RMG trade unions’ federations affiliated with global trade union Industriall have demanded Tk16,000 per month be fixed as minimum wage for the country's RMG workers.
Leaders of the federations made the demand during a meeting with Md Siddiqur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), in Dhaka on Thursday.
A total of 17 leaders from 16 federations participated in the meeting attended by BGMEA Vice President Mahmud Hassan Khan Babu, among others.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Industriall Bangladesh Council (IBC) General Secretary Md Towhidur Rahman said: “Of Tk16,000 we demand, Tk10,643 has to be fixed as basic wage, Tk4257 (40% of the basic wage) as house rents, and Tk1100 as transportation and medical allowances.”
They also demanded increasing annual pay increments to 10-15% from the existing 5% and classifying all workers into four grades, instead of the existing seven grades.
Mahmud said the BGMEA, the apex body of RMG manufacturers and exporters, would take into account the issues of workers’ living standards and industries’ capacity while fixing the wage rate.
Turing to the federation leaders’ demand for Tk16,000 as minimum wage, he said the amount should be a justifiable one.
The BGMEA leader also sought assistance from the federations in helping avoid any possible unrests centering on the new wage structure.
“We sought the federation leaders’ cooperation so that there is no unrest ahead of the announcement of a new wage structure,” Mahmud said.
He also urged the representatives not to go to any third party and suggested them clarify their grievances, if any, to the BGMEA.
“We have assured them of fixing the amount through discussions, and factory owners should consider their workers’ demands.”
After holding a meeting with its global partners on February 6 to discuss the wage structure and other issues, the IBC will unveil its final proposal in this regard, at a press conference on February 10.
On January 14, the government formed a new wage board for the garment sector to develop a new wage structure for workers employed in the apparel industry. The board was asked to submit its recommendation within six months.
In the aftermath of the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse, Tk5,300 was fixed as minimum wage for apparel workers with a basic wage of Tk3,000 for entry-level workers and a 5% annual increment on the basic wage.