The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) has identified defective procedures in the implementation of the wage structure as the main cause of the recent unrest in the garment sector.
The research organisation has also found inadequacies in the systems used to inform workers about their wage increases.
The CPD highlighted its findings at a discussion titled ’Recent Disputes in the Garment Sector: What Have We Learned?” at the BRAC Centre in Dhaka on Saturday.
The organisation also presented some recommendations for how to avoid such unrest in the future. Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi praised the recommendations but industrial owners opined that the recommendations were not applicable to a country like Bangladesh.
These recommendations included a managing body for the implementation of the new wage and to raise awareness among workers, more in-depth discussions with related bodies ahead of such wage increases in the future, more clarity for female garment workers regarding their grade, wage and other financial issues, the establishment of better communications between workers and management, to prevent the harassment of protesters and a joint council for brands and buyers to consider how factories will deal with the pressure of higher wages.
Labour unrest began in the garment sector at the start of the new year after the implementation of the new wage structure. The situation calmed after the government revised the wage grades and structure.
CPD researchers Khondkar Golam Moazzam and Mohammad Ali presented the findings of the research on the unrest based on interviews with 61 workers, factory owners and buyers from Dhaka, Savar, Ashulia, Tongi and Gazipur.
According to the CPD, defective procedures in the announcement of the new wage structure and its implementation gave rise to the labour unrest.
The organisation said that these institutional issues regarding the setting of the wage were not sufficiently handled. The disparities in wages between the various grades also gave rise to a mixed reception among garment workers regarding the new structure, it said.
In addition, owners did not take any initiative to give workers a clear idea of how their wages would be affected beforehand, CPD said.
Also, despite the new wage structure taking effect, many factories did not implement it, the research found.