Why Footwear and Leather Workers In Bangladesh Could Get Boost in Minimum Pay

Bangladesh’s minimum wage board has filed recommendations that could raise the minimum monthly wage for leather and footwear workers to 7,100 taka ($84), local news media has reported. The current minimum monthly wage of 3,652 taka ($43) for the sector was last fixed in 2013.

The board is also proposing a 5% yearly increase on basic pay, according to New Age, a daily newspaper based in Dhaka.

The board, which was formed in September by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, has tapped Md. Mominul Ahsan, executive director of Landmark Footwear, to represent employers, and named Md. Anisur Rahman, line leader of Apex Footwear, to represent workers.

On Dec. 19, the board published the proposal in the Bangladesh Gazette, the South Asian nation’s official government gazette, with a request for written objections or suggestions within 14 days.

The board broke down the 7,100 taka minimum wage for the lowest grade-six workers to include 3,500 taka in basic pay, 1,750 taka in housing costs, a 600-taka medical allowance, a 350-taka travel allowance and a 900-taka food allowance.

It also suggested 5,500 taka ($65) in monthly gross pay for apprentice workers with the provision of a three-month apprenticeship.

Ahsan told New Age the board unanimously agreed on the proposed monthly minimum wage.

“Although we had proposed a lower amount than the amount set, we had to come to a conclusion as we cannot refuse the market demand,” he said.

Bangladesh’s leather sector is the country’s second-largest export earner after apparel. From July 2018 to June 2019, it recorded export revenues of $1.02 billion, a drop of 6% from the previous fiscal year, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau.

In February, the Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation, a local labor-rights group, warned that leather workers in the tannery hub of Savar are facing a “health and safety crisis” due to unsafe working conditions, including a dearth of safety precautions around chemicals handling.

Editor’s Note: This story was reported by FN sister magazine Sourcing Journal. For more, visit Sourcingjournal.com.

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