Wage dispute dogs tea estates

Kathmandu, December 24:

The latest victim of labour wage dispute are the tea estates.

Even after a meeting among the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry

(FNCCI), labour attaché and the tea sector, it could not be sorted out. The parties are expected to reach some decision soon. According to Pradeep Jung Pandey, vice-president of FNCCI, talks are still going on and it will take about two more days to come up with a decision.

Speaking at a press meet orgainsed by FNCCI today on the demands of tea workers, Pandey said that as tea production in the Tarai region is more than in the mountainous regions, they are demanding different wages according to the volume of production. The situation has changed now and the government cannot make arbitrary decisions, said Pandey adding that a tripartite meeting was required for a consensus decision.

Currently, tea workers are getting Rs 95 per day as daily wage, but they have demanded they be given Rs 140 per day. “Five years ago, tea workers were given daily wage of Rs 74 per day which increased to Rs 95 in 2006. This year, they have a demand of Rs 140 per day,” said Pandey. According to him, there has been an increment of more than 42 per cent in the labor wage in an interval of two years.

Pandey also said, “The minimum wage of labourers in the agriculture sector is Rs 150 per day due to which the tea labor too want their daily wage to be around that figure, but we think the situation in the tea sector is positive and they are free to discuss the minimum wage. I hope they will understand the situation.” Wants are always high but the media to fulfill them always fall

short, said Pandey adding that government of India has provided subsidy rates to labourers there but the Nepali government has not yet been able to grant such facility to labourers.

“At the moment, we are doing a survey of the different facilities and labour policies of our neighboring countries. On its completion, we will be surely get some good ideas,” he added.

Informing about its future initiatives Pandey said, “After the tea sector, we will arrange talks on the minimum wage policy for jute, carpet and garment industries’ sector too. We need different wage policies for these three sectors, jute, carpet and garments.”

“Unless production increases export will not rise. In the absence of both, living standards won’t rise. People should understand the importance of industries and stop creating problems in the sector,” said Pandey adding that despite an agreement between trade unions and industries, aropund 70 per cent of the industries were lying shut.

The industrial sector is facing load-shedding problem, donation-terror, kidnappings, threatsg and panic prevails in the sector, he pointed out.