The long awaited garment minimum wage 2013 gazette has finally been published by the Minimum Wage Board on 21 November 2013. This shall be applicable from 1 December 2013 in all the garment factories within the territory of Bangladesh.
Amidst some of the biggest worker movements and unrest in the history of this South Asian Nation in which precious lives have been lost and hundreds injured, the wage board published the gazette not only declaring 5300BDT as the minimum wage. Previously, workers have been protesting against this proposed minimum wage, the low basic salary increase in the minimum wage, and a weak increase in the operator’s wage. However, in its final publication the basic salary have been seen cut down by 200BDT to 3000BDT which would also mean lower overtime income (as overtime depends on basic salary) for the workers of a sector where overtime often climbs up and beyond every legal limits.
Although the worker federation leaders of Bangladesh agreed with the BGMEA not to take part or support any protests or movements in favor of 8000BDT as the minimum wage or the proportionate increase in the worker’s salary, they still informed the media that they will however lodge a suggestion to the minimum wage board to revise their decision in the interest of the workers and their demands. Meanwhile, ordinary workers have been on the streets since the wage board 2013 was formed and till now after its 10th meeting decided the fate of more than 4 million lives and millions more of their dependents.
As per the wage board proposal, a worker, who will join the job as an apprentice, shall be appointed as an assistant operator after six months and will be entitled for a pay-package of 5300BDT with 3000BDT as basic pay under grade-7. Senior operators who are in the grade-3 category will get 6850BDT, which includes 4075BDT basic pay, as the maximum wage among the workers. In thus construction, the previous draft has been changed where 3200BDT was proposed to be the minimum basic salary of the grade-7 worker and 4592BDT was decided for the grade-3 worker.
A new addition was the 5% annual increment over basic wage for every worker until the formation of another wages board for the garment sector. In a country where inflation is over 7.13 percent, how this will help the workers cope with rising prices is still a mystery. Moreover, this increment can only affect the basic and not any other cost, which of course, is also subjected to inflation.
An explanation of the worker grades and their meaning in the garment sector of Bangladesh is given below:
- Grade-1 Worker: The lower middle management staffs like Pattern Master, Chief QC, Chief Cutting Master, Chief Mechanic etc.
- Grade-2 Worker: Supervisory staffs like Mechanic/Electrician and Cutting master etc.
- Grade-3 Worker: Senior workers like Sr. Sewing machine operator, Sr. Knitting machine operator, Sr. Quality Inspector, Sr. Button machine operator etc.
- Grade-4 Worker: Experienced workers like Sewing machine operator, Winding machine Operator, Knitting machine Operator, Marker man, packer, Quality Inspector, Line leader etc.
- Grade-5 Worker: Junior workers like Jr. Sewing machine operator, Jr. Knitting machine operator, Jr. Marker man, Jr. Electrician, Jr. Packer etc.
- Grade-6 Worker: Non experienced worker like Sewing machine operator, Winding machine Operator, Fusing machine operator, Overlock machine operator etc
- Grade-7 Worker: Assistant workers like Assist. Sewing Machine Operator, Assist. Knitting Machine Operator, Assist. Marker Man etc. Normally called “Helpers”.