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No minimum wages in 34 industries in Bangladesh


Dhaka : Known in the global market for its cheap labour, Bangladesh does not have minimum wages for 34 industries and has not revised wages in a dozen others for the past many years, a media report said Thursday.

The government is sitting on a proposal of the Minimum Wage Board (MWB) for fixing or reviewing legal minimum wages for a dozen industrial sectors having several million employees.

Important industries where no legal minimum wage has as yet been set include poultry, power and handloom, garment accessories manufacturing, ceramic, jewellery, cement, electronics, publications, paper, cable, beverage, brick, cigarettes, audio-visual products, newspaper, printing and dairy farm.

The MWB informed the government that minimum wages in at least 12 industrial sectors had not been reviewed in 14 to 28 years although such a review should be done every five years.

Sources in the labour ministry told New Age newspaper that workers in at least 34 industrial sectors, having a huge number of employees and contributing substantially to the country’s economy, were yet to have any legal minimum wages.

The Board is currently struggling to get minimum wages fixed for the money-spinning ready-made garment sector acceptable by both employers and workers.

The sector that netted $12 billion in export earnings last year, employs three million workers, mostly women.

There has been intermittent industrial violence in the garment sector due to poor wages and working conditions.

Prominent trade union leader Abul Bashar alleged that “the ruling class, led by politicians, hold an elitist attitude and always prefer to keep workers subservient to them”.

He said the workers, directly involved in production in mills, had never seen increase in their wages although the salaries of the managerial and clerical staff had been increased with the announcement of national pay scales.

National pay scales were announced at regular intervals as high officials in the government also benefit from them, Bashar said in an interview with New Age.