December meet on tea pay hike
The Mamata Banerjee government will look into the demand for pay hike of the staff and sub-staff in the tea industry of Bengal.
A meeting will be held in Calcutta on December 3 and 4, Md Rizwan, additional labour commissioner of north Bengal zone stated in writing.
In his letter to the tea planters’ associations and tea trade unions, he said that the two-day meeting would look into the demands of the staff and sub-staff.
These employees play an important role in tea gardens by acting as the bridge between the managerial staff and workers in the gardens.
There are around 10,000 such employees in the brew belt seeking the government’s intervention as their salaries have not been revised since 2014.
During the past few months, these set of employees in tea gardens have time and again raised the demand for pay revision.
“It will be a tripartite meeting where discussions would be held on their demands, one of which is revision of their salaries,” said a source in the state labour department.
On September 14 this year, these employees had reiterated their demand and had abstained from joining their duties. Their absence had affected regular activities in the garden.
As they had threatened to intensify their movement, state labour minister Moloy Ghatak had a meeting with a delegation last month and he had assured that their issue would be dealt soon.
“We welcome the initiative taken by the state labour department. It seems that finally, our demand would be met. Our representatives will be at the meeting,” said Partha Lahiri, a representative of the joint committee of staff and sub-staff.
He said that usually their salaries are revised after every three years. “As there has been no revision in six years, we are earning much less than what should be our current salaries. A sub-staff is earning around Rs 3,000 less a month while a staff is losing at least Rs 8,000 a month,” added Lahiri.
In the tea belt, the salary of a sub-staff ranges from Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,000 while a staff earns between Rs 17,000 and Rs 25,000.
The move, tea trade union leaders said, indicates that the Trinamul intends to resolve all possible issues pertaining to the workforce serving in the tea sector to draw support from them in the Assembly elections scheduled next year.
In north Bengal, there are at least 15 Assembly seats where votes of the tea population swing the polls.
“On one hand, the state is working on the free housing scheme announced for tea workers while on the other hand it has picked up the pay revision issue of the staff and sub-staff. It is evident that Trinamul is desperate to secure support of the tea population,” said a senior trade union leader.