Tea estate workers call for livelihood protection

Ilam, October 8:

Workers of the Kanyam Tea Estate are worried that the estate is shut since September 26. The tea estate was closed by the Nepal Tea Development Corporation (NTDC) for an indefinite period, citing complications. Workers are demanding that the management resume operations as soon as possible, as the closure is affecting their livelihood.

On September 23, the workers had shut in eight staff including estate manager Punya Dhakal for 53 hours in the office to press for full payment of wages and Dashain allowance, in line with the agreement between the management and workers on August 27. A day after the workers let the locked-up staff go free, the management issued a notice saying that the estate would have to be shut down due to the complicated situation.

Kanyam tea estate workers have become impatient, as the other six tea estates of the tea corporation in Jhapa and Ilam have opened after Dashain. Efforts by this correspondent to contact the management were in vain.

“We have not got our wages. Our livelihood is affected due to the closure of the tea estate,” said unit president of the All Nepal Tea Workers’ Union, Bishnu Bhattarai. The workers said that they were able to get Rs 2000 advance each only after they staged a sit-in at the NTDC office at Birtamod on September 28.

Some 283 workers are employed in Kanyam tea estate. Meanwhile, unit presidents of the Independent Tea Workers’ Union, the All Nepal Tea Workers’ Union and Nepal Tea Estate Workers’ Association met chief district officer Lekhnath Pokharel and handed him a memorandum, asking him to help create a conducive environment for opening the tea estate. They have also appealed to the political parties and human rights activists to take initiatives in this regard.