Bangladesh: Plan for garment workers wage rise

Reshma Begum: Found alive 17 days after factory disaster. Picture: AP
Reshma Begum: Found alive 17 days after factory disaster. Picture: AP
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THE Bangladeshi government plans to raise the minimum wage for garment workers after the deaths of more than 1,100 people in the collapse of a factory building focused international attention on the textile industry’s dismal pay and hazardous working conditions.

A new board will issue recommendations for pay raises within three months, textiles minister Abdul Latif Siddiky said. The cabinet will then decide whether to accept those proposals.

The wage board will include representatives of factory owners, workers and the government, he said. The minimum wage was last raised in 2010, to £25 a month – an 80 per cent hike that followed protests.

The 24 April building collapse, the world’s worst garment industry disaster, has raised alarm about conditions in Bangladesh’s textile industry, which makes clothing for major retailers around the world.

Rescue workers said 1,125 bodies had been recovered by yesterday from the ruins of the fallen building in Dhaka, which housed five garment factories.

On Friday, the search teams received a much-needed boost when they found a young seamstress who had managed to survive for 17 days on dried food and bottled and rain water.

More than 2,500 people were rescued shortly after the disaster, but until 19-year-old Reshma Begum was found the crews had gone nearly two weeks without discovering anyone alive.

Doctors said Reshma Begum’s condition was improving after treatment for dehydration, insomnia, stress and weakness.