The Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association  (ATTSA)  has sought the intervention of state chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal in making tea gardens in Assam pay workers full wages during the nation-wide COVID-19 lockdown.

India had gone into lockdown mode from March 25 last in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tea tribes students body has further asked the chief minister to take action against a Golaghat based tea planters’ association which has ‘published  false reports that the tea industry would be facing a loss of more than Rs 1200 crore due to the lockdown allegedly to evade payment to workers.

A memorandum signed by Dhiraj Gowala and Paban Bedia, president and general secretary, ATTSA central committee stated that the tea gardens had violated the order dated March 29 issued by the Union Home Ministry that stated that all industries should pay full wages to the workers as per the Disaster Management Act, section 10 (1) (2) during the lockdown period.

Moreover, the state Labour Welfare department had on April 2 sent notices to all the labour departments and labour welfare officers in each district to direct the tea garden managements in each district to pay full wages to the tea garden workers under Plantation Labour Act 7/06/pt-1.

“However, in gross violation of both the orders, the managements had paid only Rs 500 in the said period in lieu of full wages,” Dhiraj Gowala said.

The memorandum further said workers in red zone districts like Golaghat were working in the tea gardens at great risk to their lives.

In this regard the workers should be given additional remuneration over and above their wages, the memorandum further demanded.

Gowala said instead of giving additional wages, a Golaghat based tea organization was spreading false reports about how greatly distressed the tea industry would become due to the lockdown.

The chief minister has been further asked to look into this news and to stop the generation and publishing of such news with the veiled intention of depriving workers of their dues.

The memorandum further said the workers had not been paid any wages from March 25 to April 12, a total period of 17 working days.

Smita Bhattacharyya

Smita Bhattacharyya is Northeast Now Correspondent in Jorhat. She can be reached at: triptyaddy@gmail.com