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Bangladesh garment worker wages to increase by 51%

The Bangladesh Government has increased the minimum wage for garment workers by 51% following months of negotiations.

The State Minister for Labour and Employment, Mujibul Haque Chunnu, announced the increase to BDT8,000 (US$95) per month, up from BDT5,300 (US$62), at a press briefing in Dakha yesterday (13 September). According to local reports, the new wage will come into effect from December.

The increase follows months of negotiations with factory owners and workers, and protests by unions calling for a tripling of the monthly minimum.

In January, the government of Bangladesh set up a minimum wage board consisting of representatives from employers, national trade union federations, and government officials. In July, employers' representatives proposed to increase the monthly minimum wages to BDT6,360 (US$75), while a trade union representative tabled an increase up to BDT12,020. The IndustriAll Bangladesh Council (IBC) has been seeking BDT16,000.

The last increase in wages for garment workers in Bangladesh, the world's second largest clothing exporter, was made in 2013 following international pressure after a string of fatal factory accidents. This was an increase from BDT3,000 (US$35) adopted in 2010.

Bangladesh unions reportedly staged street protests today (14 September) to reject what they called an "inhuman" wage for the country's 4m garment workers.

Speaking at a press conference in July, Salauddin Shapon, secretary general of IBC, said the lower minimum wage proposals were not acceptable to garment workers. In addition to a minimum wage increase, the IBC has been calling for the categorisation of workers based on skill levels to be reduced from the current seven to just five grades. And it wants a policy to ensure that workers are promoted to higher grades within a reasonable period of two years.

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