North Bengal tea industry struggle to pay tea workers
Scrapping Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes has brought a serious challenge to the tea industry in North Bengal as managements of several plantations do not know how to pay the garden labourers on time, while labourers who received wages recently do not know what to do with the money.
This two way challenge has created immense problem for the owners of the gardens.While most garden owners in the Dooars and Terai have already withdrawn money from banks to
pay the workers, most managements in the hills were about to withdraw cash from banks in a day or two for the same purpose.
However, Rs 20,000 – the maximum one can withdraw in a week till November 24 – would not be enough to pay the labourers.
In this juncture, most of the ATMs of the area remained close for the day. The ATMs which were
working had a long queue in front of them.
The maximum amount that can be exchanged in a bank by an individual in a day is Rs 4,000.
Most garden hands are paid every fortnight and only 10-15 per cent of the North Bengal tea estates pay wages weekly.
The gardens in Terai and Dooars faced severe problems. A number of tea gardens, which are supposed to make fortnightly wage payments in the next two-three days, have already withdrawn cash from the banks, mostly in these two denominations.
They are in a fix as they cannot disburse these notes among the workers.
Meanwhile, the representatives of gardens met the bank officials. The bank officials made it clear that as per directive, the ceiling of cash withdrawal from any bank is same for all types of accounts. So, the garden owners have to abide by the norms.
The gardens’ management said that they want to exchange the money they have and can get
money too. But the labourers are not willing to wait for that.