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Bangladesh: Garment workers will have wage board

Bangladesh will set up a wage board for readymade garment workers by 2018. The minimum monthly wage for garment workers in Bangladesh is $68, compared to about $280 in mainland China. In Bangladesh, 3.5 million workers in 4,825 garment factories produce goods for export to the global market, principally Europe and North America. The Bangladeshi garment industry generates 80 per cent of the country’s total export revenue. However, the wealth generated by this sector has led to few improvements in the lives of garment workers, 85 per cent of whom are women.

The majority of garment workers in Bangladesh earn little more than the minimum wage, far below what is considered a living wage, which would be the minimum required to provide a family with shelter, food and education.

The annual growth for Bangladesh’s readymade garment sector is predicted to be seven to nine per cent over the next five years. Still, garment exporters worry about profit margins being squeezed due to increased compliance costs in the wake of the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse and a push from buyers to further reduce costs. It’s estimated most of Bangladesh's garment exporters are operating with a profit margin of just three per cent.