserted.

munni_fe@yahoo.com

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