Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- The government has taken a moved aiming to compensate the ‘low paid’ apparel workers by raising the rates of allowances as the factory owners are reluctant to raise wages now.
Last week the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) has asked the Labour Director and the Chief Inspector of Factories to sit with the apparel factory owners and convince the latter to raise different allowances like house rent, and over-time work rates.
The government’s latest move came against the backdrop of demand from the apparel factory workers to raise their wages to compensate for the hike in living costs.
Several months back the apparel factory workers in Savar area burst into protest demanding hike in wages and other allowances. They vandalized vehicles and apparel factories and clashed with law enforcers to press home their demand.
Factory owners of the many apparel factories of that area had kept suspended production for several days to save their establishments from the aggrieved workers. But they did not agree to raise wages and allowances citing their inability.
Workers said the minimum wage of BDT 3,000, which came into effect in November 2010, is not enough to survive. 
They said the minimum wage has already lost its value by at lest 30 percent due to depreciation of Bangladesh Taka (BDT) and soaring cost food and non-food items, including house rent.
Apparel is the highest foreign currency earning source of Bangladesh with nearly $19 billion annual export. Presently some 3.5 million people are working in the apparel industry of which 80 per cent are women.
BBN/SSR/SI-11Aug12-11:55 am (BST)