Garment factory owners yesterday decided to negotiate with the government for gaining benefits like cash incentives or tax waivers to cope with an increase in wages for workers.
They also suggested adjusting the salaries in line with inflation instead of forming a wage board every five years.
“We will try to get benefit from the government in the form of cash incentives or tax waivers to adjust to increasing the wage of workers,” said Siddiqur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
He was addressing an emergency general meeting on the wage board at BGMEA Bhaban in the capital.
“You keep faith on me over negotiations with the government,” he assured garment factory owners.
He also said the moment was not favourable for them as the national parliamentary election was knocking at the door. For this the salary has to be increased as per the needs and abilities of the owners, he said.
Earlier the BGMEA proposed to raise the minimum wage to Tk 6,360 from the existing Tk 5,300 keeping inflation in consideration.
Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the wage board issue would not get due importance for the general election.
He criticised some intellectuals who spoke in favour of hiking the salary, saying they were provoking the workers into going for a movement.
“We will keep confidence on the BGMEA board and its president regarding the negotiation,” he noted.
“If we have to increase the salary, the government will have to reduce our tax and increase incentives,” Mohiuddin said.
Tipu Munshi MP, a former BGMEA president, said, “We would not have faced any challenge in increasing the salary of the workers if they had been efficient”.
He also suggested increasing the salary by 28 percent to adjust to inflation and to be calculative for the sake of the industry. The BGMEA suggestion is a hike of 20 percent.
Other current and former members and heads of the BGMEA and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association addressed the meeting.