Darjeeling: The West Bengal Tea Development Corporation has decided to increase the daily wage of labourers in its three Darjeeling Tea gardens to Rs 90, the standard amount paid by the industry in the region.

The hike comes after the trade union of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha threatened that it would launch a fast and stop the dispatch of Darjeeling tea from the three tea gardens if the wage was not increased from Rs 67 to Rs 90.

The Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union today called off the agitation following the increase in the wages of workers in Rangmuk-Cedar, Pandam and Rangaroon tea gardens.

An official of Rangmuk-Cedar tea garden in Darjeeling said: “We received a verbal instruction from the WBTDC head office in Calcutta to disburse wages at Rs 90 a day from February onwards. We have been directed to make requisition (for salaries) at the new rate and we have already started work. The labourers will be paid the arrears as and when the state government provides us with additional funds.”

The “arrears” he was referring to was the amount accumulated since April 1, 2011, when the new wage deal came into effect in the Darjeeling tea industry. Before that, the workers were being paid Rs 67 a day.

Although the headquarters of the WBTDC could not be contacted, sources said a circular on the wage hike was expected to be issued soon.

When the Morcha union issued the agitation threat on Wednesday, industries minister Partha Chatterjee claimed that the workers in the three Darjeeling WBTDC tea gardens were being paid Rs 90 as in the entire industry.

Baban Subba, a central committee member of the union, said today: “The tea workers are very happy with the development (the decision to increase the wage hike). We have decided to call off our agitation.”

Source: The Telegraph