TIB: Tea workers still denied fundamental rights

TIB: Tea workers still denied fundamental rights

The survey also found that none of the gardens pay double for overtime, even though this is stipulated in a provision of labour law

Despite a number of measures taken in recent years, the living conditions of tea workers in the country is still not satisfactory, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said on Tuesday.

“Tea gardens were established during the British period and run using slave labour, and we are seeing a change in the pattern. However, compared to other labor sectors, access to fundamental rights is not satisfactory for tea workers,” he said.

The TIB executive director made the comments at a seminar, titled “Working Environment & Worker’s Right in Tea Garden: Governance Challenges and Way Forward,” held at the organizations office in Dhaka.

“Tea workers are deprived of their fundamental rights. In this sense, we can say that they are slaves,” Dr Iftekharuzzaman said.

According to a survey conducted by TIB, a tea worker gets Tk102 as daily wages as per the latest agreement between tea workers and garden owners. Their monthly earnings total approximately

Tk5,231 with all allowances included, which is lower than any other sector in Bangladesh.

The survey also found that none of the gardens pay double for overtime, even though this is stipulated in a provision of labour law.

In addition, in 28 out of 64 tea gardens do not pay temporary workers the same wages as permanent workers. Temporary workers earn Tk50-75 when a worker is entitled Tk85.

Although tea garden owners are supposed to provide accommodations for each tea worker and his or her family, 32,299 permanent and temporary laborers do not have a separate home to live in, according to sources on the Bangladesh Tea Board.

Furthermore, some houses provided by owners are constructed of wood and tin, and do not include doors, windows or fences. In 90.6 % of cases, a labourer was provided with just one room, where he had to stay with his parents, siblings, wife, children, and cattle.

In 46 out of the 64 gardens surveyed, no latrines had been set up by the owners.

As a result of the survey, TIB recommended that the government announce a new wage structure for tea workers, and that the wage structure be renewed every two years.

The organization also recommended that the government ensure education, sanitation, group insurance, gratuity, wages, a welfare fund, and drinking water for the workers.

Furthermore, TIB called for the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments to carry out inspections more regularly.

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