Showing posts with label Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union. Show all posts

Darjeeling Trade union threatens road blockades during President visit

11:49 AM
DARJEELING 7 Jul 2016 Intensifying the ongoing agitation of tea garden workers , the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union today threatened to call its road blockades and  ‘chakka jam’ during the visit of the President and the West Bengal chief minister to the hills, from July 12 to 15.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha affiliated trade union is spearheading a relay hunger strike from June 16 demanding clearance of workers' dues and the agitation today reached its 22nd day.

The Alchemist group run Dootriah, Kalej Valley and Peshok tea gardens stand to pay dues up to Rs10 crore towards workers' provident fund, gratuity, salary and wages and other fringe benefits, while Jogmaya Tea Company and Panighatta tea estate, which are owned by other entities, have an unpaid accumulative amount of Rs2.46 crore.

Today, Darjeeling MLA Amar Rai and Rohit Sharma, his counterpart from Kurseong, visited the venue of the relay hunger strike and spoke with the agitators. Tilak Chand Roka, a GJM central committee leader and legal advisor to the DTDPLU, threatened an intensified agitation to press for the workers' demand. “We will close all the tea gardens in the hills as part of our intensified agitation.
Darjeeling Trade union threatens road blockades during President visit

We will even go for road blockades and chakka jam during the visit of the President and chief minister to the hills,” he threatened from outside the district magistrate’s office where the agitation is being staged.

As per the tentative schedule, President Pranab Mukherjee is expected to fly to Darjeeling on July 12. The next day, he will attend the birth anniversary celebrations of renowned Nepali poet

Bhanu Bhakta Acharya. On July 14, Mukherjee is expected to address the annual general meeting of the Darjeeling Tea Association and he will fly back to Bagdogra the next day. Chief minister Mamata

Banerjee will receive President Mukherjee at Bagdogra airport on July 11 and accompany him to the hills.

“Our agitation has entered the 22nd day but we have yet to receive any positive proposals or assurances from the owners of the five tea gardens or the state government. The workers have lost their patience to tolerate any further,” said Roka.

The threat of an intensified agitation by the trade union is contrary to what GJM general secretary Roshan Giri recently said after a meeting with K.D. Singh, the Trinamool MP who owns the Alchemist group of tea gardens. Giri had said a positive outcome was in the offing.

The DTDPLU legal advisor said the apathy being shown by the owners, the management and the state government in addressing the issue would affect more than 3,000 workers of the five tea gardens. “They are frustrated and in dire condition as they have not receied their salary and wages. In fact, many of them are being forced remain on empty stomachs. This is why we want the state government to show a positive attitude,” Roka said.

The three gardens under the Alchemist group have 2,598 workers in total, while Jogmaya and Panighatta gardens have 188 and 1,000 workers, respectively.


Hills on agitation path for salary hike & dues spearheaded by GJM

10:18 AM
Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, June 13: GTA offices and some tea gardens are in the grip of movements spearheaded by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the hills.

While all 284 Group A and B ad hoc employees at the hill body started a pen-down strike this morning to demand a salary hike, the Morcha-affiliated tea garden trade union today announced a 72-hour relay hunger strike on the district magistrate's office premises this week to press for the payment of dues in plantations owned by Trinamul Congress MP K.D. Singh.

Janmukti Asthai Karmachari Sangathan, the trade union of the Morcha, launched the strike to demand a hike in salaries of Group A and B casual staff at the GTA similar to the one effected by the state government for Group C and D ad hoc workers from March 1. The Group A and B employees include engineers, doctors, managers and school teachers.
The agitating GTA employees outside Lal Kothi on Monday
The agitating GTA employees outside Lal Kothi on Monday. (Suman Tamang)
"In the GTA, the highest amount a Group A officer like engineers and doctors currently receives is Rs 21,000 per month, while some drivers in Group C section are now getting Rs 22,500 following the recent hike. This is unfair. We will continue the agitation until the government rectifies the anomaly," said Deepak Sharma, the spokesman for the Sangathan.

