Tea Workers stand by the owners

Jaigaon: Workers of the Carron tea estate, which was battered by two hailstorms last week, have decided to stand by the management in this time of crisis.

They will work for three days per week instead of six for the next one month so that the management can save on wages and utilise the money to get the garden back into shape.

The estate is located in the Nagracata block of Alipurduar subdivision.

“When the garden had shut down in 2000, we were forced to work as boulder breakers in adjoining Bhutan as the operation and maintenance committee never paid us properly,” said Saniya Proja, a worker. “The new owner took over in 2004 and now the hailstorms have struck. For our own sake, we would rather work less so that the estate can recover.”

The manager of the estate, Utpal Lahiri, said following the workers’ decision, the garden will remain open from Monday to Wednesday. “We will continue like this for a month or so. If the bushes recover by then, regular work will resume,” Lahiri added.

The managing director of Basu Tea Private Limited, P. K. Basu, said over phone from Calcutta that he was very pleased by the workers’ gesture. “I thank them for their concern. I am proud that the workers and the unions have decided to help nurse the garden back to health,” he said.

Basu added that no bipartite or tripartite meeting was required to arrive at this decision. “This is a unique decision in the history of the tea industry. We will be able to save over Rs 4 lakh in the next month, thanks to the labourers,” he said.

With tea bushes in 290 hectares of the 300-hectare plantation damaged, Basu said the management needed medicine, fertiliser and pesticide worth a huge sum to turn things around.

Source: The Telegraph