Assam tea workers association rejects ITA's wage hike, calls it "unilateral"



Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) - a premier trade organisation of tea garden workers in Northeast India, asserted that they would not accept an interim enhancement in workers’ daily wages less than Rs 50.

The Indian Tea Association (ITA) had, on Monday, asked its member companies to provide an interim hike of Rs 26 per day to tea workers in Assam.

This decision was taken in the wake of Gauhati High Court’s March 16 ruling that tea garden managements would pay interim wage hike to tea workers, at their liberty, till the issue was finally decided by the court.

In a “letter of protest” to the Indian Tea Association, ACMS president Paban Singh Ghatowar reiterated that the unilateral, ill-conceived and utmost malafide act of commission and/or omission in calculating the interim enhancement is summarily rejected by our members.

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“We further state that we are not inclined to accept an interim enhancement in daily wages less than Rs 50 as notified by the Assam government (vide notification dated February 23, 2021), pending finalisation of the rates of minimum wage, as per law,” Ghatowar stated in the letter.

Expressing displeasure and disapproval, the ACMS president said that none of the concerned labour unions was consulted by the ITA before issuance of the circular to enhance the daily minimum wage of tea workers in Brahmaputra and Barak Valley.

“Your unilateral and ill-conceived action and/or resolutions are expressly rejected as not acceptable, being against the principles of collective bargaining as has been followed as industry standards for decades. We accordingly call upon you to substantiate the rationale/basis of which the alleged interim enhancement of Rs 26 per day was arrived at by you and/or your members,” the letter read.

“We invite your attention to the fact that the government of Assam has proposed a composite minimum wage based on the Aykroyd Formula and other applicable guidelines of Rs 351.33 per day,” the ACMS leader said.

(Edited by Laxmi Chyrmang)