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Gorkhaland useless sans land rights for garden workers: TMC trade union

Trinamool Congress trade union
The Trinamool Congress affiliated Darjeeling Zilla Tea Employees and Workers Union today said without securing parcha-patta or land rights, a Gorkhaland state would be of no  use, as people living in the tea gardens were yet to get their "independence" even after all these years.
The trade union claimed the tea gardens were being utilised only for funding and participating in agitations and that they did not have land rights in spite of their contributions. “All these years, political parties have used the tea garden population just for their gimmicks on the statehood issue. No one has seriously spoken or worked for the workers' land rights. Without the right to land ownership, we feel a separate state would be of no use as we will continue to live a bonded life,” said J.B. Tamang, president of the DZTEWU.
He further said, “Tea garden lands have been leased out for several years. Under such a circumstance, we will have to ask for no-objection certificates from the owners even if we achieve statehood."
On the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha threat of starting a statehood agitation anew, the trade union leader said nothing would be achieved as the only solution was to come to the table for talks.
“Andolan will not solve any purpose. We even have to sit for talks with the state government to achieve anything. Look at the state of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration now. Whatever we do, ultimately we have to sit across the table to come to a solution,” Tamang asserted.
Members of the TMC-affiliated trade union today also met officials of the Darjeeling Tea Association, an umbrella organisation of tea gardens of the hills, and submitted a memorandum for an early meeting to settle the bonus issue. Four rounds of talks have already been held for the tea gardens of the Terai and Dooars since August 20.
The union, rubbishing garden owners' claim of low productivity and income, also demanded bonus at the rate of 20 per cent, saying it should be distributed a fortnight before the Puja festival. Tamang also advocated for a separate meeting on the production issue. “It is only during the bonus settlement period that the management claims of low production and income, which is completely false. The production issue should be discussed in a separate meeting. As far as the bonus is concerned, we will not accept anything less than 20 per cent and this too should be distributed 15 days before the Puja starts,” Tamang said.
He also said the proposed categorisation of tea gardens in the hills by the owners was unacceptable. “Why categorise gardens and workers? Workers continue to work for eight hours a day, get daily wages of Rs122.50 and the product is sold in the national and international markets as Darjeeling tea."
The trade union also said the party and chief minister Mamata Banerjee have already taken up the issue of implementing minimum wage in the tea gardens. (EOIC)

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