Tea workers cheated

Ilam, September 1:

Workers in tea estates under Nepal Tea Development Corporation (NTDC) not getting promised wages. Chhalimaya Bishwokarma, 52, works in Ilam Tea Estate eight hours a day and gets Rs 80 but it is not sufficient to manage food for her family.

According to an agreement on August 27, 2006 between tea entrepreneurs and workers in the presence of representatives of ministries of labour, finance and agriculture and trade unions, a worker in any estate under NTDC must get Rs 95 daily. But, Chhalimaya and scores of others in Ilam Tea Estate are short-changed.

“The new wage was approved by the government on September 13, 2006. But, NTDC has not implemented it in Ilam-based tea estates like Kanyam, Ilam, Soktim and Chilimkot,” Nepal Tea Estate Workers’ Association chairman Deepak Tamang said.

However, workers in Jhapa’s tea estates like Tokla, Barne and Barhadasi and those in nine private tea estates in Ilam are getting Rs 95 per day. There are at least 500 workers in private tea estates in Ilam.

Two years ago, after consultations with trade unions and Nepal Chambers of Commerce and Industries, the Labour Ministry had fixed daily wages of a worker at Rs 125. “We can’t hike wages each year unless the government gives subsidy,” NTDC chairman Subash Sanghai said.

Workers in Kanyam Tea Estate of Ilam are agitating since a month to get the wages fixed by the government. Various organizations of workers are supporting the demand.

Workers are also selling tea leaves on their own after the management of Kanyam Tea Estate refused to heed their demand. “An agreement was reached with tea entrepreneurs on August 27, 2006. However, no clause of the agreement has been implemented yet,” All Nepal Trade Unions’ Federation general secretary Chandra Sapkota said.