Labour union threatens blockade of tea despatches

Last Updated: Mon, Mar 07, 2011 19:51 hrs

The Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union has threatened to block despatches of made tea from the Hill tea estates of the region with immediate effect.

The labour union had submitted a charter of demands for the Hill tea estates of Darjeeling. According to the Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations (CCPA) – the apex body of all Tea Producer Associations in India which includes the Darjeeling Tea Association, Indian Tea Association, Tea Association of India, Indian Tea Planters‘ Association and Terai Indian Planters‘ Association – the charter placed with the Employers’ Associations sets the demands for workers’ wages at completely unsustainable levels given the commercial and economic realities of the tea industry.

The CCPA also feels that the tea growing regions have departed from the established norms threatening to completely disrupt operations of the Darjeeling tea industry. The charter of demands is normally discussed in a composite manner with all the trade unions representing the tea growing regions of West Bengal.

However, the CCPA said that it was open to negotiations and discussions with the trade unions towards working out a mutually acceptable solution to the wage issue.

The existing three-year wage agreement which commenced in 2008 is scheduled to expire on March 31, 2011. The CCPA said in a statement that it would look to sitting with the workers‘ unions in a common format encompassing all the trade unions with interests in West Bengal.

Such negotiations are normally held in a tripratite forum as part of conciliation proceedings initiated by the Labour Department, Government of West Bengal.

"The CCPA therefore is concerned over the move on the part of the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union seeking to bypass these well established norms to achieve their ends through threats which could completely destroy the Darjeeling tea industry," said the statement.

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