Workers of 23 tea gardens in Habiganj yet to join work, meeting underway

Tea plantation workers take preparation to resume work on 22 August 2022. The photo is taken at Bharaura Tea Estate, Sreemangal, MoulvibazarProthom Alo

The workers of 23 tea estates in Habiganj did not join work on Wednesday as there was no agreement regarding their daily wage hike. Workers' meeting with Habiganj district administration is going on at Chunarughat upazila headquarters from 10:00 am today.

The workers may join work from Thursday if the meeting turns out successful.

The tea plantation workers' strike have been going on for 12 consecutive days on demand of hiking the daily wage to Tk 300. As part of this demonstration, about 40,000 workers of 23 tea gardens in Habiganj are on strike.

The president and secretaries of 23 panchayat committees of tea plantation workers held a meeting with the district administration at Chandpar tea garden in Chunarughat upazila of Habiganj.

More than 200 labour leaders attend the meeting. However, the discussion bore no result as other leaders including the president and general secretary of Laskarpur Valley (a valley consists of 23 tea gardens) were absent. Therefore, district commissioner Ishrat Jahan and superintendent of police SM Murad Ali sat with panchayat and valley leaders at Chunarughat upazila headquarters from 10:00am.

Chunarughat Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Siddharth Bhowmik told Prothom Alo this morning, “We have been discussing with the workers for three consecutive days on behalf of the administration. Maybe they will be able to reach a decision today.”

Sadhan Sarkar, president of Chandpar tea garden panchayat committee of Chunarughat upazila, said that the district administration has been discussing with the valley chief and tea plantation workers union leaders for two to three days. The Samiti and Valley Pradhans (chiefs) did not share with the Panchayat Committee about what was discussed with the government or how much was agreed on wages. Due to this ambiguity, the workers are not joining the work.

Rabindra Gaur, president of Habiganj Laskarpur Valley, told Prothom Alo, "Today we did not join work as no clear announcement has come from the government as of now. What will we say to the workers?... Discussions between the labour leaders and the administration have been going on since this morning. It is hoped that an agreement can be reached in this regard.”

A discussion was held between the administration and the leaders of the Bangladesh Tea Workers' Union at the office of Moulvibazar district commissioner Sunday late night.

Following the discussion, the workers of some tea gardens in Moulvibazar district decided to join the work at the existing wage of 120 taka, but the workers of 23 tea gardens in Habiganj did not join work.