GUWAHATI: Citing a news report published in The Sentinel stating that ‘over 400 tea gardens yet to clear PF, gratuity dues’, BJP MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi said that tea garden managements should pay PF and gratuity dues of their labourers in time.
Kurmi said, “The tea garden owners have a peaceful atmosphere in the state now. There was a time in Assam when tea garden owners were abducted. The State Government has also taken various welfare measures for the tea labourers. The government has also paid the PF dues of the labourers of the ATC (Assam Tea Corporation) gardens. Even tea garden workers have started to get land allotments under Mission Basundhara. The garden management should clear the PF and gratuity dues of their labourers.”
Responding to the issue, Labour and Tea Welfare Minister Sanjay Kishan said, “Paying workers’ PF and gratuity dues is a continuous process. After receiving claims from tea gardens, their dues are cleared within 15–30 days. The State has around ten lakh tea workers. The gardens send on average 300 claims for the release of PF daily. And the authorities clear the claims within 15–30 days and deposit the money in the individual accounts of the workers. Four hundred gardens had 1,846 PF claims. The authorities cleared the claims by March 31, 2023.”
Regarding gratuity, Kishan said, “In 2017, the State Government enacted ‘the Assam Gratuity Act’. There were many pending gratuity claims while implementing that Act. With the initiative of the present government, 36,605 labourers and employees who retired before 2017 got their gratuity dues cleared. 58,140 other labourers and employees retiring after 2017 also got their gratuity amounts under the Act. At present, we have 23,822 gratuity claims pending, including 3,040 claims for ATC garden labourers.”
He further said, “The government is taking action against PF defaulting gardens. We have issued a directive to file cases against 246 defaulting gardens. We got Rs 62 crore of the Rs 81 crore in pending PF dues from the defaulting gardens. Four PF defaulting gardens have already been auctioned for the payment of PF and gratuity dues of the labourers.”