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Jungpana skips meeting

Darjeeling, Aug. 4: The Jungpana tea garden management skipped today’s meeting with a labour official and the estate’s union saying “there is no point in attending any further meetings” till it got written assurances on two of its demands.

The garden’s representative had yesterday said the management wanted written assurances from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-led union on removing a union leader accused of threatening managerial staff and of not interfering in decisions of the management.

The Kurseong garden, that had fetched the highest price for its brew among Darjeeling teas last year suspended work indefinitely at the garden on July 31 after managerial staff complained that they were threatened by a section of workers.

Kurseong assistant labour commissioner S. Simick, in whose office the meeting was held, today said: “No fruitful discussion happened as the management didn’t attend the meeting.” Leaders of the Morcha-affiliated Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union turned up at the meeting.

Sandeep Mukherjee, the principal advisor to the Darjeeling Tea Association who represented Jungpana at a meeting yesterday, too, said: “Unless the union gives us in writing that they would remove a leader involved in the incident and would not interfere in decisions that are the prerogatives of the management, there is no point in attending any further meetings.”

P.T. Sherpa, the president of the Morcha union Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, said they could not remove the leader unless an internal inquiry was conducted by the union, a matter the outfit had spoken about yesterday.

“How can we just remove a leader without finding out whether he was at fault. The management’s stand is making us think that the issue is now about settling personal scores, instead of addressing the concerns of workers.”

Mukherjee, however, refuted the charges that the management was trying to settle personal scores.

“There were unilateral strikes for two consecutive days in the garden before suspension of work was declared. This goes on to prove that even the workers are with the union leaders and hence, there is no question of this being an issue of settling individual egos,” he said.

“The union should have the foresight of removing the accused leader. Otherwise, when the garden reopens later, the leader would get back at the management with vengeance,” he added.