A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists
News in all languages
Last 40 posts (Homepage)
archives of old posts
The last 100 posts, according
The First Few Lines of The Last 10 posts in:
First few lines of all posts of last 24 hours |
of past 30 days |
of 2002 |
of 2003 |
of 2004 |
of 2005 |
of 2006 |
of 2007 |
of 2008 |
of 2009 |
of 2010 |
of 2011 |
of 2012 |
of 2013 |
of 2014 |
of 2015 |
of 2016 |
of 2017 |
of 2018 |
Syndication Of A-Infos - including
RDF - How to Syndicate A-Infos
Subscribe to the a-infos newsgroups
(en) bangladesh asf: Bangladeshi tea worker's "All strain but no gain"
Sun, 11 Aug 2019 10:19:05 +0300
Despite industry uptick wages remain among worst in world ,while land rights are denied
estate laborers ---- The tea industry has rebounded from a protracted rocky patch but many
workers claim they are still mistreated and neglected. ---- Tea workers and leaders of
labor unions in Bangladesh say the revival of the tea industry and rising profits is not
improving their lot, as they wrestle with woefully low wages, poor treatment,
discrimination, and unfair land rights. ---- They receive an average daily wage of 102
Taka (US$1.22) plus weekly rations of three kilograms of food. ---- "Tea workers' wages
are among the lowest in the world," Pankaj Kanda, vice-president of the Bangladesh Tea
Workers Union, told BASF. ---- "That's not enough for them to live a decent and dignified
life. The cost of daily essentials is rising and tea workers are struggling to keep their
health and spirits up," he said.
The industry has fallen from its former glory, when it exported tons of tea, but a recent
uptick in domestic demand has spelt good news for domestic producers and plantation owners.
Experts say the country now produces almost enough tea to cover all of its domestic needs
but still has a way to go before the industry is strong enough to compete internationally.
In 2018, the nation's 164 tea estates that occupy a total of 111,37000 hectares produced
80.2 million kilograms of tea, the highest amount in recent times.
Most are concentrated in the Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Habiganj and Sunamganj districts of
Sylhet division, coined Bangladesh's tea plantation hub.
Estate owners credit the growth to favorable weather, government assistance to help make
better use of tea estates, the installation of modern equipment in factories, and a wage
rise for tea laborers last year.
According to official statistics, the industry employs 97,000 registered workers and
25,000 irregular or seasonal workers. Activists say the true number of workers in the
community, including their families, is closer to 700,000.
Meanwhile, those at the grassroots level paint a less rosy picture of this punishing
career that is customarily passed down from generation to generation among households.
Some say they live in fear of eviction threats and the prospect of being arrested.
Kanda is a former tea worker whose grandfather, father and mother were registered workers
at the same estate.
"I inherited my father's work and my brother got my mother's job," said the practicing
"A tea worker is entitled to a one-room accommodation, which has become too cramped as our
family has grown."
"Some of us have managed to build our own houses, but we can't claim ownership of them due
to the country's laws on land rights, which don't grant us this entitlement," he noted.
Most tea workers are low-caste Hindus or tribal people who were originally brought over by
British colonial rulers when they established the first tea estates in Bangladesh in the
Tea workers are among the most marginalized and discriminated against groups in the
country. Many work in conditions some have compared to modern-day slavery. Most live in
squalid, mud-walled and thatched-roofed houses. Families are allowed to live there as long
as one member works the estate.
Most lack the skills and opportunities to seek alternative employment. Despite directives
in the labor law, they do not have adequate access to education or health services.
"All of the tea estates are supposed to operate schools for the children of their workers,
and hospitals to ensure they have access to medical services," Kanda said.
"While it's true there are some hospitals, the facilities are inadequate. Moreover, most
estates don't set up or run schools," he added.
"On paper things look much more rosy, but the reality on the ground is that life is harsh
for these laborers."
He said their daily wage should not be less than 300 Taka ($3.60), or three times above
what most of them receive.
"They are supposed to get a pay rise every two y
A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
By, For, and About Anarchists
Send news reports to A-infos-en mailing list
A-Infos Information Center