Bangladeshi tea plantation workers strike for Tk 300 daily wage

Union leaders threatened to call a general strike and blockade if their demand was not met within three days.

“Bangladesh’s many workers are deprived of their basic rights while they are voters. We pick leaves with the sweat of our brows under the scorching sun and we wet ourselves under an incessant rain. And yet we receive 120 Tk per day. We can’t hold on like this. We have our backs against the wall,” said Sadhan Santal, chairman of Chandpur Tea Garden Panchayat in Habiganj.

“The price of each product is skyrocketing, but we still get 120 Tk after working from dawn to dusk. The money we get in one day is not enough to buy a liter of oil. We are short of money after buying 2 kg of vegetables with what we get. The wage should be increased to Tk 300 to save the lives of the workers,” said Khairun Akter, President of Bangladesh Cha Kanya, a tea workers organization.

Bangladesh’s tea industry has set successive production and export records in 168 years of commercial production and is targeting production of 140 million kg by 2025.

Yet the workers at whose expense this growth pays off are systematically denied their rights to decent wages and decent working and living conditions.

They struggle to get good quality and timely health care, access to clean water and provide their children with a decent education.

Women bear the heaviest burden of systemic inequality, as they are concentrated in the lowest paid picking roles and also do most of the unpaid household work.

Nripen Paul, the union’s acting general secretary, said they launched the strike after the owners offered a Tk14 pay rise. “We will close the gardens if our request is not met by Friday. We will take to the streets if necessary.

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