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RMG wage debate: Middle ground is needed

Published : Saturday, 15 September, 2018 at 12:00 AM  Count : 421

RMG wage debate: Middle ground is needed

RMG wage debate: Middle ground is needed

The government raised the minimum monthly wage for the garment workers by around 51 per cent to Tk 8,000 from the existing Tk 5,300 with effect from December. In RMG industry 4.4 million workers are currently employed. There are around 45 industrial sectors in our country, each with its own set minimum wage.

The workers of ready-made garment factories are not agreeing with government discussion with their ground. They have staged demonstration in Dhaka rejecting the government's decision. They demanded a minimum monthly wage Tk 16,000 instead of Tk 8,000. Several hundred workers led by Garments Sramik Trade Union Kendra staged a sit-in and blocked the road, halting traffic movement. The workers' leaders said they would announce tougher programmes if the government does not meet their demand soon. Later, they brought out a procession chanting various slogans and ended it at Paltan intersection.  Garments Sramik Front, Bangladesh Garments Sramik Sanghati and Garments Sramik Adhikar Andolan, a platform of 12 organisations, staged demonstration over the same issue and held separate rallies in front of the Jatiya Press Club at the same time.

The Centre for Policy Dialogue proposed a minimum monthly wage of Tk 10,028 for garment workers, in what can be deemed a reasonable middle ground for both the factory owners and workers. The factory owners have proposed a 20 per cent hike to Tk 6,360. The private think-tank arrived at the figure by assuming: a family size of 4.4 with 2.1 being earning members, total living expenses, including food and non-food items, of Tk 22,435, and 3 per cent savings on basic wages. The minimum wage for entry level workers would then be Tk 11,004 a month, according to a study of the CPD on the minimum wages and livelihood conditions of garment workers.

Considering the shrinking of profit margin in garment business as well as possible risks like trade war, rise of petroleum prices, rise in gas price, we suggest government to come up with a solution which could ensure interest of workers as well as RMG owners. 

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