More fringe benefits for tea workers
The tea industry has agreed to increase the quantum of fringe benefits to its workers.
It has acceded to increase the quantity of dry tea given to daily workers, the firewood given to sub-staff and the incentives given to workers engaged in spraying operations, as demanded by the Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS).
A memorandum of settlement to this effect was signed in Dibrugarh yesterday between representatives of five employers’ associations and the ACMS, which represents the workers.
The meeting was attended by DoNER minister Paban Singh Ghatowar, who is also the president of Assam Cha Mazdoor Sangha. This is the first tea industry meeting that Ghatowar has attended since becoming DoNER minister.
The agreement was signed after several rounds of bilateral discussions between the ACMS and the Assam valley branch of the Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations.
The chairman of Indian Tea Association, C.S. Bedi, was also present at the meeting.
According to the agreement, permanent workers who earlier got 600gm of dry tea per month per family, according to the 1979 fringe benefits agreement, will get 900gm per month with effect from September 1.
Single workers will now get 450 gms of tea compared to the previous 300gm.
The firewood entitlement, which was fixed at 228 cubic feet according to the 1979 agreement, has now been increased to 342 cubic feet. The agreement will be interim till the time LPG is made available.
It was also decided that the sprayers engaged in gardens will get an additional compensation of Rs 3 per day.
“The agreement will have some financial impact but we are doing this for the welfare of the workers since we care for them,” a tea industry official who attended the meeting said.
The industry has been asking the Centre to share half the social cost borne by the plantation industry but nothing has materialised despite various committees’ recommendations.
The social cost is now Rs 9 per kg of made tea.
The social cost incurred in providing housing, health and sanitation to the workers is being borne by the industry.