The industry in West Bengal -considered as world's one of the finest tea- has been fraught with several problems due to ailing social and economic situations of tea garden labourers.
The plight of garden workers in the region, which produces the finest quality tea in the world, remains unchanged due the negligence and highhandedness of tea management towards the social and economic development of garden labourers.
The tea garden workers in Siliguri expressed their distress with their daily wages, as they struggle to earn their livelihood.
More than almost 4, 00,000 workers are directly or indirectly involved in this industry and work in 350 tea gardens in the state.
But governance failure in the region has left workers living in abject poverty, notes President, Intuc Sukna Tea Garden Unit, Shyam Sunder Das. He further added that many families are on the verge of starvation; hundreds of deaths have already occurred in the village due to malnutrition.
"The wages what they give us there is no way that we can run our families with that meagre amount. Whatever rupees 95 we get how much can we do? That is a reason we have put a demand of rupees 322, it is yet to known what they will do and whether our central leaders take it ahead or not. We can only talk after that," said Das
According to the last wage agreement, the tea workers are only getting rupees 95 per day, which is not sufficient to run their family.
The wage agreement was settled on 2011 for three years and it is going to expire on 31st March in this year.
The workers expressed their anguish over the failure of both central and state governments as well as of the Tea Board of India in ensuring that the rights of tea workers who include migrant workers from places like Jharkhand, Bihar and Nepal.
"Our situation has become worse. With our earning we are hardly able to feed our families. How can we feed our family and send our children to school with that much money? The school built here is also in a bad state, and the hospital is not maintained. We demand a group hospital for the village with all the facilities and staff," said Trade Union Leader from Chumta Tea Garden, Asoke Bara.