RMG wage board ‘next week’

The government will constitute a wage board next week to fix the new salary structure of the readymade garment workers.

“A gazette notification will be issued next week on the formation of a board which will deal with the salary of the RMG workers,” Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan said on Wednesday.

Bangladesh has emerged as the largest garment product exporter behind China, with the sector contributing nearly 80 percent of the export income.

However, the sector has been plagued with accidents and human rights activists have been accusing the owners of oppressing the workers. Around four million people, mostly women, engaged in the sector toil hard for as little as $38 per month.

Minister Khan, after meeting the Prime Minister, said the board will decide the salary structure and date of its implementation.

He hoped the process will be completed within November this year.

The latest government move was apparently prompted by widespread criticisms over the poor salaries of the workers and conditions of the factories, most of which do not comply with the international safety standards.

Bangladesh’s thriving sector came under spotlight once again after over 1100 people, mostly RMG workers, were killed in a building collapse on Apr 24 on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka. The nine-storey building housed five garment factories.

On May 12, Textiles and Jute Minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui said a wage-board would be effective from May 1.

The announcement was cheered by workers’ representatives but drew flaks from the owners.

As per rule, whenever a new pay structure is recommended, it is enforced from May 1.

On July 27, 2010 the workers’ minimum pay was fixed at Tk 3,000. Workers’ platforms have been demanding pay hike citing inflations.

Key importers have been turning up the heat on the government to reconsider the salary structure and safety standards at the factories after the Savar collapse and last November’s fire at Tazreen Fashions that killed over 110 workers.

The European Union, Bangladesh’s largest importer, threatened to revoke its preferential trading facility. Several US senators too have reportedly been pushing the Obama administration to cancel Bangladesh’s GSP facility.

If cancelled, Bangladesh could face millions of dollars in taxes.

This prompted the government to form a high-level committee, headed by the textiles minister, to inspect working conditions and safety at the garment factories.

Minister Siddiqui said the wage-board would be formed in line with the Labour Act for maintaining healthy workers-owners relations and to keep the factories running.

Source: Bd news24

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