Transport owners and workers have expressed concerns regarding the proper implementation of the new minimum wage structure, due to Covid-19 crisis
- Drivers, other transport staff in city areas to get more wages
- Tk20,200 set for drivers possessing 'Heavy with PSV' license
- Tk17,800 set for drivers possessing 'Heavy' license
- Tk16,660 set for drivers possessing 'Medium' license
- Tk15,400 set for drivers possessing 'Light' license
- Tk13,000 set for skilled staff such as helpers, conductors and checkers
At a time when transportation owners are suffering heavy losses due to impacts of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, the government announced a new minimum wage structure for workers and staff of this private sector.
The wage structure – announced through a circular on July 27 – will be applicable to drivers, supervisors, conductors, checkers, helpers, and other skilled and unskilled transportation workers.
The government has set Tk15,400 as minimum wage for drivers with "Light Vehicle" license, and Tk20,200 for drivers possessing "Heavy with PSV" (passenger service vehicles) license.
Public transportation services are one of the hardest hit sectors in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic. The number of vehicles plying on roads has gone down significantly due to health and safety guidelines implemented to help curb the spread of the virus.
A large number of transportation workers have already lost their jobs, and many others are on the verge of losing their livelihood. Under the circumstances, transport owners and workers have expressed concerns regarding the proper implementation of the new minimum wage structure.
Speaking with The Business Standard, Minimum Wage Board Chairman Khandakar Md Firoz said, "In a bid to bring back discipline in the transportation sector, a new wage structure has been announced after setting up minimum wages for drivers, conductors and other workers.
"It is mandatory for the private transportation sector to follow this wage structure."
An official from the Ministry of Labour and Employment, seeking anonymity, said, "Following the students' protest in Dhaka, the ministry made a decision to shift the transportation workers' payment system from the daily contractual basis to the minimum wage structure.
"Following this trend, the ministry formed a Minimum Wage Board in 2019."
He continued, "Considering the ongoing Covid-19 situation, the government will not put pressure on transportation owners to implement the new minimum wage structure. However, its implementation will be prioritised after the situation returns to normal."
On the other hand, Convener Rustam Ali Khan of the Bangladesh Truck Covered-van Goods Transport Owners-Workers Unity Council said, "The lion's share of the truck and covered-van drivers and helpers were not appointed on the monthly wage system.
"Instead, they get paid on a per trip basis. Their income has dropped because the number of trips decreased significantly due to the pandemic. The government has announced the minimum wage structure amid this situation. It will be quite difficult to implement."
Minimum Wage Board official Md Bashir Ahmed said, "Owners set wages for their workers on a daily basis, but the government wants a monthly wage system for them. Monthly wages will ensure more job security for the transportation workers."
Adding that the owners will not suffer any difficulties in implementing the directive regarding minimum wage, Bashir said, "I just travelled from Dhaka to Cumilla on a bus. The vehicle was carrying passengers on all seats.
"Transportation owners earn money as cash, so they will face no issues over paying their workers."
The Ministry of Labour and Employment on July 27 issued a circular increasing the wages and allowances of transportation workers.
Signed by the ministry's Wage Board Wing Deputy Secretary Dil Afroza Begum, the circular set wages, house rent, medical and transportation allowances for drivers possessing various types of licenses.
For divisional cities and city corporation areas, house rent allowance has been set at 50 percent of the total wage, while it is 40 percent in other areas.
Under the new minimum wage structure, a driver possessing a "Heavy with PSV" license will get Tk12,800 as the main wage. After factoring in various allowances, a driver with this type of license in a city area will get Tk20,200, and in other areas the wage will be Tk18,920.
A driver possessing a "Heavy" license will get Tk11,200 as the main wage. After factoring in various allowances, a driver with this type of license in a city area will get Tk17,800, and in other areas the wage will be Tk16,680.
A driver possessing a "Medium" license will get Tk10,400 as the main wage. After factoring in various allowances, a driver with this type of license in a city area will get Tk16,600, and in other areas the wage will be Tk15,560.
A driver possessing a "Light" license will get Tk9,600 as the main wage. After factoring in various allowances, a driver with this type of license in a city area will get Tk15,440, and in other areas the wage will be Tk14,440.
In the public transportation sector, skilled staff such as guides, supervisors, conductors, checkers, booking clerks and cashiers will get Tk8,000 as the main wage. After factoring in various allowances, a staff with working in a city area will get Tk13,000, and in other areas the wage will be Tk12,200.
Unskilled staff such helpers, cleaners and callers will get Tk6,500 as the main wage. After factoring in various allowances, a staff member working in a city area will get Tk10,750, and in other areas the wage will be Tk10,100.
The circular also set the training period for workers to a maximum of three months, and set the wage for trainee workers to Tk7,500. If a worker fails to show satisfactory performance, the training period can be increased by an additional three months.