Photo: Stock Connection/REX USA.
After multiple devastating disasters this year in Bangladesh's clothing factories (with a death toll of over 1,000 lives), a wage board is proposing a 77% increase in the minimum wage for the country's garment industry workers. The country is second only to China in terms of ready-made garment exports, and has come under fire for its lack of protective measures for factory workers. After a trip to Cambodia and Vietnam, the board — which included government officials, labor reps, and members of a trade association — decided to raise the minimum monthly rate for garment workers from $38 to $68.
While that might seem like a staggering increase, Bangladeshi workers are not satisfied and they threatened to protest after the announcement yesterday. Workers want to see the minimum increased to $102 a month, but the board insists that an additional $30 a month is a good compromise. Rubana Huq, director of garment manufacturer Mohammadi Group, told Women’s Wear Daily that the proposed increase was appropriate, given that “the wage market is not standardized in Bangladesh, and many sectors draw a lot less, and many don’t even have a minimum wage ceiling.”
Our take? While the lack of an existing minimum wage might make it tricky to settle on an amount, it's no excuse for not paying workers a living salary, so we're glad to see the Bangladeshi government making strides to correct it. What will this mean for shoppers in the long run? There could be trickle down affecting end costs — but the extra dollars are worth it if they help to ensure the health and safety of the people making those clothes.