02 September 2014

Tea Workers Seek Minimum 20% Bonus

The tea industry in West Bengal is sitting for bipartite bonus negotiations in Kolkata on 30th and 31st August 2014 at the Bengal Chamber of Commerce. In view of this, the United Tea Workers Front demands that all tea gardens in the industry must pay 20% bonus for all workers, regardless of the state of the garden. It condemns the trend that has existed in the industry of granting special concessions for garden owners in the name of sickness. Over 30 such gardens were given concessions last year and were allowed to pay bonus ranging between 11% and 18% after agreement had been reached on 20%. This is despite the fact these gardens continue to receive concessions in various forms under the pretext of ‘sickness’.
The UTWF, which is the united front of the biggest unions in the tea sector in West Bengal, would also like to question the double standards that are prevailing in the industry. In the ongoing wage negotiations, the employers are claiming that the wage that they pay amounts to a cash wage of Rs.95 and a non-cash component of Rs.66, amounting to a total wage of Rs.161. However, when it comes to bonus calculations, the employers are only willing to calculate the bonus on the total of the cash component of wages. The UTWF wants the computation of bonus to be not only on the basis of the wage handed over in cash but on both the cash and the non-cash component of wage.

We also demand the bonus for all workers including contractual workers engaged in the tea gardens. Also, the ceiling for bonus must be removed from Rs 10,000 as practiced currently, to Rs 13,500 for all workers.

Anuradha Talwar(Principal Convenor)                    
Tulsi Oraon (General Secretary, Progressive Tea Workers Union)            
Kiran Kalindi (Convenor and Chairman,Progressive Plantation Workers Union
Suraj Subba (General Secretary, Darjeeling Terai Doars Plantation Labour Union)