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We are gravely concerned by the recent developments in Bangladesh, both in terms of the violence against workers and the outcome of the Wage Board. The new minimum wage of BDT 12,500 falls short of covering basic needs, let alone providing a decent standard of living. Considering the trend in inflation rates in the last years and the expected increase in rent, food and other necessities, worker representatives consider even the bare minimum amount to cover basic needs to be substantially higher than that.
We know the employers’ concern is that in negotiating prices, their buyers will not enable them to pay higher wage increases. However, with the new minimum wage being insufficient, brands sourcing from Bangladesh must conduct heightened due diligence on wages to uphold their responsibility to respect human rights. This means higher resource investments in stakeholder consultation and remediation.
As we guide and facilitate our member brands in their due diligence efforts, our experts have continuously informed them of the latest developments and convened on an adequate response to the situation. Some Fair Wear member brands have already approached us with the intent to adjust their purchasing to stimulate wages higher than the new minimum wage. We will work closely with them to realise this. However, in this fragmented market, we must have a much broader commitment from global brands to improve Bangladeshi workers’ living conditions – and soon. Workers shouldn’t be waiting another five years for the next inadequate increase.