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27 May 2017

Trade union calls general strike in hills and plains on June 13

Saman Pathak
EOI, DARJEELING, 26 May 2017: Trade union of the hills and plains under the aegis of Joint Forum today said a general strike would be called on June 13 in the North Bengal region to demand for implementation of the Minimum Wage Act in the tea gardens.
Saman Pathak, former Rajya Sabha MP and senior member of the Darjeeling Zilla Chia Kaman Majdur Union (DZCKMU), affiliated to the CPM party and one of the members of the JF made the announcement today in Darjeeling.
Among the host of issues related to the tea gardens in the hills and Terai and Dooars, the forum primarily wants speedy implementation of the MW Act and distribution of ration and old system of wage payment to workers.
“Several rounds of meeting with the state government have been held in regards to implementing the minimum wage act in the tea gardens of the hills and plains. However, the state government has yet to take any initiative and is only lingering the issue. Worker’s condition in the garden is getting worse and as such we want that the state government to come up with concrete steps to implement the act,” said Pathak.
On May 21, the Forum had convened a meeting at Chalsa in Dooars to discuss the issue with members comprising 26 trade unions from the hills, Terai and Dooars. During the meeting, the members took the decision to call a general strike in the Hills and plains on June 13 preceded by closure of all the tea gardens a day earlier on June 12, the CPM trade union leader said, today.
The CPM trade union is also not happy with the garden management distribution of ration to workers under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). “Earlier the management was distributing ration to workers normally as part of their wage. However, after the implementation of NFSA, the garden management have stopped giving the normal ration,” Pathak said.
The DZCKMU also point out the new policy of wage payment through banks after demonetization set in last year was causing undue inconvenience to workers and demanded revision. “The worker’s wage is very meager and they are paid on weekly or fortnightly basis. The new system is only causing inconvenience to workers as they have to travel far spending money and standing in queue in bank which is not only tiresome but also time consuming. We want the management to go back to the old system of wage payment,” the former RS MP said.
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung said his party would extend support to the bandh called by the Forum for the interest of the tea garden workers of the hills and plains. “My party will extend full support to the strike called by the joint forum of tea gardens on June 12 and 13. Garden and worker’s condition is very deplorable in the hills and plains. Many gardens are shut in Terai and Dooars and a couple in the hills. There has to be some sort of permanent solution. The minimum wage act must also be implemented at the earliest,” said Gurung.

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