DOOMDOOMA, Sept 3 - The workers of Apeejay Tea Limited, formerly known as Assam Frontier Tea Industries Limited, a tea major of the State, have vehemently opposed shifting of their registered office (RO), situated at Talap here, to Kolkata.
The workers of Budlabeta, Hukanguri, Hilika, Talap, Khobong, Pengeree, Hapjan, Longsowal, Kherjan, Talap Registered Office & Central Workshop and Longsowal Central Hospital of the company held a meeting at Budlabeta TE Staff Club on Sunday and demanded the company authority to bring back the registered office to its earlier place, i.e., Talap.
It may be mentioned here that the previous British owner of the company sold out the entire company having 19 tea gardens in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Udalguri and Sonitpur districts in Assam to an Indian industrialist Surendra Paul in August 1947. Since then, the company had been operating these 19 gardens in the State from the registered office situated at Talap with a General Manager, one company secretary, an additional assistant visiting agent and 42 employees.
In the Central Workshop situated at Talap, there were 64 workers. Similarly, there were 24 doctors and staff at the Central Hospital of the company situated at Longsowal.
But in 1985, Surendra Paul was shot dead by ULFA cadres at Lahowal in Dibrugarh district when he was on his way to Talap from Mohanbari airport in Dibrugarh. His son Karan Paul subsequently took over charge of the company. He gradually began shifting officers of the RO to the head office of the company situated at 15 Park Street, Kolkata and thus curtailed the power and function of the RO.
At present, only 20 employees work in the RO, without any officer. Very recently, the company authority decided to abolish the central hospital of the company situated at Longsowal.
To protest against such a decision, the workers of the company held a meeting yesterday which was chaired by tea worker Alen Gogoi. Around 500 workers of the company garden, RO, central workshop and central hospital attended the meeting.
Explaining the objectives of the meeting, Pankaj Bhattacharya, an employee of the company strongly opposed the decisions taken unilaterally by the company authority.
Addressing the meeting, Girish Chandra Borpatragohain, general secretary of Asom Chah Karmachari Sangha (ACKS) said that the tea companies of the State had been neglecting the collective interest of Assam and the Assamese people. He also criticised the Government machinery for favouring the interests of the capitalist tea companies.
Addressing the meeting from among the public, senior journalist and president of Doomdooma Press Club, Arjun Baruah also opposed the tea major�s decisions and demanded retaining the RO to its original status.
The meeting was also attended by Doomdooma branch ACKS president Bimal Baruah, treasurer Biren Adhyapok and several other ACKS leaders.
The meeting unanimously passed seven resolutions appealing to the chairman of the company to restore the RO to its earlier position without further delay, to fill up all the staff vacancies immediately, to restore the Central Hospital of the company at Longsowal to its original position, etc.