A meeting to find a solution to the impasse over raising the minimum wage of tea garden workers in north Bengal remained inconclusive today.
A three-day strike called by a joint forum of tea garden workers, demanding a hike in the minimum wage, would continue, as the meeting at Siliguri failed to reach a consensus, convenor of the forum Ziaur Alam said.
The strike in 153 gardens of Dooars region and 48 gardens in Terai region started from today. Twenty-three labor unions of the 27 unions under the forum are supporting the protest, he said.
"The strike would continue for two more days, as the meeting was inconclusive in the absence of the tea garden owners," Alam said. He said another meeting over the issue will be held on August 13.
West Bengal Joint Labour Commissioner Chandan Dasgupta said talks were peaceful at the meeting, but there was no consensus on increasing the minimum wage of tea garden workers.
Meanwhile, Secretary General of the Tea Association of India, PK Bhattacharya, said it is regrettable that the strike was still on despite negotiations on fixing the minimum wage continuing.
"We urge the unions to immediately withdraw the strike," he said. Twenty-seven gardens in Darjeeling, which were already hit by the shutdown in the Hills last year, have been kept outside the purview of the bandh, Alam said.
However, no produce was dispatched from the gardens today. The workers did not report for work in most of the tea gardens in Jalpaiguri districts such as Banarhat Tea Garden and Luksan Tea Garden, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh leader John Barla said.
The state government had announced at a meeting yesterday that the minimum daily wage would be hiked from Rs 159 to Rs 172, but it was rejected by the forum, Alam said.
The forum is demanding a minimum daily wage of Rs 249 besides payment for electricity, clothing, and education of children, he said.
It is also in favor of a shift in the status of tea garden workers from 'agricultural laborers' to 'industrial laborers', Alam added.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)