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Jungpana tea garden closed, Management issues notice

Jungpana tea garden Darjeeling
Good news from the Jungpana Tea Estate comes with an adverse one even as its produce is slated to grace the shelves of high-end retail outlets across India in barely two months’ time. The management today issued a notice to its employees announcing “suspension” of work.
The letter explicitly points to the growing indiscipline among the workers and specifies demands of personal gratification by the garden’s trade union leaders as some of the reasons behind the decision to suspend work.
Sandeep Mukherjee, principal advisor to the Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA), an umbrella organisation of the 87 tea gardens of the hills, of which Jungpana is a member, said, “The management will not tolerate indiscipline, interference and intimidation by trade unions.
It is the prerogative of the management to run the garden.”
The principal advisor added, “We cannot give in to the demands of personal indulgence by ‘netas’ which is unethical.”
He said the suspension will continue until the safety and security of the garden management is ensured.
The notice says that the management notes with serious concern the recurrence of indiscipline, organised incidents that are being willfully instigated in the running of the estate sine the past few months with a malafide intention against the management on issues that are essentially a prerogative of the management. The letter also states that opportunities were offered by the management to redress grievances but they were not taken up by the union.
 “We wanted to address the issues and had asked the trade union to sit for meetings on many occasions, the last being on July 30. The union never turned up in any of the meetings we called and even went against their own central leadership. This reflects their defiant attitude and it will not be tolerated by the management,” remarked Mukherjee, while stating that the union has given an undertaking in writing assuring to refrain from misconduct and indiscipline in future.
Started by legendary British planter Henry Montgomery Lennox in 1899, the Jungpana Tea Estate was acquired by the Kejriwals in 1956 from the Ranas of Nepal, who had acquired the garden following the departure of the British.
The Jungpana garden is located in Kurseong sub-division with a plantation area of more than 77 hectares and a workforce of 260. In the last fiscal it had produced 36,000 kg of prime tea and has been consistently fetching good prices for the past few years in the international market.
Suraj Subba, general secretary of the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labor Union (DTDPLU), which runs the roost in the garden, said the central committee will sit for a meeting Friday to resolve the issue.
 “Whatever the problems, they have only been discussed with our garden level unit. It seems the DTA had called a meeting Wednesday and our unit failed to attend it. But that is not reason enough for the management to suspend work,” he said.
The management’s notice has also made it clear that during the suspension of work, the workers will not have access to  subsidised rations, wages/salaries and other statutory obligations, although essential services such as water and security would continue to remain operational.(EOIC)

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