Tea workers in Assam get much less wages to lead a decent living: IIT Bombay & Oxfam India

Tea workers in Assam get much less wages to lead a decent living: IIT Bombay & Oxfam India

The tea-plantation workers in Assam receive wages far below than ‘living wage’ fixed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to lead a decent living.

ASSAM TEA INDUSTRY

STAFF REPORTER

GUWAHATI: The tea-plantation workers in Assam receive wages far below than 'living wage' fixed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to lead a decent living.

A study by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and Oxfam India — a confederation of 20 independent charitable organizations headquartered in Kenya's capital Nairobi — has said that the tea-plantation workers in Assam get less than a fourth of a proposed 'living wage' of Rs 884. The study considers 'living wage' with relation to the ILO's concept of 'decent work' and 'quality of life'. It said the living wage for a worker should be Rs 884 per day for a decent living in the tea-plantation sector.

The study has observed that the tea labourers in Assam did not get the entire amount of Rs 205 (enhanced from Rs 167 when the study was conducted) as daily wage, which was the lowest with respect to the daily wages of Rs 403, Rs 349 and Rs 333 in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The study is based on a primary survey carried out across Biswanath, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Lakhimpur, Tezpur, Golaghat and Sivasagar districts between October and December 2020.

"The study is the voice of 5,000 tea workers and we believe the findings will make stakeholders in the tea sector work for their welfare. The study finds a stark gap between the current wages that tea workers receive vis a vis the living wages," said Oxfam India's Chief Executive Officer, Amitabh Behar in a statement.

"We appeal to the government and tea industry to consider an upward revision of the wages to improve the lives of the tea workers," added Behal.

According to the study, a 'living wage' should enable meaningful participation in the society which includes supporting a family, recreation, and saving against future risks.

"The compensation for workers, for a dignified life, should include Rs 285 per day as expenditure on food items (considering four members in a family) and Rs 599 per day as expenditure on non-food items, both essential and non-essential utilities," estimated the study. It has also found that before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, only 7% women workers reported access to maternity leave and a mere 2% were able to access the facility for children's education offered by their employers.

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