Government to raise the minimum wage
A panel of trade unionists and business leaders will be set up to examine garment industry regulations in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse that killed more than a thousand people.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Bangladesh is set to raise the minimum wage for more than three million garment workers, Minister for Textiles Abdul Latif Siddique said today. This announcement comes in the wake of a wave of protests that followed the collapse of the Rana Plaza, which killed over a thousand people and brought to light the dangerous conditions in which they work.

A group of trade unionists and business leaders will be set up to look at current rules governing contracts, which rarely exist, and safety.

Incidents like that of the Rana Plaza are largely due to structural problems. Factories are often located in buildings that have inadequate emergency exits, barred windows and floors that cannot carry the weight of crammed heavy machines.

This was the case on 24 April at Rana Plaza, in Savar, where the building crumbled on its own weight with more than 3,000 people inside.

About 2,000 were rescued, the last one on Friday, Reshma, a young woman found still alive under the rubble.

The day before the collapse, inspectors had declared the building unsafe. Permits had been issued for a five-storey structure when in fact eight had been built on top of a drained pond, containing a shopping mall, a bank and eight garment factories.

In November 2012, the Tazreen Fashion fire had already put the spotlight on the problem of garment workers, when it was revealed that the nine storey building had only one emergency exit (which had been blocked), and that workers earned a monthly salary of about US$ 40. (NI)