CPM-affiliated Darjeeling District Chiya Kaman Mazdoor Union takes up tea garden issues

CPM-affiliated Darjeeling District Chiya Kaman Mazdoor Union takes up tea garden issues
The CPM-affiliated Darjeeling District Chiya Kaman Mazdoor Union has taken up various demands raised by the tea gardens in the hills ahead of the third round of discussions to fix workers’ daily wages.
The DDCKMU zonal committee today held a meeting at the CPM office in Darjeeling to discuss in minute detail the demands needed to be taken up with the garden managements.
“There are various issues related to garden workers that need to be addressed by the management as they have been grossly neglected all these years. Being the people’s party and trade union, it is our responsibility to ensure tea garden workers get to enjoy their due rights. In our zonal committee meeting today, we discussed these issues,” said Saman Pathak, former Rajya Sabha MP from Darjeeling.
The CPM today also formed 18-member coordination and 14-member defence committees to pursue the demand of tea garden workers of the hills with the management. Priority has been given to increasing the daily wage to Rs285 along with access to fringe benefits such as firewood, raincoats and healthcare, among many.
“Going by the present market value of essential commodities, the existing wage of Rs90 is totally unacceptable. We demand an increase in the wage and benefits provided to workers that will also include medical facilities and VDA,” said Pathak.
The trade union has also demanded health centres with qualified doctors to man them across all tea gardens in the hills.
“It is sad that out of the 78 tea gardens in the hills, about 68 do not have these basic facilities,” noted the former legislator.
He further said the mandatory distribution of rice and wheat is not being executed in several gardens.
“We have found rice and wheat are not being distributed in 35 gardens. We demand the management to provide PDS rations in the gardens here and also categorise workers under the BPL list,” he said, adding pending arrears in seven gardens must be cleared as quickly as possible.
The union is also against the state government’s proposal to privatize tea gardens presently under the West Bengal Tea Development Corporation (WBTDC).
“The state government must work for the benefits of garden workers and not the management as the latter always finds ways to deprive workers of their rights by making various excuses. We demand the state government to immediately address these burning issues so that the workers get to live a respectable life,” said Pathak.
Trade unions of the hills have held tripartite meetings with the state government and the garden managements in March this year. The talks had to be suspended due to the Lok Sabha election and are now expected to continue. (EOIC)

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