It is possible to fix Tk 16,000 as minimum wage for garment workers if factory owners and international brands bring down the amount of profits they earn now, speakers said at a views-exchange meeting. The current minimum wage is not sufficient at all to ensure a decent living for the workers, said Dr. Khandaker Golam Moazzem, Director (research wing) of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). Bangladesh Garment Sramik Sanghati organised the meeting at Jatiya Press Club to publish their research paper on “Ki Kore Bache Sramik” (the living conditions of workers) and discuss the results, according to a report. The research was carried out on 200 workers of six factories of the country. A garment worker earns only Tk 8,200 through salary, bonus and other allowances, said President of the Sramik Sanghati Taslima Akhtar while disclosing the findings.
On an average, the family of a garment worker having four members has only two earners, and their incomes add up to only Tk 15,863 a month, she said. Around 61 per cent of workers say their expenditure is higher than their earning. To adjust the deficit, they have to take loans or cut spending on food and accommodation, said Taslima. Findings also show a garment worker has to do up to 60 hours of overtime duties in a month on an average which deprives them of an adequate amount of sleep and rest. Different labour organisations have rejected the owners’ offer of Tk 6,360 as minimum wage and demanded Tk 16,000, Taslima said. Executive Director of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed said, “We have weakness in the bargaining capacity in the international market, and workers are being the sole victim of it,” Ganasamhati Andolon leader Firoz Ahmed also spoke, among others.