Pay an Extra 25 Cents For Your T-Shirt and Bangladeshi Workers Get a Real Wage

You can afford it and they need it

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Activists of different garment workers' organizations shout slogans for a pay raise and better safety regulations in Dhaka Nov. 4, 2013.

Collapsing factories and raging fires are only some of the obstacles Bangladeshi garment workers must overcome while trying to support themselves. But according to industry bosses, providing a livable wage would barely be noticed by the consumer.

On Monday, after weeks of protests paralyzed the country’s paramount export industry, a six-member committee consisting of government officials, manufacturers and union leaders proposed an minimum monthly wage increase to 5,300 taka ($67), up from the current 3,000 taka ($38), the Wall Street Journal reports.

The raise failed to meet the unions’ initial demand of 8,000 taka ($102), but was still steep enough to prompt factory bosses on the panel to vote against it, stating they couldn’t afford such a bump. Nevertheless, the proposal now goes to Bangladesh’s Labor Ministry, which must sign off before the increase can take effect.

Rubana Huq, managing director of a major garments exporter, said that she hoped international retailers would help soak up the increased costs. “Raising wages by 80% would add only about 25 cents per T-shirt,” she told the Journal.

While Gap, H&M and other Western retailers have voiced concern over subsistance wages in the past, no guarantees were offered that increased costs would not adversely affect orders.