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Bhuban Valley TE lock out leaves workers high and dry

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  21 April 2015 12:00 AM GMT

FROM OUR Special Correspondent

SILCHAR, April 20: Around 480 workers of Bhuban Valley Tea Estate, 45 km from here, are in acute distress, following its lock out by the magement. In fact, for the last 7 days of suspension of all sorts of activities inside the garden and the non payment of their weekly wages and ration, the workers have also been faced with food crisis. In other words, their life is in a disarray and the spectre of starvation is haunting them.

The workers who have been facing lock outs in the past too and the almost famine like situation in 2011 can hardly forget those grisly images. The famine then took away 11 lives. The magement seems to have not learnt any lesson. Rather, it continues to behave like the British during its colonial rule. What has come as a shock and surprise among the tea workers and their unions is that a field mager, taking umbrage at the trivial wordy duel with female labourers could go to the extreme length of declaring lock out unilaterally.

The Kolkata based owner-proprietor of the tea estate, Saradha Tea Company, has been maintaining silence. According to the information gathered from the Bhuban Valley Tea Estate, the ground for declaring lock out emated from the misconduct of the field mager, Bijoy Tiwari, towards a group of 4 female workers engaged in tea leaves plucking. Without any rhyme or reason, as the female workers alleged, Tiwari on round the inspection of the garden suddenly burst out on them and even used foul language.

Taken aback, the group of women sought explation from the field mager about his unwarranted and uncalled for misbehaviour towards them. Uble to put up with the humiliation, next day they came to the office of the field mager and asked him the reason for his misbehaviour. Finding no satisfactory answer, when they insisted on seeking his explation, the mager got up from his seat and was involved in scuffle with them. As the information of misconduct and scuffle spread, the entire labour force came and gheraoed the field mager and his staff.

The things began to heat up with the mager filing cases against the women in question and one of the workers, a permanent employee, Munia Nunia, filed counter case against him at Lakhipur police station. Mager’s case was registered as 69/15 u/s 448, 427, 423, 34 IPC while that of women as 68/15 u/s 294, 354 and 323 IPC. Realizing that the matter was becoming complex and complicated, local MLA Rajdeep Goala, SDO (Civil) T T Daulagopu, Circle Officer P K Gupta and SDPO Anjan Pandit visited the tea estate and met the workers.

Finding himself in a spot, field mager Bijoy Tiwari disappeared from the tea estate, declaring lock out. Neither the district nor the civil administration was informed. Nor was the office of the assistant labour commissioner informed. As the workers did not receive weekly ration also, they were virtually on the verge of starving. In order to provide relief to them, the local MLA Rajdeep Goala accompanied by civil SDO and representatives of Barak Cha Sramik Union held a meeting at the utch ghar of out-garden Didarkhush with the workers and distributed among them 15 quintals of rice and 10 quintals of atta.

They together appealed to the workers of the tea estate comprising its 3 divisions, Chengjoor, Didarkhush and Motigar to maintain peace and not to get agitated. They assured them of their best help and cooperation to stand by them and their resolve for an amicable solution. In the meantime, a meeting of the Barak Cha Sramik Union and Bhuban Valley Bagan Panchayat with assistant labour commissioner at Silchar is slated for April 24. The magement will be represented by its Kolkata company. It is expected that the situation of 2011 does not return to the tea estate already hit by several lock outs in the past.

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