- Five organisations are Fair Labor Association, Amfori, Ethical Trading Initiative, Fair Wear and Mondiaal FNV
- They represent over 2,500 brands, retailers, and suppliers and working with more than 2,900 factories in Bangladesh
A coalition of five international organisations, representing over 2,500 brands, retailers, and suppliers and working with more than 2,900 factories in Bangladesh, has expressed concerns about the recently announced minimum wage for readymade garment (RMG) workers in the country.
In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the group has called for a reassessment of the proposed minimum wage and has encouraged a collaborative effort between employers and worker representatives to establish a legal minimum wage that adheres to international labour and industry standards, prioritising human rights.
The five organisations — Fair Labor Association, Amfori, Ethical Trading Initiative, Fair Wear and Mondiaal FNV — collectively advocate periodic adjustments in minimum wage levels to prevent the erosion of workers' purchasing power and address wage inequality, according to a press statement.
The letter said the gap between the legal minimum wage and the average living wage in Bangladesh is the highest among major garment-producing countries, posing challenges to the RMG sector's aspirations to meet international standards and maintain its position as a responsible sourcing country.
The proposed minimum wage of Tk12,500 (equivalent to $113.45) has raised concerns as it is deemed insufficient to cover basic needs and provide a decent standard of living for garment workers, the coalition said.
According to the letter, this figure also contradicts the government's proclaimed commitment to upholding decent work standards.
In response to recent protests that resulted in at least four workers reportedly losing their lives, the group called upon the government to release arrested protesters and drop all charges.
They emphasised the importance of respecting the freedom of association, the right to strike, and the right to demonstrate.
As part of their commitment to supporting an increased minimum wage, the signatories encourage their member companies to engage in responsible purchasing practices.
This involves integrating fair wages into human rights due diligence and ensuring that suppliers can afford to pay decent wages, they said.