Tea workers protest
A view of the protest in Dibrugarh district. Image credit - Northeast Now

Tea garden workers, led by Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) on Friday staged protests in the tea estates of Assam over changes of labour law increasing working hours from 8 hours to 12 hours.

The workers staged demonstrations in all the tea gardens across Assam for one hour.

The workers were seen wearing masks while coming out in protest against the changes in labour law.

The workers holding placards and banners chanted slogans against the government for the decision to increase the working hours.

The Assam Cabinet recently followed other BJP-ruled states in approving labour reforms in a bid to boost the economy and investment at a time when economic activities have come to a grinding halt due to the COVID19- induced lockdown.

The measures in the labour reforms include the introduction of fixed-term employment and the increase in shift duty of workers during COVID19 period from eight to 12 hours.

The measures referred to as the ‘labour law reforms’ include amendments to the existing laws, the enactment of new laws, the codification of the laws and the issue of advisories, model bills and business reform actions plans.

ACMS general secretary Rupesh Gowala said, “The government has decided to increase the working hours from 8 hours to 12 hours which is against the labour law.”

“We have condemned the government’s decision to increase the working hours as it is anti-labour. We urge the government to withdraw the decision,” Gowala said.

The tea industry has been hit hard due to the COVID19 pandemic.

The tea industry remained closed down for many days which caused heavy losses.

The tea garden authorities in Assam were allowed to operate following COVID19 protocols.

ACMS Dibrugarh branch secretary Nabin Chandra Keot said, “We urged the government to change the decision to increase the working hours from 8 to 12 hours because it will create anger among the workers.”

ACMS submitted a memorandum to Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal regarding the issue.

Avik Chakraborty

Avik Chakraborty is Northeast Now Correspondent in Dibrugarh. He can be reached at: babs8oct@gmail.com