Assam polls: Tea garden workers slam ruling BJP for 'meagre' hike in wages

Express News Service
GUWAHATI: Tea workers in poll-bound Assam slammed the ruling BJP on Saturday for a meagre hike in their wages.

The state government decided to raise their daily wages by Rs 50 — from Rs 167 to Rs 217.

“We are not happy. The government has not fulfilled its commitment and the workers’ expectations. In its Vision Document of 2016, the BJP had promised daily wages of Rs 351 for the tea workers,” Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) general secretary Rupesh Gowala said.

He said the ACMS, during its recent meetings with the government, had insisted on the implementation of a draft proposal of Rs 351 daily wages and with retrospective effect from March 1, 2018.

The Congress, which has promised daily wages of Rs 365 if voted to power, accused the BJP of betraying the tea community.

“Sheer betrayal by @BJP4Assam promising to raise daily wage of tea workers to Rs. 351/- & after 5 yrs increasing it to 220/-. Congress’ 30 day guarantee-365/- daily wage within 30 days of coming to power,” Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi tweeted.

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Several other Congress leaders took to the microblogging site to pillory the BJP.

The government’s decision to constitute the JB Ekka one-man committee for equal wages of workers of small tea gardens has also met with criticism.

“The constitution of this committee is meaningless since a draft notification was issued in 2018 on the wages of workers of small tea gardens. It fixed the wages at Rs 244. When the government was expected to issue the final notification in this regard, it decided to constitute this one-man committee. This is a delaying tactic,” Gowala said.

He said the government has no will to fix the daily wages of workers of small tea gardens as most of these are owned by Ministers and MLAs of ruling parties.

“The workers of small tea gardens are not entitled to any benefits. Neither do they have any medical facilities nor are they entitled to provident fund or gratuity,” Gowala added.

Assam has 126 Assembly seats and in one-third of them, the votes of tea workers determine the fate of candidates.