Tea Puja bonus meet

Tea planters from north Bengal and trade union leaders will meet in Calcutta tomorrow to discuss the Puja bonus.

The discussions this time will be held in the shadow of a crisis in the industry as heavy rains and bad roads have clogged the supply chain holding up payments that run into crores of rupees.

“It is paradoxical that the talks will be held at a time when the tea companies lack working capital to make regular payments,” said N.K. Basu, the principal adviser to Indian Tea Planters’ Association. “It is imperative for the government to repair roads on a war-footing. The situation would worsen otherwise, leading to the stopping of activities in many gardens.”

Shashank Prasad, the president of Tea Association of India, echoed Basu. “Given the present situation, the participants of tomorrow’s bipartite bonus meeting should keep in mind the affordability factor in the interests of the entire industry.”

The trade union leaders, however, are not ready to give up their share.

“The business in the last financial year has been good and we plan to demand a higher bonus than last year,” said Chitta Dey, the convener of the Coordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers, an umbrella body comprising most of the garden unions.

The crisis in the industry has also affected the small tea growers in the region.

“We are being compelled to sell green tealeaves at abnormally low prices over the past couple of weeks. The rates are lower than the production cost of Rs 6-Rs 6.50 per kg,” said Bijoygopal Chakraborty, the vice-president of United Forum of Small Tea Growers’ Association.

Source: The Telegraph