From a Correspondent
Doomdooma, Sept 18: Tension is brewing over non-acceptance of instalment bonus payment by the tea labourers this time that is paid to them every year before Durga Puja. Significantly, a section of tea workers have started revolting against Asam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS), which is said to be undisputed representative of majority of the tea workers, on the ground that ACMS did not take them into confidence while entering into an agreement with the magement of different tea companies for accepting bonus payment in two instalments.
On Saturday, about 10,000 workers of Beesakopie, Fatikjan, Daimukhia, Samdang, Raidang, Panikhowa, Hansara and Mesaijan Tea Estates belonging to Macloid Russell India Ltd. refused to accept the first instalment of their bonus at the rate of 12 per cent after completion of their morning shift of work around 11 am and came out in large numbers to gherao the ACMS office at Nehru Road, Doomdooma. When none of the office bearers came out for a discussion even after expiry of four hours, they resorted to road blockade at Uchamati area of the town in the same manner as they did on September 11. On that day, members of Bharatiya Chah Mazdoor Sangha (BCMS) from Beesakopie and Fatikjan TEs of the tea company, besides resorting to road blockade on NH-37 near Doomdooma River bridge, sought the intervention of Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal in the matter through a memorandum submitted to him through the Circle Officer, Doomdooma Revenue Circle.
On the following day, the tea workers of Lai and Samuguri TEs belonging to Apeejay Tea Ltd. gheraoed the mager’s office of Khobong TE. On September 14, the disgruntled tea workers of Hokonguri and Hilika Tea Estates of the same Apeejay Group adopted a two- point strategy of gheraoing the house of Dileswar Tanti, former State Labour Ministerand present ACMS secretary on one hand at Amtoli, Barhapjan and sit-in on NH 37 near his house. The tea workers were convinced to some extent on assurance of discussion given to them by the magement of the tea companies. But they became restive to see the role of ACMS in the hour of need.
When this correspondent visited the ACMS office at Doomdooma on Saturday, one of the workers med Tirtha Tanti expressed his grievances by saying that the government had opened zero balance bank accounts in their mes. “Why don’t the magement deposit our bonus amount directly into our bank accounts in single instalment?” he said. In 2003, five tea workers died in police firing in Khobong Tea Estate of Apeejay Tea Group due to clashes with the magement arising out of volatile bonus issue.