Bangladesh’s government announced a higher minimum wage for garment workers on Tuesday, raising it 56% to about $113 per month.
The new wage comes after weeks of violent protests by workers demanding higher salaries, which left two workers dead and several more injured.
The wage increase, which was agreed upon by a panel of factory owners, union leaders and officials, has been criticized as too small, with inflation in Bangladesh running at about 9.5%, increasing the price of basic needs.
Protesting workers have demanded a wage of $208 per month. Demonstrators have clashed with authorities and attacked factories.
The demonstrations were sparked when the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association offered to increase wages 25% to only $90 per month.
Low wages in Bangladesh factories have led to the growth in the country’s garment industry as garment production and exports account for nearly 16% of Bangladesh’s GDP.
Bangladesh employs 4 million workers across 3,500 factories and is currently the second-largest garment-producing nation behind China. The country’s factories supply many large clothing brands such as H&M and Gap.
Factory owners have hit back at the protesters’ demands, saying that production costs are higher because of rising energy and transportation costs, and that Western brands are offering to pay less for production.
Bangladesh, having primarily focused on exporting to Europe and the United States, is looking to find markets in China, India and Japan.
Source : VOA News