Clean Clothes Campaign condemns employers' minimum wage proposal for workers in Bangladesh and urges brands to take action

published 20-07-2018 07:25, last modified 21-09-2018 09:21
The Bangladesh garment industry employers’ association has shown utmost disregard for workers’ wellbeing and for their lives outside of garment factories. On Monday, 16 July, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) submitted a proposal to the relevant public authority for the workers’ minimum wage to be set at 6,360 taka (about 75 USD). Not only does this amount not meet any living wage standard for Bangladesh – it does not even remedy employers’ disregard for the legally required increases over the past five years.
Clean Clothes Campaign condemns employers' minimum wage proposal for workers in Bangladesh and urges brands to take action

Workers' rally on 5 July 2018

The current minimum wage of 5,300 taka was set in 2013, and it has ever since been widely criticized as insufficient for workers to meet even their most basic needs. This minimum wage is composed of a basic wage (3,000 taka), plus allowances for transport, medical expenses and food.

The 2013 Labour Amendment Act requires for the basic wage component to be increased by five percent every year. Yet, garment workers have reported that they have been deprived of this annual increase ever since the current minimum wage was implemented, which sheds an even more negative light on BGMEA’s proposal.

“We strongly condemn the proposal handed in by the BGMEA as well as the entire wage revision process so far. The proposed “increase” of the basic wage component from 3,000 to 3,600 taka that employers have put forward is nothing but playing catch-up with statutory demands – with a delay that has cost workers hundreds of dollars over the past years,” says Ineke Zeldenrust of Clean Clothes Campaign.

A workers’ representative – who had been controversially appointed to the Minimum Wage Board by the government  – handed in a proposal to raise the wage to 12,020 taka. This proposal is contravening the broad consensus among trade unions and their federations, including the Bangladesh council of the global trade union federation IndustriALL: that the new minimum wage should be set at 16,000 taka.

If brands truly want to support the genuine and fair engagement of workers in the negotiation process, they will speak out now. Silence means inaction!

In a letter sent in April to major brands sourcing from Bangladesh Clean Clothes Campaign requested that brands demonstrate leadership on the way to a living wage by publicly: supporting workers’ demand for the 16,000 taka minimum wage; making a long-term commitment to continue sourcing from Bangladesh after the wage increase; agreeing to increase their FOB price to allow for the wage increase to be met in practice and  expressing concern over repression and harassment of trade union leaders. So far several brands have expressed their general support for a wage increase, but they have not meaningfully acted upon this by taking the requested steps.

“If brands truly want to support the genuine and fair engagement of workers in the negotiation process, they will speak out now. Silence means inaction!” said Zeldenrust, and pointed out that, “Brands have the responsibility to ensure that workers producing the clothes they sell earn a living wage. We once again call upon all brands sourcing from Bangladesh to live up to their own proclaimed standards and to take action before the Minimum Wage Board meets again at the end of August.”

See also
Why we are staying away from H&M’s living wage summit in Cambodia Why we are staying away from H&M’s living wage summit in Cambodia

Clean Clothes Campaign International office declined an invitation to the “Fair living wage ...

Public letter: H&M must stick to the living wage commitment made in 2013 Public letter: H&M must stick to the living wage commitment made in 2013

Back in 2013 H&M made a widely publicized commitment: that workers in their supply chain would be ...

H&M is trying to cover up its unfulfilled commitment on living wage H&M is trying to cover up its unfulfilled commitment on living wage

In its 2017 Sustainability Report published today H&M is making bold claims about progress in the ...

Campaign launch: Turn around, H&M! Campaign launch: Turn around, H&M!

Clean Clothes Campaign is dedicating this year’s International Labour Day to the hundreds of ...

"Turn Around, H&M!" campaigners demand transparency on H&M's wage efforts "Turn Around, H&M!" campaigners demand transparency on H&M's wage efforts

In a letter to H&M's Head of Sustainability the "Turn Around, H&M!" campaigners pointed out the ...

Global week of action against poverty wages at H&M Global week of action against poverty wages at H&M

From Delhi to London, from Washington, DC to Zagreb, with many cities in between, workers and ...

Members of the Asia Floor Wage Alliance

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance is a growing alliance of Trade Unions and labour rights activists, ...

#WeDemandTk16000: International solidarity with the workers in Bangladesh #WeDemandTk16000: International solidarity with the workers in Bangladesh

The struggle for a minimum wage in Bangladesh that would enable a decent life continues. Following ...

Brands sourcing from Bangladesh urged to support workers’ minimum wage demands Brands sourcing from Bangladesh urged to support workers’ minimum wage demands

More than 20 of the largest brands sourcing from Bangladesh have received a request for them to ...

Brands’ support for a living wage for garment workers in Bangladesh Brands’ support for a living wage for garment workers in Bangladesh

The Minimum Wage Board in Bangladesh will reconvene on Wednesday, 29 August, to set the new ...