8 months on, plantation workers still waiting for Rs 80 increase in daily wages

A plantation worker seen working at a tea estate in Valparai | A Raja Chidambaram.
A plantation worker seen working at a tea estate in Valparai | A Raja Chidambaram.

COIMBATORE: Employees at the tea estate at Valparai grieved that even after the State government revised the minimum wage for workers to Rs 425 in July last year, it is yet to be implemented.

P Paramasivam, general secretary of Coimbatore district Estate Workers and Officers Association said, "As per Tamil Nadu government notification in July 2021, the minimum wage for estate workers had been revised from Rs 345 to Rs 425.40. However, the tea estate managements formed a syndicate and do not implement the wage hike."

"Wage for estate workers would be revised once every four years. As per the wage agreement last finalised in June 2017, Rs 345 was fixed per shift (8 hours). As the agreement ended in June 2021, members of trade unions and planters held talks over the next level. But a new deal was not finalised even after several rounds of talks. Meanwhile, State's announcement made us happy, but eight months have passed and it is yet to come into effect," he added.

S Sakthivel, a tea estate labourer of a private estate in Valparai, said, "We are still paid Rs 395 per shift now. Tea estate managements have reduced their manpower recently, so work has increased now. Due to inflating prices, the current wage is not sufficient. Every family working in the tea estates is reeling under debt. Paying lower than minimum wage, even after the government announcement, does not do any good."

A senior official from the labour department said, "To implement the announced minimum wage, a negotiation between members of minimum wage committee from labour department and tea planters in February was held. However, no decision was made. The department will soon schedule the next meeting with planters."

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