Increasing minimum wages for those employed in the Bangladesh readymade garment (RMG) manufacturing sector would not make global buyers to source from other countries, according to Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus.
“The average wage is 25 cents an hour, making it 50 cents an hour would not cost a leg and an arm,” Mr. Yunus, founder of Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television, Bloomberg reported.
Any raise in wages for around 3 million workers in Bangladesh’s garment sector would spur wage increase in other countries, said Mr. Yunus.
As prices will rise everywhere, Bangladesh would be able to retain its competitive edge in apparel manufacturing, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient said.
He said the executives who run global retail chains are “decent people”, and once they understand the issues at stake, they will realize the need for raising wages and improving working conditions.
However, the factory inspection systems should be correct and the apparel produced by the RMG units must be of good quality, which the factories themselves have to ensure, Mr. Yunus said.
Referring to garment manufacturing contracts, he said, “Maybe we were too busy negotiating prices, we did not look beyond.”
According to him, everyone will have to be responsible today.
After the April 24 Rana Plaza building collapse, in which over 1,100 people died, several labour unions are demanding better wages and working conditions in Bangladesh’s US$ 18 billion garment industry.