TANGLA: The All Adivasi Students' Association of Assam (AASAA) has vehemently denounced the State cabinet's decision to hike the working hours in tea gardens from 8 to 12 hour per day terming it as 'inhumane', 'autocratic', 'arbitrary' and 'pro-management'.
President of AASAA, Pradeep Nag, while addressing a press conference at Tangla Press Club in Tangla town of Udalguri district on Thursday, said, "The draconian change in working hours by the government is arbitrarily. It not only undermines the fundamental principles and rights at work but reverses the decent work gains made through decades of trade union and student bodies' struggle and undermines the basic dignity of human life."
Nag added, "Such draconian decisions are against the internationally established human rights and international labour standards. The State Government must immediately act and withdraw its decision or be ready to face the music of the Adivasis through protests." Nag further reiterated, "We had high hopes from Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal that he will understand the apathy of the common masses, including Adivasis, as he was a former student but such hopes and aspirations have been shattered."
Nag said that the stakeholders of the Adivasi society, the trade unions, social organizations and student bodies were never taken into confidence while formulating such a decision which was not only detrimental to the cause of the society but purely an autocratic and arbitrary decision. "If not rolled back, we are prepared to carry out massive protest and seek legal recourse simultaneously as we cannot let our community perish," he added. He further said that 12 hours of work amount to physical and mental torture and it was done with the motive of pushing the upcoming generation to the verge of extinction. "Adivasis are unified and thus accorded red carpet to the saffron party but if the decision is not withdrawn immediately, we avouch to oust them in the forthcoming 2021 Assembly polls," he said.
Pertinently, the Assam cabinet on May 8 followed other BJP-ruled States in approving labour reforms to boost the economy at a time when economic activities have come to a grinding halt due to the lockdown. The measures in the labour reforms include introduction of fixed-term employment and increase in shift duty of tea garden workers from 8 to 12 hours.