Bangladesh’s garment workers get minimum wage after protests

The minimum wage will rise to 12,500 taka ($114)

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garment workers
Garment workers take part in a protest to demand an increase in Bangladesh's minimum wage earlier this month. Garment workers take part in a protest to demand an increase in Bangladesh's minimum wage earlier this month

Bangladesh will raise the minimum wage for garment workers by 56.25 percent, the first hike since 2019, the junior labour minister said on 7 November after a week of protests calling for higher salaries.

The minimum wage for workers will rise to 12,500 taka ($114) per month from Dec. 1, State Minister for Labour and Employment Monnujan Sufian said.

The protests, which led to clashes with police that killed two workers and wounded dozens more, pushed the government to form a panel of factory owners, union leaders and officials to consider the demand for higher pay.

“We are announcing the minimum wage for garment workers as per Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s directive,” Sufian told reporters after a meeting with the panel. There will be an annual increment of 5 percent for them and the pay structure has been reduced from 7 to 5,” she said.

Low wages and trade deals with Western countries have made the sector a $40 billion industry accounting for 80 percent of Bangladesh’s exports. It is the world’s second-biggest garment exporter behind China. All parties involved agreed to the rise, said Siddiqur Rahman, the owners’ representative on the wage board.

“Primarily family cards will be given to the workers, later the ration cards will be given to them so they can buy essential commodities at cheaper rates,” Rahman, also a former president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, told Reuters.

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