Garments factory owners have urged their association to increase minimum wage for workers by not more than 20% and set the hike commensurate with the rate of inflation.
They raised the demand at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) held at its Dhaka office Thursday.
The meeting discussed on fixing the minimum wage, preparation of biometric database of workers, amended labour law 2013 and role of owners in implementing the steps taken by the clothing buyers’ “Accord” and “Alliance.”
Every factory has to make fire and building safety assessments, said BGMEA President Atiqul Islam, urging owners to remove the tin-sheds from the rooftops to create 25% open space for the compliance of fire safety.
He also said the BGMEA has heard the owners’ voice and would take the decision on minimum wage considering their demands.
The country has witnessed 19.53% inflation from 2010 till today and the trade body would like to offer 19%-20% wage hike as inflationary adjustment, said Arshad Jamal Dipu, a member of the wage board representing the owners.
The wage and Rana Plaza building collapse are different issues wage is a continuous process and it should not be fixed by international or political influence, Dipu said.
The wage should be based on the country’s socio economic status, he added. Production cost has increased due to compliance of fire and building safety while devaluation of Indian Rupee increased competiveness in the global market.
Most of the owners of garment factories participated in the EGM have urged the global buyers to set ethical standard for fixing the price of products, arguing that it would help the apparel makers to increase the wages of garments workers.
They also blamed government’s cumbersome policy and corruption in providing services, which increases the production cost.
It is impossible for us to increase the wage by more than 20% as production cost increased substantially, said Mahtab, managing director of Falcon Group.
If the wage hikes irrationally, it would make the garment industry instable, he added. He also emphasised on controlling house rent. Otherwise, he added, the wage hike would not bring benefit for the workers.
Minimum wage should be practical and has to be fixed under a common standard for all kinds of owners, including small and medium entrepreneurs, said Md Mozaffar, owner of Simco.
Commenting on the wage hike Asif Ibrahim, a director of DCCI, said: “We should think about the future of garment industry and the fate of the workers.”
The minimum wage should be fixed at a level which is affordable to all kinds of owners and the ultimate impact of the wage in the sector should be considered, said Abdus Salam Murshedy, former BGMEA president.
Dipu Munshi, a former president of the apex apparel body, said minimum wage should not be beyond the limit of owner.
A minimum wage proposal of Tk8,114 has already been placed from the part of workers before the wage board.