Good News for Tea workers

After weeks of haggling, trade union leaders of tea gardens across the region have something to smile about.

In a bipartite meeting between labour union leaders and planters today, it was decided that workers in tea estates across the Dooars and Terai would receive their bonus at a rate marginally higher than last year’s. The meeting that was held at the conference hall of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce office in Calcutta comes after a number of similar meetings, since the middle of August, failed to reach a consensus.

“It is good that we have finally decided on the bonus issue. We were insisting on a higher rate this time, especially in the context of the improved scenario in the tea industry and the planters have decided on a hike,” said Samir Roy, the convener of Defence Committee of Plantation Workers’ Rights.

This year the bonus issue had reached a deadlock after the various stakeholders of the sector failed to agree on the condition of the tea industry. While trade union leaders claimed that the gardens had witnessed a revival, the planters felt that the industry had been dealt a hard blow by the near-drought conditions that had gripped the region this time. They also rued the loss incurred from the 15-day strike across the gardens last year and the reduction in tea prices.

“We were desperate to come to an early solution. We had a daylong meeting with the labour leaders yesterday but could not come to a decision. However, today’s meeting concluded fruitfully,” said N.K. Basu, the principal adviser to the Indian Tea Planters’ Association.

The bonus fixed in today’s meeting is 11.25 per cent for A-grade tea estates, 10 per cent for B-grade gardens, 9.15 per cent for C-grade and 8.50 per cent for D-grade gardens. Last year, bonus was paid at the rate of 11 per cent in A-grade, 9.75 per cent in B-grade, 9 per cent in C-grade and 8.33 per cent in D-grade estates, tea industry sources said.

Source: The Telegraph