DIBRUGARH, Sept 9 - With most of the major tea producers of the Brahmaputra Valley having agreed to pay this year�s bonus to the tea workers at 20 per cent, there are only smiles to be seen on the faces of prominent tea labour leaders like Paban Singh Ghatowar and Dileswar Tanti. The former is the president and the latter the general secretary of the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS).
Speaking to this newspaper today, Tanti said that among the biggest tea companies, only Assam Company India Limited is yet to spell out what they would be paying this year. The company is better known as the world�s oldest tea company, but has recently run into financial rough waters following years of fiscal indiscipline and alleged siphoning of funds into diversifications.
On the brighter side, companies that have signed on the dotted line with the ACMS to pay 20% bonus this year include McLeod Russel India Limited (has 48 tea estates), MK Shah Exports (has 5 tea estates), MK Jokai Agriplantations (has 6 tea estates), Dhunseri Tea & Industries (has 10 tea estates), James Warren (has 8 tea estates), Warren Tea (has 7 tea gardens), Government of India � owned Andrew Yule (has 9 tea gardens), Tata � owned Amalgamated Plantations (has 21 tea estates), Rossel Tea (owns 5 tea gardens), Birla � owned Jayshree Tea (has four gardens), the Jorehaut Group (owns four gardens), and Stuart Hall (owns 10 gardens). Single tea estate companies like Amgoorie India, Goodricke, Joonktollie, Limbuguri, Ethelwood etc have also announced 20 per cent bonus payouts to the tea workers.
Tanti said proprietorial and partnership owned tea gardens like Dufflating, Silonibari, Sonari, Aideubari, Bihubor, Banamalie, Langkashi, Borsila, Hautlee, and Tiloijan also would be paying 20% bonus.
Tea labourers� bonus payments are generally made three weeks prior to Durga Puja. Some tea companies spread the payments to cover Diwali and Holi too, depending on individual garden-level negotiations.
Ghatowar said this year�s bonus-related negotiations involved lengthy discussions among the management associations and the ACMS. He said the ACMS always believes in healthy negotiations even in the face of a negative campaign launched by politically-motivated groups. For the veteran trade union leader, the test of 2017 did not fail him. In the process, most of the tea workers in the valley have little to complain, as far as puja-related bonus is concerned.