Workers strike underway in Sylhet region tea gardens


Tea garden workers from around 140 gardens in Sylhet region enforced an indefinite strike Tuesday to push their 20-point demands, including a raise in wages, our Habiganj and Moulvibazar correspondents reported.
Kanchan Patro, an adviser to the elected committee of Bangladesh tea workers union sangram parishad, told New Age that the strike would continue unless the demands are met.
Tea plantation workers of Matiura tea garden of Rajnagar upazila and Kamalganj upazila marched on the roads around the gardens in support of their demands.
Mamud Ali, Manager of ETA tea garden, said if the strike continues, a medium sized garden will suffer an operational loss of Tk 200,000 per day.
He said a medium sized garden can produce up to 5-6 thousand kilograms of tea per day in the current season whereas a big garden can produce 10-15 thousand kilograms.
The loss by bigger gardens will be around Tk 500,000 a day, sources said.
Our Habiganj and Moulvibazar correspondents said neither the garden owners nor the government has taken any initiative to resolve the stalemate.
Tea workers federation president, Satya Naidu said the workers are demanding a hike in their wages to Tk 120 per day from Tk 55.
Satya also said each tea worker receives 3 kg and 200 gram of rice or flour a week as food ration. They pay Tk 1.50 for one kg of rice or flour, he added.
The workers had placed their demands to the owners of the gardens on September 1, 2011, but no action followed, he added.
The secretary of tea workers union, Rambhajan Koira said, “We also want a section of labor law repealed where it said a worker who lost his job can be evicted from the garden.”
The 20 points demands also include expansion of education facilities, improvement in accommodation and health services; creation of more employment facilities, enhancement of maternity leave and organizing elections to the tea workers’ union.
Our Moulvibazar correspondent said the garden workers of Chittagong region will go for similar strike on 24 May.

News source: New Age

Image source: Beautiful Bangladesh