Darjeeling, Aug. 13: The Trinamul Congress today sought to take credit for the reopening of Jungpana Tea Estate and urged workers to open a unit of its trade union to break the alleged nexus between leaders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha union and the garden’s management.
The management had declared “suspension of work” on the Kurseong estate on July 31 alleging threat from a section of workers. The garden reopened today after the Morcha-backed Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union had agreed to the management’s two demands, assurances on the removal of a union leader and non-interference by the union in the matters related to the management.
Rajen Mukhia, the president of Trinamul (hills), today said credit should be given to his party for reopening the garden. “We had sent a delegation of Trinamul leaders to Jungpana on August 8 but Morcha leaders didn’t allow them to visit the garden. When we heard that the workers refused to lift rations on August 10, I, along with other Trinamul leaders, visited the plantation the next day and spoke to the workers.”
“We were told by the workers that their primary concern was the reopening of the garden. We soon called up labour minister Moloy Ghatak and north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb and told them about the workers’ wish,” said Mukhia. “It is following our call to the ministers that the garden reopened.”
Mukhia alleged that there was a nexus between the management and the Morcha union in Jungpana and asked workers to join Trinamul union’s for tea garden labourers.
“The garden was closed over issues related to appointments in two posts. We have learnt that the Morcha wanted its own people to get the jobs. We urge the workers of Jungpana to join us for better development and to ensure that the nexus between the Morcha leaders and the management is broken,” said Mukhia.
Jungpana employs 260 workers and the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union is the sole union in the garden.
Suraj Subba, general secretary, Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, said: “The claims by Trinamul are baseless. The garden was reopened because of our initiative. Trinamul leaders were not present at any of the three meetings called by the administration to resolve the impasse. Moreover, most of the issues had been resolved during the August 3 meeting.”