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29 Sep 2023

TBS report, TBS News (Bangladesh)

Bangladesh: Female tea workers' rights situation unsatisfactory

"Female tea workers' rights situation unsatisfactory: Study"

The actual labour rights situation for female tea workers in Bangladesh is unsatisfactory compared to the existing legal standards, reads a report published by the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS). 

According to report, 97% of female tea workers have no appointment letter. 

Moreover, 87% workers have no identity card and 10% female workers do not even know what an identity card is. 

Overall, employment opportunity in the local tea industry is very limited and job security is not guaranteed. Within this industry, 95% of individuals are working on permanent basis, whereas 5% are working as temporary workers. 

Furthermore, 49% individuals work overtime for one or two hours for extra income, revealed during the publication of the report at the Dhaka Reporters Unity in the capital on 12 September. 

The study, conducted as part of the project titled "Empowering female workers in the tea industry of Bangladesh," aimed at assessing the general rights situation of female tea workers in Bangladesh, evaluating their working conditions, analysing their socio-economic well-being, examining the skills of panchayat committee union leaders, and seeking guidance from national-level leaders regarding the status of female tea workers.

Speakers highlighted that there is no dedicated sexual harassment prevention committee for female tea workers even though they comprise over 50% of the workforce. 

The issue of land rights for tea workers also remain unclear. While the government allocated land for tea cultivation, reports suggest that other crops are also being harvested there. 

Additionally, there appears to be a lack of substantial efforts to send tea workers' children to schools.

BILS Vice Chairman Md Mojibur Rahman Bhuiyan presided over the event which brought together numerous trade union leaders, including Kamrul Ahsan, member of the BILS Advisory Council; Ahsan Habib Bulbul, general secretary of the Socialist Labour Front; and Paresh Kalindi, finance secretary of the Bangladesh Tea Workers' Union.