TINSUKIA: The Apeejay Tea Group claiming to be India's oldest and 3rd largest tea producer with 17 tea estates in Assam including 7 in Tinsukia and 1 in Dibrugarh district drew flak from Assam Chah Karmachari Sangha (ACKS) after the company failed to pay full salary to its employees for the month of December allegedly due to acute shortage of funds following which the employees of 7 tea gardens in Tinsukia district namely Talap, Khobong, Budlabeta, Pengaree, Hukanguri, Hilika and Hapjan and Kharjan TE in Dibrugarh district resorted to 'Pen-Down-Strike' prior to Bihu even as ACKS demanded to release the salary before January 10.
The Manager-In-charge Frontier II Hapjan TE in a letter to ACKS general secretary Rishav Kalita on January 16 proposed to pay 50 per cent of salary immediately with balance in January while requesting the employees to withdraw the strike. Though the strike was called off temporarily, the ACKS contended that the management never intimated regarding late payment of wages and responded only after employees resorted to strike. Terming the proposal of company unacceptable and unlawful as there is no provision of part payment of monthly salary, Kalita wondered as company cited an acute shortage of funds referring only to staff category and requested the management to disburse full wages before or on the same day of the upcoming fortnight.
The Apeejay Tea after shifting the registered office from Talap to Kolkata had been functioning without any decision making higher-up at local level. The salary fiasco is not new for the company as it created fuss during the COVID pandemic lockdown also. The tea group also allegedly defaulted in payment of PF and gratuity to its employees that amounted to several crores, according to a source. The source also informed that the company is allegedly contemplating to sell off its gardens and establishments in a phased manner.
Also Read: Apeejay Tea depriving workers of basic necessities: ATTSA