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Advisory board fixes tea wages

Guwahati: A meeting of the minimum wages advisory board for tea workers was held on Wednesday, which decided to fix mininum wages of tea garden workers at Rs 351.

The amount includes both cash and kind component.

A source said the meeting was attended by representatives of various tea associations, the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS), tea tribes welfare, labour and employment minister Pallab Lochan Das and other officials.

At present, the daily wages are Rs 137.

The source said a draft notification will be issued after a few days in which the stakeholders will get 60 days to give objections.

"It is abnormally high and will result in many estates closing down," the source said.

The issue of low prices being realised at the auctions was discussed at the tea conclave on Wednesday by the industry and it said the tea prices have not kept pace with the growing input costs, resulting in economic stress across the industry.

Tea worker organisations have been holding protests demanding an increase in daily wages and had called ceasework on February 27.

So far, wages of tea garden workers in Assam were decided as per the bilateral wage agreement signed between the ACMS and the Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations, Assam Valley branch, without any state government role in it.

The Assam government had for the first time formed an advisory board last year to fix minimum wages of tea workers. The board is headed by Das and comprises secretaries of the labour welfare, finance, industry and commerce and food and civil supplies departments, besides five representatives from tea companies and four from workers' unions.

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