The government is yet to form the full wage commission for garment workers – although two weeks have passed since its announcement – as garment owners have not nominated their representatives for the body.
The labour and employment ministry has been waiting to get the list of nominees from Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) to form the commission and publish a gazette.
“After we receive the nominations, we will publish the gazette on the wage commission including names of people in it, its jurisdiction, timeframe for submitting recommendations and other benefits. The commission will start working only after the gazette is published,” Labour and Employment Secretary Mikail Shipar told the Dhaka Tribune.
BGMEA President Atiqul Islam said they had finalised the names of their nominees and the association board would sit today for its approval.
“We will send our nominations to the ministry after getting the board’s approval,” he said yesterday.
On May 12, the labour ministry announced the formation of the national wage board to ensure minimum wages for garment workers in the presence of garment owners and BGMEA office bearers, labour leaders and government officials.
Jute and Textiles Minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui, a member of the cabinet committee on garment industry, announced on behalf of the labour ministry that the minimum wages would be effective from May 1.
Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar, however, told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday that the minimum wages would be effective from the day the commission suggested. The process would be completed within November, he said.
According to the labour ministry, the government already appointed district judge AK Roy as the chairman of the commission. Other members will be nominated from government officials, garment owners and representatives of garment workers.
The commission will fix the new salary structure of RMG workers in consultation with its members and other stakeholders concerned.
Bangladesh is the largest exporter of garment products after China, contributing nearly 80% of the country’s earning from exports.
The sector has been plagued with accidents, and rights activists have been accusing garment factory owners of oppressing workers. Around 4 million people, mostly women, engaged in the sector toil hard for as little as Tk3,000 a month.
The move for forming the wage board was prompted by widespread criticism over the poor salaries and conditions of the factories, most of which do not comply with the international safety standards.
Bangladesh’s garment industry came under limelight once again after 1,127 people, mostly RMG workers, were killed in a building collapse at Savar on April 24. The nine-storey building housed five garment factories.
The European Union, the largest importer of garment products from Bangladesh, threatened to revoke its preferential trading facility. Several US senators have also reportedly been pushing the Obama administration to cancel Bangladesh’s GSP facility.
If cancelled, Bangladesh could face millions of dollars in taxes.