JORHAT, July 6 - The Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS), the oldest and largest tea workers� union in the State, has sent letters to the five major tea growers� associations seeking �maximum bonus� for the tea workers before Durga Puja.
Payment of bonus to the industrial employees is mandatory under the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965. As per the act employees eligible for bonus have to be paid at a minimum rate of 8.33 per cent and a maximum of 20 per cent on the basis of the employers� earnings the previous fiscal.
The five tea growers� associations in the State are constituents of the Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations (CCPA), Assam Valley branch, which is the state unit of the apex tea producers� body of the country.
The associations are Assam Tea Planters� Association, Assam Branch Indian Tea Association, North Eastern Tea Association, Tea Association of India and Bharatiya Chah Parishad.
In his letter issued to the associations on July 5, the ACMS general secretary Dileshwar Tanti requested that the quantum of bonus be announced and paid at least three weeks ahead of Durga Puja to fulfill the �hopes and aspirations� of the workers.
The general secretary urged the industry to pay the bonus to the workers in one go rather than in installments. Some gardens in the past paid the bonus in two installments, with the second one paid in January the following year or before Holi, which generally falls in March.
Tanti requested the tea gardens to submit copies of their balance-sheets and computation statements for the previous fiscal year (2016-2017) to the union�s central office in Dibrugarh at the earliest.
Tanti, a former Minister, told The Assam Tribune that paying the bonus three weeks before the Puja would give �enough time� to workers for shopping.
He regretted that the number of gardens submitting balance-sheets to the ACMS central office was declining over the years as a result of which organisations from outside the industry have been trying to take advantage of the situation to create unrest among the workers.