WASHINGTON, DC, November 16, 2023 — The Fair Labor Association (FLA) this week joined amfori, Ethical Trading Initiative, Fair Wear, and Mondiaal FNV to voice concerns regarding the recently-announced new minimum wage for the ready-made garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh. The five signatories represent over 2,500 international brands, retailers, and suppliers sourcing from more than 2,900 factories in Bangladesh.
In a letter to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the group requested that the government reconsider the decision of the minimum wage board and encouraged employers and worker representatives to collaborate on setting a legal minimum wage that aligns with international labor and industry standards respecting human rights.
The proposed new legal minimum wage of BDT 12,500 falls short of covering basic needs and a decent standard of living for garment workers and contradicts the government’s stated commitment to decent work standards. The gap between the legal minimum wage and the average living wage in Bangladesh is the highest among major garment-producing countries, posing challenges to the aspirations of the RMG sector in Bangladesh to meet international standards and to Bangladesh’s ability to maintain its position as a responsible sourcing country.
The five organizations also voiced their support for periodic adjustments of minimum wage levels to prevent erosion of workers’ purchasing power and wage inequality. In light of recent protests, which have resulted in casualties, they urged the authorities to respect the freedom of association, the right to strike, and the right to demonstrate, and called upon the government to release arrested protesters and drop all charges.
As part of their support for an increased minimum wage, the signatories encourage their member companies to practice responsible purchasing by incorporating fair wages into their human rights due diligence and ensuring that suppliers can afford to pay decent wages. This includes a fair, sustainable sharing with the suppliers the cost burden resulting from an increase in the legal minimum wage.
The Fair Labor Association (FLA) promotes human rights at work. We are an international network of companies, universities, and civil society organizations collaborating to ensure that millions of people working at the world’s factories and farms are paid fairly and protected from risks to their health, safety, and well-being.