10,000 tea garden employees to strike for pay hike in north Bengal
Around 10,000 employees in the tea sector of north Bengal have decided to observe a pen-down strike for three hours on July 24 for salary hike and launch a movement if the demand is not met by then.
In the tea industry, those employees are referred to as staff (those working in posts below managerial levels) and sub-staff (workers who serve as cook, gardener, driver, peon and likewise).
Partha Lahiri, the general secretary of the West Bengal Tea Garden Employees’ Union, said the salaries used to revised once in three years. But since 2014, other than some interim hikes, there has been no major hike, he said.
“Every month, each employee is losing a portion of his salary. That is why we have decided to observe a pen-down strike for three hours on July 24. If no initiative is taken by the planters to meet our demand, we will launch a movement,” said Lahiri.
In January this year, an interim hike of 15 per cent was announced for the employees. After the increase, a sub-staff earns Rs 7,000 to Rs 9,000 a month, while a staff earns from Rs 20,000 to Rs 32,000.
“But this is inadequate, if compared to the earlier revisions when there used to be agreements for three years,” Lahiri said.
“We welcome the state’s plan to introduce minimum wages in the tea sector but unless it is implemented, we want the old practice of three years’ agreement to continue.”
Sources in the planters’ associations said there had been a 15 per cent hike in the salaries earlier this year and they were unwilling to raise the pay further.