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23 Aug 2022

Zaman Monir, New Age

Bangladesh: Protesting tea workers resume work after prime minister agrees to review wages

"Tea workers resume work amid factional strike", 23 August 2022

Tea garden workers on Monday resumed work at the current daily payment of Tk 120 pinning hope on the prime minister that she would review their wages soon. 

A large section of workers, however, continued their indefinite strike for tenth day on Monday in demand of increasing their daily payment to Tk 300 from Tk 120.

Bangladesh Cha Shramik  Union, a combined platform of tea garden workers, in a meeting held on Sunday night at the conference room of Moulvibazar deputy commissioner office agreed to call off strike and decided to join work at their current daily wage.

The BCSU leaders took the decision after assurance that prime minister Sheikh Hasina would see to their demand.

The meeting that started at 9:00pm on Sunday and ended at about 3:00am on  Monday issued a joint statement over the decision...

Talking to New Age, Ajit Roy, organiser of Cha Shramik Federation, another welfare group of the tea garden workers, said that the decision to resume work at the current rate of Tk 120 was an extreme ignorance to their demand to raise their daily wage to Tk 300.

‘A copy of the written decision taken by the meeting held on Sunday night has not reached us still now. How we can put trust in assurance given the worker union leaders,’ he said.

Ritesh Modi, president of Cha Shramik Odhikar Andolan, alleged that the union leaders agreed with the administration’s directive without taking any opinion of thousands of workers who had been observing strike for ten days keeping themselves unfed or half-fed over days.

‘Why then did we run movement when we had to return to work as per the previous rate of payment?’ he posed a question.

The BCSU leaders observed a two-hour work abstention from August 9 to realise their demand of increasing their daily wage to Tk 300.

Later on August 12, they decided to enforce a strike from the following day (August 13) and continue it until fulfilment of their demand. 

Besides, a tripartite meeting held between the administration officials, leaders of Bangladesh Tea Association, an organisation of the tea garden owners, and BCSU in the office of the Department of Labour in Dhaka ended without any conclusion.

Later, the workers were offered Tk 145 as their daily salary but they refused it and vowed to continue strike.

According to official statistics, about 1.50 lakh people, including 1.03 lakh regular workers, work for 167 commercial tea gardens in Sylhet and Chattogram divisions.