SILCHAR, Dec 25 - The closure of Bikrampore Tea Estate under Borkhola constituency in Cachar district has lately pushed the concerned tea labourers to the edge of survival.
In the words of Babulal Rikiason, a tea labourer of the tea estate, the garden factory has been closed since Durga Puja this year. Adding to their cup of woes, the garden manager recently deserted the garden.
Echoing the plight of around 3,000 labourers, a delegation of tea labourers under the garden committee of Assam Mojuri Shramik Union, affiliated to the New Trade Union Initiative, (NTUI) New Delhi, submitted a memorandum to the Cachar Deputy Commissioner, besides rushing a copy of the same to the Assistant Labour Commissioner of Silchar, demanding reopening of the garden and regularisation of their daily wages.
Dharitri Sharma, district secretary of the Shramik Union claimed that the tea garden authority had deliberately created a situation in which they could put up an alibi to stall the functioning of the garden factory where tea leaves of not only this divisional garden, but also some of its out gardens are processed.
Sharma added that the power supply to the garden has been disconnected since the authorities have been listed as defaulter for not paying the electricity bills on time.
�Though the plucking of tea leaves is done by the labourers, the payment of daily wages to the workers has become largely irregular,� Sharma rued.
Moreover, the workers alleged that the provisions of the Plantation Labour Act are being grossly violated by the tea garden management. The workers mentioned in the memorandum that the Chief Minister had announced that the families of the tea garden workers would be granted four katha land each, though no tangible steps have been taken in this regard by the garden management so far.
The workers, through the memorandum urged the Deputy Commissioner to take urgent steps to put pressure on the garden management to reopen the tea factory and also to direct them to enhance the daily minimum wage of the tea workers to Rs 177.19 as gross daily wage, besides Rs 143.50 as net daily wage in cash.