ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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ASSAM-Bonus Deaths in Tea Gardens

ASSAM Bonus Deaths in Tea Gardens Udayon Misra EVERY year in the months of September- October tension mounts throughout the tea-belt of Assam over the question of bonus. This year, with most of the gardens in upper Assam offering only 8.33 per cent bonus, the situation has taken an ugly turn in several districts. Dibrugarh and Sib- sagar districts seem to be the ones lacing the greatest amount of trouble, with the workers in most of the gardens here refusing to accept the minimum bonus that is being offered them. In these two districts alone there are 498 tea gardens out of the state's total of 769. Sibsagar and Dibrugarh have between them a total acreage of 1,13,850 hectares under tea, producing 179 million kilograms of tea every year. More than half of the state's 10 lakh tea workers fcre employed in the gardens in these two districts. Whereas in the past ten years the bonus rates varied between 15 and 20 per cent in most of the gardens, this year the management has generally offered only 8.33 per cent. This, despite the fact that last year was a good year for tea and most of the gardens showed a higher allocable surplus. The workers throughout the upper Assam belt have resisted the management's offer by observing strikes, demonstrations and gheraos. At leasi two gardens have declared lock-outs and in scores of others a jittery management is trying to pacify the workers into accepting the rates offered. The worst trouble so far has taken place in Jamira Tea Estate, 14 kilometres from Dibrugarh town. It was here on October I that two workers were shot dead by the police and two others seriously injured.

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