Assam tea union rejects tea cos offer to up daily wages by 26 rupees

Informist, Wednesday, Mar 24, 2021


By Avishek Rakshit


KOLKATA – Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha, the largest union of tea workers in the state, has declined the proposal by various tea companies to raise daily wages by 26 rupees and has decided to continue with their demand for an increase of 50 rupees.


"We will serve the tea gardens a notice of our decision rejecting their offer to hike daily wages by 26 rupees tomorrow (Thursday) and based on the decision of the tea companies and their association, the next course of action will be taken," said Paban Singh Ghatowar, the president of Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha.


Informist has reviewed a copy of the letter.


The union has been pressing for a hike in interim daily wages by 50 rupees to 217 rupees a day and then implement Minimum Daily Wage of 351 rupees a day.


Tea workers are paid 380 rupees a day in Kerala, and 340 rupees in Karnataka. In West Bengal, wages are at 176 rupees a day and in Assam, at 167 rupees.


Wages to tea workers in Assam and West Bengal are paid in cash and in kind which includes housing, medical facilities, education and other benefits. Total wages in Assam, including all these components, stand at 318 rupees per day.


The trade union, which has 1.2 mln workers under its fold, will submit its decision and observations as a respondent to the Gauhati High Court, which is hearing cases on wage hike. 


Ghatowar said that the tea companies unilaterally decided to hike wages by 26 rupees a day without discussing with the union and the government. Usually, wages are decided following a tri-partite meeting between tea companies, the union, and the government.


The Assam government had decided to hike wages by 50 rupees till a decision to implement Minimum Daily Wages for tea workers is taken. However, the Indian Tea Association and another 17 tea plantation companies moved the Gauhati High Court seeking to quash the government order. 


The court, in effect, stalled the wage hike by 50 rupees proposed by the government and asked tea companies to decide on any wage hike till the matter is disposed of. The case is still being argued.


Tea plantation officials said the 50-rupee hike would add to the financial stress of the tea companies.


Ghatowar said that tea companies can argue their case before the Chief Labour Commissioner, but the union will not settle for any interim agreement below 50 rupees a day.  End


Edited by Akul Nishant Akhoury



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