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29 Apr 2018

GNLF halts first flush tea supplies

Vivek Chhetri, TT,  Apr 29, 2018, Darjeeling: The Darjeeling tea industry is again in turmoil with the Gorkha National Liberation Front stopping consignments of the first flush variety, which commands the highest price.

The disruption comes at a time when the industry is trying hard to recover the losses following last year's 104-day shutdown.

Himalayan Plantation Workers' Union, the trade wing of the GNLF, raked up several issues including an industry wise agreement of 2012 and disbursement of wages to tea workers for the 104-day strike period.

J.B. Tamang, general secretary of the union, said: "As per the plantation labour act, a worker is entitled to fringe benefits if he puts in 120 days of work annually. The management, however, is insisting on a 180 day criteria. He demanded that workers also be paid wages for the last year strike as the government had paid salaries to its employees for the three month shutdown."

"Since the strike was called by the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, the hill body must pay the worker's their salaries. We will gherao Lal Khoti (headquarter of GTA) on May 4," he added.

Sandeep Mukherjee, principal advisor of Darjeeling Tea Association insisted that the 180 day criteria were agreed between the management and union in January 2012. "The 120-day criteria is not there in the plantation labour act but that had been agreed between the management and the union in 1999. The agreement was signed to ensure that there was less absenteeism in the gardens," he said

The claim and counter claim of the management and the union could not be verified with the labour commission office closed on Saturday.

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