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Homechevron_rightKeralachevron_rightPlanters say they...

Planters say they can’t raise workers’ wages

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Planters say they can’t raise workers’ wages
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Thiruvananthapuram: Putting the state government in a tight spot, the Association of Planters of Kerala (APK) Sunday said they cannot enhance wages and bonus of workers as per the tripartite agreement on wage hike.

The decision of APK, an umbrella organisation of planters, comes on the eve of the meeting of the Planters Labour Committee (PLC) here.

"Since the civic polls were being held, we were forced to accept what the government said. It was not voluntary," APK Chairman C Vinayaraghavan told reporters.

"Wages and bonus cannot be raised in the present circumstances," he said.

Though the workers and trade unions had demanded Rs 500 as daily wages, it was decided that an average daily wage of Rs 301 would be given to tea estate workers, Rs 381 to those in rubber plantations, Rs 330 in cardamom and Rs 301 in coffee plantations at the tripartite meeting here on October 14.

Some three lakh plantation workers in different estates in the state were on strike for a fortnight demanding wage hike and 20 per cent bonus.

'Pempillai Otturmai', a collective of women workers of tea estates at Munnar in Idukki, had first spearheaded the war for wage hike, keeping the trade unions at bay. The strike later spread to estates across the state.

Reacting to APK's volte-face, state Labour Minister Shibu Baby John said this was meant to 'pressurise' the government as a PLC meeting was scheduled for tomorrow.

Joyce George, CPI(M)'s Idukki MP, said it was government's duty to ensure that the wage pact was implemented or else it would affect its credibility.

'Pempillai Otturmai' leader Lissy Sunny said they would take their Munnar agitation to the Secretariat if the plantation management fails to hike wages and bonus as decided.

CPI-M Veteran V S Achuthanandan said in Delhi that the government should take over the plantations in the state after enacting a new legislation.

Today's decision showed that the agreement arrived earlier between the plantation management and government was only to hoodwink the workers as the civic polls were round the corner. This amounted to deception, he said.

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