Tea gardens get 28-Feb deadline to pay full bonus

Darjeeling tea Garden
Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union (DTDPLU), the trade union affiliated to the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM), on Monday gave tea gardens in the Hills a deadline of 28 February for them to pay the second and final instalment of last year’s puja bonus. The union said it will not allow the gardens to dispatch even a sample of the first flush tea if the managements fail to pay the workers by then.
It also said that workers will now demand housing and firewood as per the Plantation Labour Act 1951. The DDTPLU had recently threatened that it would allow the plucking of the first flush leaves and the manufacturing of the tea, but that it would not allow the final product be dispatched. “The puja bonus had been agreed to be given in two instalments following the 104-day shutdown last year. A meeting had taken place on 21 September last year I this regard. While the first part (50 percent) of the payment has been made, the second instalment is still due.
In another meeting on 4 January at Uttarkanya, the labour commissioner had also directed the tea garden management to pay the second instalment by 31 January, but nothing happened. The management has violated the agreement,” said DTDPLU general secretary Bharat Thakuri. “We have been cooperating with the management, but if they cannot even pay the puja bonus for 2016-2017, we will also not help them. According to the Plantation Labour Act 1951, the facilities that the tea garden workers should get include houses with firewood. We will now demand such things too,” Mr Thakuri added.
According to the DTDPLU general secretary, the management paid the workers in cash for the firewood to the tune of Rs 50 to Rs 60 per 40 kg of firewood. Annually, money is given for 320 kg of firewood. He maintained that the price for 40 kg of firewood is Rs 1200 in the market. “We now demand that the managements give us firewood instead of money from wherever they can,” he said. The plucking of the first flush leaves starts from mid-February and continues till the last week of April in the Hills.(SNS)

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