Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Photograph:( ANI )
West Bengal government had formed a Minimum Wages Advisory Committee to resolve the crisis earlier.
Joint Forum, a platform of 29 tea trade unions, has sought the intervention of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the implementation of Minimum Wages Act for the tea garden workers.
West Bengal government had formed a Minimum Wages Advisory Committee to resolve the crisis earlier. However, the forum claims "not a single positive step has been taken by the committee in favour of the workers even after conducting 14 meetings on the issue."
With their demands not being met despite repeated pleas, the forum has now decided to step up its protest. A meeting is being organised on July 29 in Terai and Dooars and later the workers plan to take out a march.
Aloke Chakraborty, President, Darjeeling district, All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and senior leader of Joint Forum said, "Around 4.5 lakh tea garden workers have been facing severe distress due to the prolonged negligence. The situation has deteriorated further now. Many tea gardens have been closed down. We are surprised that no step has been taken so far by the state government or the central government to reopen the gardens."
Pratap Kujur, tea garden worker and forum leader said, "We have sent our demands to Mamata Banerjee and Nirmala Sitharaman and have requested them to call us to resolve the crisis. We are hoping for the best."