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Training pill for better ties in tea gardens

Jorhat, Sept. 7: In view of the strain in relations between the management and workers of tea gardens in the state leading to unsavoury incidents recently, the Tea Board has decided to strengthen labour-management ties by organising separate training programmes for executives and representatives of labourers.

The programmes will be organised by the Jorhat centre of the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Plantation Management, which has carried out a study on the issue. The institute has also prepared a training module with the help of experts.

The entire programme has been taken up in the wake of around 15 incidents of violence in tea gardens across Assam in the past two years.

The Tea Board under its “project for grassroots workforce governance and management” is funding the programme.

To start with, the institute will conduct a training session in Jorhat on September 11, in which about 50 people, including managers of different ranks and welfare officers of tea estates of Jorhat, Sivasagar and Golaghat districts will take part. The programme will be subsequently extended to other areas with tea gardens.

The institute’s Jorhat centre in-charge, Rangan Bhuyan, told The Telegraph today that they have prepared a module named “reach out programme on labour management and industrial relations” after carrying out a study with the Assam branch of the Tea Association of India.

He said the study delved into the possible reasons for decline in the relation between management and workers.

Bhuyan said a group of human resource experts of private companies and reputed central government-owned public sector units and officials of the labour department have come up with tips to improve workers-management relations to prevent unrest and violent incidents.

He said the study has shown that labour-management ties had soured and the trust level between both sides fallen sharply. Another reason was that apart from the recognised workers’ body, some new units, including local splinter groups had surfaced.

Bhuyan said the increase in the aspiration level of workers was another reason, which lead to new demands cropping up.

He said after analysing the study, experts have come up with certain suggestions and solutions, which will be explained to participants in the training sessions.

The suggestions include asking the recognised workers’ unions to reassert their authority, measures by management to improve ties with workers by treating them as important stakeholders.

Bhuyan said training sessions for workers would be held simultaneously in gardens across the state.

He said an NGO named Tea And Ex-tea Garden Labourers’ Development Association, too, has been involved as a partner to organise training camps for workers.

He said awareness meetings on health, hygiene and sanitation had already been organised in gardens in association with the NGO.