The Bangladesh government has moved forward on its plans to review the pay of ready-made garment (RMG) workers, by setting up a new six-member wage board.

The board, led by former district judge AK Roy, will have to submit its recommendations within six months - but the new wages will be backdated to 1 May.

Labour and Employment Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju has also appealed for calm among RMG workers who have been demonstrating for better pay and conditions.

The existing entry-level minimum wage for a RMG worker in Bangladesh was fixed in 2010 at BDT3,000 (US$38.53).

The garment industry is Bangladesh's largest foreign currency earner, constituting more than 16% of the gross domestic product (GDP), nearly 80% total export receipts, and providing direct employment to around 4m people, of which 80% are women.

However, the government last month announced plans to form a wage board to pave the way for an increase in wages and improve productivity.

The minimum wage and other issues, including poor workplace safety in the country's apparel sector, has drawn criticism internationally after the collapse of Rana Plaza, which had housed five garment factories, on 14 April, killing more 1,100 people.

Raju also confirmed that the government has started making preparations to shift garment factories from Dhaka city to Minshiganj, around 37km from the capital.

Moves are underway to acquire some 531 acres of land to set up a RMG village there. The three-year project worth about BDT100bn (US$1.3bn) is due to complete in June 2016.