Bangladesh official panel recommends 76pc garment worker wage hike

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 November, 2013, 9:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 November, 2013, 9:02pm

A Bangladesh official panel recommended on Monday that the government raises minimum wages for garment workers by 76 per cent following a string of disasters and protests over pay and conditions, an official said.

The board of government officials, garment manufacturers and union leaders said the minimum monthly wage for the nation’s four million garment workers should rise from 3,000 taka (HK$293) to 5,300 taka (HK$519).

“The wage board has recommended 5,300 taka as the minimum wage of the garment workers,” head of the Minimum Wage Board AK Roy told reporters after the meeting in Dhaka.

“The decision was taken through majority voting,” he said, adding that four of the six member panels voted in favour of the decision, but the owners’ representative rejected it.

The government pledged to raise wages by November, based on the board’s recommendation, after strikes in September saw tens of thousands of workers take to the streets, torch factories and clash with police to demand an increase.

The board’s recommendation on Monday must still be adopted by the government.

Protests over poor wages, benefits and working conditions are frequent in Bangladesh but have gained in intensity since the April collapse of a factory complex that killed 1,135 people in one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.

Bangladesh is the world’s second largest clothing exporter after China and the US$22 billion industry is a mainstay of the economy.

But wages are well below those in other major garment-making nations including China, Vietnam and Cambodia.

In a series of meetings in recent weeks, the board had been deadlocked over a final figure with manufacturers saying they could only afford to double wages to 4,500 taka.

Unions have been demanding 8,114 taka, saying the proposed rate from factory bosses did not ensure decent living standards nor keep up with inflation.