Shut garden shows way on bonus

Dooteriah is among three gardens owned by The Alchemist Group. Officially the garden has not declared a lock-out

By Vivek Chhetri in Darjeeling
  • Published 12.10.18, 12:51 AM
  • Updated 12.10.18, 12:51 AM
  • a min read
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Brew boon File picture

A workers’ committee in an abandoned tea garden in Darjeeling has decided to pay bonus to their members at a rate higher than the agreed industry rate.

The Joint Action Committee of Dooteriah tea garden has started disbursing bonus to its members at the rate of 15.5 per cent of the workers annual salary. The Darjeeling industry is disbursing bonus at the rate of 15 per cent.

Dooteriah is among three gardens owned by The Alchemist Group. Officially the garden has not declared a lock-out.

Rajdhan Rai, press and publicity secretary of the committee, said: “Since 2016, the garden is abandoned as the management is not present.”

The situation is similar in the other two gardens, Kalej Valley and Peshok, owned by the group. Since 2017, the committee has been buying green leaves plucked by the workers and selling them to neighbouring gardens.

“We pay the workers Rs 25 for every kg of green leaves they pluck. Young workers pluck up to 20 kg a day. However, on an average a worker plucks around 6 to 7 kg,” said Rai.

Dooteriah used to employ around 1300 workers but at the moment only 303 are associated with the committee. “Others have left in search of jobs,” said Rai.

At 15.5 per cent, the highest bonus amount received by a worker will be Rs 4,200. “In the past two years, none of the workers received any bonus. We have managed to at least disburse something this year,” Rai said.

From the profit, the 22-member committee runs a vehicle and uses it for other maintenance work.

The committee members want the government to take over the garden.

“We want the government to take over the garden or bring in some good investor so that the garden can function smoothly. If there is no other alternative the government should help us form a proper cooperative to run the garden,” said Rai.