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Tea workers demand wage hike

Tea garden workers of the Brahmaputra Valley, under the banner of the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS), staged demonstrations in various areas of the state on Tuesday, demanding a hike in minimum wages.

By Avik Chakraborty in Dibrugarh
  • Published 28.02.18
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Members of ACMS during a rally in Duliajan on Tuesday. Picture by Pradeep Kr Neog

Dibrugarh: Tea garden workers of the Brahmaputra Valley, under the banner of the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS), staged demonstrations in various areas of the state on Tuesday, demanding a hike in minimum wages.

The tea labourers ceased work for a day, seeking fulfilment of their various demands.

The entire tea industry of the Brahamaputra Valley was affected because of the daylong strike.

The secretary of the Dibrugarh branch of the ACMS, Nabin Chandra Keot, said, "The last wage agreement signed between ACMS and the Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations (CCPA), Assam Valley branch, expired on December 31 last year and till date the new wage agreement has not been signed. The government has formed a committee but it has not taken any decision. The tea garden labourers should have got a hike from January 1."

The workers protested in various places of the state and shouted slogans against the garden management.

"The state government had brought out a notification in 2014 that the tea workers will get Rs 140 as daily wage but nothing was done after that. The tea workers are getting Rs 137 and some even less. We demand the government to address the issue immediately," Keot added.

Of the 792 registered tea gardens in the state , 685 are in the Brahmaputra Valley and the rest 107 are in Barak Valley.

Keot said Assam Company Ltd was bankrupt and the workers in the 14 tea gardens of the company are in a dismal condition. "We demand the government's intervention," he said.

ACMS members also took out a rally from Balijan tea estate at Duliajan in Dibrugarh district, demanding an immediate increase of their daily wages to Rs 350 and of a hike in their bonus from Rs 1,500 to Rs 6,000. The protesters also sought house rent allowance at the rate of Rs 500 per month for those residing outside the tea estates. The tea workers shouted slogans against the state BJP-led Sarbananda Sonowal government.

The president of Tingri circle of the ACMS, Bangsilal Sahu, said they would begin a hunger strike if their demands were not met.

Additional reporting by Pradeep Kr Neog