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22 Aug 2022

The Business Standard

Bangladesh: Workers across 23 tea gardens continue protests demanding 300Tk daily wages, despite union leaders calling off strike after prime minister agrees to discuss wages

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"Tea workers did not return to work though their leaders announced a strike withdrawal", 22 August 2022

Most of the tea workers in Sylhet who have been protesting, demanding a raise in their daily wages, did not go back to work on Monday, angry with the decision of tea workers union leaders to call off the strike.

The leaders announced the decision to cancel the strike after they were given assurances at a meeting with the Moulvibazar deputy commissioner...that the prime minister will sit down with their leaders, determine their wages, and take steps to fulfil their demands. 

The workers of 23 tea gardens in Habiganj's Lashkarpur Valley are adamant in their decision to continue their agitation for a raise in wages. On Monday also, they protested and formed human chains at different gardens. They said they will not return to work without a daily wage of Tk300.

At the same time, they expressed their anger against leaders of the tea workers union for signing the agreement to join work on a Tk120 daily wage rate.

In Sylhet's Chunarughat, Chandpur tea garden worker Biren Tantubaya said, "We are on strike for 14 days today for a wage of Tk300. It has caused us a lot of financial damage. Now there is no question of going to work without increasing the wages."

Sadhan Santal, president of the Panchayat Committee of Chandpur Tea Garden in Chunarughat, said, "The central committee of our labour union has not given instructions to go to work. We want to join work but wages must be Tk300."

Navin Munda, a worker at Sylhet's Malnichhara tea garden who did not join work, said, "We do not believe what the leaders say. They are cheating us. We want to hear the assurance directly from the prime minister. Then, we will go back to work."

Afzal Rashid Chowdhury, Managing Director of Srimangal's Junglebari Tea Gardens in Sylhet, said workers in his tea gardens did not join work on Monday.

Ritesh Modi, a worker of Malnichara tea garden, said they will make a decision after they talk to tea workers' union leaders.

Raju Goala, President of Sylhet Valley Tea Workers Union, said it was decided to call off the strike in the late-night hours of Monday. As a result, it was not possible to send a written copy of the decision to all the gardens and hence there is indecision among workers...

Tea workers started an indefinite strike on 13 August to demand an increase in daily wages from Tk120 to Tk300.