Md. Majem Ali Molin.
Even then Arunodaya did not happen. Ignoring the cold and thick fog, thousands of female workers as well as male workers are coming from far and wide to the Gurudaspur workers’ market in trucks, buses, locomotives and Karimne every day. It’s like a workers’ fair. Numerous working men and women, old and young, are coming to the market of these workers with various kinds of weeding tools including sickle, spade, head and other necessary tools of agriculture. But no buying and selling, came to sell labor.
Along with men, the number of women workers is also increasing with the change of days. These women workers are working day and night hand in hand with men. Homes, fields, ghats, even crop lands. As if they don’t have the guts to throw a single shot. They are working with a strong conviction to move forward from the country to their own needs.
It has been reported that these workers’ huts are sitting in different places including Nayabazar, Hazirhat, Vitabazar of Gurudaspur of Natore and Manikpur, Raushanpur, Razzakmor and Thanarmor of Baraigram upazila. The formalities of buying and selling of these workers started from 5 am to 8 am. These workers are coming from different parts of the country to earn a living. The group includes women and men workers from different ethnic groups including Hindus, Muslims and minorities.
Navnita Orano, who came to sell labor at the workers’ market, said she had rented a truck from Merigachha village in Sirajganj for Tk 10 to sell labor at the ‘labor market’ in Gurudaspur. He sold his labor, but did not receive a fair wage. This story of continuous wage inequality is not unique to Navnita Oraon. This is the daily story of the struggle for survival of thousands of women workers who are burning in the black fire of poverty.
Several people, including Monir from Shahjadpur in Sirajganj, said their area was relatively low. There is no work this season except for the Erie-Boro plantation. So he has come to Gurudaspur to do all the work including planting garlic and cutting paddy. According to Gita Rani, who came with the group, they get Rs 300 to Rs 350 on their own meals. But the workers of other communities get the same wages from the farmers. Again, male workers get paid 450 to 500 rupees. They are constantly fighting for survival by accepting wage inequality due to scarcity.
It is learned that the demand for women workers in this region is very high due to the availability of hard working, easy-going and relatively cheap labor. They have to manage their families by selling agricultural labor at low wages. Shyamoli Rani and Kumari Alpana Rani, women workers of small ethnic groups who have come to work in different fields of Chalanbil, said that they are getting 300 to 350 rupees for uninterrupted labor from 8 am to 4 am. Somehow their family is leaving.
Visiting the workers’ market in Nayabazar on Sunday, it was seen that besides Gurudaspur-Baraigram, women workers from Tarash, Salanga, Ullapara, Bogra Sherpur Upazila gathered in groups here. All of these workers have come on the roofs of truck-buses, Nachimon or auto vans. Everyone wears winter clothes and hand-me-downs. The farmers are taking the workers directly to the field by adding vans as per their demand. Talking to five farmers including Abdul Matin, it was learned that these workers were used to cut the paddy, plant the garlic without any hale, and make the land there with the laying of paddy straw. Apart from that, women workers of small ethnic groups are valued more as they are available at lower wages than the local workers.
Subrata Kumar Sarkar, deputy director of Natore’s Department of Agricultural Extension, said there was a dearth of indigenous people living in Chalanbil. Helpless, they are selling labor at low wages. Many run their households with high interest rates in advance from rural moneylenders, forcing them to sell labor at a lower price.