The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gardens defy Citu strike

Siliguri, Dec. 14: For the first time, workers serving in about 40 per cent of the tea estates of north Bengal defied the strike called by the Citu and joined work today. The CPM’s labour wing is known to have control over 70 per cent of the gardens in the region.

Much like the tea workers, the employees at the sole call centre here also kept their commitment by attending work in full strength.

“Thousands of workers joined work as usual,” said Aloke Chakrabarty, the Darjeeling district president of the Intuc. “This is indeed the first time that attendance of the workers was so high on a Citu strike day.”

The information available with the planters’ associations corroborated Chakrabarty’s claim. Representatives of the Terai Indian Planters’ Association said 10-12 tea estates of their 50-odd member gardens were open today. Of the 80 member estates of the Dooars branch of the Indian Tea Association, 22 were fully open while partial work was carried out in 10 other estates.

Sources at the Tea Association of India said nine of the 35 garden members were open. A few estates of Indian Tea Planters’ Association and the Terai branch of Indian Tea Association were open too.

Citu and CPM leaders, however, claimed that the strike was total at the tea estates. “A few Intuc leaders called some labourers for photo sessions with the media. They left the plantations immediately after pictures were taken,” claimed Jibitesh Sarkar, a CPM state committee member in Siliguri.

The situation at Xploretech, the 24x7 BPO here, was normal. “All our employees attended the centre today. We had arranged transport for them. The administration had been in touch with us. There has been no problem so far,” said Mrinal Biswas, the assistant manager of the call centre, this evening. Three policemen were stationed at its entrance since morning.

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