Bangladesh textile workers to get wage rise

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Reuters
Saturday, August 9, 2008; 9:30 AM

DHAKA (Reuters) - Workers in Bangladesh's export-oriented knitwear manufacturing factories will get a pay rise of about 20 percent from next month due to increases in the cost of essentials, a business leader said on Saturday.

"The decision was approved today in the board meeting of our association to reduce the sufferings of the workers and also to raise the productivity of them," said Mohammad Fazlul Haque, president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).

Knitwear is the largest export earner of Bangladesh, employing 800,000 workers in more than 1,500 factories, he said.

Earnings from knitwear garments in the July-June period of the 2007/08 fiscal year grew 21.5 percent to $5.53 billion, 1.24 percent above the target.

"The enhancement will have a new pressure for us, but we want a peaceful atmosphere in factories so that our production is not hampered and can sustain growth," Fazlul told at a news conference.

Bangladesh's exports surged 15.87 percent to $14.11 billion in the 2007/08 fiscal year from a year earlier, thanks to a rise in clothing sales, officials said.

During the fasting month of Ramadan shops would be opened in knitwear industrial districts selling food items such as rice, pulses, edible oil, sugar, onion and milk at less than the market price, Fazlul said.

Muslims consume these commodities more during Ramadan, when they fast from dawn to dusk but prefer high protein meals at night.

Commodity prices have nearly doubled in Bangladesh over the past year and may rise further during Ramadan, starting early September.

Fazlul said that if the government could ensure smooth supplies of electricity and natural gas along with other infrastructure and related supporting facilities, it would be possible to raise export growth by nearly 18 percent to $6.5 billion in the current fiscal year to June 2009.

(Reporting by Serajul Islam Quadir; editing by David Stamp)




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