Lifestyle & Belief

Bangladesh will raise the minimum wage for garment workers


Bangladeshi volunteers and rescue workers are pictured at the scene after a factory building collapsed in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka, on April 25, 2013.


Munir uz Zaman

Bangladesh's government has announced a plan to raise the minimum wage for garment workers after the worst industrial disaster in the country's history killed 1,127.

The news came shortly before the search for bodies officially ended. Rescuers have been clearing out the rubble of a factory building in Dhaka that collapsed on April 24.

Bangladesh is one of the world's largest exporters of clothing, and the minimum wage for garment workers in the country is the world's lowest at about $38 a month. The low cost of doing business in Bangladesh has attracted some of the world's largest retailers that want cheap clothes with a quick turnaround.

The government will meet with labor groups and factory owners to come up with a new minimum wage, and a board is expected to issue its recommendations for the pay increase within three months.

Factory owners are against the hike because they're under pressure from Western retailers to produce such inexpensive clothing.

"If we are to pay higher wages, we may have to go to the retailer and say, 'Stop doing 'Buy one, get one free,'" Abdus Salam Murshedy, co-owner of large garment manufacturer Envoy Group, told The Wall Street Journal.

The Bangladesh government is also going to allow the country's garment workers to form unions without their employer's permission, according to the Associated Press.

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