The 56.35% rise in worker wages approved by Bangladesh’s State Minister for Labour yesterday (8 November) is substantially lower than the Tk20,393 ($184.6) that was initially demanded by the worker representative on the Bangladesh Minimum Wage Board but is still higher than the Tk10,400 ($184.6) proposed by the garment factory owners’ representative, Md Siddiqur Rahman.

The increase was announced following violent worker protests that erupted across the country to campaign for higher wages.

An official notice, seen by Just Style, issued to fashion brands, retailers and buyers from representatives of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Exporters Association (BGMEA) acknowledged the need for the increase in worker wages to “ensure better living for the workers”.

However the BGMEA also pointed out the wage hike would put increased pressure on its member factory owners who have already been investing in upgrades to ensure factory safety and sustainability since 2013.

“This is reducing unnecessary motion and physical burden on the workers leading to higher quality deliveries. Through all these efforts Bangladesh has emerged as a reliable, sustainable and one of the most preferred sourcing destinations,” the letter states.

In the letter to brands, retailers and buyers, the BGMEA says it will commit to ensuring the implementation of the new minimum wage as part of its “top priority in ensuring decent living wage of the workers”.

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The implementation of the new minimum wages, it warns, will exert a “huge financial impact on the factories” and will be “challenging for many of our factories to implement the new wage in the current economic and financial circumstances”.

The letter adds: “To ensure uninterrupted and smoother operation in the industry, it is important that all prices of goods which will be shipped from 1 December 2023, are duly adjusted/up-charged, covering the increment in wage component.

“Furthermore, all business negotiains and deals will have to be made adhering to the new minimum wage policy.

“With every effort and action we take we mean to complement oyr long term goal which is to grow mutually and sustainably.”