Next Story
Kolkata

Question mark over raise in wages of tea garden workers

At least seven rounds of tripartite talks between the labour unions, the management of tea gardens and the State government have to be proved inconclusive.

At least seven rounds of tripartite talks between the labour unions, the management of tea gardens and the State government have to be proved inconclusive.   | Photo Credit: K_K_Mustafah

more-in

The three-year agreement for which the wages ( Rs 95 in Terai and Dooars and Rs 90 in Darjeeling hills) were applicable had expired in March 2014.

Despite reports of deaths due to malnutrition and diseases in the closed and abandoned of tea gardens of West Bengal, lakhs of workers in nearly 300 tea gardens of Darjeeling hills and Terai and Dooars face uncertainty over the increase in the dismally low wages which at present stands at Rs 95 a day.

The three-year agreement for which the wages ( Rs 95 in Terai and Dooars and Rs 90 in Darjeeling hills) were applicable had expired in March 2014. Since February 2014, at least seven rounds of tripartite talks between the labour unions, the management of tea gardens and the State government have to be proved inconclusive.

“A fresh agreement for 2014- 2017 should therefore have been place six months ago. Despite this, no fresh agreement has been reached so far. Nor is the State taking any initiative to call for a fresh tripartite meeting, when the last one was over two months ago on 7th and 8th of August 2014,” a statement issued by United Tea Workers Front (UTWF) said.

The representatives of the UTWF, a conglomeration of several unions working in tea gardens of north Bengal met the State’s Labour Minister Moloy Ghatak only a few days ago demanding an increase in the wages.

Representatives of UTWF told The Hindu that Mr. Ghatak had assured them that the State Government will set up a committee for declaration of minimum wages in the first week of November.

However, on being contacted the Minister’s office said that Mr Ghatak had not given any such assurance and “ nothing has been decided” at present on the setting up of the committee to increase the minimum wages in tea gardens.

Debjit Dutta, the spokesperson of UTWF said that even if the committee was set up it would have taken another three months to submit its recommendations to the government.

“In the present situation the workers will have to continue with the wages of Rs 95 or Rs 90 for another few months,” Mr Dutta said.

Along with the cash incentives, the owners of the tea gardens claim that they provide other facilities to workers in kind, which according to them amounts to Rs 66.

However, if both the cash and non cash component of worker’s wages in the organised tea sector is put together their earning is less than the Rs 169 paid to the workers under MNREGA.

While the unions are demanding a higher wages, the State government has been trying to settle to the cash component at Rs 135 that too phased over a period of three years.

The deaths of ailing and malnourished workers in closed and abandoned tea gardens only a few months ago has been reported in different sections of media. The National Human Rights Commission had sought a report from the State government about the deaths.

The State government had, however, has denied reports of any such deaths due to “starvation” in the tea gardens.

More In Kolkata
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 17, 2018 11:30:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/question-mark-over-raise-in-wages-of-tea-garden-workers/article6506008.ece