About 2 lakhs workers of different tea gardens in Upper Assam will stage a protest at the Mancotta field in Dibrugarh on January 18, seeking fulfillment of their long-standing demands.
The Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha(ACMS), the frontline organization of tea garden workers has organized the protest known as ‘Shramik Gorjan’.
These tea workers have been demanding scheduled tribe (ST) status, a hike in their daily wage to Rs 351 and the formation of a separate autonomous council for the state’s Adivasi community.
“We have been demanding a minimum wage hike of Rs 351 for workers of big as well as small tea gardens. Even after several protests and rallies in the state, the Assam government failed to hike the minimum wages,” ACMS general secretary Rupesh Gowala.
Gowala said, “ST status is the long pending demand of the Adivasi people residing in Assam but even after giving assurance, the state government has done nothing to begin the process. We also demanded jobs for the unemployed youths of tea gardens.”
Upper Assam area is known for the lush green tea gardens.
The votes of the Adivasis or the tea tribe community people play an important role in determining the fate of the present BJP government in the forthcoming state assembly elections in the state.
Nabin Chandra Keot, vice president of the central committee of ACMS said, “On Shramik Gorjan programme 2 lakhs garden workers will assemble at the Mancotta field to press for their demands,”
“During the past five years only Rs 30 was hiked and presently workers are getting Rs 167 as daily wage. It should be increased to Rs 351,” Keot said.
The BJP state government had in their manifesto clearly mentioned hiking daily wages of tea garden workers to Rs 351, but has done nothing after winning the assembly elections in 2016.
“Before the assembly elections in 2016, the government had promised to address every problem. During the past five years it did not bother to know about our plight,” said a member of ACMS.
“The Shramik Gorjan programme is very important for us because through such protests we want to send a clear message to the government to fulfill all our demands,” the member said.
“We also want a separate autonomous council for Adivasi people residing in Assam. If the government can announce separate autonomous councils for Moran, Matak and Koch-Rajbongshi communities then why have the Adivasi community been left out?” said Keot.