The GTA has over 19,000 employees in total and 5,321 of them were appointed on a temporary basis. Since there are permanent employees in the Group A and B categories and today was the first day of the strike, the GTA's functioning was not affected.

The Morcha-affiliated Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union today said it had decided to start the 72-hour relay fast in the district magistrate's office from June 16 and block NH55 on June 21 and 22 to press for the payment of dues in the three gardens run by the Alchemist Group.

The union claims that the dues come to Rs 10 crore.

Early this morning, tea garden and cinchona plantation workers also demonstrated for an hour before reporting for work to demand land rights for the inhabitants of the tea and cinchona plantations.


Morcha to plan movement demanding land rights to tea and cinchona workers

7:38 AM
Writes: Vivek Chhetri

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has decided to start a movement demanding land rights for tea garden and cinchona plantation workers and minimum wages for tea estate labourers.

The party will form a 50-member committee that will have Morcha representatives and apolitical people from tea gardens and cinchona plantations, to chalk out the course of action.

The decision was taken at a meeting of members of the Morcha central committee, representatives of Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union (tea and cinchona units) and elected GTA Sabha members at the Gorkha Rangamanch Bhawan today.

Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said: "It has been decided that a 50-member committee will be formed on May 15 to pursue the demand of land rights and minimum wages for tea garden workers. The committee will chart the future course of agitation."
Morcha representative handing over demand for Land rights to Union Commerce and Industries Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Morcha representative handing over demand for Land rights to Union Commerce and
Industries Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Morcha sources said this was the first time in "three-four years" that a joint meeting of the party central committee and the union leaders from gardens was held. "It is probably an outcome of opposition parties mobilising support in the hills," said a union leader.

The hill tea gardens have around 55,000 permanent and 20,000 temporary workers and nearly 5,000 people work in the cinchona plantations.

After its formation, Harka Bahadur Chhetri's Jana Andolan Party had laid stress on demanding land rights for tea and cinchona workers. Some JAP leaders from the Teesta Valley region in Darjeeling subdivision who took up the cause, however, joined the Morcha before the Assembly elections.
Today, Giri said: "The Left Front government had called a meeting in Calcutta on July 22, 2009, to look into the issue of granting land rights to tea garden workers. The meeting had been attended by land and land reforms commissioner and the principal secretary of commerce and industries department among others. Representative of the Consultative Committee on Plantation Associations had, however, expressed their opposition, after which the issue was not pursued. The TMC government did not hold a single meeting on this."

Giri said the Morcha would consult legal experts to see if the GTA could grant land rights to the cinchona workers.

"The GTA Act states that matters related to settling land rights and renewing lease of cinchona plantation lies with the GTA," he said.

Section 26 of the GTA Act says the hill body will have "administrative, financial and executive powers in the region in relation to cinchona plantation and settlement of land in possession of plantation inhabitants; management of lease of cinchona lands etc."

The state government has formed a committee to look into the minimum wage issue.

Workers of Dooteriah tea estate, 25km from Darjeeling, have threatened to block NH55 on May 18 if the management fails to clear their dues by May 14.

"The garden is owned by Trinamul Rajya Sabha member K.D. Singh and wages have been due since January. If it is not cleared we will block NH55 at Ghoom on May 18," said Ashok Rai, a garden employee. The estate has 1,372 labourers.

Source Telegraph

Profit Over Human Lives - How Tea Industry is Starving Workers to Death in ‪Dooars

9:19 AM

Writes: Gunjan Rana 

One is born with inevitable consequence of death, certainly no one had gulped immortality syrup”- this were the words of a manager of one of the 14 Goenka owned Tea Estates in North Bengal, when we asked him about recent deaths of the workers in Bagracote Tea Estate (a Duncan owned Tea Estate) due to prolonged illness and lack of health services. 

Over the time we hear such deaths, which is a matter of concern, which the Manager preposterously disrespected, being oblivious to the fact that how he will make an effort to run for his life, if he is chased by people having gun in their hands. 

