Status: 03.12.2023, 22:26 p.m.
Without environmental standards: Polluted river in Dhaka in Bangladesh. © Habibur Rahman/Imago
According to information from Table.Media, only nine of the 77 companies involved in the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles have spoken out in an open letter in favour of higher statutory minimum wages in Bangladesh.
In the past few days, several more and two larger companies, KiK and Boss, had decided to do so. The signatories also include Vaude, Jako and Sympatex. The 14 civil society organisations represented in the Textiles Partnership, such as Inkota, Südwind and Femnet, had campaigned for this: The joint letter to the government of Bangladesh and the business association BGMEA was intended to strengthen the unions in their wage demands.
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This article is IPPEN. MEDIA in the course of a cooperation with ESG. Table Professional Briefing – first published by ESG. Table on November 29, 2023.
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On November 7, the government set a new legal minimum wage of 12,500 taka (US$113), the first increase in five years. Minus inflation, this means a 14 percent increase in wages compared to 2018, according to the Workers Rights Consortium. Trade unions in Bangladesh had demanded an increase in wages to 23,000 taka ($208), which still falls short of calculations for a living wage, which the Global Living Wage Coalition estimates at $235. On 26 November, the deadline for appeals to the Bangladesh Wages Committee expired.
However, textile companies in Bangladesh are also under considerable price pressure. During the pandemic, some customers had reduced purchase prices by up to 50 percent, according to industry circles, from two US dollars for underpants, for example, to 80 cents. And some of these prices still apply. This restricts the government's room for manoeuvre in Bangladesh. The statutory minimum wages in other textile producing countries are also well below a living wage.
The textile industry is the most important export industry of Bangladesh. The disputes over higher minimum wages had led to violent clashes. According to the Clean Clothes Campaign, four workers have been killed, 115 have been detained and criminal charges have been filed against 23,000 protesters. In the meantime, more than 300 factories have refused to pay wages.
The negative attitude of the majority of companies from the Textiles Partnership comes as a surprise to experts, because one of the focal points of the industry initiative supported by the German government is the issue of minimum living wages. In addition, the work of the multi-stakeholder initiative with around 120 members from business, civil society and politics after the introduction of the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act only makes sense if it implements higher standards in the textile supply chain. compact disc