Tea wages was a matter of intense debate in assembly polls last year. Assam chief minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma in a tweet stated, “Happy to share that in a meeting with tea associations, it was decided to hike the workers’ wage by Rs 27, thus raising their daily wage to Rs 232 & Rs 210 in Brahmaputra Valley & Barak Valley respectively. Also assured to raise Govt subsidy for orthodox tea from Rs 7 to Rs 10 per kg”.
In another tweet, Sarma stated, “Welfare of tea garden workers has always been our Govt’s top priority. In a meeting with the tea garden management and workers’ union, it was decided to increase their daily wage by 27 over and above ration and other benefits.”
Assam CM said, “All garden workers will get ration cards & we urged the gardens to take Fair Price Shop licenses. Representatives of Indian Tea Association, NE Tea Association, Tea Association of India, Bharatiya Chah Parishad,Assam Tea Planters’ Association & Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha were present.”
Welfare of tea garden workers has always been our Govt's top priority.
In a meeting with tea garden managements and workers' union, it was decided to increase their daily wage by ₹27 over and above ration and other benefits. pic.twitter.com/r5PA6djbRA
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) August 10, 2022
In February, the BJP-led government in Assam had withdrawn a notification that increased the daily wages of plantation workers by Rs 50, and announced about setting up of a new committee to fix the minimum wage.
The minimum wage before the Rs 50 interim hike was Rs 167 a day. One of the main petitioners in the Gauhati High Court, Indian Tea Association, challenged the interim wage revision for tea workers, had announced an increase of the daily wage by Rs 26.
In the order of 26 May 2021, the state department of labour had noted the petition filed by associations of tea estates in the Gauhati High Court against the interim wage hike, withdrawing the Rs 50 hike. Giving an interim hike requires the setting up of committees and subcommittees and taking their advice, according to rules, the labour department said, adding that this process “was inadvertently skipped.”
Assam accounts for 52 percent of India’s tea, making it the largest producer of tea in India. Assam orthodox tea got the Geographical Indication (GI). 90% of Assam’s production is black tea and Assam mainly produces CTC tea.
More than 10 lakh tea workers are there in Assam, working in about 850 big estates in the organised sector. More than 60 lakh people reside in the tea belts of Brahmaputra and Barak valleys.