Bengal Tea Workers Forced To Accept Interim Wage Hike

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Siliguri: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s trade union has decided to accept an interim hike of Rs 17.50 in the worker’s daily wage but gardens would be allowed to dispatch their first flush as and when they clear the bonus dues.

The West Bengal government announced the interim hike to increase the remuneration of tea workers’ from Rs 132.50 to Rs 150 with effect from January 1, 2018.

A joint forum comprising Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Indian National Trade Union Congress, All India Trade Union Congress, Trade Union Coordination Centre, United Trade Union Congress and All India Central Council of Trade Unions has threatened to intensify the protests unless wage agreement is finalised at the earliest.

The state government has fixed a meeting in Calcutta on March 12 to discuss the minimum wage for tea garden workers. The hill gardens had agreed to pay bonus at the rate of 19.75 per cent of a worker’s annual earning but most gardens have cleared only 50 per cent of the bonus citing the three-month strife in the hills.

During a meeting in Siliguri, the state government has directed the hill tea garden management to provide an interim hike of Rs 17.50 from 1 April 2018 onwards and clear the bonus dues by March 10.

Usually, a wage agreement for tea workers is executed for a three-year period and the last agreement had expired on March 31, 2017.
The Morcha and the GNLF had earlier threatened to stop the dispatch of first flush tea from March 1 if the bonus was not cleared.

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