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Tea workers demand payment of festival allowance

The Tea Workers Association alleged that their festival bonuses due during the Fagua, also known as Red Puja, festival in the month of Phalgun, one of the main religious festivals of the tea workers, were not being paid in all the tea estates.

The association demanded immediate payment of festival allowances to tea workers.

Cha Sramik Sangha Moulvibazar district committee convener Rajdeo Kairi and joint convener Shyamal Alamik gave this information in a joint statement.

In the statement, they alleged that all tea and rubber workers during Fagua are entitled to the festival bonus as per the agreement made with the tea plantation owners and the gazette of Minimum Wages announced by the government in the tea industry.

But this year in the Fagua Festival, most of the tea workers have not received the festival bonus, and even the weekly wages of the workers in some tea gardens have not been paid properly.

The Fagua festival bonus has not been paid till now to the workers of Deundi Tea Company’s Mrittinga, Lalchan, Deundi Nayapara, NTC’s Deorachra and other plantations.

In some plantations, only the partial bonus is given instead of full bonus.

Rajdeo Kairi, convenor of Cha Sramik Sangh Moulvibazar district committee, said that tea workers of different gardens were expressing their anger.

‘The tea workers have to spend their days starving and half-starved in the current market with rising prices of only 170 taka per day. If the workers are deprived of their fair rights, where will the workers go? With the hard work of the tea workers, a record amount of tea was produced in 2023, exceeding the target level. Even though the Fagua festival started on March 24, most of the tea workers have not been paid the festival bonus yet,’ he said.

Cha Sramik Sangh Moulvibazar district committee joint convener Shyamal Alamik said that according to the latest wage agreement, signed on December 23, 2023, a tea worker would be entitled to a festival bonus equal to 52 days of wages every year, of which 60 per cent would be during Durga Puja and the remaining 40 per cent would be paid before Fagua.

As such, a worker during Fagua will get a festival bonus of Tk 3,536, he added.

The leaders of the tea workers union demanded immediate payment of Tk 3,536 as full bonus to all tea and rubber workers and immediate payment of arrears and arrears of wages in tea estates.

Otherwise, the tea workers will be compelled to wage a new movement, they also said.