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28 Jan 2019

The Daily Star, Bangladesh

Bangladesh: Garment workers' wages rise due to protests

"Workers' wages rise in 6 grades", 14 Janaury 2019

After eight days of labour unrest, the government yesterday [13 January] announced a revised pay structure for the garment sector, with a slight increase in both basic and gross wages in six of the seven grades. The gross hike ranges from a token Tk 15 [~ 0.56 USD] to a modest Tk 747 [~ 9 USD], effective from December last year and to be adjusted from February...Workers, protesting since January 6, had been demanding pay raise in three grades in particular -- grade 3, 4 and 5...

Even as a tripartite committee held almost a daylong meeting to reach a consensus on the hike, RMG [ready-made garment] workers continued their protest. On the other hand, factory owners threatened to shut down their units if the protestors did not go back to work...[The] president of the National Garment Workers Federation, said, “We welcome the revision and the new wage structure.” He was speaking on behalf of the trade union leaders who are on the tripartite committee. Reactions among the workers were mixed...

Incidents of labour unrest over the pay structure made headlines in early December...That protest died down ahead of the general election. However, when workers drew their wages for January, they spotted a huge disparity -- in some cases, their gross wages came down instead of going up, triggering the latest spell of protest. After yesterday's announcement, trade union leaders are hoping that the workers will join work...