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Bangladesh garment workers push for wage hike

The National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) in Bangladesh, representing over 111,000 members across 108 registered factory unions, launched an ambitious campaign, with support from UnionAID, advocating for a significant increase in the minimum wage for the garment sector by the end of 2023.

In accordance with the nation’s labour laws, the minimum wage is revised every five years. The last revision in 2018 set the wage at BDT 8,000. With the upcoming revision due this year, the NGWF began its groundwork a year in advance.

Starting in September 2022, internal deliberations within the NGWF centred on determining an appropriate minimum wage increase, streamlining the current seven wage categories, and adjusting the basic wage percentage from the gross. It’s important to note that the basic wage determines the calculations for various benefits, including overtime and compensation.

This internal preparation, led to the formulation of the NGWF’s position, which was later proposed to the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC) – an influential umbrella organisation of 18 federations affiliated with the global Federation IndustriALL. By November 2022, the IBC supported the NGWF’s stance.

  • Further collaboration ensued with the Garment Sramik Karmocari Okko Parisad (GSKOP), and by December 2022, the joint efforts of the IBC and GSKOP resulted in a united front advocating for the following:
  •          An increase in the minimum wage to BDT 23,000.
  •          A reduction in wage categories from seven to five for clarity.
  •          Setting the basic wage at 65% of the gross wage.
  •          Introducing an early wage increase of 10% of the gross.

The new wage is set to be decided in November 2023. This campaign could potentially set new standards for the Bangladesh garment sector.

UnionAID is calling on Kiwis to support union groups like the NGWF in their struggles for decent wages, by giving just 1 hour of the New Zealand Living Wage per month – $26. Join the global living wage movement- fill in the form below.

UnionAID supports democratic, worker-led organisations that help empower working people to improve their work and livelihoods through collective action.

Find out more about what we do and how to get involved here or become a Kiwi Solidarity Member now.

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