Reacting to the petition, state labour minister Moloy Ghatak had told this correspondent that they would demand minimum wages for tea workers.
The Indian Tea Association (ITA) plans to publish an “open appeal” to the government with a view to reviving the tea industry, which it says is in “deep crisis” due to several reasons. While the ITA already published ‘An appeal to the Government’ in newspapers in Assam today with the headline ‘Tea Industry is in Crisis,’ it said it will publish such an appeal in all other tea-producing states across the country very soon.
A top official of the ITA said that the appeal will be published in West Bengal too very soon. “The main reason for the present crisis in the industry is surplus production, following nearly 50 percent contribution from STGs (Small Tea Grower). The total production of tea from both the sectors- -Registered Tea Garden (RTG) and STG–is surplus because the consumption rate is less within the country,” ITA sources said.
On the other hand, there is a sharp difference of production cost between the RTG and STG, they added. “However, compared to the rate of production, planters in the RTGs are facing losses in price realisation since the rate of export has not yet increased up to the mark so that it can bring a perfect balance in demand and supply for better price realisation,” the sources further said. STG members also face problems as they do not get proper price for their green leaves.
“Viability of the tea sector is critical for security of employment of the millions of workforce. As a result, the government’s intervention for revival of the tea sector is an urgent need. The tea sector is incurring losses due to rising costs and stagnant prices,” said ITA Secretary General, Arijit Raha.In an open appeal, the ITA has urged the Centre to modify its Provided Fund Contribution Scheme for workers to be taken over by the Centre for three years to provide immediate relief.
In order to stop expansion of tea areas to contain ‘over supply,’ the ITA has appealed to the government to ban small tea areas for at least five years.ITA has also demanded substantial funds for generic promotion of tea in India. and Minimum Reserve Price for tea auction based on cost of production.