Workers Halt Tea Production in Nepal

DAMAK, Nepal

Forty thousand tea workers in Nepal on Sunday began a general strike and sit-ins at several factories protesting working conditions at 80 gardens and 40 tea processors. Members of three Nepal workers’ unions are seeking parity in wages and reinstatement of payments into a social security fund for retirees

The protests were organized by the Nepal Tea Estate Workers’ Union (NTEWU), Nepal Independent Tea Estate Workers’ Union and All Nepal Tea Estate Workers’ Union (ANTEWU). Activities were non-violent and centered in Jhapa and Ilam a mountainous region southwest of Bhutan.

Factory workers are paid Rs 190 ($2.67) per day while garden workers make only Rs 120 ($1.69). Union officials say the estates are not contributing the agreed 20 percent of wages to a social security fund. Workers contribute 11 percent to the retirement fund, a sum deducted from the basic salary.

Workers outside the Himalaya Mahalaxmi Tea Estate told The Himalayan Times, “Our demands were never addressed, but we won’t quit the protest unless the agreements are implemented.”

“Tea estate workers had been provided meager retirement gratuity even after 10 years of regular service,” according to protesters.

Source: The Himalayan Times