Wage payment of RMG workers is going to be digitised soon, confirmed by Rubana Huq, president of BGMEA, at a discussion styled “creating the business case of MFS based wage digitisation in the garment sector”, organised by International Finance Corporation (IFC).
The BGMEA will sign an agreement on Thursday with the ICT ministry to introduce mobile banking ‘E-wallet for RMG workers.
Garment factory owners will introduce digital salary disbursement to ensure female workers get full ownership of their earnings and more transparency in payment. Female workers do not always see their hard-earned money come to them; they are either extorted of the sum or their guardians, which mostly happens to be their husbands or brothers.
The digitised payment will start on a pilot basis ahead of Eid-ul-Azha. BGMEA Chief expected that all 35 members of the current BGMEA board of directors will start paying digitally from the Eid-ul-Azha. Other factory owners will be motivated to do the same as soon as possible.
Shwapna Bhowmick, country manager of Marks & Spencer (M&S) for Bangladesh and Myanmar, said some 50,000 workers in the various factories from which the British retailer sources are paid digitally. Since 2007, the M&S affiliated factories have been paying their workers through the digital platform, which have helped cut operational costs by 3 percent in a year. They have targeted to bring all the affiliated factories under the digital payment system gradually. M&S gets nearly $1 billion worth of garment products in a year from Bangladesh, which is about 40 percent of the company’s total sourcing.
According to the IFC, only 36 percent of women have a formal bank account compared to 65 percent of men. However, about 90 percent of the factories pay their workers in cash, which is a missed opportunity for both the financial and garment sectors.
Through the IFC’s initiative, over 70,000 female workers benefited from digital wage payments to their mobile financial service accounts between 2016 and 2018, and they can now use their accounts to send money, build savings and make payments securely.