The Tk8,000 minimum wage, instituted for garment workers some five years ago, is not enough to lead a healthy life, Bangladesh's international development partners said today.
Speaking at a session on Tuesday (3 October) titled "Securing Green Transition of the Textile and Readymade Garments Sector in Bangladesh," EU Ambassador Charles Whitely highlighted that it had been five years since the last wage revision in the garment sector, where the minimum pay was fixed at Tk8,000.
"By any stretch of the imagination, it isn't a very healthy way to live on that salary, particularly if you have kids to feed."
At the event organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue, Whitely said the responsibility is not solely on the government or the industry but also on brands and buyers, urging real engagement and partnerships to address the challenges faced by workers.
"So the onus is not only on the government or the industry, it's also on brands and buyers and there are excellent examples of real engagement and partnership amongst brands," he noted.
Taking the podium, Charge D'Affaires at the Netherlands Embassy in Bangladesh Thijs Woudstra, said, "Bangladesh [should] move away from 'low wage trap' when graduates [from LDC status]."
"There are no alternatives to improving working conditions and wages," remarked Thijs Woudstra, highlighting the imperative for a comprehensive reassessment of labour policies in the sector.
Both said the issues regarding fair wages and working conditions for RMG workers – numbering around 4.5 million - needed to be addressed.
The session was chaired by CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun while Research Fellow Muntaseer Kamal presented the keynote paper.