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Minimum wages of tea labourers: KMSS, CSMSS and GMS activists stage protest

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  6 May 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Jorhat police resort to force to disperse activists, one injured

From a Correspondent

JORHAT, May 5: Activists of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), Cha Sramik Mukti Sangram Samiti (CSMSS) and Ga Mukti Sangram (GMS) staged a four- hour protest in front of the office of the Secretary Zone – 2 ABITA (Assam Branch Indian Tea Association) situated at Cinmora in Jorhat on Tuesday. What was perhaps a peaceful protest in the early hours later turn violent when the police, due to imposition of 144 CrPC, resorted to applying minimum force to resist the activists from trying to take out a procession from the ABITA office up to the Deputy Commissioner’s Office in Jorhat town to submit a memorandum to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi demanding immediate payment of Rs 169 as minimum wages to the tea garden workers. In the ensuing scuffle, one women identified as Mamoni Bhuyan sustained minor injuries and was rushed to the hospital while more than 300 activists were arrested U/S 151 IPC and later released on bail.

The memorandum stated that the tea garden workers were hardworking and skilled workers who had been exploited by being given Rs 94 wages per day. Even after the Chief Minister’s approval, tea agencies like Assam Cha Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) and Consultative Committee for Planters Association (CCPA) entered into a contract and kept silent on the issue of implementation of Rs 169 as minimum wages. The contract as such being illegal has never been accepted by the tea garden workers and because of this the workers are forced to resort to democratic protest.

The memorandum further stated, “Though the ACMS was first thought to be sympathetic towards the cause of the tea garden workers but later it turned out to have sided with the owners of the big tea houses and compromised the rights of the already downtrodden garden workers. And even after so many democratic protests by garden workers for their rights, ACMS and CCPA are in the process to implement their own set of rules, thus hiking minimum wages by rs 15 only and with a promise of other hikes in a yearly slab.”

Talking to The Sentinel, working president of CSMSS Sanjay Tanti said, “It is for this reason that we request the Tarun Gogoi-led Government to take immediate steps to implement the payment of Rs 169 as wages under the Minimum Wages Act of 1948 along with an off on Sundays. Through the memorandum we have warned that anyone found involved in hatching a conspiracy to deny the garden workers of their rightful share will be dealt severely and in view of today’s police action committed during a peaceful democratic protest, indirectly shows the repressive policies of the government which fails to bring the owners and touts of big tea houses to book but commits atrocities on the weak and the poor. From tomorrow every tea garden will observe strike and protest until our demands are fulfilled and in the wake of any violent protest it will be the government which will be responsible and Paban Singh Ghatowar, president of the Cha Mazdoor Sangha and CCPA.”

Today’s arrested leaders include Dipak Tanti, Pu Urang and Mukesh Jal of the Golaghat District Committee of CSMSS, Sukhram Tumuria, Bhaskardi Saikia and Shyam Luchan Gohain of the Sibsagar unit of the KMSS, Bedanta Laskar Convener of GMS, Assam and Sanjoy Krish Tanti and Muktith Gowala, general secretary of CSMSS.

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