Around 750 tea-workers have got back their jobs with the reopening of Manbari tea garden at Malbazar in Jalpaiguri following tripartite meeting in which the state labour minister Malay Ghatak played a major role.
The tea garden had been closed on March 21 due to differences in opinion on various issues between the owner and employees. A tripartite meeting held in Kolkata on Thursday in which both the owner and representatives of the employees were present. The state Power Minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay was also present in the meeting along with the Labour Minister.
Issues including clearance of dues, provident fund and ration to tea workers had cropped up during the meeting. Both the employees’ representatives and owner had negotiated the issues and they came to a conclusion to reopen the garden with a decision that the owner will take necessary steps to help workers get their benefits as much as possible.
Rajashri Joardar has taken up the responsibility of the garden as its manager. He also assured of taking necessary steps so that the work in the garden can continue smoothly.
The employees too joined the work on Friday. Explaining it to be a new dawn for workers of the garden, Shanu Singh, a local resident and worker of a tea garden, said: “No one wants the garden to remain closed as it is the only means of livelihood for the people in the area. We need to pass through various difficult situations when the garden remains closed. But at the same time, the owners and authorities should also take care of workers and clear their dues.”
He also thanked Trinamool Congress government for taking the initiative to reopen the tea garden as the initiative was taken by the labour minister and power minister to arrange a tripartite meeting.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced the formation of a directorate for tea gardens in the state. The decision was taken so that proper care can be taken for better running of the gardens with proper co-ordination with the Centre.
It may be mentioned that there are still several ailing and closed tea gardens in North Bengal and the state government had urged the Centre repeated times to take necessary steps to ensure revival of the gardens. The state government had also provided Rs 2 kg rice and other facilities to extend help to the workers of the closed tea gardens.