– Parishad tea union to continue embargo
Siliguri, July 28: All 208 tea gardens in the Terai and the Dooars today put up notices, saying it would be difficult for them to disburse wages and rations in the coming weeks if the embargo on the despatch of tea continued.
The Progressive Tea Workers’ Union, the labour wing of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, has been stalling the despatch of tea from gardens since Tuesday to demand a hike in the workers’ daily wage from Rs 67 to Rs 250.
The decision to warn the labourers about a halt in the disbursal of the wages and rations was taken at a meeting convened by the Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations — the apex body of garden owners’ forums — in Calcutta today.
“The blockade on tea despatches during the pendency of conciliation proceedings is highly irregular and not in conformity with industrial relations practices. The alarming situation has forced constituent tea gardens of the CCPA to issue notices at the garden level, clearly communicating that unless there is immediate resumption of despatches, the gardens will not be in a position to meet the wages and rations obligations when they are next due,” reads a press release issued by the CCPA in Calcutta today.
Monojit Dasgupta, the secretary general of the association, said the garden owners had sought the intervention of the state government to end the impasse. “The association wrote to the labour commissioner, saying the embargo on the despatch of tea is an infringement on the right of the gardens to function. If the agitation continues, there would be accumulation of processed tea in the gardens and ultimately, the working capital flow to the estates will be choked,” he said over the phone.
Observers say it is yet to see how the warning will influence the course of the agitation. “The workers can well understand that they will not receive wages and rations if the agitation continues. So, the notice might prompt them to mount pressure on the union to lift the embargo. On the contrary, there can be an intensive agitation and law and order problems if the union succeeds in convincing the workers that the agitation is needed to clinch a hike in the wages,” said an observer.
The Parishad union was adamant. “We will not withdraw the agitation unless a decision is reached on the wage demand. If the government wants, it can advance the date of meeting scheduled for August 4 for an early settlement,” said PTWU chairperson Shukra Munda. “The planters’ claim that there will be no money to pay workers does not stand as the wages are given even during the lean season.”Courtesy:TheTelegraph.