Dues: Garden buys time

Kurseong, Feb. 11: The management of Jog Maya Tea Estate has asked for seven days to clear the dues of 178 workers who have not been receiving salaries for the past three months.

The plea for extra time was made at a meeting held today between leaders of the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, an affiliate of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, and subdivisional officer, block development officer and the assistant labour commissioner of Kurseong. No one from the management side was present.

The meeting was held at the BDO’s office here.

The management left the garden, located 20km from here at Ghayabari, in December after it had failed to give salaries to the workers. The total dues have now accumulated to around Rs 9 lakh.

“When I spoke to the representatives of the management, they asked for seven days to pay the wages,” said the BDO Manish Verma. The officer also informed the meeting that the 100-day work scheme would begin on February 16. He said another meeting would be held on February 18.

“If the management fails to keep its words within the stipulated time, we might form a co-operative committee to run the estate,” said Verma. He added that representatives of the workers would also be in the committee

Earlier in the day, the labourers organised a blockade on NH55 for three hours, demanding for their dues.

“The SDO has told us that the owner will clear our dues within seven days. We will wait and if the management fails to deliver on the promise, we will revive our agitation,” said Satish Chettri of the union. “However, we are happy that the 100-day work scheme will start from Monday.”