The government’s decision comes amid unrest in the readymade garment industry over the new wage structure
The government has formed a 10-member committee to resolve the crises over the discrimination of wages in different grades in the new pay structure for the apparel workers amid unrest in the industry.
The government has also urged the workers to call of their demonstrations and resume work, assuring that their wages will be adjusted this month.
Newly appointed Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi made the announcement and call after a meeting with the trade union leaders and garment owners at the Department of Labour in Dhaka on Tuesday.
“In the meeting, trade union leaders have claimed that there are some irregularities in some of the grades in the new wage structure, but the owners denied the allegations,” he said.
The 10-member committee will look into the reported wage discriminations and try to resolve the dispute, he added.
The minister said that five of the committee members were representatives of the workers and the other five including representatives of the readymade garment factory owners and the commerce and labour ministries.
“The committee will recommend steps after reviewing the pay structure. I hope they will be able to resolve the issues quickly.”
Tipu also threatened tough action against unruly workers. “No anarchy will be tolerated and law enforcement agencies have been asked to take action if the workers do not return to work.”
Trade union leaders who attended the meeting also urged the workers to return to work as they reached a consensus with the authorities to have the wages adjusted within January.
“In the new wage structure, the basic salaries were reduced in grade 1, 2 and 3, which made workers angry and led to unrest in the past three days and before this the last part of December,” said Mahbubur Rahman Ismail, the president of Bangladesh Textile-Garment Workers’ Federation.
“In the meeting, we have showed the ministers the salary discriminations and they have assured us that gross or basic salary will not be reduced and the discriminations will be adjusted by this month.”
Meanwhile, the new state minister for labour and employment, Begum Monnuzan Sufian, also echoed the commerce minister’s assurance and warning made to the RMG workers, and also urging them to return to their factories.
“But we have to keep in mind that salary cannot be reduced. The secretaries of commerce and labour ministries will coordinate the review of the wage structure and any discrimination found will be adjusted,” she said.
“Salaries, basic or gross, will not be decreased. If the workers’ salaries are hiked or adjusted, the dues will be paid along with next month’s salary,” she added.
Commerce Secretary Md Mofizul Islam, and Labour and Employment Secretary Afroza Khan, FBCCI President Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Md Siddiqur Rahman, former BGMEA presidents Atikul Islam and Abdus Salam Murshedy, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia, and other government officials were also present at the meeting, among others.
Since Sunday, RMG workers have been demonstrating in Dhaka’s Mirpur, Uttara, Savar and Gazipur by blocking different roads and clashing with police — protesting discriminations in their new pay structure and demanding changes to it.
A worker was also shot dead reportedly by police on Tuesday during clashes in Savar’s Ulail area.