Staff Correspondent: Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Monday clarified its position on a report published by Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) saying a few deviations do not define the industry which is glorified by the contribution of 4 million workers.
“If the welfare of labor is our entire target (we would like to believe so), we would like to urge WRC to engage in a collaborative study with BGMEA so that we can jointly address the issues and correct errors when they happen,” said the apex body of the country’s apparel industry in a statement.
The BGMEA said they welcome and appreciate WRC to view the sector with the critical lens that employs 4 million workers.
It said any data and research is always helpful to monitor the industry and steer it to the next level of compliance.
In the particular report of WRC titled “Banning Hope: Bangladesh Garment Workers, Seeking a Dollar an Hour Face Mass Firings, Violence, and False Arrests” five case studies were highlighted, based on which BGMEA actively initiated independent enquiry, said the BGMEA. But the over generalization in reporting ‘malpractices’ must kindly be avoided in the future, it said.
The WRC report, BGMEA said, raises the issues regarding wages which mostly remain “controversial”. The minimum wages in Bangladesh was reviewed by an independent Minimum Wage Board which comprised of representatives from workers, employers, neutral body (University of Dhaka) and a district judge as an independent chair. The committee took into cognizance all the factors for determining minimum wages as set out in the Section-141 of the Bangladesh Labor Act 2006, undertook extensive stakeholder consultation and finally recommended the new pay structure. The BGMEA said WRC report only brought the allegation of the new minimum wage to be insufficient as per the workers expectations and living wages (though there is no globally accepted definition of living wage), but ignored a number of facts which cannot be isolated from the reality. For instance, BGMEA said, the economic status and level of income of people in a certain country are major factors behind its minimum wages. The report mentioned that between 7,500 and 11,600 workers were fired following the January 2019 strikes. The BGMEA said they found that the number is based on estimates with no verifiable sources. “Moreover, the figure was not substantiated.” “Once again while organization like WRC remains vigilant about the existing labor practices in the industry, we sincerely urge them to view BGMEA as their partner while we work together with the fullest trust and confidence,” said the BGMEA. The BGMEA said they at BGMEA strongly believe in the sustainability of the sector and welfare of workers and improvement of their livelihood. “We look forward to working together.”
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