Bangladesh garment workers ‘frustrated’ by gov’t wage hike after protests

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The minimum wage summation comes aft weeks of the worst protests successful a decennary deed Bangladesh’s large concern areas.

Published On 8 Nov 2023

Authorities successful Bangladesh person announced a caller wage operation for protesting garment mill workers with a 56 percent summation successful the monthly minimum wage to $113 from the erstwhile $75, a determination rejected by immoderate workers’ groups arsenic excessively tiny and “extremely frustrating”.

State Minister for Labour and Employment Monnujan Sufian announced the determination connected Tuesday aft a gathering of a government-formed wage committee made up of representatives of mill owners and workers.

She said the caller wage operation volition instrumentality effect from December 1.

The determination came aft weeks of the worst wage-related protests successful a decennary deed Bangladesh’s large concern areas and a suburb of the capital, Dhaka.

Bangladesh Garment ProtestPolice occurrence teardrop state to disperse garment workers blocking postulation astatine the Dhaka-Mirpur road successful Bangladesh [File: Mahmud Hossain Opu/AP]

The protests began aft the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association offered to summation the monthly minimum wage by 25 percent to $90. The past summation successful the minimum wage was announced successful 2018.

Tens of thousands of workers, demanding a $208 monthly minimum wage, demonstrated successful the streets. Four factories were torched and astatine slightest 2 workers were killed successful the violence, arsenic the workers blocked highways and fought with police.

Earlier connected Tuesday, constabulary fired teardrop state astatine thousands of workers who acceptable a autobus connected occurrence extracurricular Dhaka, arsenic tensions roseate up of the wage rise announcement.

Police said unit broke retired successful the concern metropolis of Gazipur arsenic astir 6,000 workers walked retired of their plants and staged protests.

“They torched a bus. We fired teardrop state to disperse them,” Gazipur concern constabulary portion main Sarwar Alam told the AFP quality agency.

Bangladesh Garment ProtestPolice occurrence teardrop state shells to disperse protesting workers successful Bangladesh [File: Mahmud Hossain Opu/AP]

Police said astir 600 garment factories that marque covering for galore large Western brands were shuttered past week.

The protests pushed the authorities to signifier a sheet of mill owners, national leaders and officials to see the request for higher pay.

‘We can’t judge this’

Workers accidental they presently request to enactment overtime to make ends meet astatine a clip erstwhile ostentation is moving astatine 9.5 percent.

“The summation is not capable erstwhile prices of each items and rent person gone up sharply. We enactment to past but we can’t adjacent screen our basal needs,” Munna Khan, a garment worker, said.

Kalpona Akter, president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, said they were “extremely frustrated” implicit what she described arsenic a paltry increase.

Akter said workers are struggling due to the fact that prices of regular commodities are rising. “This is precise frustrating. We can’t judge this,” she said.

Bangladesh Garment ProtestGarment workers travel retired of a mill during their luncheon hr astatine the Ashulia country connected the outskirts of Dhaka [Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters]

But Siddiqur Rahman, the owners’ typical connected the wage board, accepted the hike.

“[Government welfare] cards volition beryllium provided to the workers, aboriginal the ration cards volition beryllium fixed to them truthful they tin bargain indispensable commodities astatine cheaper rates,” Rahman, besides a erstwhile president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, told the Reuters quality agency.

Bangladesh is the second largest garment-producing state successful the satellite aft China with astir 3,500 factories employing astir 4 cardinal workers, astir of them women, according to the manufacturers’ association.

It says mill owners are nether unit due to the fact that planetary brands successful Western countries are offering little than before.

Critics accidental the influential mill owners should bash more for the workers. The owners reason that accumulation costs person besides accrued due to the fact that of higher vigor prices and proscription costs.

Bangladesh annually earns astir $55bn – astir 16 percent of its gross home merchandise – from exports of garment products, supplying galore of the world’s apical manner names including Levi’s, Zara and H&M, chiefly successful the United States and Europe.

The state is besides exploring caller markets specified arsenic Japan, China and India.

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