AASAA president Pradeep Nag addressing a press conference at Tangla Press Club on Thursday. Image: Northeast Now
AASAA president Pradeep Nag addressing a press conference at Tangla Press Club on Thursday. Image: Northeast Now

The All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam (AASAA) on Thursday denounced the Assam government‘s decision to increase the working hours in tea gardens from 8 to 12 hour.

The association termed it as ‘inhumane’, ‘autocratic’, ‘arbitrary’  and  ‘pro-management’.

“The draconian changes in working hours by the government undermine the fundamental principles and rights at work,” said AASAA president Pradeep Nag while speaking to reporters at Tangla in Udalguri district.

“It also reverses the decent work gains made through decades of ‘trade union’ and students’ bodies’ struggle and undermines the basic dignity of human life,” he added.

“The portrait of Mahatma Gandhi is hung in every government offices, but his principles and philosophies have never been touched by the government rather it is used as a gimmick,” Nag added.

“Such draconian decisions are against the internationally established human rights and international labour standards,” he further said.

“The state government must immediately act and withdraw its decision or be ready to face the music of the Adivasis through protests,” he further said.

“We had high hopes from Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal that he will understand the apathy of the common masses including Adivasis,” he further added.

Nag further alleged that the stakeholders of the Adivasi society like trade unions, social organizations, student bodies were never taken into confidence while formulating such decision.

He further claimed that 12 hours of work amounts to physical and mental torture and it is done with the motive of pushing the upcoming generation to the verge of extinction.

“Adivasis are unified and thus accorded red carpet to the saffron party but if the decision is not withdrawn immediately we avouch to oust them in the forthcoming 2021 Assembly polls,” he added.

The Assam cabinet on May 8 followed other BJP-ruled states in approving labour reforms to boost the economy at a time when economic activities have come to a grinding halt due to the lockdown.

The measures in the labour reforms include the introduction of fixed-term employment and an increase in shift duty of tea garden workers from 8 to 12 hours.

Shajid Khan

Shajid Khan is Northeast Now Correspondent in Udalguri. He can be reached at: itsshajidkhan@gmail.com