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Minimum wage protests continue in Bangladesh

9 November, 2023Workers in Bangladesh continue to protest for a higher minimum wage in light of the inadequate increase that the government approved when it announced the new minimum wage as BDT12,500 (US$112) on 9 November.

Trade unions, including IndustriALL affiliates, have been demanding that the minimum wage of an-entry level garment worker be fixed at BDT23,000 (US$206), with a yearly increment of ten per cent. There have been several protest demonstrations, especially after the fourth meeting of the wage board on 22 October, when garment factory owners proposed to increase the minimum wage to BDT10,400 (US$93).

The new minimum wage of BDT12,500 (US$112) is insufficient to meet workers’ daily needs given the rising of cost of living. The increment is much less than what workers have been demanding and more in line with what the owners of garment factories had proposed.

Atle Hoie, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, says:

“It seems that the government of Bangladesh intends to keep the workforce under the poverty line. Brands should question their sourcing if the minimum wages are kept at such low levels and the violations of the right to organize and to bargain collectively are not dealt with. Workers now desperately need unions who can fight for higher wages and who do not have to fight a repressive government and employers.”

Workers' protests have continued following the announcement of the new wage and the Dhaka police has been trying to violently suppress them. On 8 November, a female worker of Islam Garment in Gazipur was killed while several others were injured by police personnel. Since the announcement of the new minimum wage, IndustriALL affiliates’ central as well as local leadership is being harassed through repeated phone calls and threats of arrests from police and the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence.

Apoorva Kaiwar, south Asia regional secretary of IndustriALL, says:

“IndustriALL calls on the government of Bangladesh to reconsider the minimum wage for garment workers to BDT23,000.”