Why are Bangladesh tea garden workers protesting? | Workers’ Rights News

Bangladesh tea employees have been holding a strike for practically two weeks to demand elevate in each day wages amid rising inflation.

They are saying the present each day wage – 120 taka (about $1.25) – was barely sufficient to purchase meals, not to mention different requirements resembling well being and training.

“These days, we are able to’t even afford coarse rice for our household with this quantity,” Anjana Bhuyian, a tea plucker, informed the AFP information company.

“A wage of sooner or later can’t purchase a litre of edible oil. How can we then even take into consideration our vitamin, remedy, or youngsters’s training?” the 50-year-old mentioned.

The strikes by the tea employees have develop into a rallying level for a lot of within the nation of 160 million folks, as rising inflation and excessive meals costs add to the broader frustration about low wages.

Hundreds hit the streets after gas costs had been hiked by greater than 50 % two weeks in the past.

On Sunday, the protesters blocked the Sylhet-Dhaka freeway as they escalated the strike.

What are they demanding?

The employees’ union is demanding a 150 % (300 taka or $3.15 a day) rise of their each day wages. Tea backyard employees are among the many lowest paid within the nation.

“Practically 150,000 tea employees have joined the strike at present,” mentioned Sitaram Bin, a committee member of the Bangladesh Tea Employees’ Union, on August 13.

“No tea employee will pluck tea leaves or work within the leaf processing vegetation so long as the authority doesn’t pay heed to our calls for,” he informed AFP.

The union has rejected the federal government’s newest supply of a 25 cents per day wage enhance.

What do plantation homeowners say?

Plantation homeowners have supplied a rise of 14 taka a day, after an 18 taka rise final 12 months.

They are saying they’re going by way of tough occasions with income declining lately.

“In actuality, what they’re saying just isn’t proper. We offer a medical fund, retirement profit, together with weekly rations and entry to major training for the youngsters. All of it provides as much as round $4 a day,” Mohammed Mohsin, Tea Backyard House owners Affiliation, informed Al Jazeera.

M Shah Alom, chairman of the Bangladesh Tea Affiliation, mentioned operators had been “going by way of tough occasions, with revenue declining in latest occasions”.

“The price of manufacturing is growing. Our bills have elevated as the value of fuel, fertiliser and diesel have gone up,” he informed AFP.

Tea garden workers gather to take part in a protest demanding hike in their daily wages.
Practically 150,000 folks work at greater than 200 Bangladeshi tea plantations, principally situated within the Sylhet area in northern Bangladesh [Mamun Hossain/AFP]

Tea plantation in Bangladesh

Practically 150,000 folks work at greater than 200 Bangladeshi tea plantations, principally situated within the Sylhet area in northern Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is likely one of the world’s largest tea producers, exporting tea to greater than 20 nations, together with the USA, the UK and France.

However tea pickers, most of whom are feminine, work lengthy hours and earn a few of the lowest wages within the nation.

Most tea employees are low-caste Hindus, the descendants of labourers dropped at the plantations by colonial-era British planters within the nineteenth century.

Luchee Kandu and her husband work on a plantation. They are saying little has modified for tea employees over the generations.

“We hardly get any sort of services, don’t find the money for for our youngsters’s training, we barely get 3kg flour as ration as soon as per week. Some days we don’t even get to eat, which is why we’re protesting,” Kundu informed Al Jazeera in Srimongal, generally known as Bangladesh’s tea capital.

One other tea picker, Shamoli Bhuyia, informed Al Jazeera: “The homeowners don’t perceive our plight. We have now been demanding our each day wage be raised to $3 a day, then we are going to return to work.”

Employees’ exploitation

Researchers say tea employees – who dwell in a few of the nation’s remotest areas – have been systematically exploited by the trade for many years.

The United Nations says they’re one of the vital marginalised teams within the nation, with restricted entry to fundamental services and training.

“Tea employees are like modern-day slaves,” mentioned Philip Achieve, director of the Society for Atmosphere and Human Growth analysis group, who has written books on tea employees.

“The plantation homeowners have hijacked the minimal wage authorities and stored the wages a few of the lowest on the earth.”

Further reporting by Tanvir Chowdhury from Srimongal