Darjeeling Tea workers association cry for daily wage increment

The CPRM-affiliated union for tea garden workers in the hills has demanded an interim increment of 33 per cent in their daily wage.

K.B. Subba, general secretary of the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Chia Kaman Mazdoor Union, said given the rise in food prices, the workers were finding it hard to make their ends meet.

“According to the labour department, New Delhi, the minimum daily wage in Sikkim was Rs 85, Rs 89 in Karnataka, Rs 87 in Uttar Pradesh, Rs 71 in Tamil Nadu, Rs 81 in Kerala and Rs 73 in Jharkhand for 2006-07. But workers in the hills are getting only Rs 62.50,” said Subba.

An agreement on hike in the wages of tea garden workers had last been reached on August 23, 2008.

“We demand an interim increment of 33 per cent of the current wage not only in the hills but in the Terai and the Dooars also,” said Subba.

According to the union, the second largest in the hills, there are three lakh workers in 277 gardens in north Bengal, of whom 55,000 are in the hills.

Sandeep Mukherjee, the secretary of the Darjeeling Tea Association, had recently said: “The industry is in trouble. While the production has come down, labour strength of 55,000 has not gone down. Wages, too, have increased by almost 20 per cent in a decade.”