• A new wage board for the RMG sector will recommend a minimum salary within six months.
  • It will comprise a representative from the BGMEA and the Jatiya Sramik League.
  • The board will aim to provide more transparency and avert labour unrest.
Bangladesh workers could be set for a minimum salary increase following the appointment of a new wage board

Bangladesh workers could be set for a minimum salary increase following the appointment of a new wage board

The Bangladesh Government has formed a new wage board that will recommend a minimum salary for workers in the country's garment industry following recent labour unrest and calls for the implementation of a more transparent and regular wage review mechanism.

In a notice yesterday (14 March), the Ministry for Labour and Employment confirmed the inauguration of the board.

"The [minimum] wage board is the only statutory body to determine the minimum wage for workers employed in the industry. The head of the board is chairman. He is appointed by the government."

The current four-strong panel will now be joined by Siddiqur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA), and Shamsun Nahar Bhuiyan, women's affairs secretary of the Jatiya Sramik League. The board will be led by senior district judge Syed Aminul Islam as chairman.

Kazi Safiuddin Ahmed of the Employers Federation, and Fazlul Haque Montu and Kamal Uddin, professors at Dhaka University, will remain as independent members of the board, according to the Dhaka Tribune.

The board is expected to recommend a minimum salary scale for the country's 3.6m garment workers within six months and avert further labour unrest.

Protests in the capital Dhaka in December led to the police detaining at least 11 union leaders and workers' rights advocates under the Special Powers Act 1974. Meanwhile, more than 1,600 workers were suspended and police filed cases against 600 workers and trade union leaders.

The clampdown by authorities follows strikes in the Ashulia district of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on 12 December by workers demanding an increase in the minimum wage from US$68 to $190 per month. Factory owners have taken a strong stand not to increase wages.

US brands add to calls for Bangladesh wage reviews

The existing minimum monthly wage of around US$68 came into effect on 1 January 2014 in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza incident. Workers organisations have been campaigning for a minimum wage of $193 citing rising living costs as a result of inflation.