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Seven tea trade unions call for 12-hour strike on Oct 4

Darjeeling: Seven operational trade unions have called for a 12-hour bandh in Darjeeling on October 4 over the tea garden bonus impasse. On Friday, tea garden workers will abstain from attending work as well.

Incidentally, a series of meetings in Darjeeling and Kolkata failed to resolve the tea garden bonus issue. While the trade unions have demanded 20 percent bonus, the management is unwilling to climb up from 15 percent. The Labour minister, government of West Bengal, has called for another round of talks on October 17 in Kolkata.

With bonus talks having failed and for the first time with no bonus being disbursed in the Hills before the festive season, the workers have switched on to protest mode.

"On Friday, we have appealed to all businessmen, shopkeepers to close down for 12 hours. Even taxi drivers and vehicles should not ply, expressing solidarity with the workers. The latter will also take mass leave and abstain from work on Friday," stated Karuna Gurung, president, Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union.

Workers and trade union leaders will take part in a rally in Darjeeling on Thursday which will culminate in a symbolic hunger strike. "Two leaders from each of the seven trade unions will take part in this symbolic hunger strike on Thursday. The hunger strike will be held from 9 am till 6 pm. In each and every tea garden trade union, local unit supporters and leaders will also sit for hunger strikes on Thursday and Friday respectively," stated S K Lama, secretary, Himalayan Plantation Workers' Union.

On Wednesday, a massive tea garden workers' rally was held in Darjeeling. After the rally, leaders of the seven trade unions held a closed-door meeting where the agitation programmes were chalked out.

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