Managers flee from tea garden

Jaigaon: The manager and three senior managerial employees of Dalsinghpara Tea Estate have fled the garden, apparently on the pretext of going to fetch cash to pay the workers their last month’s dues.

The Calcutta-based Octavius Tea and Industries, which owns Dalsinghpara, has also pulled out the managers of two of its other estates in the Dooars. The managers of Dalmore and Sylee have left under similar circumstances.

The workers of Dalsinghpara said the management had announced on January 5 that the dues chalked up in the fortnight between December 13 and 26 would be paid soon. “Later, on the same day, they announced that the payment would be made on January 12,” said a worker.

The management put up a notice on January 14 saying the payment would be made between January 21 and 25. The manager and his subordinates left the garden on the last day.

Currently, the garden is without electricity: the supply has been cut because of non-payment of past bills. As a result, the workers are not being able to run the pumps and are facing an acute drinking water scarcity.

Prabhat Mukherjee, the general secretary of the Intuc-affiliated National Union of Plantation Workers, said Octavius Tea and Industries had taken over Dalsinghpara, Dalmore, Sylee and Nayasylee gardens in June, 2004 after signing an agreement with the Bengal labour department.

“They have not fulfilled a single promise made in the agreement, including payment of the workers’ dues,” Mukherjee said.

“Dalsinghpara has had 15 managers in three-and-a-half years. The current manager is now saying that he will not return to the garden till the owner sends him funds to make the payments,” Mukherjee added.

P.K. Chatterjee, the secretary of the Dooars Branch of the Indian Tea Association, said he was totally in the dark about the chain of events.

Jalpaiguri district magistrate R. Ranjit said the management had agreed to clear one-third of the electricity bills by January 29. “If they do not pay up as promised, we will take action, but I have not heard that the manager had abandoned the garden. I will look into this.”


Prabhmeet Singh said...

"A very sad state of afairs, it pains to read this". - Prabhmeet