Meetings between the state government, estate owners and tea garden workers in the vast Dooars and Terai region continue this week following several attempts to revise wages.
Tripartite talks followed a short strike two weeks ago and protests that have disrupted production and transport of tea from more than 200 gardens in the region. Participants indicated some progress in the five-month dispute but no resolution.
Industries and Commerce Minister Partha Chatterjee, Labour Minister Purnendu Basu and North Bengal affairs minister Gautam Deb met Sunday and again Monday, according to Zee News.
Chatterjee characterized meetings as cordial. Sessions include 37 trade unions representing tea garden workers and the garden owners' forum Consultative Committee of Planters' Association (CCPA).
Chatterjee said that the tea-garden workers were asked to clear all statutory dues immediately.
"If the owners have any problem to clear dues of statutory benefits to the workers, they are welcome to seek guidance from the government. Otherwise the government will act with appropriate steps," Chatterjee cautioned.
Workers are seeking a wage increase of INR 130 ($2.81 per day) from the current INR 67 ($1.45). The current work agreement, which covers 300,000 garden workers, expired March 31. Workers in nearby Darjeeling negotiated an INR 90 ($1.95) day rate following protests this spring.
Source: Zee News