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Wage hike to put pressure on tea industry: BTA chief

Age of workers have been raised several times during the last 10 years, he says

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 31 August, 2022 12:00 AM
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Wage hike to put pressure on tea industry: BTA chief
Bangladesh Tea Association (BTA) Chairman Shah Alam presides over a press conference in the capital on Tuesday.

Fixing the minimum wage of workers at Tk 170 will increase pressure on the tea industry, said the leaders of Bangladesh Tea Association (BTA), a forum of the tea estate owners.

They came up with the observation at a press conference in Dhaka on Tuesday with BTA Chairman Shah Alam in the chair.

While addressing the press conference, the BTA Chairman said the tea industry contributes 1 percent of the country’s total gross domestic product (GDP) while more than half of the workers working in the tea industry are women.

He said the wages of workers in the country's tea industry have been raised several times during the last 10 years but the auction price of tea has not risen.

 “The wages of the workers have been raised again. Due to this increase in wages, pressure will increase on the tea industry. And this pressure is not possible to compensate for this year. We have to increase production to cope with the pressure,” BTA chief said.

Earlier, Shah Alam read a written statement at the press conference where he said according to the instructions given by the Prime Minister, the cash wages of tea workers have been raised by 41 percent to Tk 170.

"BTA has accepted the wages fixed by the Prime Minister for the greater interest of the nation. In fact, at present the total wages including cash and non-cash daily wages have gone up to more than Tk 500," he said.

The BTA chairman said since 1948 tea industry entrepreneurs have been providing food assistance through rations to all plantation workers and their family members as per bilateral agreement with CBA to ensure food security.

He said a minimum of 8 kg of ration (rice or flour) is provided to a worker per week and it goes up to 13 kg per week depending on the number of family members.

According to him, a worker buys rice or flour at a nominal price of Tk 2 per kg. In this way a worker’s

family gets up to 42 kg of ration per month. Mentioning that 94,000 bighas of garden land is being used by tea workers for cultivation, he said about 60 percent of workers in a garden are enjoying this benefit.

Regarding accommodation, he said, in the tea industry of Bangladesh, some 100,000 workers along with their family members live in approximately 70,000 buildings and semi-buildings given by companies.

In addition, the extended members of the labourer’s family live in houses built at their own expense on the tea plantation land, he said.

He said that the tea workers and their entire families get free health care but in other industries only the worker himself gets this benefit. "Unbelievably, this benefit continues for the workers’ families even after their death."

Due to the agitation of the workers, the activities in the tea garden were stopped for three weeks.

Asked whether the workers will get their salary for these three weeks, he said, “We have a meeting with the leaders of the labour union in this regard. Further decisions will be taken in the meeting."