Staff Correspondent: The government has hiked wages for garment workers in six grades, leaving the minimum monthly pay unchanged at Tk 8,000 amid raging labour protests.
From now on, a worker in the top grade will get Tk 18,257 a month, up from Tk 17,510 set in the previous wage structure of 2018, said Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, after a tripartite meeting in Dhaka.
The revised wage board is effective from Dec 1, 2018 and will be adjusted from February this year, the minister said.
The gazette on the revised wage board will be published within a week, Munshi said and urged the workers to resume work.
“Most of the workers do not want vandalism. They want to work. I hope they will join work peacefully,” said Munshi, a former president of the garment exporters’ lobby BGMEA.
Garment Workers Federation President Amirul Haque Amin, who was present in the meeting, welcomed the new wage structure and urged the protesters to get back to their factories.
The protesters are spurred by ‘a particular quarter’, the BGMEA said at a news conference earlier in the day.
It also warned the demonstrators seeking changes to the wage structure to return to work immediately or have their wages deducted.
Readymade garment workers’ wage:
The minimum basic wage for the lowest slab, grade 7, was Tk 3,829 as per the wage board set in 2013.
The government raised it to Tk 4,100 in 2018 following the mandatory 5 percent annual increase. The gross wage for this grade increased to Tk 8,000 from Tk 5,300.
The gross wage for all grades includes house rent, and allowance for medical, transport and food costs. The government formed a tripartite committee headed by Labour and Employment Secretary Afroza Khan on Jan 9 to review the wage board after days of worker unrest in Dhaka and nearby industrial hubs Savar, Ashulia, Gazipur and Narayanganj.
Commerce Secretary Md Mofizul Islam, five representatives of the workers and as many of the owners are members of the committee.
There were no issues with grades one, two, six and seven but ‘some observations’ about grades three, four and five, Afroza said after the first meeting of the committee last Thursday.
The government on Nov 25 last year gazetted the new wage structure for RMG workers setting Tk 8,000 as the minimum monthly pay. It ordered the garment factories to implement the new structure from Dec 1.
Amid the process to form the new government after the Dec 30 elections, the workers started protesting against the new wage board by blocking the key Airport Road on Jan 6.
The protesters claim that the mid-level workers work more than the others but the lower-grade workers’ salary has increased more, the labour secretary had said.
Many of the workers also allege their factories were not paying them as per the new wage structure.