Workers of 10 tea estates in the Hills launch relay hunger strike
Darjeeling: Workers of 10 tea estates in the Darjeeling Hills under DOTEPL, formerly the Bansal Group, on an agitation path for non-payment of wages and salary for the past two months started a relay hunger strike in Darjeeling from Monday.
They have been holding rallies and Dharnas in front of the District Collectorate in Darjeeling since August 13. "5 workers from 2 gardens will be sitting in the relay hunger strike that will continue for the next five days. If our demands are not met then on September 10, we will sit in a meeting and decide on the next step of agitation" stated JB Tamang, President, Himalayan Terai Dooars Plantation Workers Union (HTDPWU) affiliated to Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha.
Tamang stated that the union has written to the Management asking them to release dues including pending wages, salary, PF and Gratuity. "The management are in touch with the District Magistrate, Darjeeling and the GTA Chief. There will be a meeting with the Management. Our demands have to be met," added Tamang.The workers complained that not only were the wages and salary not paid but fuel was not being provided to run the machines of the factory. The factories and gardens had come to a standstill as no logistics were being provided.
The Union has been demanding that the lease of the gardens be cancelled. GTA Chief Anit Thapa had also written to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee regarding this.On August 27, the Darjeeling DM had shot a letter to the Management of the company to appear for a hearing on September 2nd. On that day Representatives of DOTEPL had attended the hearing on virtual mode. They had assured to clear pending wages for one fortnight within this Wednesday.