Labour unrest brews in Dibrugarh tea garden

DIBRUGARH: Hundreds of Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association (ATTSA) activists on Thursday began an indefinite hunger strike at Mohanbari Tea Estate in this upper Assam district in protest against alleged exploitation of labourers by the garden management.

ATTSA (Dibrugarh) secretary Niranjan Rajwar said the agitation was a part of protest programmes that it has planned against alleged non-clearance of arrears, the unhygienic living conditions, inadequate housing, healt care and educational facilities in the garden.

The Mohanbari Tea Estate, owned by Dhela Ghat Tea Company Private Ltd, has a work force of about 700, of whom 450 are permanent workers.

“The garden management has been exploiting the workers for years. Their living conditions are extremely pitiable. Most of the labourers and their children suffer from water-borne diseases owing to absence of sanitation facilities. There’s no safe drinking water,” Rajwar said.

“Besides, the management is not clearing the workers’ wages, provident funds and statutory dues such as gratuity and retrenchment compensation to the workers. They have also not received their quota of free firewood for four years,” he added.

The garden management had pledged to solve the problems faced by the workers before July 31 after the powerful tea tribes’ students’ body submitted a memorandum on May 17.

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