GJM Tea union calls strike on Dec10 - demanding reopening of Panighatta tea estate

Panightta Tea Estate Factory
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) affiliated tea workers union has convened a 12 hour Darjeeling Hills bandh on 10 December demanding the reopening of Panighatta tea estate located in the Kurseong foothills, and against the distressed condition of another 20 odd tea gardens in the Dooars.

The Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union (DTDPLU) claims that it has secured the clearance from GJM leadership for the general strike. GJM chief Bimal Gurung had earlier announced that there would be no bandh in Darjeeling Hills during the tourist season.

Suraj Subba, general secretary of DTDPLU said that the bandh would be on from 6 am to 6 pm on 10 December.

“Everything from markets to hotels, educational institutes to transport will be under the ambit of the strike that will be effective in the entire Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) area,” he said.

Located about 26 km from Siliguri, Panighatta tea estate has been locked out for 56 days now and this has compelled the 1,200-odd workers to survive on penury. A section of the workers has been on a relay hunger strike since 22 November demanding the reopening of the tea estate but to no avail.

“Workers of Panighatta are in a dire state and have not died yet only because of support from Gorkha people from elsewhere. Notwithstanding
the grim situation, the state government and especially, the district magistrate, are doing very little to see that Panightta reopens,” Subba said.

“If the owners cannot run the estate, let the state government cancel the lease and find out a new owner or operate it themselves. But instead of taking any such steps, West Bengal government has simply left the 1,200 workers to their fate, which is bleak,” he said.

Asked about GJM chief’s earlier assurance that there will be no bandh in Darjeeling in tourist season, Subba maintained that the strike had been called by a trade union over workers’ rights and not by the party.

“We have spoken to the party leadership and they have assured us support to make the bandh a success,” he said.

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