DIBRUGARH, May 17 - Tea garden workers today launched their proposed series of demonstrations in the plantations of the Assam Company by holding a protest in Thanai tea estate in the district. The workers will also hold mass hunger strike in front of the office of the Registrar of Assam Company on May 30 and observe total shutdown in all the tea estates of the Company on June 1.The tea garden workers under the patronage of the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) have been protesting against the prolonged failure of the tea company to provide basic amenities to the workers and implement statutory welfare measures in its plantations.
Similar protests have also been planned in Maijan, Greenwood, Borborooah and Hazelbank tea estates of Assam Company in the week, said Nabin Keot, secretary, ACMS, Khalihamari branch.
Assam Company, the oldest plantation company in the country has been accused of gross violation of the Plantation laws. The other tea estates owned by Assam Company in the State include Digulturung, Dinjan, Rungagora, Nudwa, Khoomtai, Doomur Dullung, Kandoli, Kotalgoorie, Mohokutie, Hajua and Oakland.
“The living condition of the employees in the Assam Company-owned plantations is deteriorating day by day. Several employees have died without reaping the benefit of their hard earned Provident Fund and Gratuity money while many, who have retired, are still yearning for the retirement benefits.
We had several rounds of talks earlier with the management but they have been offering only lip service. The management had agreed, in a meeting in June, 2014 and in a subsequent meeting in June, 2015, that welfare schemes would be implemented and that employees, both retired and working, would get all the benefits they deserved. But the planters did almost nothing. Health services and educational infrastructure is the worst. There are no medicines, no ambulances and no proper beds attached with the hospitals. The managements have hardly appointed any permanent teachers. There are neither proper school buildings nor basic educational facilities for the children. Houses of the workers have also turned ramshackle due to lack of maintenance and repair,” said Keot.
The workers have alleged that the planters have been investing in Real Estate and in exploring oil elsewhere out of the proceeds from the plantations and have been crying of financial losses. The planters have to cater to the needs of the workers as per plantations rules or face sustained agitations, ACMS leaders said.