150,000 Bangladeshi tea workers strike against dollar-a-day wages
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Nearly 150,000 workers at more than 200 Bangladeshi tea plantations went on strike Saturday to demand a 150 percent rise to their dollar-a-day wages, which researchers say are among the lowest in the world.
One worker said that was barely enough to buy food, let alone other necessities.
"Nowadays we can't even afford coarse rice for our family with this amount," said Anjana Bhuyian, 50.
"A wage of one day can't buy a litre of edible oil. How can we then even think about our nutrition, medication, or children's education?" she told AFP.
Unions are demanding an increase to 300 taka a day, with inflation rising and the currency depreciating, and said that workers in the country's 232 tea gardens began a full-scale strike on Saturday, after four days of two-hour stoppages.
Plantation owners have offered an increase of 14 taka a day, after an 18-taka rise last year and M. Shah Alom, chairman of the Bangladesh Tea Association, said operators were "going through difficult times with profit declining in recent times".
"The cost of production is increasing. Our expenses have increased as the price of gas, fertiliser and diesel have gone up," he told AFP.
"The plantation owners have hijacked the minimum wage authorities and kept the wages some of the lowest in the world."