Have faith on govt: Wage panel to RMG workers

Bangla Tribune Report
Published : 21:35, Jan 12, 2019 | Updated : 21:37, Jan 12, 2019

RMG workers block a road in Dhaka’s Mirpur area, demanding a change to their new wage structure on January 9, 2019. Photo CourtesyAmid apparel workers resuming street protests, the government once again assured of addressing violations of the new wage structure for the industry.
The government-formed panel to review the workers’ wage met for the second time on Saturday (Jan 12) after it was formed on Wednesday (Jan 9).
Labour and Employment Secretary Afroza Khan, who heads the panel, called workers representatives to have faith on the government to resolve the wage disparity during the meeting, according to people who attended the meeting.
The government formed the 12-strong committee headed by Afroza to review the wage board last week after days of worker unrest in Dhaka and nearby industrial hubs Savar, Ashulia, Gazipur and Narayanganj.
Commerce Secretary Md Mofizul Islam, five representatives of the workers and as many of the owners are members of the committee.
The panel held its first meeting on Thursday (Jan 11) after a meeting.
“Afroza Khan has called on to have faith on the government. The panel members have agreed to solve the wage disparities as soon as possible,” National Garments Workers’ Federation President Aminul Haque, who sits on the Committee, told Bangla Tribune after Saturday’s meeting.
He said that a third meeting has been scheduled for Sunday (Jan 13), before adding that the panel agreed to revise up the basic pay. “The matter of hiking the gross salary in grades three, four and five (of the wage structure) was discussed.”
Haque said Labour Secretary Afroza once again urged workers to go back to work.
“Since the key problems of the wage structure have been identified, it will be solved very quickly. Have faith on the government, the committee and go back to work,” he quoted Afroza saying.
The government on Nov 25 last year gazetted the new wage structure for RMG workers setting Tk 8,000 as the minimum monthly pay. It ordered the garment factories to implement the new structure from Dec 1.
Different leftist workers’ groups have demanded that the minimum wage be raised to Tk 16,000 considering the hike in commodity prices. They have also been organising programmes like rallies over the demand for months.
Amid the process to form the new government after the Dec 30 elections, the workers started protesting against the new wage board by blocking the key Airport Road in Dhaka on Jan 6.
They alleged the workers in some grades of the new wage board are facing inequalities.
The monthly pay of the grades three, four and five workers have increased over 40 percent, according to the new wage structure.
The protesters say the basic salary of the grade three workers is supposed to be Tk 5,204 following the law that stipulates 5 percent annual rise in salary of the RMG workers but the new wage board has set it at Tk 5,160.
Beside the “Tk 44 less pay” for grade three workers, they protested against the rise by “only Tk 79 for grade four workers and Tk 164 for grade five workers” while the salary of new workers under grade seven has increased by Tk 2,700.