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Tea workers’ movement for wage hike still on

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 24th August, 2022 10:24:59 AM
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The agitating workers of tea gardens in Habiganj and Moulvibazar have refused to join their work as their demands, including a wage hike, have not been met yet.

Many workers allege that their leaders have made an agreement with the local administration and owners of tea gardens, keeping them in dark.

The workers of some 23 tea gardens in Lashkarpur Valley of Habiganj abstained from work.

The workers’ leaders sat in a meeting on Tuesday and decided to continue their strike to get an increase in their daily wage from Tk 120 to Tk 300.

A meeting was held at Chandpur bus stand point in the valley at 1:00pm with Chandpur Tea Garden Panchayat President Sadhan Santal in the chair.

Amu Tea Garden General Secretary Sadhan Rudra moderated the meeting.

“Labour leaders reached an agreement with the Moulvibazar district administration in the dark of night without informing us. So the workers are angry,” Sadhan Santal said after the meeting.

Earlier on Monday, Habiganj Deputy Commissioner Ishrat Jahan assured the workers of 23 tea gardens in Lashkarpur Valley that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would virtually address them before the Durga Puja holiday.

But the workers were not swayed by the assurance.

Asked about the matter, Nripen Pal, acting general secretary of Bangladesh Tea Workers Union, said, “A group is making these allegations to create unrest. I hope to discuss the issue with the panchayat leaders of Habiganj’s Lashkarpur Valley and get the workers back to work.”

Meanwhile, some 1,000 demonstrating tea workers of seven tea gardens in Moulvibazar halted Paharika Express on Chattogram-Sylhet route in Rail Gate area of Kulaura upazila of the district at 4:00pm on Tuesday.

Tying a piece of red cloth on the head, waving red flag and keeping a banner in hands they sat on the rail track and stopped operation of the train.

One and a half hours later, the agitating workers left the rail track and consequently train services resumed.

Most of the workers of Moulvibazar didn’t join their work on Tuesday. Workers in Balishira, Manu, Dhalai Juri, Longla tea gardens in the district were seen gathering in various tea gardens and holding meetings and processions.

Earlier in the morning, Moulvibazar Deputy Commissioner Mir Nahid Ahsan visited some tea gardens and requested the workers to join work, citing messages of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

He exchanged views with the workers and discussed why they refrained from joining work despite a decision between the tea-workers union and the district administration.

Regular activities resumed at some tea gardens in the districts on Tuesday morning. The workers of Sreemangal are also interested to join the work, but some miscreants are holding them back and instigating them, the DC said.

He said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will talk to them soon through videoconferencing and fix a fair wage for them.

Ovan Tanti, a leader of Kalighat tea garden workers, said they will join work if the authorities declare their daily wage, increasing to Tk 300.

“We have been in a movement for many days. We will not join the work suddenly without any decision. We will return to work right now if a daily wage of Tk 300 is declared. If it doesn’t happen, our workers will continue the movement,” he added.