After the implementation of the new wage structure, an entry level readymade garment worker will take home at least Tk 16,150 per month, claimed Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
In an open letter to the media titled, “The impact of minimum wages–a clarification”, BGMEA President Faruque Hassan said that as per the new minimum monthly wage of Tk 12,500, basic has been set at Tk 6,700. That means per hour overtime rate is Tk 64.42.
If a worker does 52 hours overtime in a month, he/she will get Tk 3,350 monthly. Besides, he/she will get at least Tk 300 as attendance bonus, though most of the factories are offering Tk 500 to Tk 1,000 as attendance bonus.
“At the end of the month, an entry level worker will get at least Tk 16,150 as gross salary. However, overtime is allowed up to maximum four hours per day, and at the end of the month, it will reach 104 hours. In that case, a helper [entry level worker] will get Tk 6,700 as overtime and his/her gross salary will stand at Tk 19,500,” Faruque told The Business Post.
Besides, the workers will get two festival bonuses and the amount of each bonus is equivalent to their basic salary as per the labour law.
There are 44 industrial sectors in Bangladesh having official minimum wages. Garment workers are undoubtedly better than any other sectors. There are numbers of non-wage benefits given by the factories, including food and groceries at subsidised price, transport facilities, schooling for children, daycare centre, and many more.
The apex body’s president said that the importance of jobs created by this industry cannot be overemphasized, and there is no alternative sector that can absorb such a huge employment. Hence, the industry deserves more appreciation and attention, as much as they do care of their workers, so that they don’t make the equation it one-sided and imbalanced.
He further said that a few points need to be considered while criticizing-Bangladesh’s garment industry has emerged based on the strength of their competitive workforce. But its entrepreneurs don’t have any other competitive advantage whatsoever, neither cotton, nor any other core raw materials including petro-chemicals and paper pulp, dyes, chemicals, and machinery required by this industry.
“If wage increase is not done pragmatically, this will question our global competitiveness,” he added.
“The average age of an entry-level worker are around 23-24 years and the narratives around wage mostly generalizing Tk 12,500 for all, which is wrong. In fact, taking home Tk 17,744-21,094 for a worker of 23-24 years should be enough considering their household profile,” he said.
He further said that factories significantly vary within the industry, they have larger ones having ability to pay higher and better, vis-à-vis smaller and medium ones who are more challenged. Whenever policies are made the context of the SMEs are considered, and this is done for all industries in all circumstances, given the fact that the larger ones are and will continue to pay higher wages and benefits to their workers at all times compared to the SMEs.
“The fixation of minimum wages has a bearing on SME sustenance,” he added.