NewsTextiles & Apparel

Still disparity in wage negotiation between RMG owners and workers

BTJ Desk Report
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Still disparity in wage negotiation between RMG owners and workers

Workers in readymade garments (RMG) factories are calling for an increase in their minimum wage from the current Tk 8,000 to Tk 20,390, while factory owners have proposed raising it to Tk 10,400.

Both sides presented their suggested minimum wages at a meeting of the Minimum Wage Board held in the capital city. After the meeting, RMG worker representative Mr. Sirajul Islam Rony emphasized that wage increases are necessary due to inflation and that they’ve taken into account the factory owners’ capacity to pay.

Mr. Siddiqur Rahman, a representative of RMG factory owners, noted that their proposal considers the current global economic conditions, including inflation and the owners’ financial capacity. He emphasized that the minimum wage for workers should not exceed the factory owners’ ability to pay.

The new wage rates are expected to take effect in December, with workers receiving the increased wages in January. Wage Board Chairman Mr. Liaquat Ali Molla announced that another meeting will be held on November 1.

During the meeting, some labor unions protested in front of the Minimum Wage Board, demanding a minimum wage of Tk 23,000. Furthermore, five workers’ rights organizations and alliances have written a letter to the chairman of the Minimum Wage Board, demanding a minimum wage of Tk 23,000.

Tawhidur Rahman, former Secretary-General of the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, criticized the owners’ proposal, stating that it is inadequate given the current inflation and that it essentially mocks the workers. The proposal by the employers represents a 30% increase over the current wage, but the wage was last adjusted in 2018 when the dollar’s value was around Tk 84. In that context, even after five years, the proposed wage remains at approximately $94, despite the fact that the dollar’s value has since declined significantly against the Taka.

Professor Mustafizur Rahman, a distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), highlighted that a product that cost Tk 100 five years ago would now cost Tk 145, given the average inflation rate. He emphasized that a 30% increase in the minimum wage is insufficient when considering that the Taka has depreciated by 30% against the dollar over the same period, resulting in workers’ wages not increasing in terms of dollars.

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