Tea estate workers in east demand minimum wagesTea estate workers in the eastern region are up in arms as factory owners have not implemented the monthly minimum wage and social security scheme as guaranteed by the new labour and social security laws.
Tea estate workers in the eastern region are up in arms as factory owners have not implemented the monthly minimum wage and social security scheme as guaranteed by the new labour and social security laws.
The government has made it mandatory for employers to pay industrial workers a minimum wage of Rs385 daily and create a social security fund by this fiscal year, but tea factories have not implemented the rule. Tea factory owners are complaining that the tea industry should not be in the industrial category as it requires only seasonal workers.
“Workers have intensified their protest against tea factory owners for not implementing the Labour Act,” said Dipak Tamang, central president of the Nepali Congress-affiliated Nepal Tea Estate Workers Association.
The government has fixed the minimum daily wage at Rs385 for industrial workers, but tea factory owners have been paying their workers only Rs278 for the last nine months, said Tamang. “Our protest is against tea factory owners who have been flouting the Labour Act.”
Only two tea factories in Dhankuta and three in Ilam have implemented the new law, said Sita Sapkota, president of the All Nepal Tea Workers Association. The government had formed a high level committee to study the tea sector last year. Its report has not been made public.
Ramesh Poudel, former president of the Nepal Tea Producers Association, said that they would be forced to shut down the factory if they implemented the law and paid the minimum wages fixed by the government. The tea producers said that the tea industry globally had separate labour laws. They said it was not rational to lump the tea industry with other industries by doing away with the Tea Labour Regulation 1994.
The new law requires employers to provide a provident fund equal to 10 percent of the basic salary for temporary employees and bonus.
The previous law had provisioned a 5 percent provident fund but only to permanent workers. There are nearly 50,000 tea workers in five districts in the eastern region.