The government has declared new minimum monthly wages for employees and workers in the shrimp industry, a major export earner for the country, with hikes ranging from 46 to 51 per cent in each grade.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment issued a gazette notification on the new minimum wage board last Thursday in a move that comes seven years after the last review in 2015.
The ministry had earlier appointed representatives of industry owners and workers to review the minimum wages on February 15 this year.
Later, the ministry sought written objections or recommendations, if any, to be submitted to the wage board chairman within 14 days of publishing the notification.
The government has categorised workers and employees in the shrimp industry into six and four grades respectively.
According to the gazette, a grade-six worker will now receive Tk 6,700 with basic pay fixed at Tk 4,200, an increase of about 51 per cent from the last wage board, while the housing allowance is 35 per cent, or Tk 1,470, of the total salary.
In 2015, the government fixed Tk 4,419 as the minimum monthly wage for grade-six workers with Tk 2,940 as basic pay.
The provision of an annual increment of 5 per cent of the basic pay is also included and it will be raised by a further 5 per cent as a cumulative rate from next year.
According to the gazette, a medical allowance of Tk 730 has been fixed for workers of all grades, up by about 143 per cent from Tk 300 previously.
Similarly, transport allowance has seen a 100 per cent increase to Tk 300.
An apprentice worker will now receive a total of Tk 5,307 as monthly wages with the apprenticeship period lasting three months. However, this period may be be extended for an additional three months if the applicant’s performance is not satisfactory.
After that, employees will enter a novice period of six months, when they will receive Tk 5,761 per month.
The ministry had appointed Khondoker Aynul Islam, managing director of Southfield Fisheries Limited, as the owners’ representative on the wage board.
Islam said they tried their best to formulate a negotiable minimum wage plan for the workers and employees.
“It happened in a very comfortable way without any hassle,” he told The Daily Star.
“Although it will not meet their total needs, we tried to reach a negotiable place,” Islam added.
According to industry insiders, shrimp farming is a key source of employment in the country’s south-western coastal region, where 105 shrimp processing plants directly employ 12,000 people and about one million people are engaged in the industry.
Bangladesh exported shrimp worth $386.57 million in fiscal 2021-22 with the EU being the largest importer.