Tea garden workers in most of the gardens in north Bengal plains did not join work today as a Joint Forum of Tea Garden workers called a three-day strike demanding a hike in their minimum wages, convenor of the forum said.
The Joint Forum has given a call for the strike in 153 gardens of Dooars region and 48 gardens in Terai region from today after a tripartite meeting on raising the minimum wage falied to reach a consensus yesterday, forum convenor Ziaur Alam said.
Twenty-three labour unions of the 27 unions under the forum are supporting the strike, he said.
Twenty-seven gardens in Darjeeling, which are already hit by the shutdown in the Hills last year, have been kept outside the purview of the bandh, Alam said.
But no produce was dispatched from the gardens today, he said.
But gate meetings were being held in those garden, he said.
The state government had announced at yesterday's meeting 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 was demanding a minimum daily wage of Rs 249 besides payment for electricity, clothing and education of their children, he said.
The forum was also demanding a shift of the status of tea garden workers from 'agricultural labourer' to 'industrial labourer', he said.
After the meeting failed to arrive at a consensus last night, Joint Forum supporters had staged a dharna in front of the north Bengal state secretariat, where the meeting was held, he said. The dharna was lifted late last night. Labour commissioner Javed Akhter was also present at the meeting.
A meeting will be held at Siliguri later in the day today to solve the impasse.
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