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17 Sep 2018

Faisal Mahmud, Asia Times

Protests over Bangladesh’s minimum wage for garment workers

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Hundreds of garment workers and union leaders took to the streets of Dhaka on Friday after rejecting government plans to raise their minimum wage to Tk 8,000 (US$96) per month. Union leaders and workers described the new wage as a “joke” and a “slap on the face." Mujibul Haque Chunnu, Bangladesh’s State Minister for Labor and Employment, on Thursday declared the new minimum wage, a 51% increase from the previous Tk 5,300 ($64)...MM Akash, a Professor of Economics of Dhaka University and one of the consultants on the wage board, said Tk 8,000 ($96) was nowhere near the amount he suggested.He said, in reality, a six-member family of a worker needs about Tk 28,620 ($341) per month to lead a decent life with basic facilities. “Considering the economic condition of the whole country and the capacity of the owners, I had recommended Tk 16,000, which is the minimum,” he said...Factory owners say the revised salary of Tk 8,000 ($96) was, in fact, too much for them to bear. Siddiqur Rahman, President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) – the apex body of apparel manufacturers and traders – said in the last few years a number of garment manufacturers had to shut their factories as they could not cover their costs.