Appeal for unity for tea garden unions in Darjeeling

10 Jul 2018

The Joint Forum, an amalgamation of different
trade unions, has appealed to the trade union front of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in tea gardens, the Darjeeling Dooars Terrai Plantation Labor Union, also to be a part of the different programmes that have been launched in the hills of Darjeeling in support of their demands, including implementation of the Minimum Wages act.
Leaders of the different trade unions on Tuesday were seen making the appeal after a demonstration and a memorandum given to the Assistant Labor Commissioner in Darjeeling. They said the Morcha trade union had not been participating in the various programmes till now.
Joint Forum hill subcommittee convener J.B. Tamang who is also a leader of the Himalayan Plantation Workers Union, the trade union wing of the Gorkha National Liberation Front: “Some trade unions are only seeing what is going on from afar while not talking about the benefits of the tea garden workers even though their party is having public meetings in different places.”
Jan Andolan Party leader Amar Lama added: “We appeal to the Morcha to be part of the programmes as we are not working for us but for the benefits of the tea garden workers. It is because we are not united that the owners are being able to suppress us. Good sense should prevail among our friends of the Morcha and they know that we are not fighting with the state government but the owners.  We request you to be part of our upcoming programs.” Lama said if the Morcha trade union wanted to lead they could do so and the others would follow.
Speaking on the same lines, CPI(M) leader Saman Pathak also made the appeal. He said: “Bengal chief minister Mamta Banerje is talking a tour of north Bengal with her coming here often also but she has not spoken a work for the tea garden workers and we request her to do something about the demands. Our fight is not with the state government but the owners which they seem to be supporting.”
As part of their programmes the Joint Forum had already been conducting, gate meetings in various tea gardens took place from July 2 to July 7. Apart from the dharna at the office of the ALC in Darjeeling on Tuesday, dharnas were also held at the office of the Kurseong Assistant Labor Commissioner office on Monday.
Other programs include a convention at Darjeeling where intellectuals and those who are in favour of the workers will be held on July 16th. From July 23 onwards for three
days dispatch of tea from the gardens in the hills would also not be allowed followed by a dharna at Chowk Baazar on July 24 and 25.
Their other demands include that the owners should give an amount of Rs 665 monthly for ration to the tea garden workers and also opening of closed tea gardens in the hills. Work is not going on in the gardens like Panighata, Dotrey, Peshok  and Kalej Valley but the gardens havenot been formally closed.
When asked about their absence in the various programmes the Morcha
trade union the Darjeeling Dooars Terrai Plantation Labor Union general secretary Bharat Thakuri said: “It is a wrong message that is being sent that we are with the owners. We also have the same demands and are still with the Joint Forum but we are not participating in the programmes as we are against them. We feel that the tea gardens are slowly becoming normal after the 104-day strike last year. This is the time to sit and talk with the owners and work for the benefit of the workers instead of holding such programmes. Moreover, the bonus negotiations are also coming up in the month of August so we should also thing about it as it is an important thing for the workers.”
The Joint Forum has also said that they would intensify their programmes if no there was nop positive outcome at the meeting at Uttarkanya on July 17. (EOIC)