Dispur pushing for ‘semi-skilled’ category for workers as a precursor to hiking daily wages
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, June 11: Amid the ongoing fracas between the tea industry, workers and the government over minimum wages, Dispur has proposed to upgrade the status of tea labouers from unskilled to semi-skilled workers.
Industry sources said the government has sought objections, if any, from the stakeholders, including the tea companies, before issuing the notification in this regard.
Once the tea workers are upgraded to semi-skilled workers, it will spur the government’s efforts to propel the tea industry to hike the wages of workers.
It is learnt that the State government wants to hike the daily wages of tea workers to Rs 177, inclusive of a cash component of Rs 130.
Several rounds of meeting have been held by the government-constituted Minimum Wages Board, but no consensus has been arrived as yet.
The tea industry and the Assam government have been on a collision course on the issue of minimum wages, with the latter making its intentions clear that it is not keen to ratify the wages agreed upon earlier between the industry representatives and the workers’ union.
The Consultative Committee of Planters Association (CCPA) and Assam Chah Majdoor Sangha (ACMS) had on February 26 inked a bilateral agreement, effecting a hike in the wages of daily laboures in tea gardens. According to the three-year agreement, the wages with effect from January 1 this year will be Rs 115. It will be raised to Rs 126 with effect from January 1 next year and then to Rs 137 in the third year.
Official sources said the State government this time is unlikely to ratify the CCPA-ACMS agreement as it had been “traditiolly” doing in the past.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had in January asked the Labour department to ensure compliance of the minimum wage of Rs 169 in all industries, including the tea industry.
The tea workers were entitled for a daily wage of Rs 94 as per the previous agreement.
The All Assam Tea Tribes Students Union has also expressed dissent and has demanded further enhancement of the wages.
Assam has 10,50,000 registered tea workers, while around 2.5 lakh are unregistered.