Hundreds of Bangladesh factories fail to pay minimum wage

DHAKA, July 1, 2007 (AFP) – Hundreds of textile factories in Bangladesh have failed to meet a government deadline to pay their workers even a paltry minimum wage of 25 dollars a month, an industry body said Sunday. Of the country’s more than 2400 garment factories, over 400 were still ignoring the rule on June 30, the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said.

“Our teams have inspected all the garment factories in the country. We have found that 419 factories have not implemented the minimum wage yet,” said the BGMEA’s president, Anwarul Alam Chowdhury Parvez.

In May the country’s military-backed interim government warned stubborn factory owners that they risked being fined or shut down.

The minimum wage was fixed last year after months of deadly protests by the textile workers, who torched 16 factories and ransacked more than 300, demanding better wages and working conditions.

In some factories, workers earn as little as 13 dollars a month.

Garment workers generally work a six-day week and eight-hour day — meaning that the new monthly minimum wage provides them with the equivalent of about 13 US cents per hour.

The textile sector employs more than 40 p