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B'desh assures garment importers of solving workers issues
Jul '12
The Government of Bangladesh has assured leading purchasers of its garments in the West that it would address the unrest prevailing among the apparel sector workers in the country over rising cost of living.
Last month, over 300 readymade garment factories in Bangladesh remained closed for over a week as hundreds of workers seeking a 50 percent hike in wages, to meet increasing rent and food costs, took to rioting.
Distressed by the violent incidences, representatives of 19 overseas buyers including H&M, Gap, Wal-Mart, New Look, Marks & Spencer and Carrefour, met Bangladesh Labour Minister to voice their concerns.
Labour Minister Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said inflation is eroding the earnings of the workers, and the buyers are pushing for bringing an urgent resolution of the issue to curb any further unrest. 
The buyers are concerned that the continued unrest would hamper production, leading to a delay in execution of orders, which is not in the interest of any of the parties.
The Labour Minister said he assured the buyers that the Government would make provision for cheaper food for about half a million workers engaged in the industry, and would also make efforts to hold back the escalating house rents.
Meanwhile, some of the factory owners also promised to hike wages.
During 2011, about 80 percent of the garments produced in Bangladesh were exported, fetching about US$ 19 billion to the country. The garment industry is considered a pillar of the poverty-stricken country’s economy, and it employs over 40 percent of its industrial workforce.
Earlier in 2010, months of unrest compelled the Government as well as the factory owners to hike wages by 80 percent to a minimum US$ 37 per month.
The Government for the first time fixed the minimum wage for garment workers in 2006, which was revised in November 2010, when monthly wage of an entry level worker was hiked from Tk 1,662 to Tk 3,000.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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