Feb 8, 2023
Bangladesh unions demand $215 minimum wage for garment workers
Feb 8, 2023
Global union federation IndustriAll’s affiliates in Bangladesh have demanded an increase in the minimum wage from Tk 8,000 ($75) to Tk 23,000 ($215) for garment workers, as the country sees roaring inflation, leaving workers struggling to make ends meet. Bangladeshi labour law requires the formation of a new wage board every five years to settle wage structures for every industry.
Bangladesh’s government last reviewed garment workers’ wages in 2018. IndustriAll Bangladesh Council and Garment Sramik Karmachari Okko Parishod have submitted a memorandum to the labour ministry. The demands include the minimum wage of an-entry level garment worker fixed at Tk 23,000 ($215), with a yearly increment of 10% as opposed to the current 5%. Other demands of workers’ unions include ration facilities for workers, considering the rising cost of living, according to a press release by IndustriAll.
The market situation has drastically changed between 2018 and 2022. With skyrocketing inflation, it has become impossible for workers to afford a decent standard of living. The inflation rate in Bangladesh crossed 9.5% in August 2022, the highest in 11 years. Meanwhile, the readymade garments (RMG) exports from the country increased by 14.31% to $27.418 billion during the period July 2022 to January 2023.
“The government must immediately reconstitute the national minimum wage board that includes workers’ representatives. Rising inflation has put garment workers in a dire situation. Their wages need to be revised accordingly, along with adequate social security measures,” said Amirul Haque Amin, president of IndustriAll Bangladesh Council.
The unions are demanding that the basic wage is made 65% of the total wage, which includes both the basic wage and allowances. Currently, the basic wage for a garment worker is less than 60% of the total wage. This is important as termination payments, like severance and gratuity are calculated based on the basic wage. There is also a demand that the government removes two grades from the existing seven-grade wage structure for garment workers as the current grade system keeps the workers under-graded despite long work experience.
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