Press release

Bangladesh Minimum Wages Board returns from study tour to Cambodia and Viet Nam

Members of the Minimum Wage Board returned to Dhaka on Friday from a study tour to Cambodia and Viet Nam. The aim of the study tour was to better understand the approaches taken in other countries in order to inform the Board’s on-going negotiations on a new minimum wage for Bangladesh’s 4 million garment workers.

Press release | Dhaka, Bangladesh | 07 October 2013
DHAKA (ILO News) - The Minimum Wages Board of Bangladesh returned to Dhaka on Friday from a study tour to Cambodia and Viet Nam, where they discussed their counterparts’ experiences with minimum wage setting. Led by District Judge AK Roy, Chairperson of the Minimum Wages Board, the team consisted of the six board members, along with a Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

The aim of the study tour was to better understand the approaches take in other countries in order to inform the Board’s on-going negotiations on a new minimum wage for Bangladesh’s 4 million garment workers. The tour was organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) at the request of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

“We learnt a lot about how other countries approach minimum wage setting,” said Mr KaziSaifuddin Ahmed, Labour Adviser for the Bangladesh Employers’ Federation and permanent member of the Board. “This will help us in determining wages in the coming years.” Mr Fazlul Haque Montu, Executive President of Jatiya Sramik League and permanent worker member of the Board, agreed: “The study tour was a good opportunity for us to better understand each other’s arguments”.

“Our current mode of wage negotiations in Bangladesh is very positional and confrontational,” said Mr Arshad Jamal Dipu, Director at BGMEA and representative of the garment owners on the Board. “This is not sustainable – we need to find a way where we carefully and scientifically study both the ability of enterprises to pay and the real needs of workers.”

Mr AK Roy, Chairperson of the Minimum Wages Board, highlighted that in Viet Nam the newly established National Wages Council received comprehensive information on both issues from the Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs (ILSSA) as a basis for their negotiations. “Similar type of institutions maybe set up in Bangladesh,” said the Chairperson.

Mr Sirajul Islam Rony, President of Bangladesh National Garment Workers Employees League (BNGWEL) and representative of the RMG workers on the Board, concluded: “I hope that we will be able to narrow our differences and will eventually come to a good minimum wage for the garment sector in Bangladesh.”

The four-day trip started in Cambodia where the team discussed with H.E. Mr Mean OUM, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT). The group also met representatives of the Garment Manufacturers’ Association in Cambodia (GMAC) and trade union leaders and had a briefing with the ILO’s Better Factories Cambodia (BFC). They also discussed with the Arbitration Council Foundation (ACF), a special body set up to resolve collective labour disputes, and visited a garment factory.

In Viet Nam they called on H.E. Mr Pham Minh Huan, Vice Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and Chairperson of Viet Nam National Wage Council, and held discussions with representatives of the Technical Committee of the National Wage Council. They also met with representatives of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) and Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).
 
On the way back the team stopped in Bangkok for a debriefing at the ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. They were welcomed by Deputy Regional Director, Ms Thetis Mangahas. They also met with ILO specialists to share their findings and discuss about labour productivity and wages and approaches to reflect workers’ needs in minimum wage setting.

Like Bangladesh, Cambodia and Viet Nam are both major garment exporters. The total apparel exports from Bangladesh amounts to US$19.5 billion in 2012, compared to Viet Nam US$16 billion and Cambodia US$5.3 billion.In Bangladesh, some 4 million people work in the apparel sector,while the industry employs 1.5 million workers in Viet Nam and 615,000 workers in Cambodia.
 

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Mr Abdullah Al Muyid
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