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Planters, trade union leaders finalise bonus for sick tea gardens in Terai, Dooars

The Indian Tea Planters’ Association and the Terai Indian Planters’ Association — which have member gardens in the Terai and the Dooars — didn't participate in Tuesday's bipartite talks where the rate (19 per cent) was finalised. Both the associations together have 60 to 70 gardens

Our Bureau Siliguri, Alipurduar Published 12.10.23, 09:26 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

The bonus rates for some sick tea gardens in the Terai and the Dooars were finalised at a meeting between planters and trade union leaders in Calcutta on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, owners of most of the tea gardens in north Bengal had agreed to pay the annual bonus to workers at 19 per cent.

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“There are 24 gardens in the Terai and the Dooars which are sick and cannot afford to pay bonus at 19 per cent. For them, another round of talks was held today where specific rates were fixed for each garden. As a whole, these gardens will pay the bonus at rates ranging from nine per cent to 18 per cent,” said a source in the Tea Association of India.

Tea gardens are classified into four categories on different parameters, ranging from production to workforce. “There are nine gardens which don’t come under any of the four categories. These gardens will pay the bonus at 19 per cent,” the source added.

North Bengal has around 280 tea gardens and the bonus rate has been agreed for 167 estates so far. The management of the 167 gardens has been asked to disburse the bonus by October 17.

For the tea estates in the Darjeeling hills, a separate meeting will be held between the planters and trade unions.

The Indian Tea Planters’ Association and the Terai Indian Planters’ Association — which have member gardens in the Terai and the Dooars — didn't participate in Tuesday's bipartite talks where the rate (19 per cent) was finalised. Both the associations together have 60 to 70 gardens.

“Tomorrow, representatives of these associations will sit with trade union leaders in Jalpaiguri to finalise the bonus rate. These associations are unwilling to pay the bonus at higher rates," said a planter in Siliguri.

He said after many years, two associations of planters would hold separate talks with the trade unions on the rates.

“We will be there at the meeting. The associations, we believe, will reach an agreement so that the bonus is disbursed among workers ahead of Durga Puja,” said Nakul Sonar, the chairman of the Trinamul Cha Bagan Workers Union.

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