Kartika tea estate to reopen

Siliguri: The Kartika tea estate, which has been closed since April 17, will reopen tomorrow.

“During a tripartite meeting held at the office of the deputy labour commissioner (DLC) in Jalpaiguri today, the management agreed to resume work at the garden from tomorrow. They have also promised to distribute a portion of pending wages and ration among the workers,” said DLC Kallol Dutta after the meeting. “The other grievances would be redressed at subsequent bipartite meetings.”

On April 16, workers of the garden reportedly gheraoed the manager, Bapan Bhowal, and assaulted him, demanding that their dues be cleared. The following day, the management declared a lock-out at the garden, which employs 902 permanent workers

“At the meeting, both sides condemned the incident and agreed that proper action should be taken against those responsible for the attack,” said Prabir Bhattacharjee, the secretary of the Dooars branch of the Indian Tea Association.

As workers of Kartika get ready for work tomorrow, the future of 2,100 labourers of Beech tea estate in Kalchini is still undecided as the third tripartite meeting held in Siliguri today fell through.

Sources said at the meeting held at the joint labour commissioner’s office, the management and trade unions were at loggerheads as the former insisted on downsizing the workforce by 400.

The estate closed down on April 12, when the management left the garden citing “lawlessness and labour unrest”.

“We have again called a meeting on May 2,” said Mohammad Nasim, the joint labour commissioner.

Talwar visit

Anuradha Talwar visited Mujnai tea garden in the Madarihat police station area for an inspection today.

The workers told the state adviser to the food commissioner appointed by the Supreme Court that though the garden was not closed, it was in a pathetic state. Instead of the stipulated Rs 700 per month, they were getting 12 days’ work and being paid Rs 240, the workers alleged.

Talwar met gram panchayat member Bharat Kerkettak and asked him to ensure 100 days’ work for the labourers.

Source: The Telegraph