As the National Minimum Wage Board prepared to determine a new minimum wage for RMG labourers in Bangladesh on 12 September, ACT members, a joint initiative between 19 international garment brands, retailers and IndustriALL Global Union aiming to support the development of living wages in the RMG sector, sent a letter to underscore the pressing necessity for a wage level that encompasses not only the basic needs of the workforce and their families but also allows for discretionary income, all earned during legal working hours.
The coalition notes the long-term sustainability of the RMG industry hinges on significant strides toward achieving living wages. Along with ACT members, the non-profit organisation IndustriALL also supports the action to ensure that wage gains and increases are adjusted frequently and not steadily destroyed through inflation and cost-of-living increases.
More recently in August, non-profits Ethical Trading Initiative, amfori, Fair Labor Association (FLA), Fair Wear, and Mondiaal FNV explained in a letter to Bangladesh’s minimum wage board chairman, Liaquet Ali Molla, that they support local union demands for a higher minimum wage.
Central to the ACT members’ advocacy is the belief that collaborative efforts to enhance wages and bolster the recognition of Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining rights are key to the advancement of the RMG sector.
Members of the organisation placed emphasis on the reinforcement of Freedom of Association and acknowledged the role that brands must play through their purchasing practices and interactions with manufacturers and suppliers in Bangladesh to support the cause of higher wages.
ACT-affiliated brands say they have undertaken commitments to promote the payment of living wages by practising responsible procurement and engagement with manufacturers and suppliers in Bangladesh in support of higher wages, through the promotion of the conditions to achieve an “industry-wide collective bargaining agreement.” An agreement that IndustriALL is also ready to support.
The members brought attention to how the country’s trade partners, the US and the European Union have started implementing new due diligence laws and requirements “with an increased focus on working conditions and respect for fundamental rights for workers throughout our supply chains.”
Just Style reached out to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Exporters Association (BGMEA) for comment on the situation. No comment was received at time of press.