Lock Out In Dooars’ Largest Tea Estate

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Jalpaiguri: Lock out was declared at Chuapara tea estate, the largest in West Bengal’s Dooars region, by its management on Wednesday following demands for increasing the estate’s school bus services.

The tea garden workers found the lock out notice pasted at the estate’s gates when they reached there for work in the morning. The management said in the notice that a stir in which 150 students blocked roads to the estate Tuesday and protested in its premises had vitiated the work environment and forced the management to stop work.

The manager of the tea garden, which employs around 1800 tea workers, could not be contacted for his responses. “There are over 300 students from the garden but there is no school in the vicinity. Most of the students have to walk 15 km to the nearest school at Kalchini. There is only one daily school bus service from the tea garden and the students had agitated demanding that the daily service be increased to two,” Jiaul Alam, the convenor of the Joint Forum, a conglomerate of 23 trade unions associated with tea garden workers, said.

District Magistrate Surendra Kumar Meena when contacted said that the garden management has agreed to sit for talks with the agitators and the Joint Forum on Thursday to resolve the issue at the earliest.

The tea garden workers have expressed dismay over the closure. “We never stopped work for a single day. Still, the management locked down the garden over the issue,” they said.