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Tea workers return to work with previous wage of Tk 120

Moulvibazar Correspondent : Tea garden workers on Monday returned to work with the previous wage of Tk 120 withdrawing their strike for raising wage to Tk 300 upon assurance from the Prime Minister that their wage will be re-fixed after a virtual meeting with her.

This decision was taken at a meeting of the tea workers’ leaders with the Moulvibazar Deputy Commissioner Mir Nahid Ahsan at his office on Sunday night.

Paresh Kalindi, financial affairs secretary of Tea Workers Union, said, “In honour of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, we will join the work with the previous wage. The Prime Minister will talk to us through a video conference very soon to finalise the new wage.”

All financial benefits including wages of 10 days ( during the strike period) will be provided by the owners, he added.

During Sunday’s meeting, PM Hasina also talked to the tea workers through a video conference.

The Tea Workers leaders will apply to the DC for a meeting with the Prime Minister through video conferencing before the upcoming Durga Puja.

Other demands of tea workers will be submitted in written form to the Deputy Commissioner which will be sent to the Prime Minister’s office for consideration.

However, general workers got agitated and expressed anger over the decision of the union leaders.

Tea Workers Rights Movement President Ridesh Modi said, “Why did we enforce strike for so long if we have to return to work with the previous wage?”

On Sunday, the garden workers rejected the wage hike by Tk 25 to Tk 145 by the government and staged demonstrations on Dhaka-Sylhet highway and Airport Road in Sylhet.

They abstained from joining work as the leaders of Bangladesh Tea Workers Union on Saturday night announced that they did not withdraw the strike upon assurance of a Tk 25 hike in wage.

On Saturday night, tea garden workers leaders claimed they postponed their indefinite strike until they meet with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after her return from India.

On August 9, the Bangladesh Tea Workers Union started two-hour work abstention a day demanding daily wage hike.

Workers demanded an increase of their wage to Tk300, with inflation rising and the currency depreciating. The workers of 241 tea gardens across the country went on a full-scale strike on Aug 13, after four days of two-hour work abstention.

Bangladesh is producing a record amount of tea every year through the toil of the tea workers. In 2021, a record 96 million kilograms of tea was produced in the country thanks to the hard labour of the underpaid tea workers.

Although two agreements on increasing wages were signed, the fate of more than 1.5 lakh tea workers in the country hasn’t changed a bit.