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.