The Assam Chah Mazdoor Sanga reached agreement with tea garden proprietors to boost the day rate for workers by 5 rupees (11 cents) per day from the current $1.48 per day minimum. The new wage comes into effect April 1.
Growers report absenteeism was a problem but discussions were cordial unlike bordering Darjeeling where a general strike was called this week. The raise was politically motivated according to The Business Standard which reports the Congress party government “had been prevaricating” on worker demands to be granted tribe status.
“The development is seen as a move by the Congress party, for which the sailing does not appear to be smooth in the forthcoming Assembly polls, to placate its traditional vote bank just ahead of the elections,” wrote the Business Standard.According to the publication “with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) giving the Congress party a tough challenge in Muslim dominated areas, which have also been Congress vote bank, the party could ill afford to lose the garden workers vote.”
The decision to hike wages was taken after a meeting between the ACMS and Consultative Committee of Planters Association, a body comprising the proprietors of tea gardens.