Tea Managers forced to leave tea garden

Two members of the management at Dalsinghpara Tea Estate were forced by workers to leave the garden after they failed to pay up their monthly dues.

Garden manager Jagannath Mahato and factory-in-charge Govind Purohit came to their office around 8am and were immediately confronted by workers. Supporters of unions affiliated to the UTUC, the Intuc and the Citu jointly demanded this month’s wages, revision of pay scale and arrears.

The duo admitted that they did not have the funds to pay the dues and pleaded helplessness in not being able to get in touch with company officials in Calcutta.

According to Sankar Ghosh of the UTUC-affiliated North Bengal Cha Bagan Employees Union, the two men were told to march to the bus stand 500m away where there were phone booths. They were accompanied by over 300 garden workers.

“Once there, they called up the office of Octavius Tea and Industries Ltd, which owns the garden. After the call they said the management would not be able to send funds before next week,” Ghosh said.

The leaders present then decided that they would not allow the two officials to return to the garden and reportedly forced the duo on to a bus and asked them to leave.

“We had no options but to ask them to leave as the company has been failing to pay up the wages and the arrears after repeated promises,” Ghosh said. “Earlier the wages were paid regularly on the fourth of each month. This month we allowed them time till the tenth. When they did not pay us our dues even on August 14 we stopped the despatch of tea from the factory.”

The president of the Intuc-affiliated National Union of Plantation Workers, Kalatush Kullu, said the company owed the workers nearly Rs 4 crore in provident fund and gratuity dues, wage arrears, ration and medical bills.

Police said the two managers had gone to the Jaigaon police station to register a complaint.

“We tried to tell the unions today that about 25,000 kg of tea was awaiting despatch and this payment would be made by August 22. But they are not willing to listen to us and instead we were insulted. The plucked leaf is lying unweighed since 7am today. There are no security arrangements in the garden,” Mahato said.

Till late in the evening the two managers were still at the police station.

Source: The Telegraph