Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha(ACMS) on Saturday announced the tea garden workers of the Brahmaputra valley will hold a day-long strike in protest of minimum wages, on February 27.
Speaking to the media in Dibrugarh, ACMS, President Paban Singh Ghatowar said, “From January 1, the tea garden labourers should get the wage increment for which the state government has formed a tri-party committee to take a decision on the matter but till date the committee has not come to any decision. We demand that from January 1, the workers should get their wage increment,”.
The last wage agreement expired on December 31 and the new wage agreement was supposed to take effect from January 1.
Ghatowar said more than two lakh workers are employed in the tea sector of Assam and in 2014 government had assured to pay Rs 140 to them but nothing has worked out till date. “After the notification some of the management are paying a meager Rs 110, 120 to the workers and their condition is very pathetic because they didn’t get ration and other benefits from garden management,” he added.
Moreover, he said they are demanding for the installation of individual electricity meter in the garden area but the government has failed to install the meters
This is the first time that a minimum wages advisory board has been formed to fix the minimum wages of the tea workers. As per earlier practice, the minimum wages were decided on the basis of a bilateral agreement between the ACMS and the tea garden owners.
All the registered tea gardens of the state are affiliated to the Congress-backed Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha. Out of the 792 registered tea gardens in Assam, 685 are spread across the Brahmaputra valley while 107 are situated in the Barak valley.
“Assam Tea Company was declared bankrupt and the life of 25,000 workers in the 14 tea gardens of ATC are in a doldrums because they are not getting ration and other faclities. We have sent a letter to the government on November 13, 2017 but did not get any response from government. The workers are having a tough time because they are working without salary,”.
Ghatowar taking a dig at Assam Tea corporation Ltd because till date they are paying Rs 115 daily wage to tea garden workers. He said when all the tea gardens are getting ration and other benefits the workers of Assam Tea corporation are denied ration.