Tea workers continue strike for six days now

The tea workers have been protesting demanding their wages be raised to Tk300 per day

Workers of 232 tea gardens in Bangladesh are continuing protests for the sixth day, pressing home their demands that include increasing their daily wages from Tk120 to Tk300.

On Wednesday the Department of Labour arranged a tripartite meeting between owners of tea gardens and tea workers in Dhaka that ended after six hours at 11pm without any agreement between the owners and the workers.

On Thursday morning, thousands of women and men gathered in front of the Finley Tea factory in the Sreemangal Bharaura tea garden of Moulvibazar and protested by forming a human chain. 

At the same time, the workers of all the tea plantations in the country held protest marches and rallies.

The tripartite meeting was attended by Director General of Labor Directorate Khaled Mamun Chowdhury, President of Bangladesh Tea Association Shah Alam, Convener of Tea Sandare Tahsin Ahmad Chowdhury, and Executive Advisor of Bangladesh Tea Workers Union Rambhajan Kairi, Vice President Pankaj Kand, Acting General Secretary Nirpen Pal, Finance Editor Paresh Kalindi, Manu Dhalai Valley Editor Nirmal Das Painka, Sylhet Valley Raju Goala and many others were present.

Pankaj Kand, vice-president of the Bangladesh Tea Workers Union, said the wage proposed by the owners in the meeting is not even close to Tk300 and added: “We refused. Our struggle will continue and the door to more discussion will be open, we have no objection.”

President of Bangladesh Tea Association Shah Alam said that the labor leaders have asked for two days to announce their decision. He also said that tea production is good in some years and bad in some years because of the weather. “We make contracts with tea workers every two years. Now there is a problem with wages, it has to be solved in the interest of the country and in the interest of the owners.”

Acting General Secretary of Bangladesh Tea Workers Union Nirpen Pal said the pay was raised to Tk140 by increasing Tk20. “We rejected this proposal, we will respond to further discussions but our movement will continue," he added.

Director General of Bangladesh Labor Department Khaled Mamun Chowdhury told media that if necessary, they will have another meeting after two to three days, adding that there is a tripartite meeting on August 23.

Meanwhile, four tea plantations lodged separate GDs on Tuesday with the Sreemangal police station due to the loss of raw tea leaves during the labor strike. 

It has been alleged that 1,48,735kg of Rajghat tea garden, 99,250kg of Dinston tea factory, 50,207kg of Balishira tea factory and 5,683kg of Amrail tea factory tea leaves have been lost as a result of the strike, confirmed Srimangal police station Inspector (Investigation) Humayun Kabir.