Vol. 5 Num 735 Thu. June 22, 2006  

Provide fair wage for garment workers
Commerce minister urges owners

Commerce Minister Hafizuddin Ahmed yesterday reiterated his call to the garment factory owners to provide fair wage for their workers.

"As the garment workers lead a hard life, you have to consider a wage for them which is fair enough to suit a good living," the minister said speaking at a cheque handover ceremony to the relatives of the workers who fell victim to some fatal mishaps in different garment factories.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) organised the programme at its conference hall in Dhaka. The commerce minister handed over 34 cheques worth Tk1 lakh each to the relatives of 34 workers who lost their lives during the last couple of months.

The owners should restructure their factories into full-fledged compliance units immediately, the minister urged, warning against any mismanagement and indiscipline or corruption in the sector, which, he said, might ruin it as the jute industry experienced a disaster for these wrongdoings.

Referring to the recent unrest in the country's garment sector, Hafizuddin questioned, "Will any foreign investor be interested in investing his or her money in the garment sector if such unrest continues?"

Laying emphasis on a good owners-workers relationship, he said, "The factory owners and workers should work together like members of a family so that any untoward incident does not occur in future."

He also gave a directive to a number of factories to take immediate measures to arrange group insurance schemes for the workers as reports have it that some factories defaulted in this regard.

Speaking at the function, BGMEA President Tipu Munshi was optimistic about solution to all the existing problems in the garment sector in the next two or three months.

Regarding group insurance for the garment workers, the chief of the sector's apex trade body said the association had made it mandatory for the owners to arrange such group insurance to win the BGMEA membership.

BGMEA Vice-president (Finance) Shahdat Hossain Chowdhury Arun said, "Any movement of the garment workers should be realistic while the garment owners should maintain the commitments they made to the workers through different agreements on several occasions."

The BGMEA in 2002 signed an agreement with Sadharan Bima Corporation for group insurance of the garment workers. The factory owners pay the premiums of the insurance.

BGMEA Vice-president Abdus Salam Murshedy and Managing Director of Shadharan Bima Corporation Wazed Ali Khan also spoke at the function.