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ILO calls for transparency in fixing RMG wages

Diplomatic Correspondent, dhakadiplomat.com
  16 Nov 2023, 21:34

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has underscored the necessity of adopting a minimum wage determination process for Bangladesh's garment sector founded on transparency, fairness and evidence to ensure a decent living wage for the workers.

Demonstrations and instances of violence over wage levels in the sector give rise to concerns, it said.

In a statement on Wednesday, it called for calm and restraint to avoid any further loss of life and damage to livelihoods.

"We strongly encourage all parties involved to engage in constructive dialogue and negotiations with the objective of reaching a consensus on a minimum wage," said the ILO.

"…that not only assures workers of a decent standard of living but also considers the sustainability of businesses within the RMG sector," it said.

"We acknowledge the work of the minimum wage board and encourage the parties to continue to discuss in good faith," it said.

"…and to take into account the concerns of workers and employers alike as part of the confirmation process of the minimum wage," it added.

Moving forward, it is imperative for Bangladesh to establish a national wage policy and an evidence-based system for wage determination, said the ILO.

"Preliminary discussions in this regard are ongoing, and we welcome the establishment by the government of a committee to explore this avenue," it said.

The ILO has released the statement at a time when a minimum wage board formed with representation from all sides concerned has already finalised the minimum wage for the garment workers after consultations on November 7.

Garment workers started to hold demonstrations from October 23 demanding a hike in their monthly salary, with some union leaders demanding anywhere from Tk 23,000 to Tk 25,000.

However, the wage board raised the minimum salary from Tk 8,000 to Tk 12,500, which a section of union leaders and workers refused to accept.

Though normalcy was gradually restored through the reopening of almost all garment factories over the last three days, four workers died and many others were injured in the latest spell of labour unrest.

A group of union leaders also submitted a letter at the office of the minimum wage board on November 12 informing of their objection and demanding a higher minimum wage taking into consideration inflation and the rise in commodity prices.

The minimum wage board said it would remain open to objections and suggestions for 14 days starting from the issuance of the gazette regarding fixing of the minimum wage, which was on November 11.

If no further changes come about, the new wage structure will come into effect from December 1 this year and the workers will receive their salary in the new structure in January next year.

 

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