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Bengal asks tea gardens to clear bonus

Siliguri: The Bengal government has directed all tea estates in the Darjeeling hills to pay by March 10 the bonus dues of workers for last year.

The directive was issued at a tripartite meeting held here on Thursday and attended by labour minister Moloy Ghatak, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) chief Binay Tamang, the planters and unions.

Ghatak said an interim wage hike of Rs 17.50 per day decided earlier had been already implemented in most tea gardens of the region.

"We have directed tea gardens in the hills to clear the remaining 50 per cent of bonus by March 10. It is due since Durga Puja last year. The interim hike has been implemented in 95 per cent of the tea gardens in the Terai and the Dooars. The next round of dialogue to fix minimum wages for plantation workers will be held in Calcutta on March 12," said Ghatak.

In September last year, it was decided at a similar tripartite meeting that tea workers in the hills will get a bonus of 19.75 per cent. So far, only 50 per cent of the amount has been cleared by most gardens.

Tamang said the labour department would take legal action against garden owners who fail to pay the bonus dues by March 10.

Unions aligned to Tamang's Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the GNLF had threatened to stop tea consignments if the bonus was not cleared.

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