Wages for Tea Workers
The issue of ensuring adequate daily wages for tea workers in the State is back in the headlines with the ‘Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti’ and its political arm ‘Ga Mukti Sangram Asom’s agitation entering its 5th day. It is significant that a peasants organization is taking up cudgels for tea workers, demanding minimum daily wages of Rs 169. But will the tea industry pay heed to this demand, after its recent deal with the tea workers union ‘Asom Chah Mazdoor Sangha,’ affiliated to the Congress labour union INTUC — fixing the minimum daily wage at Rs 115? Already there is an outcry in tea gardens across the State, with several other tea worker unions vociferously protesting the deal. Offices of the ‘Asom Chah Mazdoor Sangha’ have been vandalized and effigies of its leaders burnt as the agitation snowballs. Earlier, the Tarun Gogoi government too had fixed the minimum daily wages for tea workers at Rs 169, but the issue has been clouded by factoring the cost of rations for tea workers. With tea plantation owners trotting out the oft-repeated excuse of the tea industry facing a downturn due to declining global demand, tea workers continue to get a raw deal.