Thousands of workers of 167 tea gardens across the country, including 92 of Moulvibazar, went on an indefinite strike Saturday, demanding an increase in their daily wages to Tk300 from Tk120.
Many workers also took to the streets in Choumohunay of Srimangal to press home their demand.
The protesters said they will continue the strike until their demand is met.
However, there will be no protests on Sunday, which is the weekly holiday for the workers, and Monday, which is National Mourning Day.
Pankaj Panda, vice president of Bangladesh Tea Workers Union Central Committee, and Bijoy Hajra, president of Bangladesh Tea Workers' Union Balishira Valley, and Organising Secretary of the Union's Central Committee and other leaders from different valleys spoke at the protest rally.
Workers demanded an increase to Tk300 a day, with inflation rising and the currency depreciating and said that workers in the country’s all tea gardens began a full-scale strike on Saturday, after four days of two-hour stoppages.
Bangladesh is producing a record amount of tea every year through the toil of the tea workers. In 2021, a record 96 million kilograms of tea was produced in the country thanks to the hard labour of the underpaid tea workers.
Although two agreements on increasing wages have been reached, the fate of more than 1.5 lakh tea workers in the country hasn’t changed a bit.
Earlier on Friday, Bijoy Hajra, President of Bangladesh Tea Workers’ Union Balishira Valley and Organizing Secretary of the Union’s Central Committee, said that rampant price hikes of daily essentials are making it impossible for the tea workers to run their families on a meagre income of Tk 120 per day.
“We’ve discussed the matter with the tea garden owners time and again but they are constantly breaking the agreements reached between the Union and the owners. Increasing the wages of the tea workers is a longstanding demand. Though the existing agreements say that wages will be increased every year, the owners haven’t done so for the last three years. That’s why we’ve been forced to call for a tough movement,” said Bijoy.