Dibrugarh, Aug. 24: McLeod Russell India Ltd, the largest tea producing company in the world, has agreed to “remove all disparity and work out a formula to maintain uniformity in giving bonus to its employees employed in the gardens of Assam”.

This declaration comes in the wake of the declaration of an agitation by the All-Assam McLeod Russell Employees Co-ordination Committee.

The decision was taken during an eight-hour bilateral discussion yesterday between members of the committee and company representatives at the Assam Branch Indian Tea Association (Abita), Zone-I office here.

The meeting started at 2.30pm and went on till 11pm.

A team headed by Girish Chandra Borpatra Gohain, the general secretary of the Asom Chah Karmachari Sangha, represented the committee.

The sangha is the lone recognised trade union for tea garden employees in the Brahmaputra Valley.

Visiting agent Nandu Gangulee led a team of senior executives, which represented the company.

The employees’ committee, which functions under the Sangha, had earlier announced a three-phase agitation from August 22, against the alleged “arrogant attitude” of the company in settling its 19-point charter of demands.

“We had a threadbare discussion on some of the demands raised by the co-ordination committee and assured them that the company would do its best to find a solutions to the demands. We also appealed to the employees’ committee to withdraw their strike to which they agreed,” a company representative said.

“There are certain issues, which we would like to settle through the Consultative Committee for Plantations Association (CCPA), which is the co-ordinating body for all planters associations. We are happy that the discussions were held in a very cordial manner. We have decided to meet soon and finalise the agreement,” he added.

“Since the company had agreed to hold discussions and assured us of a patient hearing, we have decided to keep our agitation in abeyance for a month’s time,” Bhupen Borgohain, the president of the committee and secretary of the Moran circle of the Sangha, said.

McLeod Russell is the largest tea company in the world with 66 gardens.

In Assam, the company has 49 gardens with 2,500 employees.

The main demands of the employees includes increase of the retirement age to 60 years from 58, removal of disparity in payment of bonus to the employees, appointment of regular staff, abolishment of illegal voucher payment to retired staff whose services are extended on a contract basis and implementation of a uniformed seasonal allowance system.

Source: The Telegraph