Board, workers at loggerheads

Board, workers at loggerheads
Union leaders and members of a government-formed board which declared Tk 8,000 as the minimum monthly wage for garment workers are at loggerheads over the amount.

Garment workers are scheduled to demonstrate in areas of their respective factories on September 21 demanding that the amount be re-fixed at Tk 16,000, according to a UNB report yesterday.

They also decided to continue protest rallies until the government fulfills their demand.

Garment workers under the banner of Garments Workers' Trade Union Centre announced the decision when police stopped their procession from reaching the Ministry of Labour and Employment in Bangladesh Secretariat yesterday afternoon.

The protesters were seeking to submit a memorandum over reconsidering the declared minimum wage.

Terming the declaration “inhumane”, Jolly Talukder, the centre's general secretary, announced holding a protest rally in front of National Press Club in Dhaka on September 28.

“Workers' minimum wage must be Tk 16,000 considering the growing prices of essentials,” the news agency quoted her as saying.

Garment workers under the banner of Garments Workers' Trade Union Centre also announced or ganising rallies demanding a further hike of the proposed salary.

The workers' and owners' representatives in the wage board do not agree with the demand for further review of the amount.

“We do not have any scope for further review as we have already announced the amount after consultation with different stakeholders,” said Shamsunnahar Bhuiyan, the workers' representative.

On some trade union leaders demanding the minimum monthly wage to be Tk 12,000 and some Tk 16,000, Bhuiyan said any union leader has the right to oppose the amount or reject it.

During consultation meetings among the board members, the owners agreed to pay Tk 7,000 a month but the amount was raised to Tk 8,000 following a meeting with the prime minister.

The board declared the amount on September 13, increasing it by around 51 percent from the existing Tk 5,300.

“Primarily we did not agree with the declared amount, as we were trying to fix it at Tk 7,000 but the amount was raised when the prime minister asked us to do so,” said Siddiqur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

“Many small factories will not be able to pay the amount,” he said.

Some of the union leaders joined a tripartite meeting in the ministry yesterday demanded that the hike be 60 percent.

“We demand a hike of at least 60 percent,” said Nazma Akter, president of Sammilito Garment Sramik Federation. Akter also demanded a review of the labour law which the cabinet approved on September 3.

She demanded that maternity leave be extended to six months from the proposed four months.

The minimum wage was last fixed at Tk 5,300 in 2013, up from Tk 3,000 in 2010. It was Tk 1,662.50 in 2006, Tk 940 in 1994 and Tk 627 in 1985.
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