Alipurduar, March 22: The management of Madhu Tea Estate issued a suspension of work notice this evening citing lawlessness among workers.
This is the fourth time since January 2012 that the management has left the garden, 36km from here.
According to a garden source, workers had been demanding the payment of a portion of six months’ dues as Holi and Good Friday were approaching.
On Tuesday and today the workers held meetings and this morning they asked the manager to explain why the amount was not being paid.
“When the manager asked the trade union leaders to send the workers for plucking so that he could discuss the issue in his office, the labourers refused and continued their gate meeting hampering work,” said a garden source. Later, the management left the garden that has 950 workers.
In 2012, the management had abandoned the garden thrice because of alleged indiscipline by the workers.
On December 29, last year, the garden management had issued a notice of suspension of work. On February 11 this year, there was a tripartite meeting in the joint labour commissioner’s office in Siliguri after which the garden reopened on February 18.
At that time the management had agreed to pay each worker Rs 600, which is a portion of their dues. The management is also paying Rs 200 every week to each worker. Both the amounts would be adjusted with the dues.
Nirmal Lohar, the secretary of the garden unit of the Progressive Tea Worker’s Union backed by the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, said: “Six months’ wages are left to be paid and during the gate meeting on Tuesday we requested the manager to pay a part of that amount which would help the workers enjoy Holi and Good Friday. The manager asked us for two days time. But till last night we did not get any message from him and we held the gate meeting today.”
Arun Sirohi, the manager of the garden, said: “We had to leave the garden because of indiscipline of a section of workers. Each worker has recently received an NREGS payment. On Tuesday, they held a gate meeting and work was hampered. Today again they held a meeting and asked me to explain the situation in detail. There is no law and order in the garden.”