The garment workers of the country have been protesting for more than 11 days demanding minimum wage of 23 thousand taka. After the continuous unrest of last few days, the wage board is going to announce the new salary structure for the garment workers.
The announcement is expected to come from the meeting of the board at the minimum wage board office at Segunbagicha in the capital on Tuesday at 11 am.
Minister of State for Labor and Employment Begum Mannujan Sufian told a press conference last Thursday that the new salary structure will be announced in the sixth round of the Wage Board meeting. This meeting is supposed to be held today.
In April, a wage board was set up to fix minimum wages for garment workers. The board has met several times but no significant progress has been made. In the last 4th meeting, the labor side proposed fixing the minimum wage of Tk 20 thousand 393. On the other hand, the owner proposed to set Tk 10,400, which is almost half of the workers’ proposal.
In view of this, some labor unions took to the streets to demand that the minimum wage be fixed at 23-25 thousand taka. Angry workers vandalized hundreds of factories in Savar, Mirpur, Tongi, Ashulia, Gazipur areas. If the situation gets heated, the 5th meeting of the wage board will be decided by the owner to increase the wage proposal.
Last Thursday, a meeting was held at Shram Bhavan under the chairmanship of Minister of State for Labor and Employment Mannujan Sufian. In that meeting, the leaders of labor organizations took part under the leadership of Shahjahan Khan. After the meeting, in response to the questions of the journalists, the state minister termed the proposal given by the owners as unreasonable and said that the Ministry of Labor will recommend fixing the minimum wage in accordance with the market rate.
Talking to several labor leaders and leaders of BGMEA, it is said that new proposals will be made considering the present and future situation of the garment sector and the capacity of the owners. It can be around 12 thousand rupees. The labor party has not yet finalized its new proposal.
Because in view of the proposal of the labor side, several organizations and ordinary workers have started a movement and it is currently ongoing. The wage may be finalized in today’s meeting. If the owners and workers cannot reach a consensus, both parties will approach the Prime Minister in this regard. Both parties will accept the decision of the Prime Minister.
It has already been said by BGMEA that the wage board is working to review the wages of the workers. The new wage structure announced by this wage board will be accepted by the entrepreneur no matter what the odds are in the industry. The new wage structure will be effective from next December.
Meanwhile, the state minister has also hinted at the introduction of ration cards for garment workers so that they can buy daily commodities at low prices. However, the salary amount proposed by the ministry is not known.
Siddiqur Rahman, the representative of garment factory owners in the Wage Board, said, initially, along with the increased salary, the workers will be given family cards.
He said, later the workers will be given ration cards, so that they can buy daily necessities at low prices. However, he did not agree to comment on the minimum wage amount to be determined in the board meeting today.
President of Combined Garments Workers Federation Najma Akhtar said that it is a very good initiative of the government to give family cards or ration cards to the workers.
Minimum Wage Board and Minimum Wage Structure: The minimum wage for garment workers in 1986 was Rs.627. In 1994, it was increased by 44.33 percent to Tk 930. Then in 2006 it was increased by 78.71 percent to 1 thousand 662 taka, in 2010 it was increased by 80.51 percent to 3 thousand taka, in 2013 it was increased by 76.67 percent to 5 thousand 300 taka and in 2018 it was increased by 50 percent to 8 thousand taka.