Defaulting TEs will be penalized
GUWAHATI: The State Government will prosecute the tea estates that have failed to pay the interim relief of Rs 30 daily to tea workers. The government had recently announced the interim relief with effect from March 1, 2018. This was declared by Labour Employment and Tea Welfare Minister Pallab Lochan Das while replying to an issue raised by Rajdeep Goala (Congress) in the Assembly on Wednesday.
Goala said that “not a single TE in the Barak valley has paid the interim relief”. Alleging that “the Labour department has also not taken any initiative in this regard”, Goala pointed out that “as result tea labourers have been deprived of Rs 1000 crore across Assam”. He further demanded that “the tea wages should be equal in both the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys”.
Giving his reply, Minister Pallab Lochan Das mentioned that “the government was never a party to the decisions taken on tea labourers’ wages. It was decided mutually between the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha and the tea management.” As a consequence thereof, “the tea labourers were exploited”, he claimed, adding: “It was only in December 2017 that the State government decided to step in. Following several rounds of meetings that however failed to come to a decision on wages, the state government finally instructed the tea management to pay the interim relief at the rate of Rs 30 daily till the final wages are not fixed.” Referring to the interim relief, Minister Das said: “The defaulting TE managements will be prosecuted against.
According to the government assessment, the wage should be Rs 351 daily inclusive of cash and kind”, stated Das. However, “despite several rounds of parleys between the government and the tea management and the tea labour unions, nothing concrete has come up with respect to the final wages of the tea workers”, he rued.
Pointing to the disparity in wages in the Brahmaputra and the Barak valleys, Das said: “Even the government wants that the wages should be the same in both the valleys. However, owing to various factors this has not been possible. Still the government is working out the modalities on this issue.”