Impact Story

Labourers of Kumlai Tea Garden Emerged Victorious with the Support of VV’s Correspondent Rubi Saha

If you are organised, have the correct information, and have a strong will to address the injustice, the outcome will be positive. This is what community Correspondent Rubi Saha mentioned, when she reported about this impact, of the struggles and victory of labourers of Kumlai Tea Estate.

The Kumlai Tea estate in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, India has a population of 4299 people, of them 1118 are permanent workers and about 250 are non permanent workers. 

On 15th Feb, 2022 the Community Correspondent Rubi Saha got to know from the workers union that the labourers are not paid regularly and they are getting agitated - and about to organise a strike at the main gate of the Tea Estate.

Rubi met the aggrieved labourers and began filming their point of views. The poor labourers have no other option than to sit on a strike they mentioned. The issues are mostly economical, and of course it is deeply connected to their physical environment. Tea garden labourers earn INR 202 (approx USD 2.64) per day, even though that amount is not paid regularly. This has pushed them more in poverty, and in few households, they did not have any food to eat

Rubi interviewed many labourers, most of them working in the same tea garden for more than two decades, in the same impoverished conditions, plucking tea leaves. They never had the freedom to even understand the importance of self aspiration - for them self aspiration is a luxury, living life in itself takes their entire mental and physical capacity.

They also spoke of lack of medical facilities, bonuses that are almost non existent, poor living conditions and no paid leaves. To overcome these issues, the labourers organised themselves and sent letters to labour welfare officers and the management of the tea garden.

On 16th February 2022, they gathered at the estate gate along with trade union leaders and were about to picket on the road to get the government’s attention to their woes. Sensing the tense situation, the Assistant Labour Commissioner addressed the labourers and promised them that their issues will be resolved in a peaceful manner.

After 6 days, a tripartite meeting is arranged in Siliguri Labour Department’s office with the union leaders and the management of the estate. It was a positive meeting, and the Tea Estate management promised the representatives that they will be regular in their payments, both daily payments as well as pending provident fund and gratuity amounts. The management mentioned from March 10th all the payments will be released.

The workers are relieved receiving their dues and assurance that provident funds and gratuities are also taken into account. As a gesture of goodwill, the management provided an Ambulance and a school bus for the tea garden and repaired the electricity connection in the factories and their colonies. 

A ray of hope, ‘Ummeed ki Kiran’ is dawned on the lives of the Tea Garden Labourers, with a collective effort, the labourers mentioned, thanking Community Correspondent Rubi’s efforts.

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