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‘Revise wages of tea workers or face protests’

 A Correspondent
TANGLA, May 1: Along with the rest of the world, International Labour Day was also observed with a day-long programme at Panery TE of Udalguri on Tuesday. The programme was organized by Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) Mangaldai Branch. The open session, presided over by president of Mangaldai branch of ACMS, Ismail Hial, was graced by Rajya Sabha MP and organizing secretary of ACMS, Santiuse Kujur as chief guest. Speaking on the occasion, the student leader turned politician said, “The ACMS ever since its inception way back in 1958 has been taking revolutionary steps and working for the cause of the tea garden labourers.” Kujur, while extending his good wishes to the august gathering of representatives of ACMS from 18 tea gardens and labourers from various tea gardens of Udalguri, lambasted the present State and Central governments for adopting anti-people policies detrimental to the cause of the labour community. He stated that under the Plantation Labour Act, 1951, the wages of plantation workers include cash besides ration, healthcare and education services. The tea garden labourers have been receiving ration at subsidized rates for decades now but last year, a conspiracy was hatched to do away with the system, and it was only because of the pro-active interference of ACMS that the move was not implemented.
 He further stated that the wage of tea garden workers was revised every three years and the wage should have been revised by January, 2018 but due to the lackadaisical attitude of the State government, the workers were deprived of due wages. Kujur also said that the cashless system of payment of wages was not practical in tea gardens and would make matters worse for the workers as they were mostly illiterate. “We cannot do away with British-era system of cash and kind wages for the plantation workers. If the government of the State doesn’t revise the wages of tea workers at the earliest, ACMS will launch protests and factory lock-out programme across the State,” Kujur added. He also lambasted the State Government for turning deaf ears to the apathy of 119 single teacher lower primary schools in State.

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Ankur Kalita