| Puja treat
Jorhat, Sept. 19: Workers at McLeod Russel, the world’s largest tea producing company, can look forward to this year’s Puja with pleasure as the company has announced 20 per cent bonus.
The company, with 49 tea gardens in Assam, signed an agreement with Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS), the apex body of tea gardens workers in the state, at the tea union’s headquarters in Dibrugarh yesterday.
ACMS general secretary Dileswar Tanti told The Telegraph today that the company would pay 15 per cent bonus before Durga Puja and the rest in January.
“Since school admission takes place in the month of January, the 5 per cent bonus will help garden workers,” Tanti said.
The company had also paid 20 per cent bonus last year in two instalments.
Tanti said apart from Mcleod Russel, almost all the major tea companies operating in the state have agreed to pay 20 per cent bonus but Russel was the first company to sign an agreement with ACMS this year.
“Although we have been told by almost all the major tea companies that they would pay 20 per cent bonus, we have not received official communications from them. We are expecting to receive such communications within the next few days,” he said.
Tanti said till today, five companies have officially agreed to pay 20 per cent bonus, including McLeod Russel. Dispur has set an October 6 deadline for the tea companies to settle the bonus issue, at least three weeks before the Pujas.
Payment of bonus to industrial employees is mandatory under Payment of Bonus Act, 1965. According to the act, employees earning up to Rs 10,000 per month had to be paid bonus at a minimum rate of 8.33 per cent and a maximum of 20 per cent on the basis of the previous fiscal earnings of the company.
Regarding the ailing Assam Tea Corporation Limited (ATCL), a state government-owned PSU, Tanti said the company had approached him a few days back to hold discussion on bonus.
The company, which paid 17 per cent bonus in two instalments last year, had approached Dispur recently for financial assistance to pay Puja bonus to workers in its 15 tea gardens across the state.
However, sources said the company was not in a position to pay beyond 8.33 per cent bonus on its own this year, as the market situation has not improved much in the last financial year.
With the daily wage of labourers increasing several times in the past couple of years and reaching Rs 84 per day now, the amount needed to pay bonus, too, has gone up.