Tk 117 as daily minimum wage proposed for tea garden workers

Worker representative to the wage board opposes

Staff Correspondent | Published: 01:29, Jun 15,2021

 
 

A file photo shows workers picking green leaves at a tea garden in Sylhet. The minimum wage board has proposed Tk 117 as the daily minimum wage for the tea garden workers, ignoring the proposals made by the labour union in the sector, alleged a worker representative to the board. — New Age photo

The minimum wage board has proposed Tk 117 as the daily minimum wage for the tea garden workers, ignoring the proposals made by the labour union in the sector, alleged a worker representative to the board.

‘The tea garden workers have been receiving the amount for the last two and a half years under a negotiation between workers and owners. The wage board has recommended the same amount as the minimum wage through a “unilateral” gazette notification issued on Sunday,’ the worker representative to the board, Ram Bhajan Kaori, told New Age on Monday.

He said that no single recommendation from the workers was considered in the wage board and the board recommended the minimum wage of workers as per the suggestions made by the owners.

‘An agreement between tea garden owners and workers was signed in 2019, setting the minimum wage at Tk 117 a day for two years and as per the agreement, workers have been receiving the amount since January 1, 2019,’ Kaori said.

He said it was completely unacceptable that the wage board would set the same amount as the minimum wage in June 2021.

‘I have not signed the wage board proposals as there is no reflection of workers’ needs in the draft recommendations. The board unilaterally has issued the gazette notification in this regard,’ Kaori, also the general secretary of Bangladesh Tea workers Union, claimed.

Kaori said that they had proposed Tk 300 as the minimum wage per day and festival allowance equivalent to two months’ wages.

He also alleged that the minimum wage board’s recommendations violated the provision of Bangladesh Labour Act-2006 regarding participation of workers in the profit of the companies.

As per the labour act, companies would have to deposit 5 per cent of the net profit of the previous year at the proportion of 80:10:10 to respectively the Participatory Fund, Welfare Fund and Workers Welfare Foundation Fund established under section 14 of the Bangladesh Workers Welfare Foundation Act, 2006.

But the wage board recommended depositing 0.03 per cent of the companies’ total sales to the workers’ welfare fund, he said.

The provision is applicable only to 100 per cent export-oriented sectors.

The board in a gazette notification on June 13 published its draft proposals of minimum wages for tea garden workers seeking, if there are any, written objections against or suggestions on the recommendations in 14 days.

Tahsin Ahmed Chowdhury, chief operating officer of Consolidate Tea & Lands Company Bangladesh Limited and the owners’ representative to the wage board, said that the wages of tea garden workers were usually set through negotiations between trade unions and owners and the workers received payment higher than the amount set by the wage board.

The tenure of the wage-related agreement signed in 2019 ended on December 31, 2020 and a negotiation for the 2021-22 tenure is in progress, he said.

‘Definitely the wages would be increased through the negotiation,’ Tahsin said.

The minimum wage for tea garden workers was last set in 2010 at Tk 45 per day along with free accommodation and treatment facilities.

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