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State moves to help tea workers get dues

Jalpaiguri: The labour department on Friday initiated the process of clearing the dues of workers employed in some tea estates of Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar, a month after the Supreme Court passed a directive instructing state governments to clear a portion of such arrears.
On Friday, Pashupati Ghosh, the additional labour commissioner of the state and some other officials of his department, held a meeting with tea trade unions here and elaborated on the plan that has been made by the state to pay the dues, mostly wages.
Sources said there are 28 tea estates - closed, sick and open - where the workers are yet to get the dues.
On April 4 this year, a bench of Justices S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao of the Supreme Court had asked the governments of Bengal, Assam, Kerala and Tamil Nadu to pay the amount within 60 days.
The dues have remained unpaid for as many as 15 years, said sources. Under the order, the total due in Bengal is around Rs 30 crore, of which the state will have to pay Rs 15 crore, said Ghosh.
"We have handed over a format to the trade union leaders. They will visit the concerned workers and their families and help them in filling up the form. The forms would be submitted at the offices of our departments," the official said.

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