Tata Tea locks out Dam Dim Tea Estate

Tata Tea confirmed its decision to declare a lockout in Dam Dim Tea Estate through a press release today even as trade unions expressed eagerness to end the deadlock.

The company said the management of the garden located in Malbazar, 45km from here, was compelled to shut the estate after the manager, three assistant managers and two welfare officers were “kept under illegal confinement” for 17 hours. The statement also said 46,000kg of plucked leaf was “completely damaged” as the workers had refused to unload them at the factory.

The workers, however, have denied the charges. Once a model garden in the Dooars, the fate of its 2,200 odd workers is now uncertain.

Officials of the Dooars branch of Indian Tea Association (DBITA), of which Dam Dim is a member garden, confirmed that both the Citu and Intuc have approached them to initiate dialogue that would end the deadlock. “There have been some correspondences from their side. We will look into them,” a DBITA official said.

Mani Darnal, joint general secretary of the Intuc-affiliated NUPW in Jalpaiguri, admitted that unlike other gardens, Tata estates like Dam Dim did not have any financial problems like irregular wages or pending provident funds. “It is a minor issue that could have been solved through bipartite meetings. We have asked the management’s representatives to fix a meeting and inform us,” said Darnal.

Trade union leaders had yesterday said they were not happy with the style of functioning of the new manager of the garden, Uday Bhanu Das. Apparently Das had switched the weekly holiday from Sunday to Monday. “Not only that, plantation workers were brought to the factory and factory workers sent to pluck tealeaves. If any worker protested, he was not assigned a job for 10 days at a stretch,” a CPM leader had said yesterday.

Officials at the district labour department said they would intervene only if the bipartite meeting fails.

Source: The Telegraph