GUWAHATI, Feb 26 – The Consultative Committee of the Plantations’ Association (CCPA) and the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) today finalised the daily cash wage agreement for the tea garden workers of the Brahmaputra Valley for a period of three years with effect from January 1 this year. The agreement will cover the period between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2017.
The agreement has stated it clearly that in case a minimum wage under the Minimum Wages Act is notified by the Government of Assam, the notified minimum wage will apply prospectively. It further agreed that in computing the minimum wage the value of fringe benefits or the in-kind wages provided to workers shall be taken into consideration as per the law.
According to the agreement, each of the tea garden workers of the Brahmaputra Valley will get Rs 115 as daily wage between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015. Each of them will get Rs 126 per day as wage between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016. Between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017, each of them will get Rs 137 as daily wage.
To curb absenteeism, both the parties agreed that an attendance allowance at the rate of Rs 1 per day would be paid to those workers who will work for five or more days in the week. For this purpose, authorised leave, festival holidays with pay and authorised sick leave will be deemed as a day worked. This attendance allowance will be computed on week to week basis.
The terms of this settlement will be given effect from the wage period commencing on or after March 1, 2015 and arrear wages for the applicable period from January 1, 2015 will be paid by June 30, 2015.
During the negotiations, the ACMS had raised the issue of parity of the wage for tea plantations with other scheduled employment. In reply, the CCPA stated that the tea estate (TE) workers receive fringe benefits under the welfare provisions of the Plantation Labour Act (PLA) and bilateral agreements. It is also a matter of record that the composite structure of wages, comprising cash and in-kind fringe benefits, has also been recognised by minimum wage notifications applicable to tea plantations.
The agreement will be deemed to be a settlement as defined in Section 2 (p) of the Industrial Disputes Act and will be binding on the parties as provided for in Section 18 of the Act, said both the parties.
It needs mention here that the term of the previous agreement, between the CCPA and the ACMS, expired on December 31, 2014. The daily cash wage was Rs 95 on that date.
The CCPA was represented in the negotiations by the representatives of the Indian Tea Association, Tea Association of India, Bharatiya Chah Parishad, Assam Tea Planters' Association and North Eastern Tea Association. The ACMS was represented in the negotiations by 42 of its office-bearers, including its Chief Advisor Pawan Singh Ghatowar, president BN Tanti and general secretary D Tanti.