GUWAHATI: The State Government has asked the tea management organizations to pay bonuses to garden workers by October 1, 2021. The government has also written to the deputy commissioners to "impress upon tea managements to pay the bonus to their workers by October 1".
On behalf of the State Government, its Labour Welfare Department told the tea management organizations, "The payment of bonus has a serious implication on the relations between employer and employees in the Industrial scenario of Assam, and is more so, in the plantation sector. Although the statutory bonus is payable to the Plantation Workers within eight months from the date of closing of the financial year, in our State, there is a customary practice of payment of bonus before the Durga Puja festival.
"We, therefore, request the Tea Garden managements to finalize their annual balance sheets and work out the quantum of bonus as per provision of law, i.e. the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, as amended in 2015, well ahead of the Puja.
"In any exigency, the local Labour Department officials and the district and dub-divisional civil & police administrations may be taken into confidence to extend all the possible help and cooperation in resolving the issues promptly and suitably. "The bonus should be paid by October 1, 2021. Where the bonus/ ex-gratia falls short of the maximum ceiling, and if there is the likelihood of troubles, bilateral or tripartite negotiated settlement should be tried suitably, depending on the individual issues of garden/ locality. Some of the gardens have already started paying bonuses."
Meanwhile, sources in tea management organizations said that most of the tea gardens agreed to pay a 20 per cent bonus – some in one instalment and others in two instalments. So far, there is no report of any disputes in tea gardens regarding bonuses.
When asked, Jorhat DC Ashok Barman said, "Most of the tea gardens in the Jorhat district have agreed to pay 20 per cent bonus to their workers."
The Durga Puja will start in the second week of October.