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Monday, May 27, 2024

Assam’s small tea growers against govt’s new wage policy

GUWAHATI:

The Assam government decision to fix the wages of tea labourers for small tea growers on August 23 has caused great resentment among the small tea growers of the state.

“The interim minimum wages for small tea garden workers will also be pegged at Rs 232 per day in Brahmaputra Valley and Rs 210 per day in Barak Valley with effect from August 1, till further orders,” a notification issued by Assam governor on August 23 stated.

The notification was issued following the decision of the state government to raise the daily wages of tea garden workers by Rs 27 on August 9.

The All Assam Small Tea Growers Association (AASTGA) has outrightly refused to follow the instructions citing the minimum volumes of their business, unlike the big estates.

AASTGA president Rajen Bora ruled that the government never invited them for any consultation and issued the notification unilaterally.

There are 1.22 lakh small tea growers in the state producing approximately 600 million kg of tea every year.

“They did not fix the wages in consultation with us. After the fixation of wages on August 9 with big tea companies, the government held a meeting with us on August 11 on our problems. But there was no discussion on the wage of tea labourers in the meeting,” Bora said.

“The minister told us to hold another round of meeting on August 18, which was postponed later,” Bora added.

Bora urged the state government to fix a minimum support price for their produce as the low price realisation has been a longstanding issue for them, Bora further said.

Notably, small tea growers sell their crops to bought leaf factories (BLFs).

Around 1.22 lakh small tea growers in Assam contribute nearly 50 per cent of the state’s annual production.

Of the 618.20 million kg of tea produced in the state in 2020, small tea growers’ share was 285.19 million kg.

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