Vol. 5 Num 800 Sat. August 26, 2006  
Front Page

Tk 3,000 minimum wage for RMG sector suggested

Leaders of workers organisations, political parties and economists yesterday suggested immediate announcement of a minimum wage of Tk 3,000 for garment workers for resumption of a healthy atmosphere in garment industry.

They however feared implementation of minimum wage for the workers will not be possible unless a truly democratic government is established through the next general election.

Addressing a workers' convention in the capital, they said the BNP- led four-party alliance government has not taken effective initiative for implementation of the tripartite agreement among representatives of the government, owners of garments factories and workers signed in May in the wake of unrest in garment factories.

Blasting the ruling coalition for this, the speakers said this government will not implement minimum wage for the workers.

They warned of a fresh unrest in garment sector if the government does not announce a minimum wage of Tk 3,000 for workers of the sector and ensure implementation of it.

Jatiya Sramik Federation organised the workers' convention held at the Institution of Engineers.

Renowned economist Abul Barkat, general secretary of Bangladesh Economic Association, said minimum wage for garment workers will not be announced by the present government since it is not pro-worker, and did not take initiatives for the welfare of workers during the last five years.

In 1994, the government had fixed Tk 930 as minimum wage, which was not proper. Considering the 1994 minimum wage, it should be at least Tk 2,511 because prices of essentials have increased 2.7 times during the last 11 years, he pointed out.

Now, minimum wage should be Tk 3,000 while workers demand Tk 4,000 and owners of factories agree to provide Tk 1,350, the economist said.

Wajedul Islam Khan, general secretary of Trade Union Kendra, mentioned that the government signed an agreement with Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad (Skop), a platform of workers organisations, on January 8 in 2004. The agreement provided that minimum wage would be implemented within four months but it is yet to be done, he added.

Roy Romesh Chandra, general secretary of Jatiya Sramik League, said the proposed minimum wage announced on July 8 in 2001 was Tk 1,200 for small factories, Tk 1,250 for medium factories and Tk 1,350 for large factories.

He expressed his surprise that a minimum wage of only Tk 1,350 for garment workers is under consideration while a night guard gets Tk 3,000 a month.

Hasanul Haq Inu, president of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, said the Minimum Wage Board (MWB) now covers only 70,000 workers of 38 sectors, who constitute less than 25 percent of the total number of workers in the country.

Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon chaired the convention, and speakers included General Secretary of the party Bimal Biswas, central leader Haider Akbar Khan Rono, workers leaders Nurul Islam, Jakir Hossain, Mesbah Uddin Ahmed, Abdul Kader Hawlader, Aminul Islam Golap, Abdus Sattar, Nur Ahmed Bakul and Saleha Sultana.