Tea garden workers in the Terai and the Dooars will get bonus at the rate of 18.5 per cent of their annual pay this year.
The decision was taken at a bipartite meeting held between representatives of planters’ associations and union leaders in Calcutta on Sunday. Last year, the bonus was 19.5 per cent.
“We held multiple rounds of talks on the bonus rate over the past few weeks. On Sunday, we could reach a consensus and it has been decided that the rate of bonus will be 18.5 per cent this year. The unions have requested that the bonus be disbursed among workers by Saturday (September 27) as the festival season lies ahead. We are looking into it,” said Prabir Bhattacharjee, secretary general of the Tea Association of India.
A bank strike call has also prompted the workers to seek early payments.
In the meetings, the unions had been insisting on bonus at the rate of 20 per cent but the planters’ associations had cited losses and expressed inability to meet the demand.
“The unions had insisted on a higher rate but the planters pointed out that many gardens suffered losses this year because of rise in production costs and incessant rain followed by floods,” said a senior union leader.
In the Terai and the Dooars, there are 195-odd tea gardens, which employ over two lakh permanent workers.
“The tea companies should arrange funds by Wednesday (September 25) as from the next day banks would remain closed for four days. If the money is not arranged by Wednesday, we will get bonus only on next Monday (September 30),” said a worker of the Mohorgong-Gulma tea estate located on the outskirts of Siliguri.