Govt keen to finalise minimum tea wage by December-end
Labour minister Becharam Manna on Wednesday said the government wanted the minimum daily wage of tea garden workers to be finalised by the end of December.
He attended a meeting convened by the state labour department at Madarihat in Alipurduar district on Wednesday to discuss the minimum wage.
“We want the minimum wage to be finalised within this month so that it can be enforced from January next year. Elaborate discussions were held today and we are inching closer to a decision. Another meeting will be held in a fortnight,” Manna said after the meeting.
Sources said trade union leaders who spoke at the meeting demanded that the minimum wage be fixed at Rs 350 per day. They said tea garden workers should continue to receive fringe benefits as mandated by the Plantation Labour Act.
As of now, a tea worker in Bengal receives Rs 202 a day.
“We have proposed an amount along with fringe benefits. But from the planters’ side, no such proposal came today. The minister has asked planters’ associations to submit to him in writing the amount they can offer,” said Gopal Prodhan, the president of the Dooars Cha Bagan Workers’ Union
The planters said they had objected to the demand raised by the unions.
“We have specifically informed the minister that the rate proposed by trade unions is beyond our capacity. If it is fixed as the minimum wage, a number of gardens will fall sick because of stark disparity between earnings and expenditure,” said Amitangshu Chakroborty, the principal advisor to the Indian Tea Planters’ Association.