NEW DELHI, Oct 21 – Calling for a hike in wages of tea garden labourers, the All Adivasi Students Association of Assam (AASAA) has demanded that the process of counting of PF and common statutory items in daily wages of the labourers should be stopped.In a memorandum to the Prime Minister, AASAA has demanded that wage of a tea garden labourer should be increased to Rs 330.
The present wage of a tea garden labourer is, in cash Rs 94 per day. This is well below the statutory minimum wage of Rs 169 per day for unskilled labourers. Every three years a meeting takes place for deciding the wages of tea garden labourers. The next round of wage negotiation is scheduled for December.
The Association pointed out that the Government of Assam is in charge of signing and approving the agreement reached during the negotiation. The Government has the duty to make sure that the agreement respects workers’ rights under the Minimum Wages Act and the Plantation Labour Act.
The Cash Wage is agreed upon between the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha and the Consultative Committee of Planters Association. But while calculating the wage cost per worker, they list down non-statutory benefits such as subsidised ration, free fuel, uniform, dry tea, umbrella, raincoat etc. and statutory benefits such as housing, medical, education, bonus. This is illegal considering the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 and the wage as defined in the PLA, it was alleged.