Silchar, June 30: Asom Mojuri Shramik Union (AMSU) affiliated to New Trade Union Initiative, New Delhi, held a demonstration before the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar on various grievances of the tea workers on Wednesday. It was followed by the submission of a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner addressed to Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal who visited Barak Valley today. The memorandum referred to the meeting called at the behest of Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of Commerce, at Guwahati last year to discuss the deprivation of tea workers of their legitimate right of minimum wage.
AMSU along with other tea workers unions were present at the meeting where the Union Commerce Minister opined that the workers deserved minimum wage. It was also pointed out that tea workers were included in the minimum wage schedule published by the then state government in 2013. Sadly, it was never implemented. Significant to mention that the minimum daily wage for tea workers of Assam was fixed at Rs.177.19 vide notification number GLR (RC) 178 / 2014 / 179 dated July 29, 2015 issued by the Government of Assam.
After deductions of wages being paid by the employers in other forms, the minimum wage in cash comes to Rs.143.50 as calculation shown in the said notification. The time of two months given for lodging any objection or suggestion has long ago elapsed. However, due consultation has been made thereafter on the wage board. Though the Union has been demanding the tionwide parity of wages for the workers in the same industry and Rs.350 as the minimum wage for tea workers, it has agreed to the minimum wage of Rs.177.19 as notified. But, the tea garden magements are bent on violating the government notification and resorting to all possible means to avoid the wage hike to Rs.177.19.
AMSU has sent the missive through the memorandum to the government not to play the delaying tactics and take appropriate measures to implement the minimum wage. Besides, it has also to take firm stand against tea garden magements for flouting the government notification. It has also been highlighted how the statutory rights under the Plantation Labour Act are violated due to lack of any monitoring by the state or its implementing agencies.
The observation of the former labour commissioner A K Malakar has raised many an eyebrow when he said inspection in the tea estates is done at the consent of the magement. The department concerned is not in a position to provide conveyance which takes the magement to advantageous position. The magement escapes prosecution even for grave violations. Pel provision of Rs.500 is ludicrous, the Union pointed out. The PLA has to be enough legal tooth for implementation and violation to be strictly dealt with. The memorandum was signed by the secretary and members of AMSU.