Progress towards a living wage is one of the key goals in Awaj Foundation’s Theory of Change. We work towards this goal by working simultaneously on several different fronts. We increase awareness among workers on the minimum wage and the benefits that they are entitled to under the Bangladesh Labour Law, such as overtime pay, annual wage increments and paid leave, among others. Through awareness raising, workers themselves are able to verify whether they are getting fair wages according to the law and demand improvements, if not.
We also develop capacity of workers to negotiate with factory management for better wages and benefits. For example, by law factory owners are required to provide an annual wage increase of 5%; however, collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) negotiated by workers with the help of Awaj were able to achieve annual wage increments of 8% or more at their factories. Through CBAs workers were also able receive appropriate overtime payment, food allowance for work after 7PM and additional payment for work after 10PM.
We ensure implementation of national wage laws and at the same time negotiate for wages and benefits beyond the legal minimum through collective bargaining.
Awaj Foundation played a key role in the national advocacy campaigns to increase the minimum wage in the garment sector in Bangladesh. We did this by mobilizing workers on the ground and through high-level advocacy with the Bangladesh Government, BGMEA and brands. As a result, the minimum wage was increased by 70% (to Tk 5,300) in 2013 and a further 53% (to Tk 8,000) in 2018. We will continue our campaigns until a living wage is achieved and a dignified life for garment workers is ensured.