In a good news for around 10 lakhs tea garden workers of Assam ahead of the Independence Day, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma-led government on Wednesday decided to increase their daily wages by Rs 27.
“Welfare of tea garden workers has always been our Govt’s top priority. In a meeting with tea garden managements and workers’ union, it was decided to increase their daily wage by ₹27 over and above ration and other benefits,” Sarma tweeted.
The Chief Minister said all garden workers will get ration cards and urged the gardens to take Fair Price Shop licenses.
“Happy to share that in a meeting with tea associations, it was decided to hike the workers’ wage by ₹27, thus raising their daily wage to ₹232 & ₹210 in Brahmaputra Valley & Barak Valley respectively. Also assured to raise Govt subsidy for orthodox tea from ₹7 to ₹10 per kg,” he said.
“All garden workers will get ration cards & we urged the gardens to take Fair Price Shop licenses. Representatives of Indian Tea Association,NE Tea Association,Tea Association of India,Bharatiya Chah Parishad,Assam Tea Planters’ Association & Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha were present,” he added.
The increase shall be effective from August 1, 2022. The workers in Brahmaputra valley will now draw a daily wage of Rs 232 and Rs 210 in Barak Valley. This is the second such hike this year. Earlier in February 2022, the wages were hiked by Rs 38. This decision took the overall hike in wages this year to 57.
Rupesh Gowahal, BJP MLA and General Secretary of Assam Cha Majdoor Sangha said, “We have been in discussion with the government over the tea wages for the last six months, an advisory committee was constituted to fix the wages. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma wanted a solution to this and therefore today the daily wage of the tea garden worker was unanimously decided to be hiked by Rs 27.”
In May 2021, workers of more than 800 tea estates of Assam used to draw Rs 167 in the gardens of Brahmaputra Valley and Rs 210 in the Barak Valley gardens.
“We welcome the decision and more so that it is in perspective which means that it shall be effective for this month. Moreover, the government is contemplating to shoulder the ration and other facilities which till now was the responsibility of the government,” said Dipanjal Deka, Secretary Indian Tea Association, Assam.
Tea garden workers’ wage was a major poll issue in Assam in 2022 state Assembly elections as the main opposition party Congress had promised to increase the wage to Rs 365 a day for the tea garden workers if voted to power.
Assam has more than 10 lakh tea workers in the organised sector, working in about 850 big estates. The state produces roughly 55 per cent of India’s tea. The] tea belts of Brahmaputra and Barak valleys are home to more than 60 lakh people.
The wage agreement between the workers’ union and industry expired in December 2017. The BJP-led government had then formed a committee to revise the minimum wages.