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Assam government announces wage hike for tea garden labourers

Tea garden workers will get the increased wage with retrospective effect from February 23, the statement added.

Written by Abhishek Saha | Guwahati |
May 28, 2021 10:45:01 pm
Assam, Tea garden workersWorkers at a tea garden in Golaghat district of Assam. (Express photo by Abhishek Saha)

The Assam government on Friday announced an increase of Rs 38 in the wage of tea garden labourers, an issue which had grabbed attention during the recently held assembly elections in the state.

“With this hike the tea garden workers in Brahmaputra Valley would get Rs. 205 in place of existing Rs. 167 and tea garden workers of Barak Valley would get Rs 183 in place of existing Rs. 145,” an official press statement from the office of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

Tea garden workers will get the increased wage with retrospective effect from February 23, the statement added.

Recounting the recent developments regarding the tea garden labourers’ wage issue, the government statement said, “It may be noted that earlier the government hiked the daily wage to Rs. 217. However, the decision could not be implemented following court order. Therefore, the government, after threadbare discussion with the tea bodies following the demands of the tea workers, decided to hike the daily wage to Rs. 205 and Rs. 183. True to the government’s commitment and for the welfare of the tea garden workers, the government would raise the
remaining Rs. 12 after initiating consultation with stakeholders and exuded confidence that an acceptable solution will be found out very soon.”

Tea garden workers were brought to Assam by the British from states like Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal in the 19th century and today, the community comprises around 17% of the state’s population.

Tea gardens and their workers — a most marginalised community in the state, marked by economic backwardness, poor health conditions and low literacy rates — were at the centre of this year’s election campaign, holding influence over at least 35 assembly seats across both the Brahmaputra and Barak valley regions of the state. Both the BJP and the Congress promised to work dedicatedly to work for all round upliftment of the tea garden worker community. The Congress promised to increase the wage of tea garden workers to Rs 365.

In the tenure of the previous BJP-led state government, the community had been the focus of several financial, educational and health welfare schemes. However, the Congress had argued that the BJP’s promise to increase workers’ wages to Rs 351 before coming to power in 2016 failed.

In 2018, the government hiked daily wages from Rs 137 to Rs 167 and in February this year, it was increased from Rs 167 to Rs 217. But the Gauhati High Court stayed the order following a petition by bodies representing owners and managements.

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