Tea workers’ wages: Strike ends with Tk 25 hike
The leaders of tea workers' unions yesterday withdrew their work abstention programmes as the Prime Minister directed the authorities to increase the workers' wage from Tk 120 to Tk 145 per day, but many workers rejected it.
Citing the hike to be insufficient, hundreds of workers staged demonstrations and vowed to continue their movement for a daily wage of Tk 300.
The announcement of the wage hike came following a meeting among government officials and leaders of the Bangladesh Tea Workers' Union at the Department of Labour's Sreemangal office in Moulvibazar.
The department's Director General Khaled Mamun Chowdhury, Moulvibazar's Deputy Commissioner Mir Nahid Ahsan, Superintendent of Police Mohammad Zakaria and leaders of the workers' union were present at the meeting.
"The Prime Minister's Office contacted us. The prime minister has given directives to rise the daily wage to Tk 145 from Tk 120. The workers have accepted it and they will join work tomorrow (Sunday)," said Mir Nahid Ahsan.
"They [tea workers] want to talk to the Prime Minister. I have conveyed this message to the PMO secretary, who said a Zoom meeting will be arranged within 10 to 15 days where the prime minister will remain connected virtually and will hear from tea workers," he added.
The DC shared the information with journalists after the meeting yesterday afternoon.
Bangladesh Tea Workers' Union's acting general secretary Nipen Paul, who was present at the meeting, said, "We have accepted the wage hike rate for the time being. We have said that we want to talk to the Prime Minister. We want to let her know about our sufferings, problems and demands. They [government officials] have said that a zoom meeting will be arranged shortly.
"We call upon all the tea workers across the country to join work tomorrow (Sunday)."
However, rejecting the call several hundred workers staged a demonstration at different points of Moulvibazar, Sylhet and Habiganj and cited that they would continue the movement until their demand of a daily wage of Tk 300 is fulfilled.
Till wiring the report last evening around 7:30pm, workers were demonstrating at Lakkatora tea estate in Sylhet, Bhurburia tea estate in Moulvibazar's Sreemangal upazila, and Begum Khan-Chanpur tea estate in Habiganj's Chunarughat upazila.
"Only Tk 25 hike is not sufficient in such a situation when the price of daily essentials is soaring continuously. We respect the prime minister's directives. But we want more hike in our wage," said Mina Robidas, a tea worker in Bhurbuira area.
"We will not join work until our demand of rising daily wage to Tk 300 is fulfilled," said Mangri Ghatawal, a female tea worker of Moulvibazar's Rajnagar upazila.
Earlier, yesterday noon, workers blockaded Sylhet Airport Road for two hours from 12:00pm to press home.
Workers of 166 tea estates across the country, including those in Chattogram and Sylhet, enforced have been enforcing work abstention since August 13 demanding their wage hike.
Earlier, they enforced a two-hour work abstention from 9:00am to 11:00am daily for four consecutive days from August 9 to 12.
According to government statistics, around 1.40 lakh people work in 166 tea gardens across the country.