New wage structure: RMG workers, helpers facing termination

Monira Munni | Published: October 15, 2018 09:48:08 | Updated: October 15, 2018 18:53:45

AP file photo used for representational purpose only

Workers especially helpers at different garment factories are facing termination and extra workloads following a new wage structure in the country's apparel sector, labour leaders alleged.

The majority of the workers in the garment factories, on an average, work 12 hours a day including four hours' overtime, they added.

But workers are now pressed for doing extra work within the regular working hours. The factory owners ask them to finish their work within the stipulated time, warning that if they fail, additional time would not be counted as overtime, the labour leaders alleged.

Helpers have been disappearing from the garment factories after the announcement of new minimum wage, Lima Ferdousi, president of Garment Workers Employees League, said at a recent roundtable organised by Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS).

"We are receiving complaints that factory owners have started sacking helpers just after the wage hike announcement," she said.

State Minister for Labour Mujibul Haque at a press conference on September 13 announced that the minimum monthly wage for entry-level garment workers had been increased to Tk 8,000 from existing Tk 5,300 with effective from December.

Just 24 days after the announcement, the government on October 08 also issued a gazette notification on the draft recommendation of the minimum wage board on readymade garment sector for fixing the amount for entry-level garment workers.

Sirajul Islam Rony, president of Bangladesh National Garment Workers Employees League, said he was currently in talks with Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) as the factory authority has sacked some 55 workers.

The majority of them are helpers, he noted.

Almost all small-sized factories located in Dhaka are doing subcontracting and 100 out of 400 workers in each factory are helpers, he said, adding that workers now fear losing their jobs.

The helpers in different subcontracting factories get a varied range of amount as wage and on an average, they receive Tk 4,200, much lower than the wage fixed by the government in 2013, he said.

Mahatab Uddin Shahid, another labour leader, alleged that factory owners have started putting pressure on workers to do additional works within regular working hours.

Overtime is the main source of workers' earnings as they hardly manage their living with Tk 5,300, labour leaders said.

The work burden also affects workers' health too, they said, adding that factory owners are reducing the workforce as part of their cost cut plans.

When asked, Mohammad Hatem, vice president of Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB), said many have started stopping recruiting fresh helpers while some already cut jobs.

"We can't afford that position of helpers as wage has increased," he told the FE.

A good number of garment factories have already closed over safety and compliance issues and many more would be forced to shut following the hike, he noted.


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