RMG unrest

Finalise wage for workers immediately

Published : 02 Nov 2023 09:15 PM | Updated : 02 Nov 2023 09:15 PM

The minimum wage for the workers of Readymade Garment (RMG) industry has not yet been finalised. This has caused unrest in the sector. The situation will take a serious turn if the authorities concerned, owners of RMG industries and the workers’ representatives do not take immediate step to this end.  

Earlier State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian said new wage structure would be finalised by 30 November and with effect from 1 December this year. The owners’ representative to the board has proposed Tk 10,400 as the minimum monthly salary for the apparel industry while the workers’ representative proposed Tk 20,393 as the minimum wage, according to media news.

A rumour has been spread that the board has finalised the minimum wage for the workers of RMG workers Tk 10,400. But this is not true. The amount is just a proposal from the owners’ representative. 

The RMG workers in capital Dhaka, Ashulia and Gazipur continued staging demonstration demanding Tk 20,393 as the minimum wage. In consequence, apart from the capital Dhaka, the workers blocked Dhaka-Mymensingh, Dhaka-Aricha, Dhaka-Chattogram and Dhaka-Sylhet highways at different strategic points demanding Tk 20,393 as the minimum wage.

Amid the ongoing workers’ unrest in the garments sector, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) personnel have been deployed in Dhaka and adjacent areas to ensure security. Troops have been deployed in Ashulia, Savar, Mirpur, Rampura, Abdullahpur, Tongi and Gazipur, Konabari. 

It is a common phenomenon for workers to take to the streets more often than not in our country as many owners do not pay full salary, bonus and arrears as per government order. So, the RMG workers have also been resorting to violence in different places of the highways and city since a week. 

The workers should not 

create any indiscipline by 

blocking  roads and highways

As the ongoing worker unrest continues to spread to new areas and intensify, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has issued a warning that entrepreneurs will stop production for an indefinite period in accordance with the “No work, no pay” provision of the labour law. If the situation persists for a few more days, owners will be forced to close down their production units.

The prices of almost all essential commodities have gone up, making it difficult for the RMG workers to meet their daily needs. Such attitude of the owners towards the workers is completely inhumane. 

In such a situation, it is beyond their comprehension how they will lead their lives. The owners must understand and realise that due to rising commodity prices, the workers cannot properly lead their lives with the scanty pay they get.

In such cases, consultation is urgently needed among the factory owners, trade union leaders and workers so that any kind of untoward incident can be avoided. It would be highly appreciated if the board fixes the minimum wage for the workers immediately.  We hope that the board will do it as early as possible. Simultaneously, the workers should not create any indiscipline by blocking roads and highways. 

Therefore, all stakeholders will have to ensure acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, work hours  and occupational safety and health.

The government will also compel the owners of industries and business to take immediate steps for enhancing worker safety with strengthening workers' rights. We think if our workers are safe and their rights are established, the government’s all efforts to turn Bangladesh into a strong economy and a self-reliant and self-respectful country will be made successful. The owners of RMG must pay heed to the workers’ demand. We also express our solidarity with the continued struggle for labour rights, minimum wage and fair working conditions for everyone.