Bangladesh wage board announces new minimum wage

{mosimage}Unrest in the Bangladesh garment industry has once again erupted following the announcement of a new minimum wage of 1662tk (£13.27) that falls well below the level needed by workers to meet the basic needs of themselves and their families.  100s of workers have taken to the streets, blockaded roads and damaged factories in protest at the announcement, delaying or non payment of wages and at the failure of the government or factory owner to tackle working conditions in the factories. Further demonstrations and strikes are expected in coming weeks.

On October 5th 2006, the Bangladesh Minimum Wage Board announced the first raise to the minimum wage for garment workers since 1994. The gross minimum monthly wage has been recommended to be Tk 1,662.50 (£13.27) including basic salary plus house rent and other allowances for entry-level workers. Previously this was Tk 930. The announcement means the basic wage without benefits is around Tk 1,100, far below the Tk 3,000 basic wage called for by Bangladeshi trade unions and supported by Labour Behind the Label. This new proposal is not yet law, and will have to go through various processes before it becomes law.

On October 11th 100s of workers took part in demonstrations in Gazipur and different areas of Dhaka, blockading roads and damaging factories. The demonstrations focused on non or late payment of wages as well as the failure to raise the wage to an acceptable level. Further demonstrations and a series of strikes have been planned to protest against this new proposal.

Whilst garment workers and their supporters have been demanding wage increases for several years it wasn't until May 2006, following the outbreak of massive labour unrest by workers, that any kind of action was taken by the Bangladesh government and the minimum wage board was formed.

Labour Behind the Label continues to support the demand of workers for a basic rate of pay to be at a minimum 3000tk - still below the estimated 4,800tk that represents a real living wage. Regardless of whether the wage board recommendation becomes law, UK brands sourcing from Bangladesh should ensure that workers producing their products are paid 3000 Taka as a first step on the `ladder' towards a wage that covers basic needs. Such measures should include adapting their purchasing practices where necessary to allow suppliers to meet the rise in costs involved.

Sam Maher

Sam Maher

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