Tea workers intensify protests in DhankutaTea garden workers on Monday intensified their protests demanding the implementation of the new minimum wage enforced by the government in July.
Tea garden workers on Monday intensified their protests demanding the implementation of the new minimum wage enforced by the government in July.
On the first day of the strike, protesters raised slogans and waved black flags at the premises of three tea factories—Guranse Tea Estate, June Tea Garden and Narayani Tea factory. Protestors also put up banners with their demands written on it. The protest has been organised jointly by Nepal Tea Estate Workers Association, Agriculture and Tea Estate Area Workers Association and All Nepal Tea Workers Association.
In July, the government had set a monthly minimum wage for workers at Rs13,450, following an agreement between the employers of tea factories and the trade union. The Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security announced the new pay structure on the recommendation of the Minimum Wage Determination Committee. It was implemented on July 17. However, tea garden workers here said that the factories have not implemented the minimum wage.
“We have decided to continue the protests unless the tea factories implement the new minimum wage structure,” said Narayan Tamang, president of Nepal Tea Garden Workers Association. “The factories are reluctant to abide with the government’s decision. They have been exploiting the tea workers,” he said. He said that they had also drawn the attention of the Labour Office and district administration offices of Jhapa, Dhankuta and Ilam over the issue but none of them looked into the matter.
“The tea producers have been denying the implementation of the law enforced by the government,” said Deepak Tamang, central member of Nepal Tea Estate Workers Association. There are more than 500 workers working in different tea mills in the district.
Ilam, Jhapa, Dhankuta, Terhathum and Panchthar are some of the main tea-producing districts in the country, with a total of 9,236 farmers engaged in commercial tea farming.
According to the National Tea and Coffee Development Board, Nepal earned Rs3 billion from tea export last year. Of the total production, 55 percent of CTC is exported to India while 90 percent of orthodox and green tea is exported mainly to third countries.