TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Last week at least one worker was killed and dozens wounded during protests over salaries, prompting the government to form a panel of factory owners, union leaders and government officials to investigate the pay demands. On Sunday at least 20 people were hurt at in further clashes between protesters and police outside Dhaka.
All parties involved agreed to raise wages across 6 of the 7 pay grades, leaving the minimum wages unchanged at 8,000 taka ($95), Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi told reporters after a meeting of the panel.
Low wages and trade deals with Western countries have made the sector a $30 billion industry accounting for 80 percent of Bangladesh's exports, making Bangladesh the world's second-biggest garment exporter behind China.
Earlier on Sunday, Siddiqur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) had threatened to cut off workers' pay if they did not return to work.
"If you don't return to your work by tomorrow, you will not be paid any wages and we will shut down factories for an indefinite period," he said. "Despite repeated assurance of meeting the demands, the workers are being incited to create unrest. We will not allow this anymore."
The revised wages are effective from December and will be adjusted from January, Munshi said.
Amirul Huq, who represented union leaders on the panel which met with Munshi, said they welcomed the wage hikes.
"The discrepancies in the wage structure have been resolved by the prime minister’s intervention. We welcome the new wages. As trade unions, we have the right to protest, but that does not mean vandalizing factories or blocking roads. Workers will go back to work," he said.