Tea trade unions seek state intervention to end stalemate with management
Darjeeling: With the bipartite talks between the management and tea trade unions ending in a deadlock, the unions have demanded the immediate intervention of the state government in the next round of talks to be tripartite in nature. The trade unions have also lined up a series of agitation programmes to add more muscle to their demand, including blockade on the dispatch of tea.
Incidentally, five rounds of bipartite talks between the management and trade unions ended in a stalemate with the workers demanding 20 percent bonus and the management unwilling to pay more than 10.50 percent.
A rally was organized by all the operation tea gardens united in Darjeeling town on Wednesday with tea garden workers participating. The rally culminated in a public meeting at the Darjeeling Motor stand. An indoor meeting was also held, attended by representatives of all trade unions.
"The bipartite talks have failed. We demand immediate intervention of the State Government. Tripartite talks will have to be held to break the stalemate," said Amar Lama, representing the Jan Andolan Party (JAP.)
The trade unions have decided to stop the dispatch of tea from the tea gardens starting from Thursday. "Along with this the workers will observe "go slow" from 8am to 9:30am every day. During this time the staff and sub staff working in the tea garden offices will observe pen down," added Lama.
The tea trade unions have made an appeal to the entire Hills to express solidarity with the tea garden workers. "Tea is the economic mainstay of this region. Not only 60,000 odd workers but more than 2 and a half lakh people (workers and their dependents) are looking forward to the bonus. They contribute a major share to the local economy starting from vehicles, garment shops and eateries are all dependent on them. The entire hill market is waiting for the bonus, so all should come forward to express solidarity with the workers," Lama said.
In a symbolic gesture, the trade unions have appealed to all the shops throughout the hills to down their shutters halfway from 1 pm to 3pm on Friday. "We also appeal to all the political parties and public representatives to support the cause of the workers," said Lama.
Anit Thapa, Chairman, GTA has expressed solidarity with the workers. "After the 104 day bandh in 2017, the tea gardens have not faced a single day bandh hence. I have written to the Chief Minister and the Darjeeling Tea Association that the workers should be given 20% bonus," stated Thapa.