After some 12 days of agitation, including eight days of work abstention, leaders of the tea workers' union called off the strike agreeing to a daily wage hike of Tk25 on the assurance of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Not all factions, however, agreed with the decision with many still holding out for the Tk300 per day wage instead of the newly approved Tk145.
"We agreed to withdraw the strike for the time being on the assurance of the prime minister and all workers will join work from Sunday," said Acting General Secretary of the Bangladesh Tea Workers Union Nipen Paul after a meeting with the Department of Labour on Saturday.
Nipen Paul further said, "We are told that the PM will talk to workers after coming back from her India tour. We will then place our demands before her."
Earlier, Moulvibazar Deputy Commissioner Mir Nahid Ahsan had conveyed the PM's assurance at a meeting held at the Divisional office of the labour department in Srimangal, Moulvibazar in the afternoon.
"The Prime Minister's Office contacted us. Based on the prime minister's assurance, the tea workers have accepted the wage and will join work from Sunday," said DC Nahid.
"Tea workers earlier sought the prime minister's intervention and wanted to talk to the PM. Therefore, I informed the matter to the PMO secretary. The secretary said in 10-15 days, there will be a Zoom meeting with the workers," he added.
Meanwhile, some tea workers expressed anger at the leaders' decision to withdraw the strike and announced they would continue the agitation.
Defying the decision, they started chanting slogans in front of the divisional office of the labour department in Srimangal.
Workers in Sylhet and Habiganj said they will continue the strike until their demands, including daily wage hike to Tk300, are met.
Anjan Goala, a tea garden worker, said, "How can we call off the strike with a hike of only Tk25 when we have a demand for Tk300, up from Tk120? How could a family survive with the daily pay of Tk145 only?"
Tea Workers Federation organiser Ajit Roy said, "We do not accept this decision. We will continue our movement until the daily wage is hiked to at least Tk200."
Tea workers leaders, however, in a meeting with Sylhet DC Md Mojibur Rahman in the afternoon, also agreed to withdraw the strike and join work from Sunday.
Later, protesting workers of tea gardens brought out a procession in the Sylhet city in the evening and chanted slogans "We do not accept this unfair agreement."
Rejecting the workers union leaders' decision, hundreds of workers of 24 tea gardens in Habiganj's Laskarpur valley continued their strike, demanding a pay hike to Tk300.
Khairun Akhter, president of the Bangladesh Women Tea Garden Workers Association, said, "Agents [of garden owners] have signed the Tk145 wage deal without discussing with workers. Will they understand our suffering? We have been protesting for 12 days despite hunger. We reject this agreement and denounce those leaders."
Over 200,000 workers of the tea gardens across the country started an indefinite strike on 13 August, demanding higher daily wages of Tk300, up from Tk120.
Despite several meetings with the government and garden owners, the tea workers had announced to continue the agitation for an indefinite period, as there was no solution to the wage problem.
On the other hand, in a joint statement sent to the media on Saturday, 45 eminent citizens expressed their solidarity with the ongoing strike of tea workers demanding daily wage hike.