DIBRUGARH, Sept 30 - Following maximum permissible bonus payouts in the State’s tea gardens this year, the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) has called upon tea estate workers to be thrifty and try to save some money from the bonus. ACMS general secretary Dileswar Tanti said most of the tea garden managements have agreed to pay the maximum permissible 20 per cent bonus payouts during the pujas this year. He thanked the tea garden owners for their cooperation in the bonus negotiations, and hoped the cordiality would continue in the next round of wage negotiations too.
Tanti said the tendency of the tea garden worker is to spend their entire bonus amounts in largely frivolous purchases. “The impulse to purchase increases when they have substantial money in hand, and the last thought they have on their minds is to save some money,” he said. He hoped that the workers will inculcate the habit of saving.
With 20 per cent bonus, the average worker can expect to receive Rs 7,000, while the sardar category can expect to receive up to Rs 12,000 per head. However, this is peanuts, considering the lakhs the managerial cadre gets by way of bonus.
All the 49 tea estates under McLeod Russell, eleven of MK Shah Exports, 21 of Tata (Amalgamated Plantations), 10 of Dhunseri Tea & Industries, nine of Andrew Yule, five of Rossel Industries, four of James Warren, five of Jalan Industries, four of Amgoorie India, two of Goodricke, four of Jorehaut Group, four of Stuart Holl, two of Amarawati Tea, 14 of Assam Company (India) Limited, 15 of Assam Tea Corporation, eight of Gillanders Arthbutnot, 16 of Apeejay Group have agreed to the full bonus payments.
Among the smaller tea gardens, which have already agreed to 20 per cent bonus, include Tiloijan, Silonibari, Bihubar, Kalyani, Kanoi Group, Baisahabi, Badulipara, Achabam, Langkasi, Grob Tea, Nilmoni, Joonktollee, Jamirah, etc.
The tea garden workers in Assam are paid cash wages of Rs 120 per day, while their allowances and facilities all add up to a real wage of about Rs 265 per day. Several organizations like the AASAA, ATTSA and others are of the view that the tea workers’ cash wages should be hiked to Rs 177 per day. They are also suggesting better allowances and working conditions.