Tea workers are demanding a slice of the improved fortune that the industry has been enjoying for some time with prices ruling firm for nearly two years in a row. They are demanding an interim wage hike outside the existing accord saying they need protection against the current inflationary spiral. Although a three-year tripartite wage agreement was sealed between the industry, the workers and the government in May 2008, the workers employed in many gardens of the Dooars, Darjeeling and Terai regions in north Bengal are demanding a wage-hike saying that they should get an interim wage increase to buffer against the increase in prices of essential commodities, especially food items. They also want a wage board for the tea industry.
Through the two tripartite meetings that have been held so far, one in the presence of the state labour minister and the other in the labour director's office, the industry has said that it is unable “to budge on the issue and the workers are requested to wait for the next agreement which falls due in May 2011,” a source in the apex industry association told The Hindu.