West Bengal tea strike

Himalayan News Service

Kolkata, July 26:

One of the longest tea garden strikes in West Bengal has ended with workers and managements finally agreeing on a three-year plan on wage revision. The 15-day long strike ended close to midnight on Monday after a marathon tripartite meeting between the state government, the workers and the management thrashed out the agreement. With negotiations repeatedly failing since the strike began on July 11, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee sat through most of the meeting to ensure its success. “The tea gardens will reopen from on Tuesday and the arrears will be paid within a week,” a relieved state labour minister Mohammed Amin told reporters late on Monday night. The strike caused losses of about Rs 1.5 billion ($34.5 million) to the industry, Indian Tea Association Chairman C K Dhanuka said on Tuesday. According to the agreement, the wage revision will ensure that workers earn Rs 8 more per day at the end of next three years in instalments of Rs 2.5 each for the first two years and Rs 3 in the third year. This is effective from

April 1, 2005. Thus, from the present Rs 45.90 per day, the wage would increase to Rs 53.90 at the end of third year (2007), Amin said. He said incentives had been fixed at Re 1 against the earlier 50 paise for plucking six kg of tea leaves above the standard tasking of 24 kg. The existing plucking task has also been reduced giving workers a reprieve from their current workload. Henceforth, workers would not be penalised for failing daily targets, but would be assessed on weekly basis. The managements also got a waiver with its stance of not paying any arrears of the past 27 months being upheld. The workers would be only paid a lump sum

of Rs 250 each as additional wages for the past three months.