With Bangladesh' garment industry earning 80% of the country's total imports, the living wage of this industry's workers has been the focal point of an ongoing and heated debate. The many clashes that have occurred between angry workers and factory owners from 2006 until present, reiterate the fact that the new minimum wage set at BDT 3,000 per month still does not allow for a minimum standard life. In the RMG sector there are many different opinions about what the minimum living wage should be, while none are universally accepted. Therefore, this report investigates whether Bangladesh' present minimum wage is sufficient for garment workers to lead a minimum standard life. The actual amount will vary across the country, from place to place, as a living wage considers what is sufficient to fulfil the minimum basic demands of life.
In doing so, four different calculations were applied to five different areas in Bangladesh in order to calculate the living wage, including the internationally accepted Social Accountability International (SAI) standard. Additionally, basic costs such as food-, home rent-, medical-, minimum-, education- and other necessary expenses were taken into account, through survey questionnaires. Based on these four calculation methods, quite a large variation was identified in the appropriate living wages in the different areas. The lowest figure was identified in the Rangpur area where a living wage of BDT 4,433 is necessary. This is approximately 45% lower than that of Dhaka, where the highest living wage of BDT 8,114 was identified. The second highest living wage levels calculated are in Chittagong, while greater Dhaka (Narayanganj) had the lowest assessed living wage level.