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Kallej valley tea estate shuts down over salary non-payment

Darjeeling tea garden workers
The staff members and workers of Kallejvalley tea estate have unofficially shut down work in the garden citing non-payment of salaries since January of this year. The owner, Alchemist Group, also owns two other tea estates, Dooteriah and Peshok, and workers in either of them haven’t been paid their salaries as well.
More than 670 workers of Kallejvalley haven’t been paid, with the total amount shooting up to a staggering Rs 1.72 crore. And along with the 1,372 workers in Dooteriah and the 570 in Peshok, the company is almost Rs10 crore in debt. According to Suraj Subba, general secretary of the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Labour Union (DTDLU), pleas and requests on their part have proved useless and the situation now demands for sterner methods of agitation. During a meeting with the owners earlier, a promise to pay up pending dues every month had been made, but that pledge has turned out hollow, he said. The provident fund department has also filed a number of cases against the company directors and management for breach of cash deposition made by the workers from their wages.
The situation among the workers has turned dire as they cannot even meet their medicals needs. Moreover, the general manager along with two other officials has resigned. Currently, there are no assistant managers in the tea garden. Yogdeep Gurung, who resigned from the post of general manager of Dooteriah Kallejvalley, said, “Non-payment of workers’ wages and staff salary, and the paucity of raw materials to run the factory rendered the functioning of the tea-estate impossible.” At the time of his resignation, Gurung had not been paid his salary of seven months.(EOI)

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