Work suspended at Kalej Valley Tea Garden

Work suspended at Kalej Valley Tea Garden

Darjeeling: The management of Kalej Valley Tea Garden in Darjeeling issued a work suspension notice on April 1, closing the garden from Tuesday, blaming measures allegedly adopted by the trade unions to stop the dispatch of ready first flush teas. The garden located near Rangbull has a worker and staff strength of 630. The notice states that Silicon Agro Tea Company has cleared bonus, arrear payments (hike in daily wages,) wages and salaries cleared up to March 29, 2024 but since March, trade unions have been stopping the dispatch of ready first flush teas. A meeting to resolve the issue was held on March 29 between the management and operating unions.

The notice claimed that provident fund (PF) dues of the old management are being held. Current PF however will be regularised from May 2024, as resolved in the meeting of March 29 along with fringe facilities dues to be regularised within the upcoming fortnight.

A meeting was held on April 1 that concluded on the note that Silicon Agro Tea Company will not be allowed to dispatch ready teas. “Therefore in light of these circumstances, Silicon Agro Tea Company made the decision to suspend all its activities in the garden effective from April 2, 2024 till further meeting arranged between the stakeholders and Top level management from Silicon Agro Tea Co.,” stated the notice.

“We came to work in the morning as usual and found the work suspension notice. Though our dues were not being paid on time and the management has been absent in meetings, there has been no obstructions created in plucking of the first flush leaves,” stated Sunil Thapa, staff.

Around 370 kg of made tea is kept sealed in the factory, claim the staff. “If this company cannot run the garden or give us our dues, we demand that the government hand over the lease to some other company,” demanded Ashok Gurung, staff.

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