Agri Business

3-day strike by tea workers in Bengal's Terai, Dooars from today

Our Bureau Kolkata Aug. 9 | Updated on August 09, 2011


Tea production in Terai and Dooars region of West Bengal may be hit, as workers are scheduled to join a three-day strike beginning August 10 demanding wage hike.

Mr Purnendu Basu, West Bengal Labour Minister, confirmed that efforts to avert the strike have failed till late evening on Tuesday.

The strike was called after failure of another round of tripartite wage negotiations on Tuesday. Striking workers have appealed the dominant tea unions in Darjeeling to join the agitation.

“We had tried to avert the three-day strike in the Dooars and Terai region. But talks remained inconclusive. However, attempts are still being made to see what can be done to avert the strike,” Mr Basu, told Business Line.

According to Mr Basu, the Government had proposed minimum wages of Rs. 130, on a par with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, nearly double the current wage of Rs 67.50 a day.

Earlier talks with the tea industry – represented by the Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations (CCPA) – ended inconclusive with the CCPA declining to accept such a steep hike.

CCPA, in turn, had offered a hike at the rate of Rs 8 a year for the next three years from the existing wage of Rs 67.50 a day.

CCPA and the labour unions were engaged in a tripartite negotiation involving the State labour commissioner on August 4.

This was followed by a bi-partite negotiation on August 5 where talks failed yet again. On Tuesday, the State Government made yet another attempt to mediate matters.

The Progressive Tea Workers Union (PTWU) backed by Adivasi Vikash Parishad previously imposed blockades on tea despatches demanding wage hike in end July.

“Till date it is the tea estate owners whose side have always been upheld in case of wage negotiations.

However, we are trying that there be a level playing field for both tea estate owners and workers,” Mr Basu said.

Published on August 09, 2011

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