DIBRUGARH, Nov 27 - The Assam Sangrami Chah Shramik Sangha (ASCSS), another influential trade union of the tea industry is also opposed to the idea of making workers’ payments through banks in the plantations without the banking infrastructure and without educating the workers on the operating system.
Earlier, the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) had expressed its unhappiness over the move of the Government to link the banks with each worker of the tea gardens. The Congress-affiliated ACMS has pressed for cash payments for the workers in the plantations.
ASCSS president Bibek Das told The Assam Tribune on Saturday that the move of the Government to immediately impose banking system in plantations is very discouraging. “The illiterate workers hire men to go to banks to open accounts and withdraw their hard earned Provident Fund. These hired men take away about Rs 10,000 from every one lakh rupees of the PF of the worker for their service or as commission. They will be again dependent on others to draw their meagre fortnight wages if they are made to receive wages through banks. The worker might also need to take leave to visit a bank on working days. These problems must be first understood by the Government,” said Das.
The Leftist leader further said that the hard earned wages of workers are also deducted in an unscrupulous manner in the name of electricity charges. If hired men come into the banking system, the worker will have almost nothing in his or her hand as wages. “The Government must first ensure that the workers are capable of handling their Accounts on their own, facilitate opening of bank accounts, make banks and ATMs accessible to the workers without link failures or power cuts and teach them to operate ATMs before imposing ‘bank payments’ in the tea gardens,” said the ASCSS leader.
Lakheswar Tanti, the ACMS branch secretary of Moran said that imposition of the ‘payments through bank’ in plantations is certain to create law and order problem because opening of bank accounts for all workers would take at least three months. “The Government must understand that 80% of the workers are illiterate and are not familiar with the banking system,” he said.