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Move to challenge CCPA-ACMS wage agreement

By Staff Correspondent

DIBRUGARH, March 1 � The Assam Sangrami Chah Shramik Sangha (ASCSS) and its parent body � CPI (ML) have questioned the legality of the recent tea estate workers� daily wage agreement reached between Consultative Committee of Planters� Association (CCPA) and Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) for three years with effect from January 1, this year.

The ASCSS and CPI (ML) have threatened to challenge the CCPA-ACMS wage agreement in the court, stating that powers are not bestowed upon the two organisations alone to finalise the daily wages of TE workers in Assam.

�The Assam Government recently constituted a Minimum Wages Advisory Board. As per the Government�s notification, the advisory board is required to advise it in matters related to fixation or revision of minimum rate of wages for tea plantation workers of the State among others. The CCPA and ACMS ignored the Government�s notification and finalised the TE workers� daily wage recently,� Bolindra Saikia, general secretary, CPI (ML), district body alleged.

The Minimum Wages Advisory Board comprises the Chief Secretary to the Government of Assam as Chairman, Commissioner and Secretary, Labour and Employment Department as Member Secretary, and Commissioner and Secretaries of Finance, Industry and Commerce, Food and Civil Supplies Departments as Members. Planters� representatives in the Board include the presidents and secretaries of Assam Branch of Indian Tea Association, Tea Association of India, Assam Tea Planters� Association, Bharatiya Chah Parishad and North Eastern Tea Association. Workers� representatives� in the Board include the presidents and general secretaries of Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangh, Barak Chah Shramik Union, Akhil Baratiya Chah Mazdoor Sangha and Assam Sangrami Chah Sramik Union.

CPI (ML) leader has asked for explanation as to why workers� representatives of the Minimum Wages Advisory Board from other trade unions were not called for consultation on the wage agreement. Saikia described the wage agreement as invalid and prejudiced. He said that they would fight legally against the wage agreement. The two organisations have been demanding Rs 330 as daily wages for the workers.

Protesting against the wage agreement, the Assam Sangrami Chah Shramik Sangha (ASCSS) and its parent body � CPI (ML) on Saturday staged a demonstration infront of the head office of the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha at Jibon Phukan Nagar here. They also burnt the effigy of Paban Singh Ghatowar, former Union Minister and chief advisor of ACMS. The protestors accused Ghatowar of taking an anti-workers� stand.

Biswanath Chariali Correspondent adds: The daily cash wage agreement for the tea garden workers� of the Brahmaputra Valley finalised for a period of three years between the Consultative Committee of the Plantations� Association (CCPA) and Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) has drawn sharp criticism from several quarters of the tea garden community of the State.

Asam Sangrami Chah Shramik Sangha, Adivasi Students� Association, Assam (ASAA), Assam Tea Tribe Students� Association (ATTSA), Sonitpur unit have termed this agreement as illegal and an agreement of cheating. The president and secretary of Asam Sangrami Chah Shramik Sangha, Bibek Das and Lakshikant Kurmi made this comment before mediapersons here on Saturday. They also criticised the role played by a former Central Minister ignoring the decision taken by the State Government in this respect on December 12 last year.

In protest against the agreement, the organisation has called a 12-hour Assam bandh on March 16. On the other hand, the ASAA and ATTSA have vowed to continue their democratic agitation against such type of �indiscriminate� decisions taken by the concerned parties.

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