Bonus row shuts tea garden in Alipurduar
The management of a tea estate in Alipurduar has announced suspension of work following disagreements over bonus with the workers.
The Sunday night action by the Toorsa Tea Garden in Kalchini block has left in the lurch 700 workers, many of whom resorted to a blockade on a highway on Monday.
The protest left thousands, including scores of tourists headed to Bhutan and back through the Jaigaon-Phuentsholing route, stranded. The blockade continued for over six hours and was withdrawn after state officials promised “necessary” steps.
Sources said Toorsa was one of 14 Dooars gardens that had opted out of an industry-wide bonus agreement signed last month. This led to protests by the workers. The district administration had intervened but no decision was reached on the rate of bonus ahead of Puja.
“This made the state labour department to intervene and a tripartite meeting was called on October 21, that is, on Monday. The meeting was later deferred to October 24.
“It is disappointing that the management, instead of participating in the meeting, closed down the garden. We suspect that they are trying to delay the bonus,” said Prabhat Mukherjee, vice-president of the Cha Bagan Trinamul Congress Mazdoor Union.
A management notice announcing suspension of work claimed frequent worker demonstrations, disruptions and production halts at the garden tea factory.