Thiruvananthapuram | Nearly three lakh plantation workers, employed in different estates in Kerala, today began an indefinite strike to demand wage hike and 20 per cent bonus. Communist Party Of India state secretary and All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) leader Kanam Rajendran said 99 per cent of the total three lakh plantation work force in public and private sectors are on strike.
Workers from all plantations including tea, rubber, coffee and cardamom are participating in the strike, he said. When asked about the scheduled Plantation Labour Committee (PLC) meeting, Rajendran said the collective decision of all trade unions in the sector was to ensure that there is no compromise made on its demand for daily wage of Rs 500.
All India United Trade Union Centre (AITUC), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) and several small trade unions are participating in the strike. However, a section of women workers at Kannan Devan Hills Plantation (KDHP) in Munnar is not participating in the stir called by United Trade Unions. The women work force of KDHP, under the banner ‘Pempilai Orumai’, had held a successful nine-day strike earlier this month that virtually put into focus the issues related to labourers in plantation sectors in the state.
The PLC, which held a meeting here on last Saturday, had failed to arrive at a consensus regarding increasing wages. Representatives of various trade unions participated in the meeting had given the strike call after the marathon talks failed to take a decision on hiking daily wages to Rs 500. ‘
Yesterday, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had said that government would not take any decision which will destroy the plantation sector. He had also expressed hope that all issues in the plantation sector were expected to be resolved at the PLC meeting convened by the government on September 29.
In a bid to seek the co-operation of all concerned, Chandy said, Only if everyone is positive, we can find a solution to the problems.
The plantation managements, who had stated that they would be unable to bear Rs 500 daily as wages, have sought more time for deliberating on the proposals put forth by the government on the wage hike.The entire plantation sector in Kerala is going through an unprecedented crisis due to the strike and even a meagre hike in the present wage structure would further hit the industry, managements said.
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