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GJM trade union DTDPLU skeptical on govt notification on minimum wage act

GJM trade union DTDPLU
The Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union (DTDPLU) affiliated to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) party today expressed reservation over the incomplete nature of the draft notification for implementation of the Minimum Wage Act in the hill tea industry.
The DTDPLU maintained that factors like wages of workers for the 8 hours of work they put in, categorization of fringe benefits and hill allowance were not mentioned in the draft copy that the government had sent to the union in August, last month.
“We welcome the government’s decision to implement the minimum wage act which has been one of our demands for a very long time. However, going through the draft copy we have found certain issues relating to the workers omitted or not included. This needs to be amended and only then will we accept the government’s decision,” said Suraj Subba, the DTDPLU general secretary, today.
The union leader pointed out that how much wage the workers were eligible for the eight hours of work they put in the garden did not find mention. Also categorization was not clear about worker’s benefits such as education for worker’s children, medical and recreational facilities.
“We also want the government to factor in the element to provide stipend in the form of hill allowance to the garden workers. This is pertinent because of the cost factor in the Hills which are different and higher than in the plains,” Subba said.
The DPDTPL had taken up the MWA issue with the state government since 2008 along with its charter of demands related to worker’s rights.
In July 2014, the DTDPLU had joined hands with other plains union under the banner of United Tea Worker’s Forum (UTWF), the Coordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers (CCTPW) and Defense Committee for Plantation Worker’s Right (DCPWR) to take forward the demand for speedy implementation of the MWA.
The union has also suggested that the state government should offer Rs.321 as the minimum wage to workers. However, in the draft that the government has sent to the trade union the rate has been fixed at Rs.158. “It is only our suggestion to the government. After taking in factors, we had come to the conclusion that the basics of workers should be kept at Rs.321 with ration facilities which we feel would be substantial,” Subba said.
Workers in the Hills tea garden were getting Rs.90 as daily wage which now has been hiked to Rs.122.50 with DTDPLU and GJM pressure on the management. The bonus has also been increased by 20 percent.
The DTDPLU general secretary said that the union would invite economists and experts to the Hills later this month to discuss and deliberate on the government draft notification. (EOIC)

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