Kochi | Pombilai Orumai, a women tea plantation workers movement that led a historic agitation last year in Kerala’s Munnar Hills seeking higher wages, has announced its decision to field a candidate in Devikulam constituency in the hilly Idukki District in the May 16 Assembly election.
Accusing both Congress-led UDF and CPI(M)-led LDF of doing nothing for the welfare of tea plantation workers, Pombilai Orumai President Lissy Sunny said Thursday that they were determined to send a leader from among them to the Assembly to take up their grievances and seek remedies from the administration. The movement would soon announce its candidate for Devikulam, presently held by Left Democratic Front.
Lissy, who emerged as a powerful voice of the women tea plantation workers in the hills, said the trade unions affiliated to the major political parties did nothing for the labourers who had been toiling in tea plantation sector for several decades. “It was our movement that had forced the government and plantation owners to hike our wages and other benefits last year”, she told reporters here. Claiming that the tea plantation workers in large numbers still stood with the movement, she said the Pombilai Orumai could send two of its representatives to the local bodies from the area in the elections to the civic bodies held last year. She alleged that the government could not completely fulfill the promises it made to the organisation during the agitation last year. In such a situation, we have no other option, but to fight and win the assembly election. We have a huge mass support, besides the solid support from the labour force, Lissy said.
The nine-day agitation by women tea plantation workers led by Pombilai Orumai in Munnar against Kannan Devan Hills Plantations company had attracted national attention and also triggered similar strikes in other parts of the state.