Workers at Orange Valley continue to work

Darjeeling: Workers of the Orange Valley tea garden attended to their duties for the second day today, defying a suspension of work notice issued on April 30.

The management is of the opinion that the decision of workers to take control of the garden could amount to “trespassing into other’s property”. They added that they are considering legal recourse to end the impasse and are consulting experts to frame specific charges against the labourers.

“We are contemplating legal action. In a labour-intensive industry such action can have grave consequences for the garden’s future and we will not allow ourselves to be dictated by them,” said Sandeep Mukherjee, the secretary of Darjeeling Tea Association, of which Orange is a member.

The workers’ decision to run the garden without managerial supervision also raises questions on the manufacturing process and the quality of the highly-priced first flush. Observers feel this could have serious repercussions on the brand image of the garden in the days to come.

Local GNLF leader A.R. Dewan confirmed that work had resumed in the garden today. He, however, said members of the garden management could take up the reins of the garden any time they wanted.

The management, however, has stuck to its guns and said they would return only after normality is restored.

“A section of the workers are against resumption of work in the garden. The process of cooling off has not happened at Orange Valley,” said Mukherjee.

The management also wants the workers to withdraw the non-bailable cases lodged against two managers, Nipen Sharma and Jhawar Singh Chowdhury, for “compelling (Sukbir Rai) to commit suicide”. Rai had committed suicide last Wednesday allegedly goaded by the humiliation at the hands of the accused duo.

Observers feel that withdrawal of the cases would not be easy as CPM and CPRM-backed unions are present in the garden along with the GNLF-backed body. The rivalry between the three unions could delay an immediate solution to the impasse.

Source: The Telegraph