Tea plantation workers return to work as wage fixed at Tk 170
After 19 days of demonstrations for daily wages be increased to Tk 300, the tea plantation workers have returned to work as their wages have been increased to Tk 170.
Following a meeting with prime minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence Ganabhaban on Saturday night, the tea estate owners agreed to raise the wage by Tk 50 from the previous wage of Tk 120 every day.
When the workers received the information of pay rise they called off the strike and returned to work.
Visiting the Bharaura tea estate, Bhurbhuria tea estate, Khaichhara tea estate and Zerin tea estate this morning it was seen that the workers have resumed their work in full swing.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, Shyamoli Bhumij, a tea plantation worker said, “We were waging a movement for the sake of meeting our basic needs. Everything is costlier in the market now. We had to struggle to run our families with a Tk 120 daily wage. The estate owners proposed to raise our wage by Tk 14 only, but we did not agree.
“We had a belief that prime minister Sheikh Hasina would think of us. She has fixed a standard amount as daily wage… Now we have joined our work at a wage of Tk 170. The prime minister has honoured our faith,” she said.
“Despite it being a holiday today we have begun working. We did not work at the tea estates due to the movements. Back at work, I feel an affection for the leaves. These movements would have not taken place if the owners had accepted our demands earlier.. These demonstrations would have not taken place if the owners had accepted our demands earlier
The workers were staging a two-hour abstention from work from 9 August and enforced an indefinite strike at all tea estates across the country from 13 August demanding a raise in daily wage. They laid siege to roads, highways and railways to meet their demand.
In this context, prime minister Sheikh Hasina held a meeting with the tea estate owners at Ganabhaban on Saturday afternoon. M Shah Alam led the 13-member representatives of the tea estate owners.
After the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, prime minister’s principal secretary Ahmad Kaikaus informed the newspersons about the decision taken at the meeting.
Ahmad Kaikaus said, “Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has fixed the daily wage for tea plantation workers at Tk 170. Along with the raise in wage, annual leave, paid festival leave etc. will be increased proportionately. Sick leaves will be increased while the owner party will donate to their medical expenditure fund. Besides, employers’ contribution to the PF fund will increase proportionately.”
Apart from that, ration facilities for subsidised prices will be increased too. Medical facilities, pension for retired workers, educational expenses for the wards of tea workers, maintenance, expenses on grazing land, workers welfare programme for free housing and upkeep, will go up as well. Including all, their daily wage will be worth about Tk 450 to 500.
The principal secretary said that the prime minister has asked the workers to accept the decision and return to work.
He said, “The prime minister had promised to raise the wages by speaking on behalf of the tea workers, which she did. She has asked the tea workers to join work from tomorrow. The prime minister will soon talk to the tea workers through video conference.”
Parbati Rabidas, a tea plantation worker told Prothom Alo, “Despite it being a holiday today we have begun working. We did not work at the tea estates due to the movements. Back at work, I feel an affection for the leaves. These movements would have not taken place if the owners had accepted our demands earlier.
“We’re happy with Tk 170 as wage. We expect the prime minister’s supervision regarding our medical treatment, ration and homes. We would live a bit happier if we get the other benefits properly alongside the daily wage of Tk 170 and live a bit better with our children,” he said.
Speaking to Prothom Alo in the morning, Bijoy Hazra, Bangladesh Tea Plantation Workers’ Union and Balishira Valley (a valley is constituted with 23 gardens) president said, “The wage was increased to Tk 170 at the intervention of the prime minister last night. Following the announcement, we discussed with different valley and panchayet committees last night. Everyone has shown interest to resume work accepting the prime minister’s proposal. Despite it being a holiday on Sunday many people have joined work. Workers could not join at some factories as there were already old leaves in stock and some did not join work as it is a holiday. The work will begin at full swing on Monday, we think.”