The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tea workers at Amin door

Siliguri, Nov. 23: The West Bengal Cha Mazdoor Sabha will submit a memorandum to labour minister Mohammed Amin, urging him to resolve problems — such as non-payment of provident fund and gratuity dues, as well as health problems — faced by tea workers in North Bengal during the his visit here on November 25.

The Cha Mazdoor Sabha, an apex body of tea trade unions, is critical of the labour department’s role and underscored the need to evolve a mechanism to identifying core problems specific to tea workers of the region.

“North Bengal alone produces about 25 per cent of the total tea produced in the country. Despite this, our workers are made to cope with abysmal work environment in the gardens. The workers in almost all the closed gardens are denied their gratuity and provident fund dues, which is in contravention of the Plantation Labour Act, 1952. In other cases, the workers are cheated of their statutory quota of rations,” alleged Samir Roy, the general secretary of the tea workers body.

Roy said a lot needed to be done to minimise the occupational health hazards of the workers. “We will request the minister to specially instruct the labour department to arrange regular health camps at all major tea gardens here, especially during the monsoons,” he added.

The government needs to be apprised of the incidence of malaria and other diseases in the tea belt, Roy said. “We want to make the government aware of the economic dimension of the problems,” he added.

The co-ordination committee of plantation workers, an umbrella trade union body of plantation workers, has threatened to agitate unless the management of the gardens properly deal with the “workers’ causes”.

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