Assam move boosts Bengal tea pay demand

Siliguri/Alipurduar: A proposal mooted by a board in Assam to fix the minimum wage of tea garden workers at Rs 351 has come as a boost for trade unions in Bengal which also demand a similar pay structure in the sector.

The Bengal government, too, had formed a board to recommend the minimum wage for tea plantation workers in the state. The Bengal board comprises stakeholders of the tea industry and officials of the labour department and is yet to come up with any proposal.

"On Monday, there will be a meeting of the advisory board on minimum wage in Calcutta. At the meeting, we will insist that the board finalise a rate and recommend it to the state government. Three years have passed since the board has been formed and yet, no decision has been taken. We have made certain proposals at the board's meetings but it has not taken any move," said Gopal Prodhan, the president of the Dooars Cha Bagan Worker's Union, affiliated to the RSP.

Political observers said the Assam proposal has posed a fresh challenge for Trinamul and the state government.

"Assam is ruled by the BJP which is trying to make a foray into the tea garden belt of Bengal. The BJP will highlight the Assam recommendation and try to corner the Trinamul government ahead of panchayat elections," said an observer.


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