As workers unrest in the garment industry rages on, Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan has urged the government-backed wage board to finalise a new pay structure by Nov.
The government formed the wage board in May in the face of persistent workers’ unrest over wages, which rights activists say are too measly to meet daily expenses.
The wage board has so far failed to fix a new wage structure.
A huge difference in the minimum salary demanded by the workers and what garment factory owners are ready to pay has led to the impasse.
The owners’ body, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, proposed a Tk 600 hike in the minimum wage, raising the sum to Tk 3,600. The workers, on the other hand, are demanding Tk 8,000.
Garment factories in Savar, Gazipur and Narayanganj have seen bouts of violence in the past five days as workers demonstrated to press for a wage hike.
Khan, who is also the convener of the Garments Shramik Shomonnoy Parishad, said he believes a new wage plan would calm the unrest. He was speaking at an event at Dhaka Reporters Unity on Wednesday.
“Both the workers and the owners have placed their wage proposals,” he said, urging the government to mediate to resolve the crisis.
“Let the workers know by November what their salary will be,” he added.
The current minimum wage of Tk 3,000 was raised in 2010 from a minimum wage of Tk 1,500.
BNP Spokesperson Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has blamed the Minister for inciting the current unrest in the garment sector.
“This is not right. I am a labour leader. I have been working with the workers for the last 40 years,” said Shahjahan in reaction to Alamgir’s comment.