Special Correspondent

Udhagamandalam: The Chairman, Nilgiri Planters Association (NPA), K.T. Harsha in a press note issued at Coonoor on Tuesday stated that the association members will pay wages only as per the industry-wide wage settlement reached on March 6.

Adverting to the draft notification issued recently by the State Government under the Minimum Wage Act fixing Rs. 101.52 for the plantation workers, he pointed out that the notification has come close on the heels of the bilateral negotiated labour wage settlement between the NPA and the Nilgiri Plantation Trade Unions.

Pointing out that for the last eight years the industry has been passing through a severe financial crisis with most of the tea units realising prices which were far below the cost of production, he said that the scenario in Kerala, Assam and West Bengal, where a large number of estates were closing down, provides an indication of how deep the crisis is.

The additional burden would lead to sickness in many of the plantations in Tamil Nadu. In the past, the necessity for the government to fix minimum wages had come about only in the small grower sector. Settlement of wages through bilateral negotiations between managements and the well-organised trade unions was a long-standing tradition in the plantation sector.

In any case, the wages proposed by the government are only proposals and are not payable or enforceable.

Under the Act, two months time is given for the affected and interested parties to make representations. The industry will make its representation soon.