Garment wage review board finalised

Bdnews24.com . Dhaka

The ministry of labour and employment has finalised the names of six members of a board to review the minimum wages of readymade garment workers.
The chairman of the Minimum Wage Commission and Judge of Dhaka’s Special Judge’s Court, Amulya Kumar Roy, has been made board chief.
An official of the ministry, seeking anonymity, told the news agency that a gazette notification would be issued soon after the ministry of law completed the necessary scrutiny. The board would then formally start functioning.
The official said that the proposal containing the names of the six officials was sent to the Ministry of Law on Thursday.
He said that the ministry proposed the name of Minimum Wage Commission members Professor Kamal Uddin Ahmed as the neutral member of the board, M Saifuddin to represent the garment factory owners and AK fazlul Haque to stand for the workers.
Besides, the names of BGMEA director Arshad Jamal Dipu and labour leader Lima Ferdousi were proposed as the board’s temporary members.
As per law, the board has to submit its report by re-fixing the new wage structure within six months since the issuance of the gazette notification.
The wage board on July 27, 2010 had set the minimum monthly pay at Tk 3,000, raising it from Tk 1,662.50 even though the workers demanded Tk 5,000.
The workers’ bodies had been demanding a review of the wage structure citing a manifold rise in the prices of basic commodities in the last three years.
Over 3.6 million people – majority of them women – are working in more than 4,000 factories of the export-oriented garment sector that fetches nearly US$ 20 billion each year. Bangladesh relies on garments for 80 percent of its exports.
Though Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China, there are widespread allegations that the wage structure is not properly followed in most of the country’s garment factories.
International criticisms grew up over the pay and perks and workplace condition in the readymade garment factories following a devastating fire at Tazreen Fashions in last November that claimed at least 112 lives and the disastrous collapse of a multi-storey commercial building, housing five garment units on its upper floors at Savar in April, claiming at least 1,127 lives.
Both the European Union and United States recently threatened to strip Bangladesh of the preferential trading status apparently to force the government to step up safety measures in readymade garment factories.
Later on, the government formed a high-powered committee, headed by Textiles and jute minister Abdul Latif Siddique, to physically review the infrastructures and other safety measures in garment factories across the country.
Siddique on May 12 told reporters that the government decided to form a board to raise the minimum wages for garment workers.
He had said that the government took the decision as per the prime minister’s directive to remove unrest from the garment sector, improve owner-worker relations.

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