Right groups want abolition of two grades from the existing seven-grade wage structure for the country's readymade garment workers, alleging factory owners deprive the workers keeping them under-graded.
The existing five grades out of the seven accommodate all categories of operators -- namely assistant operator, general operator, junior operator, operator and senior operator, according to the wage structure.
Talking to the FE, Amirul Haque Amin, president of IndustriAll Bangladesh Council (IBC), claimed that as there are five grades for the post of operators, factory owners keep workers under-graded despite their long years of work experience.
"Keeping so many grades for operators is nothing but the strategy of depriving the workers," he claimed.
He said there should be three grades of operators based on their skills -- highly skilled, skilled and general.
When asked, Fazlee Shamim Ehsan, vice-president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), however, said minimum wage should be fixed only for two grades -- at entry level -- skilled and unskilled.
The wages of workers would be increased accordingly to their skills, he said.
Meantime, on Sunday, labour leaders from Garment Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad and IBC in a memorandum to the State Minister for Labour and Employment Monnujan Sufian made a number of demands including fixing the minimum monthly wage for an entry level garment worker at Tk23,000 with 65 per cent basic income.
They also demanded immediate formation of the wage board to review minimum monthly wages for garment workers and raise the annual increment to 10 per cent from existing 5.0 per cent.
In the memorandum, they also requested the government to re-form the seven-grade wage structure into to five-grade.
Their other demands included ration facilities for the garment workers, taking the inflationary pressure and high cost of living into consideration.
The government has already moved to form a wage board to review the minimum monthly wages for the RMG workers and on January 25 and 25, the Department of Labour (DoL) under the Ministry of Labour and Employment sought names of representatives from the employers' trade-bodies - BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) and BKMEA - to represent in the wage board to re-fix the monthly minimum wages.
In 2018, the government last reviewed the wages of about four million garment workers and fixed the entry-level minimum wages at Tk 8,000 from Tk 5,300.
RMG is the largest foreign currency earning sector that fetched US$42.61 billion in the last fiscal year, which is about 82 per cent of the country's total $52.08 billion export earning, according to official data.