COLOMBO: ALaRM, a coalition of NGOs and trade unions in the garment sector, launched a campaign last week asking the Board of Investment (BOI) and garment factories for an immediate salary increase and a ‘sector specific’ living wage for garment workers. The demand is for minimum increment of Rs 2,500 for garment workers.
The main demand is a salary increment of Rs. 2,500 from the forthcoming BOI salary increments in November for 2008, and to ensure the payment of the minimum wage of Rs 5,000 and the budgetary relief allowance of Rs.1000 to each and every employee in the sector.
ALaRM is asking for a minimum ‘living wage’ of Rs 12,504 per month which is currently is only Rs 6000, for an 8 hour work day, for garment workers in the free trade zone, and a living wage of Rs.10,183 for garment workers employed outside trade zones.
Most garment workers earn less than a living wage right now, even by working over time, working on holidays and with other benefits. ALaRM says the present income of garment workers is not enough to lead a decent life given the cost of living in Sri Lanka.
ALaRM has already conducted a research into the cost of living of garment workers to arrive at their ‘living wage’ ceiling and has also compiled statements from garment workers at the Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ) highlighting worker concerns.