Well, the situation in the Tea Gardens is no different from this imaginary situation where I put the manager into. Everyone knows that death is a truth, but we also know that if we do not push ourselves to make an effort to prolong it, death will come sooner. So the point here is that, the workers did not died because of the inevitability of death as a natural phenomena, rather they died because of the prolonged illness they were put into, by unhealthy and unhygienic working condition, unsafe drinking water and zero nutrition food that they eat to save the already meager earning. 

Gungaram Tea Estate, one of the Tea Estate owned by the Duncans Goenka Group had to say the same story. The raged workers were somewhat consoled by their newly appointed authoritative (not being judgmental) manager, who promised to open the Tea Garden, which was closed (not officially) since June. The Tea Estate was made functional too as promised; it was the sixth day of opening. The Manager further said that all the dues that the owner owed to the workers shall be paid through installments and the first such installment was already distributed. The workers were too moved by the developments. The actions were very promising to them, making them feel that may be a situation like this will not take place again. 

But Duncan’s other 13 gardens are not yet opened and the death toll increased to 3. All the Duncan’s owned garden stopped paying its workers after the revision in their wages, which happened in one of the tripartite meeting this April. Duncan Goenka Group altogether has approximately 7000 hectors plantation land, 40,000 workers with over 20 crore yearly turnover. 

But the company like Duncan Goenka Group (and others) is/are too infamous for slavery wage that they pay their workers and the haphazard shut downs. When asked the Manager about this, he straightly said that the Duncan Goenka Group is collapsed; if it has to stand its businesses then it has to make stand the Gardens and all the other industries it has invested on. 

But the irony is, Duncan Goenka is already a huge company. And Gungaram Tea Estate is a highest yielding garden in the region. The manager showed in his office, all the certificates that hung on the wall, the Garden had got over time, for really high yield. He himself was amazed, in one such year the production per hector was some 28 quintals. 

How can such a company which owns 15 more Tea estates like Gungaram get into the crisis? It is often alleged that it is because the owners siphon offs the revenues generated from Tea Gardens to other industries, Duncans too had invested in some cement industry, as it went to loss, the worker paid for it. Well, the owner does that because he is an owner! It has got this power and police and administration goes hand in gloves. 

A woman worker was expressing how she felt as a policeman came to them with his laathi and helmet when they were agitating, blocking the highway because they were not being paid for couple of weeks. She felt that the policeman will not shower the sticks on them, as she was more than hundred percent sure that they were correct and the management was wrong. 

But the policeman did shower his laathi on them that too, she said was so brutal. 

Many ration are due said the workers whom we met. Manager on this said that, they asked the Government to distribute some relief, and the government has been distributing 1kg of rice to each ration card holder for Rs 4 per kg. 

But aren’t the below poverty level worker already liable for the ration under PDS, without the management’s requisition to the Government? 

Worker’s social security is put at risk every passing hour by the management, the hospital does not functions and the only assistance available to the worker outside the Garden’s ill functioning hospital is the vehicle which carries the patients to the nearby North Bengal Medical College and Hospital. No refunding of the expenditure is reimbursed to the worker, which according to law is not acceptable. 

But, what is acceptable to the law or general conscience and what is not does not works in the present day slave owing system of Tea garden, be it a Goodrick owned or Duncan’s owned Tea Garden. 

The only thing that plays is the disrespectful supremacist and hierarchical profit motive ethics of the owners. The so called profit mongering industrialist.

