NGWF demands proper implementation of new wage structure

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Date of publication: February 13, 2011

Author: National Garment Workers Federation of Bangladesh

Amirul Haque Amin, President, National Garments Workers Federation (NGWF), has alleged that about 30 percent of factory owners either have not implemented new wage structure as per the recommendations, neither cheated workers tampering gradations during salary fixation.

He made this allegation while addressing a press conference at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity auditorium on February 13 (Sunday), 2011, in Dhaka Metropolitan city. He also disclosed lists OF some factories, who perpetrated the offence violating labour laws. Hundreds of factories committed the offence, he added.

The press conference was attended by labour leader Quamrul Ahsan, Politbureau member of Workers Party of Bangladesh, SKOP leader Abdul Kader Hawlader, NGWF General Secretary Ms Safia Parveen and NGWF central leaders Faruk Khan, Ms Sultana, Ms Arju Ara, Ms Rashida Aktar and Ms Ranu Begum.
 
The NGWF President said of the 30 percent garment factories, 10 percent did not implemented minimum monthly wage (7th grade) Tk 3,000 for operators while 20 percent executed minimum wage but refrain from paying adequate salary, as recommended in the structure, in different grades of the operators.      

It may be pointed out that four (grade 3, 4, 5 and 6) of the seventh-grade wage structure, which was to be implemented from November 1, 2010, were earmarked for the operators, who from majority of the garment workers.

Amin elaborated that the tripartite wage board comprising representatives of the workers, factory owners and independent members had made its recommendations on wage structure on October 31, 2010. The structure came into force on November 1 following some modifications. Tk 9,300 was fixed as the monthly highest wage while Tk 3,000 minimum in the new wage structure. The NGWF and its allied trade union bodies had demanded Tk 5,000 as monthly minimum wage but it could not be carried though due to opposition from the owners’ representatives.

“Even then there were anomalies in increase of wages in the new structure. For example, the wage structure enhanced salary for the grade 1, 2 and 3 at the rate of 80 or 85 percent from that of the wage board award of 2006, while the enhancement rate was 60 to 70 percent for the grade of 3,4,5 and 6,” the NGWF President said.

Besides, he noted that the tradition of official implementation of wage board award (new wage structure) in Bangladesh had always been given retrospective effect from the date of formation of the Wage Board. But the tradition was broken this time.      

“We, the workers, had accepted the new wage structure despite these lapses considering the interests of development of the garment sector and industrialization of the country. We hoped that all workers would get enhanced wages by December 2010,” Amin said, regretting that things did no happen according to the expectation.

He added that three months have already gone after November 1, 2010 NGWF and trade union bodies’ initiative to secure higher price for RMG products from buyers have advanced significantly while factory owners have managed to release the money of government’s incentive package claiming that they have increased workers’ salary as per the recommendations of the wage board. But the claim was not true in case of 30 percent of garment factory owners, he asserted.

For example, the NGWF President said, “Those workers who used get Tk 2,449/ per month in the previous wage board structure are to be paid Tk 4,218/ or more in grade 3 as per the new wage structure. Where 70 to 80 operators were to be paid Tk 4,218/ or more at a factory those 30 per cent factory owners are paying only 10 to 15 operators as per the structure and the rests lower wages fixing at 4, 5 or 6 grades. Practically, these workers are getting much lower wages than the amount they were supposed to get.”     

Urging all concerned, including the government, BGMEA and BKMEA, to take effective steps immediately so that the workers of those 30 per cent garment factories get increased wages as per the new wage structure, Amin said workers of a numbers of factories have complained that their managements were not paying just salaries.       
 
He also urged the buyers to help proper implementation of new wage structure in RMG sector in Bangladesh.

The NGWF President announced that the organization is monitoring implementation of new wage structure and it (NGWF) would continue to closely monitor the issue in the future.   As well as NGWF will continue its campaigns, publications and other activities for the full and proper implementation of new wage structure.