Bangladesh raises minimum wage for garment workers following weeks of protests

Bangladesh Raises Minimum Wage For Garment Workers Following Weeks Of Protests
Bangladesh garment workers block traffic in the capital Dhaka in a protest over pay. Photo: AP
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By Associated Press Reporters

Authorities in Bangladesh have announced a new salary structure for protesting garment factory workers, with a 56 per cent increase in the monthly minimum wage to $113 (€100) from the previous $75.

But some workers’ groups rejecting the rise as too small.


State minister for labour and employment Monnujan Sufian announced the decision on Tuesday following a meeting of a government-formed wage board made up of representatives of factory owners and workers.

She said the new pay structure will take effect from December 1st.

Bangladesh Garment Workers
Garment factory workers demanding better wages block traffic in the Dhaka-Mirpur area of Bangladesh (Mahmud Hossain Opu/AP)


Critics say the influential factory owners should do more for the workers.

The decision came after weeks of violent protests by workers demanding a monthly minimum wage of $208.

Workers have demonstrated in the streets, attacked factories, fought with police and burned vehicles.

The protests began after the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association offered to increase the monthly minimum wage by 25 per cent to $90.


The last increase in the minimum wage was announced in 2018.

Workers say they currently need to work overtime to make ends meet.

Kalpona Akter, president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, said they were “extremely frustrated” over what she described as a paltry increase.

She said workers are struggling because the prices of daily commodities are rising.


“This is very frustrating. We can’t accept this,” she said.

Bangladesh Garment Workers
Police fire tear gas shells to disperse Bangladeshi garment factory workers blocking traffic in a protest over pay (Mahmud Hossain Opu/AP)

Bangladesh is the second largest garment-producing country in the world after China, with nearly 3,500 factories employing about four million workers, most of them women, according to the manufacturers’ association.


It says factory owners are under pressure because global brands in Western countries are offering less than before.

Owners argue that production costs have also increased because of higher energy prices and transport costs.

Bangladesh annually earns about $55 billion from exports of garment products, mainly to the United States and Europe. The country is also exploring new markets such as Japan, China and India.

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