Tea companies making profit, can easily pay Rs 177 minimum wage, says AASAA

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, Sept 24: Citing profits made by the tea companies and the hefty pay packages of its senior executives and magers, the All Adivasi Students' Association of Assam (AASAA) today said tea companies can easily pay Rs 177 as minimum wages to workers.

Welcoming the draft notification of the Minimum Wages Advisory Board increasing the daily wages of workers from Rs 94 to Rs 177, the AASAA contended that the tea industry of Assam is one of the most profitable in the country, with its turnover expected to be Rs 16,000 crore in 2015.

"On an average, Assam tea sells at a higher price in auctions than the tea produced in West Bengal, and nearly double than that of Kerala. Labour productivity is also higher in Assam than in other states. Yet the workers here get Rs 115 as daily wage, as against Rs 254 in Kerala and Rs 191 in Tamil du," AASAA secretary Joseph Minj said.

"Despite drought related challenges, Assam's tea industry is nonetheless extremely profitable. Amalgamated Plantations limited, which operated 21 tea estates in Assam, reported profits of Rs 50 crore in 2013-14. Similarly, Assam Company posted a profit of Rs 46,546,886 during the same year," he said. The AASAA also cited the hefty packages paid to tea executives and magers, which are 1,000 times the daily wages of workers.

Pitching for a "living wage of Rs 330", the organization also said that the paid annual leave is statutory and should not be included in the calculation of minimum wages.

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