GUWAHATI/DIBRUGARH: Most of the Tea Estate managements have agreed to pay 20 per cent bonus to their workers.
According to the 'Payment of Bonus Act' (as amended in 2015), while the minimum bonus is 8.33% of the labourers' yearly earnings, the maximum is 20%.
Talking to The Sentinel, ACMS (Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha) general secretary Roopesh Gowala said, "As many as 90 per cent of the gardens have agreed to pay 20 per cent bonus; and they have signed agreements with us. Some other tea companies are going to sign soon. A few other tea estates wanted to pay the bonus in two instalments. We've agreed to that. Keeping the COVID protocol in view, a few tea companies have signed the agreements via virtual conferencing.
The bipartite discussion relating to the signing of bonus agreement held at the ACMS central office in Dibrugarh was attended by ACMS president Paban Singh Ghatowar, general secretary Roopesh Gowala, presidents and secretaries of ACMS branch offices, senior officials of tea companies and representatives of ABITA, Zone -1."
The multinational companies that have agreed to pay 20 per cent bonus, according to Gowala, are Macloid Russels (having 31 Tea Estates), M. K. Jokai Agri Plantation Pvt. Limited, (six Tea Estates), M.K. Shah Export Limited (nine Tea Estates), Gillanders and Arbuthnot & Co. Limited (eight Tea Estates), Jorhat Tea Tea Company (four Tea Estates), Assam Company India Limited (14 Tea Estates), A.P.P.L (TATA, 21 Tea Estates), Andrew Yule Tea Estate (nine Tea Estates), Dhunseri Tea Industries (12 Tea Estates), Joketoli Tea Company (4 Tea Estates), APJ Surendra Corporate/AFT (18 Tea Estates) Warren Tea Limited (7 Tea Estates), Russels Industries Limited (5 Tea Estates), Goodrick Group/Amguri India Limited (8 Tea Estates), Stuart Holl Co. Limited (four Tea Estates), Grove Tea Companies (two Tea Estates) and Proprietorship Tea Estates – Jalan Industry Limited, Dihingiapara, Salmara, Sri Krishna, Bojaloni, Dhola, Mankhowa, Langkhachi, Anand Chah Bagicha, Chinatolia, Dhelakhat etc.
A few companies like the Jalan Industries Pvt. Limited, Assam Company India Limited, McLoed Russels India Limited, Andrew Yule Company Pvt. Limited A.P.J companies and some others have agreed to make payment of bonus in two phases.
Meanwhile, a number of Tea Estates have already started paying the 20 per cent bonus, Gowala said, and added, "We hope the ATC (Assam Tea Corporation Ltd) gardens will also pay the 20 per cent bonus."
The ATC gardens are under the Industries and Commerce Department, Assam.
The management of Hollonghabi TE at Tingrai has already started the process. On September 28, it paid 13% bonus; and will pay the remaining portion of the agreed 20% bonus. This is the first TE to pay bonus in Tinsukia district.
Earlier, the Assam government had directed all the DCs (Deputy Commissioners) of the State to ensure that the tea garden managements complete bonus payment to their labourers by October 12, 2020 – i.e., before this year's Durga Puja. The directive was also issued to the managements of various tea management associations.
Assam has approximately 850 tea estates.