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Jungpana to attend talks

Darjeeling, Aug. 11: The management of Jungpana tea estate has decided to send a representative to a meeting called by the joint labour commissioner in Siliguri tomorrow.

The management had earlier skipped a meeting called by the assistant labour commissioner, S. Simick, in Kurseong on August 4 to discuss the reopening of the garden where work was halted on July 31 after the management alleged that a section of labourers had threatened them.

The management had earlier said it made little sense to attend more meetings unless the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-led union gave written assurances on its two demands — the removal of a union leader accused of threatening managerial staff and non-interference in the decisions of the management.

Sandeep Mukherjee, the principal advisor to the Darjeeling Tea Association, today said: “The management has decided to attend the meeting called by the joint labour commissioner in Siliguri tomorrow. I will be representing the management at the meeting.”

He did not explain why the the garden management decided to attend the meeting after saying earlier that there was no point in them till their conditions were met.

Mukherjee said that the management’s stand had not changed. “The management sticks to its earlier demands.”

The Morcha affiliated- Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union is the only union in the garden.

Tilak Chand Roka, a legal advisor to the Morcha union, today said it would attend the meeting. “We will attend the meeting tomorrow.”

The 260-odd workers of the garden had yesterday refused to lift the rations stating that their primary demand was the reopening of the garden.

In another development, a forum of 21 tea garden trade unions in north Bengal has decided to hold hour-long gate meetings in all plantations on August 13 and 14, followed by a workers’ rally in Siliguri on August 20, to demand that minimum wages be fixed for the labourers in the sector.

All unions, except those of the Trinamul Congress and the GNLF, are under the Joint Forum that announced the agitation.

Roka today said: “We protest state labour minister Malay Ghatak’s announcement that the government is trying to raise the wage by Rs 45 over a period of three years. This is against the interest of the workers.”

Tea plan

Sourav Chakraborty, the Jalpaiguri district Trinamul president and chairman of Jalpaiguri Central Cooperative Bank, today said the bank will form workers’ co-operatives in some shut tea estates to run them.