Source - Darjeeling and Dooars Tea Workers Relief Organization - DAWN

[File pic of a tea worker who starved to death in 2013]

GJM - DTDLPU not to support country-wide bandh against labour law and reforms

11:49 AM
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) today said it would not support the country-wide bandh jointly called by the Left Front and the Congress on September 2 to protest the central government’s labour law and reforms that allegedly curb’s workers’ rights. GJM general secretary Roshan Giri issued a press statement to announce the party’s stand. “Being the principal political party in the hills, it is our responsibility to maintain the peaceful atmosphere that is presently prevailing. Also, we feel that bandhs will hamper the ongoing development work in Darjeeling,” he said. The trend in the Darjeeling hills has been to ignore strikes whenever they are called by mainstream political parties whatever be the issue. However, political analysts are of the opinion that the GJM does not want to antagonise both the BJP - its political ally - and the Trinamool Congress, with whom it has come close again.
Roshan Giri
Roshan Giri - a file photo
The GJM-affiliated Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union (DTDPLU) also said it would not support Wednesday’s bandh referring to the BJP as an ally. “The GJM is part of the NDA government at the Centre. Moreover, we have our own issues that are being discussed with the state and the Centre,” said DTDLPU spokesperson Milan Pradhan. The Left Front’s strike call is being supported by several trade unions including that of the Congress party, alleging the Centre’s policies were anti-worker and leaning more towards the corporate sector. The DTDPLU is presently in a pact with the John Barla-led Adivasi Vikash Parishad of the Dooars to push for its own demands. “On August 22, we held a meeting with the AVP to take forward our demands related to tea garden workers of the hills and the plains from September onwards. It will be difficult to extend any support to the Left Front and Congress called bandh,” Pradhan reasoned.

The DTDPLU and the AVP’s demand include allocating patta (land rights) to tea garden workers, opening of closed gardens in the Dooars and implementation of the minimum wage act. In the hills alone, there are 87 tea gardens which employ more than 50,000 workers and this figure does not include their dependents.

Source EOI

WB govt offices to stay open on day of Sept 2 strike
The West Bengal government on Monday made it mandatory for all its employees to be present on September 2 when a nation-wide trade union strike has been called by central trade unions.
In view of the trade union strike all over the country on September 2, government offices, including those provided with grant-in-aid, would remain open and no leave would be granted on that day, a memo, issued by state Finance Department, said.

Moreover, the directive said that absence of employees on that date would be treated as 'dies non' and no salary would be admissible. PTI

Darjeeling, Dooars unions to fight for tea workers rights jointly

The GJMM-backed Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union (DTDPLU) and the Progressive Tea Workers Union (PTWU) of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad (John Barla faction) have joined hands in demanding the rights of tea garden workers in Darjeeling Hills and the Terai-Dooars region.
Darjeeling, Dooars unions to fight for tea workers rights jointly
Darjeeling, Dooars unions to fight for tea workers rights jointly
Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) chief Bimal Gurung Saturday said that the DTDPLU and the PTWU will jointly launch an agitation at the end of September if the government fails to take immediate steps in fulfilling the demands of tea garden workers.

After a meeting with tribal leader John Barla and representatives of the DTDPLU and PTWU at Gorkha Ranga Mancha Bhawan in Darjeeling on Saturday, Gurung said, "The demand of land rights for the tea workers, implementation of the Minium Wages Act in Darjeeling Terrai Dooars and reopening of the tea gardens that are presently shut in Dooars were the three points discussed in the meeting. We decided that if the government fails to take immediate steps in fulfilling these demands, the DDTPLU and PTWU will jointly start an agitation in the Darjeeling hills and the Terai-Dooars," adding, "We have already sent three quintals of rice to the tea garden workers in shut tea gardens in the Dooars. I have also decided to raise the issue of relief for tea workers of the closed tea gardens in Dooars with the central ministers during my stay in Delhi."

Sources in DTDPLU said that they will have another round of meeting with PTWU where they will decide on the date to be set as ultimatum for the government.

Emphasizing on the need of unity among tea workers Gurung said, "The need for unity is must for obtaining one's rights. The tea workers need to remain united for their cause."

Gurung added that a public meeting will be organized in Dooars in the month of September.

Meanwhile, a section of political observers opined that Gurung's decision to unite with Barla for the cause of tea garden workers, has been done with an eye on the Assembly elections in 2016.

Copyright © Indian Gorkhas. Designed by Darjeeling Web Solutions