Sunday, 1 August 2010

Visit to Asian Floor Wage Campaign

28th July

Bangladesh Minimum Wage
In 2006 the minimum wage was fixed at 1662 BDT, as of the 28th of July 2010 the government has finally bowed to pressure and increased this figure to 3000 BDT per month. The new wage structure will not be implemented until November this year.

Bangladeshi workers have been campaigning for months for the minimum wage to be raised to 5000 BDT, so the increase to 3000 BDT has not been positively received.

Asian Floor Wage (AFW)
This morning I met with Anannya Bhattacharjee, the head of the Asian Floor Wage Campaign. The Asia Floor Wage Campaign aims at introducing a reasonable minimum wage for garment workers in Asia.

It is based on a formula that allows for provision of a family of either three adults or two adults and two children. The family will be able to purchase food with the nutritional value of 9000 calories per day. It is worked out on the basis that in developing countries people spend approximately half their wages on food and the other half on all non-food related costs.

The AFW for Bangladesh is currently many times the minimum wage as the Bangladesh minimum wage is so suppressed. The AFW calculation for Bangladesh is more than 10,000 BDT per month. The idea is for the buyer to foot the cost and for it not to impact on the garment manufacturers.

The main fault I can find with this wage is it is aimed at brands which are part of large global supply chains, it is not aimed at smaller, domestic manufacturers. So how can there be a double standard with people doing the same work for the domestic market for less?

City select mall
Aiman and I then went to a very nice mall where we asked pleasant looking middle class Indian kids whether they care about the people who make the clothes that they buy. The vast majority of the people we surveyed took a couple of momnets to understand what we were asking – and once they did understand they seemed very confused at such a silly question – why would they care about that? It seems that garment factory workers is not an issue that is very prominent.

Sarojni Nagar
We went from middle class paradise to the bargain hunters paradise. Sarojni Nagar is a large area of small stalls and shops selling factory seconds and surplus. No two stalls sell the same thing, and you have to hunt for a bargain. I managed to find three shirts which I purchased for a brilliant 300 rupees all together. One is even from French Connection.

We went out to the most amazing Mogul restaurant opposite the mosque in old Delhi. The family that runs the restaurant have been cooking this food for 600 years.

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