Tea Industry strike threat

After a gap of two years, leading trade unions associated with the tea industry have decided to recommence a continuous movement designed to put pressure on planters as well as the Centre and the Bengal government over several demands related to the 3-lakh-strong workforce.

In 2005, the tea industry was paralysed by a fortnight’s strike over wages. Finally, the chief minister had to intervene, which resulted in the signing of a new tripartite wage agreement. By then, the industry had suffered a loss of Rs 50 crore.

While senior leaders of the Citu and Intuc, the trade union wings of the CPM and the Congress, have been insisting on the need to reopen the closed tea estates of the region, they did not take to demonstrations or resort to strikes.

“We had submitted a charter of demands to the planters and the governments earlier, none of which has been met so far,” said Chitta Dey, the convener of the Coordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers. “So we have decided to re-launch the movement to secure the workers’ rights.”

The leadership of the coordination committee of plantation workers has decided to meet representatives of constituent unions at Chalsa on April 20 to work on the charter of demands. “This would be followed by another meeting on April 27 in the Terai, where our plan of action will be finalised,” Dey said.

“To begin with we are thinking of organising conventions across the tea belt right through the month of May. If the planters or the governments do not take any initiative by then, we will go for a strike in June,” a leader said.

Source: The Telegraph