Minimum wage: What kind of wages do workers in Bangladesh get?

  • Saidul Islam
  • BBC Bangla, Dhaka

an hour ago

(Take a look at the sector-wise lowest wages in Bangladesh. You can click on the circles/tap on mobile to see the details of that sector)

After the movement of tea workers in Bangladesh, the issue of low wages has come to everyone’s attention. Finally, the daily wage has been slightly increased with the intervention of the government.

But not only tea workers, workers in many other sectors of Bangladesh are getting such low wages.

High prices of every essential of life, including fuel and edible oil, have made the life of these low-income people more difficult due to the pressure of inflation.

Some of its sector wages have been re-fixed in the past few years, but many sector wages have remained unchanged. Again, there are allegations of paying less than the wages fixed by the government in some sectors.

Minimum wages for workers in various sectors

The government has a special board to determine the minimum wages of workers in various occupational sectors in Bangladesh. This board is supposed to review the wages regularly and fix the minimum wages.

But while wages have been fixed somewhat regularly in sectors like ready-made garments, workers in other sectors have been neglected.

Chairman of the minimum wage board. Selina Akhter told BBC Bangla in this regard, “I have taken responsibility for some time. Now I will check the whole thing. But if wages are not paid on time in any sector, surely we will take action.”

According to the data of labor organizations, there are 63.5 million workers in Bangladesh, who work in various sectors.

The government of Bangladesh has determined the minimum wages of these workers by determining 42 sectors.

Although the sector that employs the largest number of workers, there is no separate wage for the agricultural sector. Wages are determined based on market demand and supply.

image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Even though the wages of the construction workers are fixed, the builders do not follow it.

Which of Bangladesh? sector How do workers get wages?

A perusal of the Minimum Wages Board Gazette revealed that there is wide variation in wages from one sector to another.

The wages of some sectors are only 3 thousand taka, while the wages of some sectors are more than 16 thousand taka.

For example, the minimum wage in the garment sector of Bangladesh has been set at 8 thousand taka. Out of which basic will be 4 thousand 100 taka, house rent 2 thousand 50 taka and other 1 thousand 850 taka.

Due to pressure from foreign buyers, government surveillance and strong labor organizations, wages have been implemented in this sector.

But in other sectors, even though the minimum wage is set, it is alleged that it is not fully implemented in many cases.

image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

In the face of the agitation, the wages of garment workers were revalued but many sectors remained neglected

Besides rubber industry, jute mill, beedi, match industry, jute press, cinema hall, hosiery, cold storage, petrol pump, Ayurvedic factory, iron foundry. Wages in Well Mills and Vegetable Products, Salt Industry, etc. sectors were last fixed many years ago.

For example, the last wages of workers in the cold storage and privately owned industry sectors were fixed in 2012, in the match industry in 2013 and in the bidi industry in 2016.

Again, the wages of petrol pump workers were fixed many years ago but were not adjusted later. However, it is known that workers in this sector now earn between 8 and 12 thousand taka per month.

They were not subsequently adjusted to keep pace with market inflation. However, the minimum wage board officials said that the work of re-fixing the wages of some sectors is going on.

Why so much difference in the wages of different sectors?

A review of wages in different sectors shows that there is a lot of variation in minimum wages across sectors.

For example, the minimum wage in hotels and restaurants is Tk 3710 but in construction and wood industry it is more than Tk 16 thousand.

Najma Yamsin, a director of the Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies, tells BBC Bangla, “Many times the wages are more or less taking into account the needs of skilled workers in different sectors, risks, etc. For example, a skilled carpenter can earn more than the wages fixed by the wage board. Many are also forced to take less than the prescribed wage structure.

There is a rule to re-evaluate the wages of any sector after three to five years. But wages in many sectors have remained unchanged over the years.

In many cases like brick kilns, there are allegations that workers are not paid properly

image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

In many cases like brick kilns, there are allegations that workers are not paid properly

Nazma Yasmin says, “Usually the new wages are determined through negotiations between the government, employers and trade unions. Sometimes the government or the owner can do it on its own, or it can be done under the pressure of the workers. But in many sectors, where trade unions or labor organizations are not strong, the issue of wages does not get proper attention.

