Hill threat to block first flush tea dispatch

Tea garden workers in Darjeeling
The Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM)-affiliated trade union, the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union (DTDPLU) on Wednesday said that it will serve memorandums to all tea gardens on Thursday, demanding the second installment of the tea bonus promised last year. The union also threatened to block the dispatch of the first flush tea from the factories if the bonus is not paid within a week.
The DTDPLU also maintained that as decided on Tuesday by the different hill trade unions to hold gate meetings in all tea gardens on February 1, its members will not go for such a protest. “The tea bonus this time had been agreed to be given in two installments following the 104-day strike in the Hills.
The meeting had taken place on 21 September last year, and while the first part was paid, the second installment of 50 percent is yet to be given. Another meeting on 4 January at Uttarkanya in Siliguri with the labor commissioner had also directed the tea garden management to pay the second installment by 31 January.
However, no tea garden has made such a payment yet. The management has violated the agreement,” said DTDPLU general secretary Bharat Thakuri. “We cannot tolerate this anymore, and tomorrow, a memorandum will be served to each tea garden management, demanding the installment to be paid within one week.
The memorandum will also tell the management that we will not allow the manufactured tea leaves to be dispatched if the tea bonus is not paid,” said Mr Thakuri, adding that they will, however, not disrupt the plucking of the tea leaves and the manufacturing process.
Plucking for the first flush starts from mid-February and continues till the last week of April in the Hills. Asked about the decision taken on Tuesday by the different trade unions, including the DTDPLU, he said, “Our decision was not to create any problem in the tea garden for the workers or the tea industry so we have decided against the gate meetings.
We are doing these programmes under our trade union banner.” Mr Thakuri further said that they will also submit memorandums to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, the district administration and the Assistant Labour Commissioner.
“We met the GTA board chairman and vice-chairman on Wednesday and they have assured us that they will look into the matter. They have also asked us to give them in writing, and we we will submit a memorandum to them also on 2 February,” said Mr Thakuri.(SNS)

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