Unions to move governor over Powai - Garden staff want people punished for the death of a young worker on May 28

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  • Published 20.07.10

Dibrugarh, July 19: Two labour unions — the All India Trade Union Congress (Aituc) and the Assam Tea Labour Union (ATLU) — will move Assam Governor J.B. Patnaik to seek justice for the workers of Powai tea estate.

The tea estate in Tinsukia district, under Amalgamated Plantations, hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the wake of the unnatural death of a 22-year-old worker, Gopal Tanti, on May 28 that triggered violence in the garden.

It prompted police to open fire to disperse the protesters, killing Ranjeet Paharia and Deep Sona and several others were injured.

Some of them are still undergoing treatment at various hospitals.

Tanti died all of a sudden while working with a spraying machine. His co-workers alleged that Tanti could have been saved had the management provided immediate medical assistance.

“It is a shocking state of affairs. Despite the death of three persons under various circumstances, the state government had failed to provide justice to the families of the affected people. Even after repeated applications and memorandums, the government has failed to book the real culprits in the management. Therefore, finding no way out we have decided to approach the governor,” the secretary of state committee of Aituc, Ranjan Choudhury, said.

However, the executive director of Amalgamated Plantations, Dipankar Bora, could not be contacted.

The unions had also expressed its displeasure over the fact that the company, Tinsukia district and police administration, the assistant labour commissioner office in Tinsukia, the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) and the Assam Branch of India Tea Association (ABITA) had allegedly played a passive role during the visit of a delegation from the International Union of Food workers (IUF) on July 14 to probe the incident.

The IUF is a federation of 392 trade unions representing more than 2.8 million workers in 124 nations, including the tea workers in India.

The union had sent its delegation at the requests of Aituc, ATLU and Citu.

“It is a very sad fact that all the authorities preferred to turn their back upon such a genuine and sensitive issue. The Tarun Gogoi-led government often claims itself to be the government working for the poor and downtrodden, I think these are mere words, nothing else,” the president of ATLU, Israil Nanda, said.

Both the unions also criticised the role of the ACMS and termed the organisation “to be nothing but only a stooge of the Congress party”.

“If the ACMS had adopted a strong role, the management would have been compelled to provide all the benefits to the affected persons. But it is really unfortunate that rather than lending its voice for the welfare of the workers, the ACMS had become a political platform for the Congress,” Choudhury said.

The two unions with assistance from several other trade groups connected with the tea industry will soon launch a series of demonstrations and organise road blocks if justice is not meted out to the affected families, Choudhury added.