Vol. XLI No. 26 June 25, 2017

CITU Congratulates Bengal Tea Garden Workers for Heroic Strike

THE Centre of Indian Trade Unions, in a statement issued on June 15, has congratulated the tea garden workers of West Bengal for successful two-day strike action on June 12-13, demanding enhancement and implementation of statutory minimum wage. The strike was called by the united platform of tea garden workers in West Bengal, after the TMC-run government of West Bengal backtracked from its commitment for a negotiated settlement on enhancement of statutory minimum wage for the tea garden workers, as per dictates of the tea garden owners.

The strike was almost total on both the days in almost all the 300 tea gardens in the state spread-over three districts viz., Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Aliporeduar.

The TMC government in West Bengal took it as their prestige issue to break the strike at the dictates of the tea garden owners and unleashed brutal repression through its police machinery to break the strike, including chasing and hounding the workers in their colonies and dragging them to their place of work in many gardens. But owing to united and determined resistance by the workers, the police force failed to break the strike and in despair, unleashed brutal lathicharge without provocation on the striking workers’ processions and mobilisations on both the days of strike, severely injuring many including a large number of women workers. Mass scale arrests of striking workers also took place and they were charged under non-bailable sections. But in a number of cases, the militant demonstration by the workers enmasse before many police stations in the tea garden areas, forced the local police to release many of the arrested workers.

CITU condemned the barbaric assault and repression on the peaceful strike action by the tea-garden workers. The state government never bothered when the tea garden workers were in the midst of starvation owing to unlawful closure of many tea gardens, illegal shut-down of production etc leading to hundreds of starvation deaths. But when the workers and their unions closed their ranks to fight back the profit hungry garden owners, the TMC government, instead of taking action against the garden owners for their habitual unlawful activities, pounced upon brutally on the workers demanding proper wages. This exposes the brazenly anti-worker approach of the state government acting virtually as the agent of garden-owners. 

CITU denounces such anti-worker policies of the government and salutes the heroic resistance by the garden workers at every stage, which is no doubt inspiring for the entire working class movement, the statement said.