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Dhaka Tribune

BGMEA defends new minimum wage, its financial impact

The apex body of the country's RMG sector emphasized that they were not involved in the wage negotiation process, highlighting the independent functioning of the minimum wage board

Update : 28 Nov 2023, 09:57 PM

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Tuesday clarified the financial implications of the recently announced minimum wages for the country's readymade garment (RMG) workers, addressing concerns about the adequacy of the minimum wage.

The apex body of the country's RMG sector emphasized that they were not involved in the wage negotiation process, highlighting the independent functioning of the minimum wage board. 

Contrary to misinformation, the trade body refrained from making any public comments on the minimum wage until the initial declaration was made by the wage board on November 7. 

Faruque Hassan, the president of the BGMEA, underscored these points in a statement to the media on Tuesday.

He clarified that the Minimum Wage Board established the lowest minimum wages, but the actual wages remained considerably higher. 

He also said that the specified Tk12,500 was applicable only for entry-level workers with no prior experience. 

Addressing criticisms, he shared data on various take-home cash benefits, in addition to gross wages, while emphasizing the diversity of other sectors in the country.

Highlighting the reduction of grades from 5 to 4 as opposed to the initially proposed 7 in 2018, the BGMEA president further stated that effective from December 1, an unskilled worker of grade 4 would receive a gross wage of Tk12,500, marking a substantial 56.25% increase from the 2018 gross pay. 

Overtime pay per hour was also raised from Tk39 to Tk64, with festival bonuses and earned leave amounts experiencing significant boosts.

The association’s president also acknowledged the challenges faced by the RMG industry, emphasizing its crucial role in Bangladesh's economy. 

Hassan argued that the sustainability of the industry hinged on considering the wage discourse within the broader context of local and global economic and trade dynamics.

Despite the RMG industry's pivotal role in Bangladesh's economy, he lamented its frequent portrayal with anti-industry bias and misrepresentation. 

He urged the media to delve into the economic landscape of the industry in recent years and also advocated for thorough analyses, criticisms, reports, and measures related to prices and responsible purchasing practices.

The Minimum Wages Board officially set Tk12,500 as the minimum monthly wage for entry-level RMG workers, incorporating changes in the grade and wage structure. 

Approved by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on November 7, this marked a 56.25% increase from the 2018 structure, with a 5% increment still in place, and a reduction in the number of grades from 7 to 5. 

The government sought feedback through a draft and gazette notification, allowing a 14-day period for written objections, appeals, or proposals starting from November 11.

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