Workers protest $95 minimum wage rejected
DHAKA, Sept 15, (AFP): Bangladesh unions staged street protests Friday to reject what they called an “inhuman” $95 a month minimum wage fixed by the government for the country’s four million garment workers.
Authorities said the new wage marked a 51 percent rise and would be applied from December but hundreds of workers hit the streets of Dhaka within hours of the announcement vowing to fight for more.
Unions said they would organize action across Bangladesh.
The current minimum wage of 5,300 taka ($63) was set in 2013 after at least 1,130 people were killed when a the Rana Plaza garment factory in Dhaka collapsed. The new wage was set at 8,000 taka.
“We can’t accept this salary. It is an injustice and inhuman. It is cheating the workers,” Jolly Talukder, a top union leader, told
Talukder’s group is one of three leftist outfits that staged protests in Dhaka and she said more were planned to demand a wage of at least 16,000 taka.
Another union leader Babul Akter told AFP almost all unions, except pro-government groups, had rejected the new wage set after months of negotiations.
Bangladesh is one of the world’s leading garment manufacturers and last year its 4,500 factories shipped $30 billion worth of goods, accounting for more than 80 percent of the country’s exports.
Top European and North American retailers such as H&M, Tesco, Gap and Walmart are the main buyers.
The retailers have set up two organizations to push through reforms in Bangladesh factories after the Rana Plaza disaster.