Human labor selling haat in Cumilla
Human haat, a haat of selling labor, is a common scenario in the district during the harvesting season as people from different impoverished areas throng here to sell their labor for their livelihood.
Recruited on contractual basis, these laborers, come from various parts of the country to various such haats in the district to offer their trade, often bargaining their worth.
Once an agreement is reached, the laborers follow their masters along with their equipment and daily necessities. The laborers are valued on the basis of their physical structure and the strong-bodied people fare higher rates than those who are short and slim.
Such haats are usually seen during the Boro harvesting season in areas such as Sadar Dakkhin upazila's Paduar Bazar, Choara Bazar, Shuaganj Bazar, Bijoypur Bazar, Lalmai Bazar, Burichang upazila's Nimsar Bazar and Chandina Bazar.
Hundreds of laborers flock to these haats every day to sell their trade during the Boro plantation and harvesting time, which is when their demand is the highest from the rest of the year. The average daily wage for a worker ranges between Tk 600 to 700, which includes three meals a day. Once the Boro season is over, they earn as low as Tk 450.
For those who do not get hired have to seek shelter in nearby mosques, madrasahs or a school, often fasting without having any choice, praying that they will be hired the next day. Upon inspecting the haats, it is revealed that most of the labourers come from Rangpur, Nilphamari, Mymensingh, Dinajpur, Netrokona and Thakurgaon.
Rahidul, 22, hailing from Rangpur's Gangachara upazila, and Shamsher Ali, 25, from the same place, said previously they were employed in their district as tobacco cutters. But, now as there is no work over there, they came here in search of work. In Bijoypur Bazar, Raj Ali, 35, and Rafik, 30, both from Mymensingh, aid they came here five days ago in search of work, when they were hired in Lalmai for rice plantation labour.
They said their master fortunately gave them three meals and a blanket, as most masters do not consider the workers as fellow humans. Delwar Hossain, 30, and from Nilphamari, said at Choara Bazar that he has no land to work on back home, which is why he is hoping to get work here. If not then he would have to go back home empty handed.
The laborers said the wages earned are mostly sent home for covering their family expenses. So, they hope to work every day to get a stable income, otherwise it would become difficult for them to run their families.