Hike pay now: Tea workers


Hike pay now: Tea workers

Employees and workers in the tea estates of north Bengal demonstrated in the gardens on Monday for an immediate hike in their salaries.

In all, there are around 10,000 employees — referred to as staff and sub-staff — who serve the tea gardens who have claimed that since 2014 their salaries had not been revised by the tea companies.

In the tea industry, sub-staff means those working as gardeners, cooks, drivers, and guards and in others similar capacities. Staff means those working in the tea garden offices but below the managerial levels.


“Usually, our salaries are revised once in three years on the basis of negotiations,” said Parth Lahiri, a representative of the Staff and Sub-Staff Joint Committee.

“But six years have passed since 2014 and there has been no revision in the salaries. It seems that the tea companies are reluctant to increase our pay. Considering the steady rise in prices of different commodities, we are hardly left with any option but to launch a movement for our pay hike,” Lahiri said.

According to him, as salaries have not been revised for six years, each of them is losing a steady amount every month.

“Based on calculations from the earlier rate of revision, every sub-staff is earning Rs 3,000 less in a month while staff are receiving at least around Rs 8,000 less in a month. We had earlier informed the Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations (CCPA, the apex body of tea associations) that we would be forced to launch a movement unless our salaries are increased. There has been no positive response so far,” added Lahiri.

As of now, a sub-staff earns a monthly salary of anywhere between Rs 5,000 and Rs 7,000.

A staff earns anywhere between Rs 17,000 and Rs 25,000 on an average, which could go up in some gardens.

After their letter to the CCPA, the planters’ body had asked them in writing to refrain from starting any movement. This is because tea production is at the peak these days and negotiations for this year’s bonus will commence through a virtual meeting on Tuesday.

“It was also mentioned that once the bonus issue is dealt with, their matter (pay hike) would be discussed. Any sudden activity in the garden can affect regular work,” said a tea planter.

The employees, however, did not buy this assurance.

On Monday morning, donning black badges, they walked up to the entrance of almost every garden and demonstrated for an hour. They have a similar plan for Tuesday.

“On September 18, we will observe a pen-down strike for three hours in the morning. If the CCPA does not respond by September 21, we will observe a similar demonstration for three hours from September 22 to 24 and will plan our movement ahead,” said a representative of the joint committee.


Employees and workers in the tea estates of north Bengal demonstrated in the gardens on Monday for an immediate hike in their salaries. In all, ther

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