Tea estate workers picket Ilam DAO

Kathmandu, August 13:

Agitating Tea Estate workers picketed the Ilam District Administration Office (DAO) this morning demanding raise in their salaries and increase in facilities. They even did not let the DAO staff enter the office.

“We will not allow anyone enter the office until our demands are met,” coordinator of

agitating workers Kamal Prasad Bhattarai said, adding that they want implementation of the agreement reached among government, Tea Development Corporation and themselves two years ago.

Meanwhile, Kanyam Tea Estate has called on its workers to hold talks to resolve the problem. The workers of estate are protesting since July 31. The workers have put forward their four demands including increase in their daily wages, getting permanent appointment letter, reappointment of the retired workers and appointing other workers in place of those who leaves the job.

According to Subhash Shanghai, chairman of Kanyam Tea Estate, they are ready to hold talks to find an amicable solution. “Halting the work doesn’t bring any results,” he said, adding that the Constituent Assembly (CA) members of the region, trade unions, workers and the management can jointly hold discussion and come to a logical outcome.

“The government has shown no concern to the woes of tea estate. Had the government been serious about the development of tea industries, such situation would not have been come,” he added.

During a whole year, workers pluck green tea leaves for only six months. “And the workers are halting the work in the mean time. So, we are unable to operate our business,” he said.

According to Shanghai, its been not more than one-and-a-half years that we have committed to provide the workers Rs 80 as a daily wages. “But due to strikes, we are unable to earn profit and pay them,” he confessed, adding that the workers are now demanding Rs 95 daily wages.

However, Jhalnath Khanal, general secretary of the NCP-UML and CA member from Ilam said, issuing a press release said that the Kanyam Tea Estate has to pay the wages demanded by the workers. “Apart from that the estate should create an environment of trust so the workers can feel free to work,” Khanal added.

The industry — that has a total number of 233 workers — has 98 per cent of the workers permanent, according to Shanghai. “We are also ready to pay them the wages they are asking for,” he said.

“However, the government also has to listen to our woes as the industry is on the verge of collapse,” he said.