Agri Business

Munnar tea workers strike inspires copycat agitations

KPM Basheer Kochi | Updated on January 22, 2018


The successful conclusion last week to an agitation by women tea-leaf pluckers at Kanan Devan Hill Plantations Limited in Munnar has inspired copycat strikes in other tea plantations. The Munnar strike has brought the pathetic living conditions of tea workers, not just in Kerala but also in Tamil Nadu, Assam and Darjeeling into the spotlight.

On Tuesday, hundreds of women workers on some tea estates of Harrisons Malayalam Limited, one of the largest tea producers in South India, and owned by the RP Goenka Group, went on strike demanding higher bonus and daily wages.

Women workers in five divisions of the company continued agitating on Wednesday as talks with the management failed. Their demand: a 20 per cent bonus and ₹500 as daily wage.

No to trade unions

The Harrison tea-leaf pickers, taking a leaf out of their counterparts at KDHPL, bypassed the recognised trade unions to go on strike. On Wednesday, several women workers staged a ‘stand-up’ dharna in front of the company’s plantation offices.

Scores of workers at two Tata Tea units in Idukki district went on strike on Wednesday, raising the same demands.

Meanwhile, reports say workers in a few smaller tea estates in Idukki and Wayanad have also gone on strike. Plantation sources say that workers on more tea gardens in the State will go on strike in the coming days.

Plantation sources pointed out that the successful women-only Munnar strike had whipped up interest among tea workers across the country.

Trade unions and managements on tea plantations, especially in the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka (Kodagu), Darjeeling (West Bengal) and Assam, had taken note of the Munnar strike and are said to be worried about copycat agitations.

Published on September 16, 2015

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