News

Tea garden workers breaks the jinx of
identity& communal politics
for a better tomorrow

2018-08-09

 

Teagarden workers strike at Naxalbari, North Bengal.

Our correspondent

Kolkata,August 9 -  Against an oppressive state machinery  and vile attempts  to diffuse the class movement in the North Bengal , Tea Garden  workers  took the lead  in the state to dealt  a blow to the aspirations  of the ruling class , as  their  72 hours  Strike  for  according minimum wages according  to the  Minimum Wages Act , reached  a pinnacle.  Cutting across political affinities ,   about 29  Tea workers  union has participated in the strike ,  by forging a strong movement , under the banner of ‘Joint Forum’ . The only exception has been   ruling TMC  affiliated unions , which has refused to  side with the workers in their plight  of implementing  the Minimum wages  in the Tea Industry  of the State  ,  mainly located in the North Bengal districts of  Darjeeling Jalpaiguri,  Alipurduar and Coochbihar districts . Defying the  Police  atrocities, manhandling  , and constant barriers created by the axis of the   Tea garden owners, apathetical police & Administration, and  Ruling party hooligans , over lakhs of workers  joined in the historical  strike  to provide  them with the Basic minimum  wage  and the right to livelihood as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.

 The Movement also voiced their societal  concern when on 9Th  August , defying the  elaborate Police oppression and ‘Nakabandi “ the  Tea workers   too , joined  in the  AIKS and  Other  Mass organization convened  “  Jali Bhoro “ (Jail Fill up) programme on 9th August, especially in the areas’ which has border with the  Agricultural  tracts.

  Is our legitimate Movement  declared  illegal  by the Government?  Or are they taking law in their hands? a visibly annoyed Joint Forum leadership  including  convenor Jia Ul Alam  had asked the  Police  Top brass of the  different districts , to which  they only retorted that  this  exercise is being conducted under the direction of top rung administration of State. Indeed the bad mouthing being done by the posted   Police personnel , who are entering the Tea gardens  to force the Tea workers to enter the garden, despite  not being  called by the Tea Garden Authorities , just to  fulfill the  Zeal of their political masters , has given birth of  to real discontent  and hatred  towards  State Police  and administration “, informed the leaders of the  Strike.  ‘They are not even showing minimum respects to the  Tea workers  and  this whole exercize is happening without  any formal order received’ rued the leaders  of the ongoing Tea Workers Movement .

‘ It  is really unthinkable   to see how the   Tea garden workers  , being led  by  female workers , even in the absence of  Leaders  are getting out of their   Tea  gardens ,enthused by the strike, and  though the gardens of the Darjeeling hill area , has been left  out of the ambit of the strike , still the workers  though not officially  joined the strike, is   not going to  work and picketing in the  Tea Garden areas , outside the Garden in support of their brethren in the Terai and Dooars. In many Tea gardens  , the workers themselves  are taking the onus to establish contact with the  leaders of the  Joint forum , which is heading the strike  in the state’ said  Jibesh Sarkar  District secretary  of CPI(M)   Darjeeling district Unit , taking with this correspondent.

  It can be recalled that  unlike in neighbouring Assam , the Tea garden workers , who before 2012  often fell ploy  to identity and community overtures  and  often in  self destructing mode , and was a hot bed of clashes , united after the TMC  Government failed  to adhere to  the demand of providing Basic minimum wages .  This years’  struggle  has been a path breaker as  such was the intensity of the legitimate demand  of providing Rs 249 , as daily wage  for food and clothes , as per the Basic Minimum  Wages Act , apart from the social security  aspects  like proving for  Education,  Shelter, electricity  and other necessities ,  so  much so,  that though originally  not  envisaged by the Joint Forum leadership  even the Tea Garden workers  of the hilly area’s Darjeeling districts joined in the strike.  CITU leader  JIa  Ul Alam,  Convenor of the Joint Forum , told  Prajasakti  that the  all the 29 unions area adamant in  fulfilling the demands   and during  the  ongoing  tripartite discussions, although the Government representatives  has buckled under  invisible pressure , however  the  Workers Unions  has  been constant  in demanding that  the present Government proposal Rs 172 as daily wage , is not constant with the   rule of the land , and that Rs 249 should be the Minimum wage for Food and Clothing  and according to the Basic parameters  to be provided as the Minimum  Wage in the country.

  “ Not only this  movement  is based on the class approach  , and concerns  with their right to livelihood,   this is  a eye opener  for all . Can u show a single instance  after 2012 ,  when  violent clashes  on the basis of identity , communal or sectarian  hues , has affected the area.?  Other clashes due to political polarization  any clashes  of the earlier nature is now unknown in the Tea  Gardens and amongst  Tea workers  and ploy of the ruling class which had gained ground earlier has failed after  the Joint Forum  was formed  in 2012’  said  CITU leader and Joint forum Convenor  Jia Ul Alam . He alsoHhhhhh

 

It can be recalled  there  are  more than 300 big , small  , and medium tea gardens  spread across the 4 districts  in the North Bengal , and even in tertiary area’s  of the Terai and Doars spread across the neighboring districts . More than 1 million people  of North Bengal  are  directly or  indirectly dependent  with Tea  Economy  of the North Bengal ,  while after  the Change of Governance in  West Bengal in 2011   the constant  refusal of the  West Bengal  Government , to comply  with the  Minimum Wages  Act  , and statutory  labour regulations , even in the Tripartite Meets , has  put the Tea workers  plight  even more  obscure  .Even starvation death   occurred due to withdrawal of  assistance to the workers of the closed  tea gardens started by  the earlier Left Front Government, had made the situation  even more complex.  In this background the  formation  of unified  spearhead  of movement  in the  North Bengal , now known as the Joint Forum  , has united the Tea garden workers  against oppressions  to greater scale.

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