4 months have passed after the tragic Rana Plaza Collapse at Savar, Bangladesh. Victims and families of the deceased still mourn their helplessness at the tragedy site everyday, while come together in protest when the pain grows unbearable.
On 24 August, as the 4th month of Rana Plaza passed away, victims-rights activists-families of victims came together in protest infront of the BGMEA Headquarters demanding compensation for the surviving victims and a full report on the identification of missing victims.
Later on Sunday morning, 25 August 2013, apparel workers blocked New Airport Road in Joar Sahara area of the capital demanding a hike in their salaries and other benefits including attendance bonus and lunch allowances.
The demonstration that started around 8:00am caused huge traffic congestion on the road in the morning rush hours.
The vehicular movements on the busy road came to a halt for nearly one and a half hours as around 1,000 workers of several garments factories started demonstration blocking the road, said Mohammad Ali, officer-in-charge of Bhatara Police Station.
Police however fired over 10 teargas canisters in a bid to clear the road to minimize commuters’ sufferings.
The demonstration erupted from Crimia Garment Factory when its workers started demonstration in front of the Radisson Hotel. Later the protest spread to nearby Shawra Bazar area as the workers of adjoining factories joined their agitating coworkers.
The recent wage protest comes as workers in Narayanganj went into unrest a few days ago over impossible wages. Currently the minimum wage in Bangladesh is the lowest in the world.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) reported that they are going to propose a 50% wage increase of TK4,500 (58 USD) as minimum wage for the garments workers [VP of BGMEA, Mr. Shahidllah Azim]. The proposal would be submitted to the wage board on September 2 2013 as decided at a meeting at the BGMEA office in Dhaka. Directors, former presidents and stakeholders were present at the meeting.
According to the last wage board for the garment workers, the minimum wage is Tk3000 (39 USD), which was declared in 2010. The wage board raised the minimum monthly pay for garment workers to Tk3,000 from Tk1662.50 (19 USD) per month. Wages increased by 67% to 81%, depending on job category.
The first minimum wage board, constituted in 1994, had fixed Tk940 (USD 12) as minimum wage per month for garment workers. The second one, formed in 2006, set the minimum wage at Tk1662.50 per month.
On Tuesday last, leaders of garments workers placed their proposals to the chairman of minimum wage board formed to fix a fresh minimum wage level for garment workers, proposing a minimum of Tk8,114 (USD 105) as monthly wages.
However, it must also it noted that the according to our research, which is in line with researches conducted by international rights organizations like the War on Wants, is at 11,325 BDT (146 USD) per month [conducted in 2012-13].
With the Tazreen and Rana Plaza victims in a sea of calamity, and wage issues haunting the supply chain, Bangladesh has a challenge that it must win to progress into the next phase of its growing industrial strength.