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DTDPLU threatens to stop ration distribution in tea gardens

Freshly plucked tea leaves
The Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union (DTDPLU) today threatened it would not allow food grains under the National Food Security Act to be distributed in the tea gardens unless the management agrees to give a percentage in cash to garden workers, an amount equal to what is being deducted from the workers’ total wages as ration money. DTDPLU general secretary SurajSubba said, “As part of the National Food Security Act, the tea gardens have also been included and the act is being implemented in the tea gardens here from this month onwards. Due to this, the ration being given by the management has now been stopped as food grains will be procured by workers s per the NFSA. 
Under this act, a worker will be getting 35kg of rice per month at the rate of Rs2 per kg. We welcome the NFSA but we want the prices of the ration that were being deducted from the wages of the workers to be included in the wage presently being received by them. In the year 2007, the workers used to get only Rs53.90 as wage after deducting Rs14.39 as ration expense. Now, with the per head wage in the tea gardens at Rs122.50, we want the management to calculate as to how much the workers should be getting for ration expenses and add the same to the wages they are presently getting as rations can now be purchased directly through the NFSA,” explained Subba, adding that if this was not done, the DTDPLU would not allow NFSA food grains to be distributed in the tea gardens. 
When Sandeep Mukherjee, the Darjeeling Tea Association principal advisor was contacted on the matter, he said, “Ration is not a wage component and the management is to provide the amount required for the ration to the workers regardless of the price it is being obtained at.” (EOIC)

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