Bangladesh Tea Workers Union President Makhan Lal Karmakar confirmed the matter to Dhaka Tribune on Friday
The daily wages of tea workers has gone up from Tk 102 to Tk 120 as the workers have been observing different protests, including work abstention, demanding a hike in wages and bonus.
The tea garden owners' association – Bangladesh Tea Board (BTA) – and the workers' association – Bangladesh Tea Workers Union – signed a preliminary Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this regard on Thursday.
Bangladesh Tea Workers Union President Makhan Lal Karmakar confirmed the matter to Dhaka Tribune on Friday.
The bilateral agreement between the Bangladesh Tea Garden and the Bangladesh Tea Workers Union regarding wages and other faculties expired in December 2018.
Therefore a new agreement was signed on Thursday after 21 months and 15 days, according to sources.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Makhan Lal Karmakar, president of Bangladesh Tea Workers Union, said: “With the implementation of this new agreement, the tea workers will all get the increased wages from January 1, 2019 retroactively.
“The arrears since January last year will be paid in four installments, each equivalent to Tk3,000.” he said.
Besides, bilateral discussions are going on between the Bangladesh Tea Association (BTA) and the Bangladesh Tea Workers Union in order to increase other facilities for tea workers, Makhan Lal added.
However, terming the wage hike as inhuman many tea workers’ leaders expressed dissatisfaction as their demand was not accepted fully.
Regarding the matter, Bijoy Hajra, president of Balishira Valley of Bangladesh Tea Workers Union, said the tea workers have been protesting for a daily wage of Tk 300.
The workers had observed two-hour work abstention daily since October 7, demanding a wage hike, he added.
There are 167 tea gardens in the country where 97,600 registered tea workers work. Tea workers live a very miserable life as they are one of the least paid labourers in the country and they have no proper access to safe water, electricity, or health care.
During the British colonial period, they were brought to Sylhet to work as day labourers, but were treated as mere slaves.
In independent Bangladesh, successive governments have shown little interest in changing their lives.