The Honourable Chief Minister
Government of Assam
(Through Asstt. Labour Commissioner, Silchar)
Sub – Memorandum on tea-workers’ plight.
We, on behalf of Assam Mojuri Shramik Union, would like to place the following points before you for your kind perusal and immediate needful action.
(1) In the Minimum wage schedule declared by the Government of Assam in the year 2013, there was categorical mention of the name of Plantation worker, and according to that schedule the minimum wage of Plantation worker was Rs 169.00. Your directive in this regard is a most welcome step. In this recent circular, you have directed the labour department to issue notification for treating the minimum wage of Plantation (Tea) worker as Rs. 169.00. But till date, no such notification issued. The tea-workers of Assam should not be deprived of their legitimate right to avail the law of the land and as such they need to be brought under the purview of the Minimum Wage Act. Due issuance of notification in this regard considering variable dearness allowance along with basic wage should be ensured on the basis of your directive.
(2) In contravention to the above stated facts and without taking the above-mentioned minimum wage schedule into cognizance, the wage of the tea-workers is being settled through bi-partite negotiations below the scheduled minimum wage. This process must be terminated forthwith and due process of the wage settlement above the minimum wage through tripartite negotiation with all the unions must be restored.
(3) The labour commissioner has recommended that our union should be invited to the wage board constituted at your behest. But it is surprising to note that our union has not received any such invitation.
(4) There must be parity of wages for the workers engaged in the similar industry throughout India. But not to speak of the nation, we have a differential wages of tea- workers in the same state of Assam.
Through bipartite agreement, the wages of tea-workers of Brahmaputra valley has already been hiked from Rs. 95 to Rs. 115, but tea-workers of Barak Valley is getting a meager amount of Rs. 75 per day till date.
Furthermore, the plantation in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka pay daily wages of Rs 206.22, Rs. 222.97 and Rs.228.35 respectively in addition to providing all the facilities under plantation labour act. Productivity per labour (Kg of made tea per worker) is 705 Kg in Assam whereas it is only 613 Kg for Tamil Nadu and 688 Kg for Kerala. The price of tea in the auctions in 2012-13 was Rs. 142 per Kg for northern states including Assam and Rs. 93 for the southern states. Hence even though productivity and prices are higher in Assam, labour gets at least Rs 100 less than those who work in southern India. The southern states do not provide subsidized foodgrain, but the monetary value of wage-in-kind provided as ration for the tea-workers of Assam is only Rs. 14.20. The quality of ration is also sometime very poor and there is lot of corrupt practices to deprive the workers from their legitimate right to get wages in kinds.
So, the nationwide parity of wages for the workers in the same industry should be established through wage revision.
(5) The last but not the least is the question of proper implementation of provisions of Plantation Labour Act. Your recent directive in this regard is a most welcome step, but the follow up actions in this regard for implementation of the same at ground level needs to be ensured.
Dated Silchar Yours faithfully
The 1st June, 2015
Assam Mojuri Shramik Union
Assam State Committee
Office Address : C/o Mrinal Kaniti Shome
Copy to : (1) The Labour Commissioner, Guwahati.