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18 Jul 2018

Ghatak to announce revised minimum wage on July 30, tea unions defer agitation

Ghatak to announce revised minimum wage on July 30, tea unions defer agitationAmitava Banerjee | MP | 17 July 2018 | Darjeeling: The minimum wage amount calculated by the state government will be announced from Uttar Kanya by Labour minister Malay Ghatak on July 30. 
This assurance led to the deferring of agitation programmes, including tea estate shutdowns and a general strike by the Joint Forum of tea unions earlier slated for July 23, 24 and 25. 
Tripartite talks were held between the state government, Joint Forum and associations representing the management at Uttar Kanya, the mini secretariat in Jalpaiguri on Tuesday.
"We communicated the progress in implementation of minimum wages and the details on how it is being calculated. On July 30, Labour minister Malay Ghatak will make an official announcement on the amount that has been fixed as minimum wage. As we have made much progress, we would request the Joint Forum to lift their agitation programmes, thereby maintaining peace and tranquility in the gardens," stated Jawaid Akhtar, labour commissioner.
The Joint Forum (a conglomeration of 26 operating tea unions), demanding the implementation of minimum wages in tea gardens, had called for a closure of all tea gardens in North Bengal on July 23, 24 and 25, along with a general strike in the tea belt on July 24. 
Though the unions operational in the Hills had decided not to enforce the bandh, they had called for stopping tea dispatch from the Hill gardens.
Following the tripartite talks, the Joint Forum went into a huddle to decide on the fate of the agitation programme. "As the state government initiative is positive, we have decided to defer the 3-day strike. This will be announced in all the tea gardens on July 20, before the workers go to work. We will attend the meeting on July 30 at Uttar Kanya. However, if the announcement on that day is anti-worker, we will draw up our future course of action which will include a more severe agitation after July 30," stated Zia Ur Alam, convenor of the forum. 
Alam stated that though the government was positive, the attitude of the management is clearly anti-worker. 
Towing the Chief Minister's line, Dola Sen, president, INTTUC, stated: "Bandh will not resolve anything. It is the workers who suffer in a bandh. Our government is pro-worker. After coming to power, the daily wage of workers that stood at Rs 66 in 2011, has been incremented to Rs 159 at present." 
The minimum wage is being calculated taking into consideration various components including cost of food, clothing, housing and the 1:3 composition (3 dependents per worker). Disbursement of PF, gratuity and filling up of vacancies in the gardens were also discussed in the tripartite meeting.

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