DHAKA, Bangladesh - Bangladesh's government plans to raise the minimum wage for garment workers, a cabinet minister said Sunday, after the deaths of more than 1,100 people in the collapse of a factory building focused international attention on the textile industry's dismal pay and hazardous working conditions.
A new minimum wage board will issue recommendations for pay raises within three months, Textiles Minister Abdul Latif Siddiky said. The cabinet will then decide whether to accept those proposals.
The wage board will include representatives of factory owners, workers, and the government, he said.
The April 24 building collapse, the world's worst garment industry disaster, has raised alarm about conditions in Bangladesh's powerful textile industry, which makes clothing for major retailers around the world.
Working conditions in the $20 billion industry are grim, a result of government corruption, desperation for jobs, and industry indifference. Minimum wages for garment workers were last raised 80 percent to 3,000 takas ($38) a month in 2010 following protests by workers.
Rescue workers said 1,125 bodies had been recovered by late Sunday from the ruins of the fallen Rana Plaza building, which housed five garment factories employing thousands of workers.
Overnight rainstorms had halted the recovery efforts, but by midday the teams were back at work using hydraulic cranes, bulldozers, shovels, and iron cutters to look for bodies more than two weeks after the eight-story building collapsed. "We are still removing the rubble very carefully as dead bodies are still coming up," said Maj. Moazzem Hossain, a rescue team leader.
Officials say the owner of Rana Plaza illegally added three floors and allowed five factories in the building to install heavy machines and generators, even though the structure was not designed to support such equipment.