The Indian Tea Association (ITA) Chairman Azam Monem has said that the application of full cover of the governments welfare schemes in tea estates cannot be institutionalised due to the Plantations Labour Act (PLA) which overlaps these schemes.
The amendment to the PLA, which is on the anvil, envisages wider application of the government's social welfare schemes
on housing, health, education, drinking water in tea gardens, he said at the 128th general meeting of Assam branch of the ITA yesterday.
"We have represented to the Ministry of Labour that the cost of maintenance of such facilities created from these schemes should not be vested on the management particularly where such facilities already exist under PLA as this would further add to cost," Monem said.
"It is imperative to ensure that a sustainable wage structure exists in tea industry for its long term viability," the ITA chief said.
He said that the adversities for climate change had increased the industrys dependence on irrigation and investments on creation of irrigation infrastructure had gone up substantially.
"We need solutions that are affordable and durable," he said.
The Chairman of the Assam Branch of Indian Tea Association (ABITA) A H Choudhry said the increasing cost of production was a matter of concern. Input costs had significantly gone up in terms of electricity, fuel, plant protection chemicals and irrigation.
"Wage and employment cost constitute 60 per cent of production and is going up. The wage agreements have since expired and enhancement of wages of workers is on the anvil... we expect that the wage quantum would be so fixed that the industry would be capable to sustain," he said.
Speaking at the function, principal Power Secretary Jishnu Baruah said adequate service to the people through proper distribution of power among the consumers was the prime duty of the power sector of the state government.
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