Munnar (Ker) | At least 10,000 women tea plantation workers in Kerala’s high range Idukki district, who are on strike since the past five days demanding hike in wages, today intensified their agitation, by blocking roads, causing severe traffic snarls here. Women tea pluckers, who are at the forefront of the strike have kept trade unions at bay, and are allegedly being helped by certain ‘militant’ outfits, said they would continue their agitation until their demands for hike in wages and 20 per cent bonus are met by the plantation management.
Till our just demands are met, we will continue the agitation and strengthen it even if it takes a month or 60 days, we will agitate, an agitating worker said. In a bid to find a solution, Kerala Labour Minister ShibuBaby John and Electricity Minister, Arayadan Mohammed, held talks with the Kannan Devan Hills Plantation company officials and representatives of AITUC and INTUC unions at Thiruvananthapuram. According to official sources, government was trying to find a way out as per law it can only have negotiated settlements through trade unions. The approach of the agitating women workers was not correct, the sources said.
Though the talks were inconclusive, it was decided to have another round of discussion on September 13 at Kochi on the trade unions demand for 20 per cent bonus and wage hike. The representatives of the Kannan Devan Hills Plantation (KDHP) said they will inform their stand by then, an official in the Labour minister’s office said.
On hearing that there was no solution today, the women took out a march blocking the Munnar-Mariyoor road. Police said at least 10,000 women took out the march. There were no union leaders. They have kept the union leaders at bay, a police official said. Officials said they were allegedly being helped by ‘militant’ outfits. Meanwhile, Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan, sought early resolution of the strike.
KDHP, first ever employee owned plantation company in India, has 16 tea manufacturing units with an annual production of 22 million kg of tea and close to 12,000 employees. It has seven extensive tea gardens covering 24,000 hectares.
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