Tea workers belonging to all categories- -ABC&D-in tea gardens in the Terai and the Dooars will be getting this year’s Puja Bonus at the rate 20 percent. The decision was taken in a bipartite meeting convened by the Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations (CCPA) virtually today. Trade union leaders said the bonus for tea gardens in the Hills will be discussed and finalised separately.
Tea workers associated with Registered Tea Gardens (RTG) in the Terai and the Dooars will be given the bonus payment by 22 September. According to CCPA sources, 47 gardens identified as “distressed” have been exempted from the payment.
According to a senior official of the Indian Tea Association (ITA), tea workers associated with the 47 gardens will be given bonus at least 11 percent to a certain rate, but below 20 percent. Sources said the management and trade unions will negotiate to finalize the rate of the bonus for them.
“We are happy with the decision after the CCPA has finally agreed to pay Puja Bonus at 20 percent after a marathon bargain. Initially, the management was not agreeing with our demand, following pest attacks in plantations, adverse climatic situation and as the production rate is below 25 percent than normal,” INTTUC Darjeeling district (Plains) president Nirjal Dey said.
“The decision was taken for workers in the Terai and the Dooars. Bonus for tea workers in the Hills will be finalised separately,” Mr Dey added. Notably, the number “distressed” gardens has increased from 42 to 47 since last year. Sources said a few gardens belonging to the Duncan group have been identified as “distressed” gardens.
Sources said the Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA) will finalise the Puja Bonus through a dialogue with trade unions of tea workers in the Hills. Notably, the DTA has recently showcased the Darjeeling Tea Industry going through a financial crisis due to several reasons.
Around 100 trade union leaders assembled at the DBITA office at Binnaguri today to attend the virtual meeting convened by the CCPA from Kolkata. On the other hand, several gardens belonging to the Darjeeling Organic Tea Estate Private Limited (DOTEPL) have failed to make payment of wages to thousands of workers over the past three months.
Darjeeling District Magistrate S Ponnambalam had asked officials of the DOTEPL that owns 10 tea gardens in the Hills to appear before him today. “Representatives of DOTEPL attended our hearing today on virtual mode.
They have assured us to clear pending wages for one fortnight within next Wednesday (three or more fortnight wages are pending in their TGs) and we have also asked them to come to Darjeeling next week to discuss their plans in a tripartite meeting, to which they have agreed. We have asked them to give the above assurances in writing by today.
We will communicate their written assurances to the labour unions after its receipt,” Mr Ponnambalam said, adding that the meeting today was held in the virtual mode upon request from garden officials.