Tea trade unions to launch movement

Siliguri: Trade union leaders under the banner of Coordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers today said they would soon launch a movement to demand an immediate solution to a host of problems faced by workers in the industry.

The committee, which is an umbrella organisation of 17 trade union bodies including those backed by the Intuc and Citu, called a news conference here today and provided reporters with a blue-print of their agitation programme.

“We will begin by holding two simultaneous conventions at Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar on May 24. These will be followed by conventions at different locations of the Terai, the Dooars and the Darjeeling hills including Naxalbari, Matigara, Chulsa, Birpara and Kurseong in the next two months,” said Chitta Dey, the convener of the committee. “A central convention will be held at Baghajatin Park here on June 28.”

The leaders also reiterated that if nothing comes of these programmes, they would consider calling a strike throughout the industry.

“The lackadaisical attitude of the state, Centre and the planters in addressing several key issues has worsened the plight of the three lakh workers and their dependants. This has left us with no alternative but to launch a movement across the industry again,” one of the committee members said.

They also referred to the 16-day strike that had shut down gardens across the Dooars in 2005 and forced planters to sign a revised wage agreement for garden labourers.

“We are not banking on conventions alone. Instead, we are considering these as the first phase of the movement,” said Kalyan Roy, general secretary of West Bengal Cha Sramik Union. “We are very clear about our objectives and if there is no positive outcome by June-end, we may go in for an indefinite strike in July.”

Aloke Chakravorty, the joint general secretary of the Intuc-affiliated National Union of Plantation Workers, and Murari Mitra, a member of the Citu’s state committee, both confirmed the participation of their supporters in the programme.

Source: The Telegraph