About 500 labourers of a tea garden in Assam’s Hailakandi district have launched an agitation after the authorities allegedly declared a “sudden” suspension of operation.
The workers of Gaglacherra tea garden, located about 20 kilometres from Hailakandi town, have been protesting against the garden authorities’ decision since Thursday following the lockout declared on the previous day.
Local administration officials as well as a tea association have initiated steps to sort out the matter between the two sides.
A team of officials, comprising magistrate Jhintu Bora and labour officer PK Malakar, visited the garden on Friday and assured the labourers of taking up the matter with the district deputy commissioner.
However, the garden authorities could not be contacted. President of the local panchayat Radheshyam Kurmi alleged that the tea estate authorities secretly put up the lockout notice on Wednesday night and left the premise.
“Thursday was the payment day and the authorities fleeing in this manner has agitated our people,” he said.
Kurmi also alleged that the labourers used to get a daily wage that is lower than the government rate and women workers were forced to pluck more tea leaves than mandated daily.
“We have now no one to address our grievances,” he claimed.
Planters’ body Tea Association of India’s Barak Valley General Secretary Saradindu Bhattacharjee said they were aware of the incident and expressed hope that the issues will be sorted out soon.