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Regular-article-logo Sunday, 26 May 2024

Tea estate refutes claims of wage non-payment

70 workers who did not work prior to the lockdown period and after the garden reopened were not given wages

Avik Chakraborty Dibrugarh Published 29.04.20, 06:44 PM
According to the management, Tippuk tea estate has a chronic absenteeism problem. Every year more than 25 per cent of the workers are absent.

According to the management, Tippuk tea estate has a chronic absenteeism problem. Every year more than 25 per cent of the workers are absent. (File picture)

The Tippuk tea estate management in Upper Assam’s Tinsukia district on Wednesday said it was paying full wages to its workers according to the understanding between the association and the union, that is, Rs 500 per week as ad hoc advance starting from March 25 for the lockdown period.

The lockdown period for the Doomdooma circle tea gardens was lifted on the evening of April 11 and the garden started post-lockdown working from April 13.

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However, around 1,000 workers staged a demonstration on Tuesday at the executive office of Tippuk tea estate demanding full wages and full ration.

Some of the workers said they were not getting full wages and ration benefit.

“We have paid as per the understanding to all the workers who earned wages in the fortnight prior to the lockdown, March 8 to 12, as well as rations during the lockdown period. This fortnight it so happened that one week was spent under the lockdown and another week was the time when the lockdown was lifted under the government’s orders. We calculated manually for the lockdown period. And the system generated the slip for March 12 to March 18 which had one week as absent period and one week with attendance. Accordingly ration was calculated on working days and printed on the pay slip,” said Sarvesh Tripathi, the manager of Tippuk estate.

Tripathi said, “We give rations the day after the wage payment and before we could explain to workers and unions, some people with vested interest capitalised upon this issue and created a ruckus. We had stopped payment of 74 workers who did not come to work for even a single day during the post-lockdown period as this garden faces severe absenteeism problems. During plucking season, it goes as high as 40 per cent where as during the lean period, the absenteeism was as low as 8 per cent. As a measure to warn these workers this step was taken though they were paid the previous fortnight during the lockdown period. But some people with vested interests tried to malign the management and created a ruckus, which continued till Tuesday afternoon.”

According to the management, Tippuk tea estate has a chronic absenteeism problem. Every year more than 25 per cent of the workers are absent. The garden is unable to carry out operations in time which is detrimental to the quality and quantity of the production, resulting in serious economic setbacks to the garden.

However, these workers allegedly stay in the garden but go and work outside for cash.

Altogether 70 such workers who did not work prior to the lockdown period and after the garden reopened were not given wages.

“The rest of the workers have been given ration and wages during the lockdown period as per agreement between the industry and the ACMS. Some residents with vested interests instigated the workers who forcibly confined the manager and his team in the office for several hours. The unruly mob abused and the officers who were later rescued by the police,” an official in the management said.

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