The anticipated impasse between Bangladesh textile and apparel industry employers and workers was resolved Thursday as labor minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju revealed the final minimum wage of 5,300 taka, or $68 at current exchange, a month for the garment industry. The new minimum wage will take effect Dec. 1.
After intense negotiations among factory owners all week, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturer and Exporters Association, or BGMEA, officials told WWD that employers had agreed to the amount although it was considerably higher than the 4.200 takas, or $54, a month that they wanted to pay. “This is only the starting salary, you understand. Every level after that goes higher as well,” an official explained. “It is simply unaffordable for us to go any higher.”
Workers have been protesting all week, with some factories suffering damage and stoppage of work, especially in Ashulia, Savar and Gazipur, where more than a 100 factories remained shut several days this week. Police officials said they remained vigilant to control violence in these areas as workers demanded a minimum of 8,112 takas, or $102, monthly as the starting salary.
Wages were last increased in 2010, when they went up from 1,662 takas, or $21.39, to the present 3,000 takas, or $38.62.
The decision has been taken after the recommendations of the government-appointed wage board were submitted Nov. 4 and factory owners disagreed with its decision. The increase in workers’ salaries has been a response to the growing international pressure on the $22 billion garment industry in Bangladesh, which is the second biggest exporter of apparel in the world, after China.