The West Bengal government and the Tea Planters’ Association of Darjeeling hills on Friday agreed to the demand of tea garden workers across 87 gardens in the Darjeeling hills for a 20% bonus. The decision was taken during a tripartite meeting at Kolkata’s New Secretariat Building where representatives of the workers’ union and planters’ association met Labour Minister Moloy Ghatak.
It was decided during the meeting that 60% of the bonus will be paid in the next 10 days and remaining 40% in the month of November. Earlier, on October 4, the tea garden workers had observed a 12- hour strike demanding 20% bonus.
After the agreement, representatives of the union agreed to restore normalcy in productivity with immediate effect. “It is a victory of the tea-garden workers. We should realise that tea is the backbone of the economy of Darjeeling and the interest of workers, who earn a meagre ₹176 a day, cannot be ignored,” Saman Pathak, general secretary of Centre for Indian Trade Unions of Darjeeling district, said. Mr. Pathak is also a member of the Joint Forum of different trade unions working in the tea gardens.
Binay Tamang ends hunger strike
With the announcement of 20 % bonus, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha leader Binay Tamang, who had been on a hunger strike since October 6 over the demand, ended his protest.
“It is because of Binay Tamang that the workers of tea gardens in Darjeeling have got their due,” Mr. Tamang’s close aid and chairperson of Gorkhaland Territorial Association Anit Thapa said. Mr. Thapa said Mr. Tamang health had worsened and he was being taken to Siliguri for medical intervention.
Darjeeling BJP MP Raju Bista, in a statement, congratulated tea garden workers and demanded that Minimum Wages Act should be implemented in the tea gardens.