Assam Tea workers demand wage hike
Hundreds of workers under the banner of All Assam Tea Tribes’ Students’ Association (ATTSA) on Friday staged a demonstration in Bokpara and Sessa tea estates, seeking a wage hike.
The protesters held placards and banners and raised slogans against the tea management and government for failing to provide minimum wage.
Demonstrations were also held in many tea gardens near Dibrugarh town, including Sessa tea estate and Bokpara tea estates.
The workers raised slogans against the tea industry and the BJP-led government and demanded a minimum wage hike of Rs 351 per day.
At present, the tea garden workers in the Brahmaputra Valley are paid a daily wage of Rs 167 while the tea garden workers in Barak Valley are getting an wage of Rs 145 per day.
The leader of the Assam Tea Tribe Students’ Association, Lakhindra Kurmi, said, “During its election campaign in 2016, the BJP promised that if it came to power, the daily wage of tea garden would be revised to at least Rs 351. All it did was to increase it by Rs 30 to Rs 167 per day. However, four years have passed since the BJP came to power in the state but nothing has changed. No political party is serious about addressing our issues. The tea tribe community has been cheated, deprived and used for political advantage by all parties. We are only a vote bank for them.”
On the other hand, the major tea gardens in Assam are facing a grave crisis due to an increase in the cost of production and wage-hike relatecissues.
Assam’s tea tribe community, which constitutes around 20 per cent (70 lakh) of the state’s 3.5-crore population, has always played a decisive role in sealing electoral outcomes, both in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
However, tea garden workers rue the fact that while political parties always try to woo the community with assurances of hike of minimum wages and other benefits before every elections. However, once the elections are over, they tend to go silent on their promises.
“It is very unfortunate that the tea garden workers are still paid a daily wage of Rs 167. Tea workers in Kerala are paid a minimum daily wage of Rs 310. This minimum wage is Rs 263 in Karnataka and Rs 241 in Tamil Nadu. We appeal to the government to ensure fair wages to workers as per the Plantation Labour Act, 1951 and Minimum Wages Act, 1948,” Kurmi said.