GUWAHATI: The State Government decided to form a Cabinet committee to settle the issue of tea workers' minimum wage.
The tea community leaders and ACMS (Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha) representatives met Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on wage structure and other issues. The meeting decided to constitute the Cabinet committee.
The Chief Minister said, "As the welfare of tea garden workers is our priority, we will constitute a Cabinet committee within 15 days to dwell upon the issue of minimum wage."
The Chief Minister further assured the tea leaders that the government would decide the minimum wage of the workers of organized tea gardens within three months, besides fixing the minimum wage of small tea gardens.
In February 2021, the State Government hiked the minimum wage of tea workers by an interim amount of Rs 50. That prompted the tea companies to move to the High Court, challenging the hike. In May 2021, the government withdrew the notification of the interim hike of Rs 50. It issued another notification hiking of Rs 38 'till the High Court settles the issue'.
Talking to The Sentinel, ACMS leader Pabon Singh Ghatowar said, "We reminded the government of BJP's pre-poll promise to hike tea workers' daily wage up to Rs 350. We want an end to the issue of minimum wage. The small tea growers produce around 51 per cent of the total tea produced in the state. They have engaged around six lakh workers. However, they have no specific rates of wage. Their wages depend on the management, differing from garden to garden. Unlike the workers of organized tea gardens, the workers of small tea gardens get no other facilities. The Chief Minister accepted my viewpoints on small tea growers."
Ghatowar further said, "We have raised another issue – providing land rights to the tea workers who have been occupying tea gardens' land or government's land for years. The Cabinet committee should consider this issue and decide."