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Faiham Ebna Sharif, Modern Day Bonded Labor: Tea Plantation Workers of Bangladesh


Tea, the second most popular drink after water, is known to be flourished in Bangladesh by the British East India Company. Originally the tea workers of Bangladesh were brought by the British colonial rulers from different parts of India during 1840-50s. The workers each signed a four-year contract that eventually obliged them to remain on the tea gardens for generations. Poor housing, low wages, long working hours, social discrimination and de facto restriction on free movement deprive them from basic human needs and rights. Now 300,000 tea workers and their families represent 80 different ethnic minorities, who are among the most vulnerable and socially excluded people in Bangladesh. A permanent tea plantation workers, with just over a dollar wage per day, is the lowest paid labors in the world. Thus the current labor conditions in Bangladesh’s tea industry are direct result of a long history of colonialism and repression of laborers. Tea is among one of those products which left an incredible mark on workers’ economic, social and more after political lives which still asserts influence in present days.

Faiham Ebna Sharif

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