AMSU highlights tea workers plight
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
SILCHAR, Dec 24: Around 300 workers of Bikrampore tea estate of Borkhola, 30 km from here, are in a dilemma as the mager M Rathore has recently fled the tea estate without any intimation. Since then, the tea estate has been paralyzed with no work. In fact, the crisis is not a new phenomenon for the tea estate. It has been plagued by fund crunch in the absence of efficient magement. The tea garden magement has created a situation deliberately to stall the functioning of Bikrampore tea factory which processes the tea leaves of the main garden and its three out gardens of Aliatal, Kurkuri and raincherra.
The power supply to the factory has been disconnected as the magement has failed to pay the electricity bills. The factory has been closed down just after Durga Puja festival. Since then only plucking of the tea leaves is going on. The garden magement is trying to hoodwink the workers by making the manmade crisis as real. It should be noted here that the magement is making huge amount of profit but it never reflected in their balance sheet which has been manipulated through fraudulent pricing mechanism.
The conspiracy of the magement became clear after the estate mager left the garden. The payments of daily wages of the workers have become highly irregular for the past few weeks. The workers and their family members are solely dependent on the weekly payment of their wages. The workers and staff are now hoping against hope about the payment of their wages. These were among the points stated in a memorandum submitted to the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar by members of the district committee of Asom Mojuri Shramik Union (AMSU), affiliated to the New Trade Union Initiative, New Delhi, here today.
Dharitri Sarma, district general secretary of the Union, said though the Chief Minister of Assam has issued directive to ensure the implementation of provisions of Plantation Labour Act of 1951, but the directives are being violated by the tea garden magements. Besides, the Chief Minister had also announced that 4 kattas of land will be given to each of the worker family, but no proactive measures have been taken by the magement in this regard. The state government had allocated Rs.50,000 for repairing each of the homes of the tea garden labours, but the magement has not yet implemented the scheme.
It is to be mentioned here that the tea garden workers get a fixed wage of Rs.115 and Rs.95 in tea estates of Brahmaputra and Barak Valleys respectively which is much lower than the government-fixed minimum wage. It is in violation of the Assam tea Plantation Labour Act of 1951, which regulates the wages of tea-garden workers, their duty hours and the amenities which include housing, drinking water, education, and health service, child care facilities like crèche, accident cover and protective equipment that the magement is supposed to provide.
The state administration, through a notification on July 29, has informed that that the minimum daily wage for labours of Barak and Brahmaputra Valleys should be Rs.143.50 and Rs.177 respectively, but the agitating tea garden members of the Union said that Rs.177.19 should be paid as gross daily wage out of which Rs.143.50 should be paid in cash. The memorandum was signed by Dharitri Sarma, district general secretary of AMSU. A copy of the memorandum has been sent to the Chief Minister and assistant labour commissioner of the district.