CITU plans intense agitation on ration-logjam
More and more tea unions are hitting the streets in protest against the decision of the estate managements and companies to discontinue ration–system in the gardens extended to the hard working labourers, the mainstay of tea economy. After Barak Cha Sramik Union, CITU affiliated Akhil Bhartiya Cha Mazdoor Sangha today raised its voice with hundreds of workers gathered from different gardens before the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar, raising their pitch, aggrieved at the managements’ approach and attitude.
After converging at Narsingtola ground in the very heart of the town, the workers marched down to DC’s office with banners and play–cards. They were addressed by Chunilal Bhattacharya, district president of Akhil Bhartiya Cha Mazdoor Sangha (ABCMS), Cachar–Hailakandi committee, Gopal Bhumij, general secretary, general secretary of CITU, Spriya Bhattacharya, and Sushil Chowdhury, president.. Rajat Purkayastha, district secretary of the Yuva Federation of CITU, also addressed them.
The thrust of the speeches of the union leaders was that for the last 68 years, the tea companies have been providing them subsidized ration to the labourers as a part of their weekly wages. The BJP led Government at the Centre has decided to withdraw the subsidy which was no less than a sort of anti labour policy. Taking advantage of the Centre’s decision, the State Government of Assam is now shirking up of its responsibility, pushing the ball into the court of the Centre.
The apprehension is that from January, 2015, the ration system introduced way back in 1946 might be discontinued. This would confront the workers with severe food crisis, telling upon their overall performance. The move is on to bring the age old subsidized ration system under Food Security Bill which the CITU and BCMS would oppose tooth and nail. The Centre and the States concerned are also indifferent to the decision of the National Labour Convention of 2012 to introduce and implement monthly minimum wages of workers at the rate of Rs 10,000.
Pushed to the wall , the Unions and the workers have no alternative than to go for intense and long drawn agitation. CITU has in the meantime organised the workers and exhorting them in phase–wise agitation across the tea gardens of Cachar and Hailakandi. This day’s assembly and protest have been aimed at registering and expression of working class people’s deep anger and resentment and also for exerting pressure on tea garden companies not to resort to any steps that would adversely affect the labour–management relationship.
Gopal Bhumij, general secretary of ABCMS , summing up the grievances of workers demanded that the working class people of all levels in gardens should be brought under Food Security Bill by the managements and ensure regular supply of ration. Most importantly, all workers as per decision of the National Labour Commission should be paid daily wages of Rs 333. He said it was due to their agitation that the state government has agreed to issue notification to garden managements to pay wages to workers of holidays. CITU made it clear nothing could be got done unless the apathy of the tea companies were shaken by sustained and concerted agitation. Bhumij in his impassioned appeal to the assembly advised them to gird up their lions for battle ahead.