GUWAHATI: With the Durga Puja knocking on the door, the State Government has asked the tea estates to declare the quantum/percentage of bonus and ex gratia, if any, by September 5, 2022. The government has also asked the tea estates to pay a bonus by September 20.
The government has made it clear that in case of any deviation, the provisions of the law will view it seriously. Labour Welfare Department has sent letters to all the tea associations and given copies of the letters to all the deputy commissioners.
The Durga Puja is from October 1. Bonus makes an issue for tea estate labourers as the workers keep waiting for it during the festive season.
In a letter to ABITA, Tea Association of India, ATPA, BCP, NETA, SVB, Indian Tea Association and the Tea Association, Dr B Kalyan Chakravarthy, Principal Secretary to the Labour Welfare Department, said, "It is needless to emphasize that the payment of bonus makes a serious impact on the industrial relations between employer and employees. It is more vital in the plantation sector. Although the statutory bonus is payable to the plantation workers within a period of 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.
"As the Durga Puja is approaching in the first week of October 2022, the tea garden managements should finalize their annual balance sheets and work out the quantum of bonus as per provision of law, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, as amended in 2015, well ahead of the Puja. Process of declaring the quantum percentage of bonus and ex gratia (if any) should be completed within 5 September 2022 with intimation to all concerned."
The letter further said that in case of any exigency, the gardens concerned should take the local Labour Department officials and the district and sub-divisional civil and police administration into confidence to extend all the possible help and cooperation in resolving issues promptly and suitably. The letter further said that the gardens should complete the bonus payment by September 20, 2022. "Where the bonus/ ex-gratia fall short of the maximum ceiling, and if there is the likelihood of creating trouble, bilateral of tripartite negotiated settlement should be tried suitably depending on the individual issues of garden/ locality," the letter said.
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