The tea workers on Saturday blocked the Dhaka-Sylhet highway at Nabiganj in Habiganj demanding payment of arrears of wages, bonuses, festival allowance, future fund arrears, medical treatment and ensuring permanent residence.
Tea workers of Imam-Bawani Tea Garden of the upazila blocked the Rokonpur Bazar area on the Dhaka-Sylhet highway at 12:00 pm on Saturday.
The workers alleged that the owners are not paying the outstanding salaries of 360 workers of Imam-Bawani Tea Garden for the financial year 2019-20 and 2021-22.
Besides, tea workers have to stay in their homes in the sun and rain. They are also deprived of medical care as there is no doctor. The workers say that the employer is not cooperating with them. That is why they have to live a miserable life with their families.
Subhasish Das, acting general secretary of the tea workers' union Balishira Valley, said, "We first wrote to everyone, including the garden authorities, to accept the demands of the tea workers. But we are continuing our agitation as our demands have not been met.”
“If the demands are not met soon, we will go for a bigger agitation,” he said
“We are citizens of this country," said Gopen Jhala, president of Bawani Tea Estate. So why don't we get our fair wages and other benefits? If our demands are not met, we will take a tougher stand if necessary.”
Fakhrul Islam, manager of Imam Bawani Garden, said, "I am trying my best to keep the garden in order. I have been discussing the matter with the garden authorities and workers time and again.” He said the matter is not being resolved without the cooperation of the owner.
After about one-and-a-half hours, the blockade was lifted on the assurance of the local administration.