New Minimum Wage for Bangladeshi Garment Workers
15 aug 2010
The Minimum Wage Board, a Bangladesh Government institution that oversees the wages of industrial workers, announced on 29 July 2010 that the monthly minimum wage (at entry level) for workers in the readymade garments industry (RMG) would be raised from Tk.1,662.50 (in effect since November 2006) to Tk.3,000. This breaks down to Tk.2,000 for basic needs, Tk.800 for rent, and a medical allowance of Tk.200 and is effective as of as of 1 November 2010.
The garments industry is the top earner in foreign exchanges and accounts for well over 75% of the total exports from Bangladesh. According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) Bangladesh earned $12.59 billion from exports of garments during the 2009-2010 fiscal year. The industry employs 3.5 million workers, the majority of which come from low-income families and rural areas.
The minimum wage that was fixed at the behest of the prime minister of Bangladesh did not satisfy the workers who demanded Tk.5,000. The workers went on a rampage through the streets in different parts of Dhaka City, Narayanganj, and Gazipur (three major centers of the garment industry) to protest against the announced minimum wage.
Garment Sramik Sangram Parishad (Garments Workers’ Movement Council) rejected the minimum wage and supported the workers demands. However the workers and their bargaining agents ultimately accepted the minimum wage that the government chose.