Assam tea garden workers criticise Narendra Modi for 'chaiwala' references, urge PM to implement promised minimum wage

Guwahati: The largest tea body of Assam on Sunday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who often refers to himself as a "chaiwala", for not being considerate towards the state's tea garden workers' plight and urged him to implement the promised minimum wage of Rs 350 before the new year starts.

The Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) General Secretary Rupesh Gowala said while Modi often refers to himself as a "chaiwala", he is yet to make good his promises towards a million tea garden labourers in the state in the last four years.

 Assam tea garden workers criticise Narendra Modi for chaiwala references, urge PM to implement promised minimum wage

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

"Before the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, Modi addressed several rallies in Assam and assured that the tea garden labourers would be paid a minimum wage of Rs 350 per day," Gowala said.

The tea garden workers in Brahmaputra Valley in Assam are presently drawing Rs 167 per day, while the tea garden workers in Barak Valley are getting Rs 145 per day.

"The existing wage agreement between the Assam government and the ACMS and other tea workers bodies expired on 31 December, 2017. The government had announced an interim hike of Rs 30 per day. The tea garden labourers are supposed to get this interim hike from 1 January, 2018, but the government is saying the hike will apply from 1 March, 2018. This would make them lose Rs 30 per day for two months," he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Assam is yet to fix that minimum wage, Gowala said, urging Modi to announce the promised Rs 350 per day minimum wage before 2019.

Gowala said the condition of all those tea gardens run by the Assam government was far worse.

"While the labourers in company-owned garden are receiving a wage of Rs. 167 per day now, the 26,000 workers under the 14 gardens of state-owned Assam Tea Company Limited (ATCL) are receiving a wage of Rs 115 only per day," he said.

Assam has over 800 medium and large size tea gardens that produce over 50 percent of the country's total tea produce.

The tea labourers of Assam live in the most deplorable conditions without some of the basic amenities, Gowala said.

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Updated Date: Dec 09, 2018 15:38:28 IST