BUSINESS

Centre plans to revise tea garden wages

Weeds grow amongst the tea shrubs at the closed Bundapani Tea Garden in Alipurduar district, some 145 kms from Siliguri.— photo: AFP

Weeds grow amongst the tea shrubs at the closed Bundapani Tea Garden in Alipurduar district, some 145 kms from Siliguri.— photo: AFP  

Union Minister of Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman has proposed a revised minimum wage for tea garden workers in West Bengal as the government and the State reached an agreement to reopen the gardens, a trade union official said.

A majority of the workers accepted the government’s offer for a minimum wage of about Rs. 250.

“The proposal made in the meeting was that along with Rs. 122.50 a fringe benefit of Rs.109 will be added and the minimum wages will be fixed near Rs. 250,” a senior political leader present at the meeting told The Hindu on Tuesday.

The State and the Union government will take steps to reopen tea gardens of the region and ensure that non–functional or abandoned tea gardens function properly.

“Everything concerning the tea gardens was discussed at the meeting. Both the government agreed that the situation needs their intervention and is necessary to open the tea gardens ,” Zia- Ul-Alam, Convenor of Joint Forum of Trade Unions, an umbrella organisation of 24 trade unions working in tea sector told The Hindu.

Ms. Sitharaman held a meeting with West Bengal’s Education Minister Partha Chatterjee and the representatives of different tea garden unions at Siliguri in Darjeeling district. She visited Danguajhar tea garden (run by Goodricke group) in the State’s Jalpaiguri district.

She also met G. P. Goenka, the chairperson of Duncans Group, which owns majority of the abandoned tea gardens of the northern region of the state. “The Union minister categorically said that the provision of minimum wages should be categorically implemented in the tea gardens,” Kiran Kalindi, President of Progressive Plantation Tea Workers Union said.

Amendments to certain Acts in tea plantations which has been raised by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi also came up for discussion during the meeting

There are about a dozen closed tea gardens in the region and about 22 of the gardens are either abandoned or non functional.



The State and the Union government will take steps to reopen tea gardens in West Bengal



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