The tea garden workers of Darjeeling Hills, Terai and Dooars are deprived of their basic rights i.e their right to be included under the Minimum Wages Act. Today even an unskilled worker in West Bengal is entitled to Rs 276 per day as wages, but the tea garden workers who are highly skilled are paid only Rs 176.
This deprivation of our hard-working sisters and brothers of tea garden is made possible by a tactic support from the party in power in West Bengal.
If TMC government in West Bengal actually wanted to make the lives of the tea garden workers better, they would begin by including Tea Gardens under the Minimum Wages Act. On one hand, they have repeatedly refused to provide the workers their basic rights, and on the other TMC B-team in Darjeeling Hills are now staging a spectacle.
Their intention is not to provide rights to the workers, but to gain political mileage by lengthening the sufferings of the workers. I am not saying this out of political enmity, but out of the facts that are apparent for everyone to see.
Following a series of meetings in the hills, the workers representatives are called to Kolkata for the Bonus meeting on the 30th of September, 2019 this time attended by the West Bengal Minister-in-Charge of Labour and ESI Department Shri. Moloy Ghatak ji.
After the Minister failed to bring in consensus, he gave a date of 17th of October for the next meeting.
This is indicative of how insincere TMC government is, when dealing with the plight and sufferings of the tea garden workers from the hills. Had the Labour Minister been sincere, he could have called for a tripartite meeting to be held on the very next day or the day after, but he called a meeting after 17-days, when Puja would have ended.
I am absolutely shocked that a Minister-in-Charge of Labour is least concerned about the welfare of the workers, and would give a date for meeting after 17-days.
If he cannot spare time for one of the most pressing issues of the workers, he has no right to be in the post he is occupying. He should resign.
So I want to reiterate that the West Bengal government could easily include Tea Gardens under Minimum Wages Act – but they haven’t done so
Minister-in-Charge of Labour could have called for back to back meeting to resolve the Bonus issue – but he didn’t do so
TMC B-team in the hills are now staging a hunger strike to demand 20% Bonus. I want to ask them – against whom?
The authority to include tea gardens under Minimum Wages Act to grant land rights – parja patta to them rest with the state government – yet they haven’t done anything with regard to both.
If West Bengal government wanted, they could have directed the hill tea garden owners to pay 20% bonus – but they didn’t do so.
In the same state the tea garden workers of Dooars have been given 18.5% bonus – but why are tea garden owners in the hills refusing to pay fair bonus?
The discrimination against hill-based tea garden workers is apparent, and on top of that, the TMC B-team in Darjeeling hills are now using this issue to gain political millage out of it.
Nothing could be more shameful.
Had Binay Tamang and group not duped the hill tea garden workers with only 15% bonus in 2018, no one would dare to offer only 8.5 % bonus this year.
I believe, it is time for everyone to reflect on this basic fact that during 20-years of DGHC under Late. Subash Ghising ji, and 5-years of GTA under Shri. Bimal Gurung ji our tea garden workers never had to suffer so much to get their rightful bonus.
Why is that ever since TMC B-team took over GTA as Board of Administrators workers have been deprived of their rightful bonus?
Who is gaining at the cost of the workers?
The tea garden workers today are very well educated, politically aware and socially active. No one can think of duping and cheating our people further.
The rigged game that TMC and their B-team in hills is trying very hard to sell as a real case and concern for our tea garden workers is exposed. I request them to desist from politicizing the issue of our workers and their rights. They are not giving our workers their rights and benefits, and instead they are indulging in politics by staging this fake hunger strike.
If the TMC Government is unable to handle the tea garden and bonus issue, let them hand over the tea gardens and bonus issue to the Central Government, I can assure you all, we will resolve the bonus issue within 24-hours.
From the very first day that I joined Parliament, I have raised the issue of Tea Garden workers, because I believe they have been deprived and they deserve better working conditions, wages and living standards.
Because of this belief, I have worked very closely with the Union Minister for Labour and Commerce Ministry to ensure that the rights of the tea garden workers are protected. This is the very reason why, I was appointed to the Parliamentary Standing Commission on Labour. This is also why our government is bringing Occupational Health and Safety Code bill in the winter session of Parliament, this bill will subsume the Plantation Labour Act of 1951, and ensure better safety and security of our workers in tea and cinchona plantations.
I am looking forward to ensuring better days for workers from our region.
I once again, extend my solidarity and support to our sisters and brothers in the tea gardens and assure them, and also the tea garden owners my absolute and complete cooperation in resolving this issue.