Cool response to Bangladesh garment workers' pay rise

Workers in a Bangladesh garment factory Pay and working conditions in factories have long been a concern

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Garment workers' unions in Bangladesh have given a lukewarm reaction to the announcement of a new minimum wage for millions of workers.

On Thursday it was announced the new minimum wage would be 3,000 taka ($43), up from 1,662 taka, but far short of labour union demands of 5,000 taka.

Garment manufacturers are also unhappy about the deal.

They set conditions for agreeing to the higher wage, including suspending bonuses usually given during festivals.

The manufacturers say that the pay rise will cut into their profits and affect the country's competitiveness as a manufacturing hub.

"We would like to pay the higher wages as we are being pressed by the workers and the authorities," Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said before the minister's announcement.

But he said that for this to be possible, the government should give them subsidies, cash incentives and lower taxes.

Workers' unions, which took part in discussions with a government-appointed wage board this week, have repeatedly said they will not accept any wage increase below the 5,000 taka they have demanded.

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