Trade union bats for sale of processed tea of Rangli-Rangliot Tea Estate to pay off dues
Darjeeling: The Himalayan Plantation Workers' Union (HPWU-affiliated to the Gorkha National Liberation Front) has demanded the district administration to take steps for the sale of processed tea of Rangli-Rangliot Tea Estate in Darjeeling in order to settle the dues of the workers including wages, salary, fringe benefit dues and provident fund.
Incidentally, the dues include gratuity, provident fund, leave travel allowance, salary, wages, staff kitchen allowance, JCO and tea makers' salary, medical bill and LTA of temporary workers. Till February 14, 2018, the accumulated due was to the tune of Rs. 1,45,76481 and the amount has gone up since then. Gratuity has not been paid since 2011.
"The wages have not been paid for the last 7 weeks and salary of the staff and sub staff for the past two months along with fringe benefits. The workers have been pushed to the brink of poverty. Despite repeated requests, the Management except for making empty promises have not done anything," alleged Roshan Rai, Chief Advisor, HPWU, Rangli-Rungliot unit.
HPWU on Tuesday submitted a memorandum to the Darjeeling District Magistrate. Copies of the memorandum were forwarded to the Assistant Labour Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police.
The HPWU has eventually stopped the dispatch of premium first flush tea from the garden April 14. In the memorandum, the HPWU had written: "In the factory of the Rangli-Rangliot Tea Estate, first flush tea worth Rs 1 crore and 5 lakh is in store.
The memorandum prompted the District Magistrate to either take legal action against the company owner or arrange for the sale of the tea to pay the dues of the workers.
"In the absence of the DM, the Additional District Magistrate, Darjeeling, assured us that he would conduct an inquiry into the matter and take necessary steps," added Rai. The garden is owned by Duncans Industries Limited. The tea estate has 350 workers and around 100 staff and sub staff. It produces 1,60,000 kg of tea annually and has an area of 183.95 hectare. The Management could not be contacted for comments.