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News of the week: Tea workers’ wages, PM sets it at Tk 170 a day

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday directed tea estate owners to raise the daily wage of tea workers to Tk 170 from Tk 120.

She also asked the workers to withdraw their work abstention and resume work today, said PM’s Principal Secretary Ahmad Kaikaus.

He was briefing reporters in the evening after a meeting between the PM and a delegation of tea estate owners at the Gono Bhaban.

The workers’ other benefits, including plucking bonus (benefit for plucking additional tea leaves), festival bonus, earned leave and sick leave allowances, provident fund, ration card and retirement facilities will also be increased proportionately, the principal secretary said.

“The prime minister has asked tea workers to resume work tomorrow [Sunday]. She will soon talk to the tea workers through videoconferencing,” Kaikaus added.

The meeting began around 4:00pm and continued for over three hours. M Shah Alam, chairman of Bangladesh Tea Association (BTA), the representative body of all tea estates of greater Sylhet and Chittagong, led the 13-member delegation to the meeting.

Tea workers have accepted the wage hike and said they will resume work, reports our Moulvibazar correspondent.

Nipen Paul, acting general secretary of Bangladesh Tea Workers’ Union, said, “We respect the decision which came from our prime minister. All workers will join work tomorrow [Sunday].”

Rajdeo Kairi, convener of Cha Sramik Sangha’s Moulvibazar chapter, said, “We accept the wage hike though it is inconsistent with the current prices of essentials. We demand the authorities ensure other facilities of tea workers immediately.”

Speaking to this newspaper seeking anonymity, many workers yesterday said they would rejoin work though they were not satisfied with the wage hike.

They said it would be very difficult for them to run their families with a daily wage of Tk 170 as the prices of essentials have shot up.

Around 1,25,000 workers in the country’s 241 tea estates have been protesting since August 9 demanding their daily wage be raised to Tk 300 from Tk 120.

They abstained from work from August 9-12 for two hours a day before going on a full-scale strike from August 13.

On August 21, some workers’ leaders agreed to end the strike, accepting an offer to raise the pay to Tk 145. But most of the workers refused and continued abstaining from work.

In the last two weeks, workers held demonstrations, formed human chains, blockaded roads and rail tracks to press home their demand.


See original article: The Daily Star; August 28, 2022