Singtom Tea Garden locked down as workers raise various demands

Darjeeling, 25th February: Work at the Singtom Tea Garden suspended from Monday onwards following the letter to the Assistant Labor Commissioner written by the Management was put up in the garden on Sunday afternoon.

The letter maintained that due to various problems in the tea garden, they were no longer able to manage the garden and the workers and were left with no alternative but to withdraw from the estate. The letter also said that their withdrawal from the garden would remain until and unless they were given written assurances of being able to run the garden peacefully. It also affirmed that any worker who will continue to work past February 21, then he/she will do so at their own risk and responsibility. The trade unions maintained that the management had sent the letter to the ALC on February 21 but due to some circumstances the letter could not reach its recipient on time. Hence work continued smoothly till the 23rd afternoon.

According to the unions, they had been demanding that the second installment of bonus, which they were supposed to be given by December 2019, be given along with two fortnight wages of the workers due to which the tea garden had been closed.

A meeting was held today by the unions at the tea garden regarding this matter where it was decided that the Management apart from giving the bonus and two fortnight wages should also give fringe benefits like money for firewood, LTA along with fulfilling the vacancy of 25 staff in the garden. They also maintained that the management had not been putting their share of Provident Fund (PF) for 1 year now. The list of demands has been sent to the ALC. The Singtom tea garden is about 12 km from Darjeeling and has about 850 workers and is run by Camellia Tea Group Pvt. Ltd.

On the other hand, Happy Valley Tea Garden which was closed after suspension of operations declared by the management on February 14 will reopen on Wednesday following a tripartite meeting held at the Joint Labor Commissioner office at Siliguri, on Tuesday. The tea garden workers had been demanding that the pending four fortnight wages of the tea garden workers there be paid along with one month's salary of the staff. They also demanded for a new Garden Manager due to which the tea boutique was closed following which suspension of operations had been declared.

As per the trade unions, in the tripartite meeting at the JLC, it was agreed that the three fortnight wage due will be paid by Friday along with the one month salary of the staff while the remaining due will be given by March 7. As for the demand of a new manager, it was maintained that an inquiry will be conducted regarding it. The Happy Valley Tea Garden has a labor strength of about 210 workers.

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