Published: Thursday, May 23, 2013

Garment Workers

Yunus calls for minimum int’l wage

Third from left, Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus poses with, from left, Rushanara Ali MP (Labour), vice-chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group for Bangladesh; Baroness Uddin (Labour), member; Pauline Latham OBE MP (Conservative), chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group for UN Women; and Baroness Hussein Ece OBE (Liberal Democrat), secretary; at a meeting to discuss measures to improve and strengthen the garments industry in Bangladesh and protect the right of women workers. Photo: Yunus Centre

Third from left, Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus poses with, from left, Rushanara Ali MP (Labour), vice-chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group for Bangladesh; Baroness Uddin (Labour), member; Pauline Latham OBE MP (Conservative), chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group for UN Women; and Baroness Hussein Ece OBE (Liberal Democrat), secretary; at a meeting to discuss measures to improve and strengthen the garments industry in Bangladesh and protect the right of women workers. Photo: Yunus Centre

biz01Nobel Peace Prize winner Prof Muhammad Yunus has called for an international minimum wage for garment factory workers to shield them from exploitation.
In an interview with the BBC Bangla Service yesterday, the founder of Nobel Peace Prize winner Grameen Bank said the minimum wage could be applied in all garment-producing countries.
“Everybody has to have the same minimum wage. Bangladesh will have the international minimum wage. Burma and Cambodia will have the international minimum wage.”
Prof Yunus said it has to be done “as we have all agreed that the workers will no longer be allowed to be exploited”.
“You may say that for a poor person in Bangladesh one US dollar is too much. I understand that. But why does a buyer from a western country want to exploit a woman from a rural village?” he said.
His comments came after the Rana Plaza disaster in Savar last month that left over 1,127 people dead, mostly garment factory workers. It was the worst-ever industrial disaster in the country’s history and it prompted the government to announce an initiative to look into raising the minimum wage.
Prof Yunus also said he did not think that Bangladesh would lose its competitiveness in the readymade garment sector with the rise of the minimum wage.
“Even after the 50-cent wage per hour, Bangladesh will still be cheaper [to make garments from]. There are not too many countries with the 50-cent per hour minimum wage.”
Garment workers in Bangladesh are some of the lowest paid in the world, with per-hour minimum wage between 15 cents and 20 cents.
Prof Yunus said even new players in the global garment sector should provide workers with the same wage.
“If Burma makes a foray into the sector as a new player, their workers will have to be given the 50-cent wage. You cannot exploit them by giving them 10 cents or 20 cents under the pretence that they are a new country.
“These countries are part of the global economy. You cannot judge them with the yardstick of the local economy,” he said.

  • Dev Saha

    International minimum wage does not work. That is an illusion in a capitalistic world. It would be basically a job killer idea and the poor would the main victims again.

    • KIRTONKHOLA

      Please explain it- how it doesn’t work. Thanks

    • Deshi

      We’ve heard the same thing when “Honorable Dr. Yunus” started his “Micro Loan” program from the beginning. We can see the result now. When some people says “has to be done in proper and professional way” – they mean it and able to show them “Yes, it is possible”!

  • KIRTONKHOLA

    Hope the Hasina administration will working together with Dr Yunus to improve, strength and secure the garment industry for the long term goal. Professor Yunus has approached with a practical plan for RMG industry which has been already taken so much positive attention by the western world. Professor Yunus is one of the person who has so much credibility, expertise, network in the western countries, so the BD should not miss this opportunity.

    • http://www.facebook.com/niloufar.sarker Niloufar Naseem Sarker

      Yeah,yeah.yeah.How about 25percent interest rate for Grameen Bank borrowers ? Where in the world is interest this high? In U.S. mortgage interest is about 3 percent .He should be advocating is own client first.Don’t you think ?

  • Raf Chow

    Again missing the point! Was there a Micro Credit program/process before Grameen bank? Was there anything called Social Business? Dr. Yunus always has a out of the box thinking. He is engaging the end customer in this process and that is the main target. The question reamins is USD80.00 per month enough as BD living standard? How ever you do the math it is more than whatever the prevailing wages in BD. Also it is the minimum, If the RMG owners pay more than great.

  • http://www.facebook.com/niloufar.sarker Niloufar Naseem Sarker

    So clearly explained in few words.Our Nobel Laureate should read this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/niloufar.sarker Niloufar Naseem Sarker

    Dr Yunus talks politics & speaks what the audience want.

    • Raf Chow

      In fact he worked and proved what he talks about! BTB US mortgage rate vs. GB loans comparison is absurd. First understand the mechanics of GB micro credit.

  • Shafiqur Rahman

    Absolutely agree. As an economist Dr. Yunus should know better than present an international standard for minimum wage- there are many factors, including GDP, inflation, price indexes (CPI), taxes, etc that each country weighs in to determine the min. wage. Dr. Yunus needs to go back to basic economic theories before suggesting something that is not feasible. He needs to stop pontifications and start on a realistic approach.