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Meet discusses apex court order on dues

Guwahati: A daylong tea planters' workers' convention on the implementation of the recent Supreme Court interim order on clearance of dues to retired workers and staff under the Assam Tea Corporation Ltd revealed that there are chances of many them being left out in getting their dues unless a proper representation was formed to address their grievances.

The convention was organised by the Human Rights Law Network and Joint Action Committee for Tea Workers Wage. Both the organisations, along with Anuradha Talwar of the Paschim Banga Khet Mazoor Samiti, asked the workers to form a committee as a proper representative platform to address the issues faced by them. Tea workers from five districts, representing 10 ATCL gardens, attended the meet. ATCL owns 15 tea estates with 16,133 retired workers and staff.

The April 4 interim order directed Assam to complete the process of appropriation within 60 days, that both the state government and ATCL shall update the list of unpaid retired workers and notify the workers that they would pay the amounts, among others.

It said the money would be placed in the hands of the executive within 90 days and an MoU would be signed by the government and ATCL.

The activists admitted that there were chances that some of the workers could be cheated of their dues.

"The objectives of the meet were to talk about the interim Supreme Court order and the problems implementing the order. What I figure out is that there should be proper feedback from them on the order and the amount of the dues. I found there are lot of loose ends and there are chances some of the workers may be cheated. I was shocked at how government-owned gardens collect provident fund and not deposit it into the workers' accounts," said Talwar.

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