Bills said that there are about 63.5 million workers in Bangladesh. Almost half of them are unskilled workers.

He said that many times the workers do not know about their rights, the minimum wage announced by the government. As a result, they cannot negotiate with the owners or claim their rights.

Many times workers in different sectors get salary as per wage board, market demand also plays a role in determining wages.

How the minimum wage is determined

According to Bangladesh Labor Act 2006 the minimum wage of workers is fixed. This Act says how the Minimum Wage Board will be constituted, how it will work, what matters will be taken into consideration and within what time it will finalize the report, all are said there.

However, the Minimum Wage Board itself cannot take initiative in relation to the wages of any profession. This wage board starts working after the recommendations are sent to them by the Ministry of Labor and gives recommendations after reviewing them.

According to the labor law of Bangladesh, there is a provision to revise the minimum wage every five years.

Some of the workers who work in the dockyard.

image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Some of the workers who work in the dockyard.

As a result, some sectors are re-reviewed after five years, some sectors are after three years, and some sectors are not reviewed for a long time.

Usually, the minimum wage is determined by taking into account the cost of living of the workers, the standard of living, the cost of production of the organization, productivity and the price of goods, inflation, the type of work, that is, how much risk there is in that work and how much the owner can afford.

How ordinary people are struggling

Inflation in Bangladesh is currently around seven and a half percent. In other words, the money spent on buying any product or service last year, now has to be spent at least seven and a half percent more than that. But in reality this cost is more.

Because inflation is calculated by calculating the average increase in prices of food and non-food products. But if the price of rice or dal increases, it creates more pressure on the common man than any other commodity. Food inflation is now more than eight percent.

Monoara Begum works as a domestic worker in Dhaka. The government has no wage policy for domestic workers like her. He gets only 650 rupees per month for each job based on negotiation. It can be higher depending on the area.

“Working in one house does not work. If I do three jobs, I get 2000 taka, that doesn’t even cover the house rent. You have to work four hours a day. Even then, the family can’t survive even in Tenetun by renting a house,” Manwara Begum was saying.

Inflation continues to rise in Bangladesh. According to the official, inflation in Bangladesh was 7.48 percent in July. Economists, however, believe that actual inflation is higher.

Research organization CPD says that the poor people are under pressure due to inflation and in this situation, controlling the high prices of daily necessities is a big challenge in front of Bangladesh.

But not only Bangladesh, the entire world is now facing the highest inflation in the last era.

High prices of every essential of life, including fuel and edible oil, have made the life of these low-income people more difficult due to the pressure of inflation.

image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

High prices of every essential of life, including fuel and edible oil, have made the life of these low-income people more difficult due to the pressure of inflation.

Economist Dr. Khandkar Golam Moazzem told BBC Bangla that the prices of imported products and domestically produced products have increased and the common people are worried.

“People have reduced consumption of products. They are using less rice, pulses, oil, sugar. Poor people may be forced to eat less. Many people are in crisis even with baby food,” he told BBC Bangla.

Manwara Begum’s husband works as a janitor in a building. His monthly salary is only eight thousand rupees. With this money, they have to spend on house rent, three children, medical expenses and food.

Housekeeper Manwara Begum said, “Earlier I used to eat two fish or meat a week. Now it’s two days a month.”

Hasina Akter works in a factory in Ashulia. He earns 11,500 taka including wages and overtime. But even in this his family is not running.

“Half of the money goes to house rent. Then I could not afford to eat, drink, study, send money home. I have cut many expenses of the family, but it doesn’t work,” he was saying.

Harun Or Rashid, a farmer from Rajbari, now works for a daily wage of around eight hundred taka. But he knows, he won’t have a job after a month.

“Six months of the year there is work, and six months there is no work. “Don’t hoard money, but everything has a price,” he said.

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