Along with Tk 23,000 monthly minimum salary, the apparel sector’s trade unions demanded Tk 2,000 difference between grades, setting 65 per cent as basic salary, upholding existing grades one and two and eliminating grades five and six.
They placed the demands in a bid to survive as the country has been facing high inflation.
In this regard, Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation, an alliance of trade unions of the apparel sector affiliated with IndustriAll, sent a letter on November 20 to Minimum Wage Board Chairman Liaquat Ali Mollah.
On November 7, State Minister for Labour and Employment Monnujan Sufian announced Tk 12,500 as a minimum salary for an entry-level RMG worker and said, “The salary is verbally set by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.”
Trade unions and thousands of workers instantly rejected the proposal, citing the amount as insufficient and announced continued protests, which started on October 23 and turned into violence.
During the protests, at least four workers were killed, hundreds got injured, and a hundred were arrested and sent to jail in connection with the acts of violence.
The US State Department issued a press statement and condemned attack on workers. The European Union and brands' representatives in Bangladesh also verbally condemned it.
In this circumstance, the Minimum Wage Board through a gazette on November 11 sought comments/appeals within 14 days.
In the gazette, workers said, their demands were mostly ignored and only the proposals of owners were accepted. The top-grade wage is only Tk 14,750 per month and Tk 2,250 more than lowest grade.
Sharing his disappointments with The Business Post, Mofizul Islam, a readymade garment worker who has been working at a RMG factory in Ashulia for seven years said, “We had seven grades previously. We had urged the wage board to eliminate grades five and six.”
“But the board got rid of grades one and two – which were top paying grades in this sector. The proposed wage structure barely makes a dent in the RMG wage issue.”
As workers’ expectations were not reflected in the proposed wage structure, trade unions sent the appeal as per the labour law and gazette.
They also demanded Tk 1,000 as healthcare benefit and Tk 600 as transport allowance.