POST TIME: 14 January, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Govt revises pay structure for RMG workers
Staff Reporter, Dhaka

Govt revises pay structure for RMG workers

The government has decided to re-fix the wage structure in different grades in the readymade-garments (RMG) industry to tackle the labour unrest in the sector due to the lack of expected increase in pay. The decision was taken in line with the instruction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to rationally increase wages. Commerce minister Tipu Munshi announced the new revised minimum wage structure at the labour and employment ministry yesterday. The minister informed that a gazette notification in this regard will be published within a day or two. State minister for labour and employment Begum Monnuzan Sufian and ministry secretary Afroza Khan were present during the announcement.

Munshi informed that in 2013, the wage for the 7th grade was Tk 5,300. In 2018, it was hiked to Tk 8,000. In the finalized decision, it has been kept at Tk 8,000. In 2013, the wage for the 6th grade was Tk 5,678. In 2018, it was made Tk 8,405. In the finalized decision, it will be Tk 8,420.

In 2013, the wage for the 5th grade was Tk 6,042. In 2018, it was hiked to Tk 8,855. Now, it will become Tk 8,875.

In 2013, the wage for the 4th grade was Tk 6,420. In 2018, it was made Tk 9,245. Now, the revised wage will be Tk 9,347.

In 2013, the wage for the 3rd grade was Tk 6,805. In 2018, it was made Tk 9,590. In the finalized decision, it has been hiked to Tk 9,845.

In 2013, the wage for the 2nd grade was Tk 10,900. In 2018, it was made Tk 14,630. As per the finalized decision, it will now be Tk 15,416.

In 2013, the wage for the 1st grade was Tk 13,000. In 2018, it was made Tk 17,510. In the finalized decision, it will be Tk 18,257. The commerce minister said the revised wage structure will be effective retrospectively from December, 2018 and it will be re-adjusted with their salaries from February onwards.

The leaders of agitating garments workers have welcomed the government decision. “We are happy with the new revised wage board and welcome the government’s decision on behalf of RMG workers,” said Amirul Islam Amir, president of Bangladesh Sromik Kollan Federation. He also urged agitating RMG workers to suspend their movement immediately and return to work.

Earlier, a tripartite committee formed to resolve the labour unrest in the RMG industry had found disparity in the pay structure of three grades and started work to minimise the wage gap. Also yesterday, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) threatened to shut down factories indefinitely if the agitating workers didn’t back to work by Monday (today). “BGMEA will take the action under the Article 13/1 of the Labour Act,” association president Siddiqur Rahman said at an emergency press briefing.

He also warned that workers who didn’t join their respective workplaces won’t get paid. “No work, no pay,” he said.

Rahman alleged that a vested quarter was trying to destabilize the apparel industry. “RMG workers are being incited to cause unrest, which is leading the industry towards a dreadful situation,” he said.

“Everyone present in a meeting had agreed that the adjustment of annual increment won’t lower any worker’s basic pay or total wage. Even after the announcement, the workers didn’t return to work. They have vandalized factories, set fire to vehicles and caused hindrance to people’s life as usual,” he said.

According to Rahman, the workers were being intimidated and provoked with misleading claims of discrimination in pay scale.

The BGMEA president also said that on January 8, a decision was taken to form a tripartite committee with representatives from the government, garments owners and union leaders. The committee will scrutinize the possible need for adjustments in grade 3, 4 and 5 of the pay scale and give recommendations accordingly.

Meanwhile, RMG workers continued with their demonstration for the eighth day today with a break on Friday. The agitation over wage gap had started on January 6.

During protests yesterday, at least 10 workers were injured in a clash with police at Narsinghapur in Ashulia. As many as 50 garment factories were shut down following the incident. According to police, the workers had started gathering on the Abdullahpur-Baipail road after 8am yesterday. Later, police arrived at the spot and tried to disperse them. In retaliation, the workers hurled brickbats at the law enforcers, forcing police to baton charge the workers. Police also used tear shells and water cannons to disperse the protesters.

Sana Saminur Rahman, Superintendent of Police (Industrial-1) said police dispersed the workers by using water cannons after they set up road blockades in Ashulia.

“The situation is under control now. Additional police forces have been deployed in the area to avoid any sudden occurrence,” the SP said. In September 2018, the government had raised the minimum monthly wage for RMG workers by around 51 per cent to Tk 8,000 from Tk 5,300. The new wage took effect in December.

Different leftist workers’ groups demanded that the minimum wage be raised to Tk 16,000 considering the hike in commodity prices. They have also been organizing programmes like rallies over the demand for months. But when workers drew their pay in January, they found a huge disparity, triggering the agitation. During the protests, one worker died in Savar.