Owners, workers both unhappy over Dhaka’s Minimum Wage Hike

Dhaka, Aug 27 (Calcutta Tube) A majority of garment factory owners in Bangladesh have opposed the fixing of minimum wages by a government board four weeks ago even as sporadic street protests by workers against the ‘inadequate hike’ continue to lead to violent clashes.

Of a total 343 factory owners, who have submitted their observations on the proposed revision of minimum wages, 327 have said the hike was too steep.

Submissions made by 22 labour organisations to the Minimum Wage Board (MWB) have, however, said the increase was inadequate.

‘We are scrutinising the submissions and plan the next meeting of the board in the first week of September,’ MWB chairman Ikteder Ahmed told New Age newspaper.

After six months of negotiations, the MWB July 27 proposed an upward revision of the existing minimum wages for garment workers, suggesting 67 to 108 percent increase of wages of workers in different grades.

The announcement triggered violent protests for the next few days.

Bangladesh’s workers are among the lowest paid globally, a survey by the International Trade Union Congress (ITUC) has said.

Ready-made garments and knitwear sectors are Bangladesh’s highest money-spinners that netted $12 billion last year.

However, poor wages and working conditions have made the government propose trade unions at each unit, something the employers are opposing.

Factories have had to close down intermittently in Dhaka’s industrial suburbs and other places due to violence and clashes between the workers and the police.

This has also caused concern among the garment importers from the US, European Union and Japan whose representatives urged the government to settle the wage dispute and improve working conditions to prevent any delays in meeting export commitments by the industry.

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