Alipurduar, Sept. 23: The Jalpaiguri deputy labour commissioner has issued a letter to the management of Ramjhora tea estate asking them to pay revised wages to the workers.
The management, after receiving the letter, decided to hold a meeting with the workers on October 4 in the office of the Dooars branch of the Indian Tea Association at Binnaguri.
The management of the Ramjhora tea estate had declared that in the coming year they would sit with the trade unions and discuss payment of revised wages, which workers of other Dooars gardens were getting till April 2011, but after the deputy labour commissioner, Jalpaiguri, directed the garden management to pay the wages according to the agreement, the management called a bipartite meeting on October 4 in the office of the tea association.
The Ramjhora Tea Estate workers were excited after getting this information from The Telegraph.
In the tripartite agreement signed between the labour department, the trade unions and the estate management on November 4 last year, it was decided that the wage of a worker would become Rs 90 from April this year for every Dooars tea garden.
But the workers in Ramjhora tea estate, despite getting only Rs 67, struggled but did not go for any movement, fearing that they would receive the increased wage some day.
They did not demand revised wages till July this year but when they saw that the management was silent about the payment and Durga Puja was approaching, they started gate meetings everyday before starting work.
Though this hampered production in the garden and the manager issued notices to withdraw the movement, the workers did not care. They demanded a date from the manager when they would sit together but the manager declared that they would start paying the revised wages from 2013. This annoyed the workers and they continued the meetings.
The trade union leaders met Jalpaiguri district magistrate Smaroki Mahapatro, who immediately asked the labour department officials to intervene.
Joint labour commissioner Md. Rijwan clearly mentioned that there was no question of any discussion with the management, as the matter was settled in the tripartite agreement.
He also instructed the deputy labour commissioner to direct the garden management to pay the wages according to the agreement and consequently, the letter was issued to the garden management.
Jailpaiguri deputy labour commissioner Chandan Dasgupta said, I have issued a direction to the management of Ramjhora Tea Estate to pay the wages in accordance with the agreement signed in the tripartite meeting last year. When it is settled, the amount of wage should be uniform in each garden.
Ramesh Sharma, a union leader at the garden, said, In other gardens, the workers are getting revised wages from April 2011 but we did not demand it because we felt for the management, as they were investing a lot of money to revive the garden. But this year, Durga Puja is close and we tried to discuss the issue with the manager but he told us that they would start paying the wages from next year though he was unaware about the amount. Prices of everything have gone up. How we can live with Rs 67 each day. We are happy that the administration has asked the management to pay the revised wages. The management immediately called a meeting though the same management had told us they could not talk about the issue now.
Hemant Popli, the manager of the Ramjhora Tea Estate, said, I received the letter from the deputy labour commissioner and forwarded it to the higher authorities. There will be a tripartite meeting at the tea association office at Binnaguri on October 4.