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Women tea pluckers begin hunger strike

Women tea pluckers begin hunger strike

Munnar: As the plantation labour strike continued for the fourth day Thursday across Kerala, Pompilai Orumai, a loose coalition of women tea-leaf pluckers at the Tata Tea-controlled Kanan Devan Hills Plantations in Munnar, has begun an indefinite hunger strike, as part of scaling up their agitation demanding wage hike.

The women protesters are agitating near the Post Office here.

Police forces have been deployed in the area as plantation workers under the label of United Trade Unions are also protesting in front of the nearby Kanan Devan Hills Plantations outlet.

Tension has gripped Munnar in the wake of the two streams of agitations pressing for raising the daily wage from RS 232 to RS 500.

Pompilai Orumai leaders Gomathi and Lissy said that they would go ahead with the hunger strike until their demands are met.

Pompilai Orumai, which was formed in the wake of the successful nine-day agitation seeking 20 per cent bonus by women leaf pluckers earlier this month, refused to align with the organised unions and wanted to carry on its own agitation.

They took to the strike path independently on Wednesday following Tuesday’s failure of the government-brokered talks in the tripartite Plantation Labour Committee.

Enraged by the ‘anti-trade union’ attitude of the new organisation, members of the joint council barged into the Orumai dharna and allegedly stoned the women workers.

They also allegedly hurled stones at mediapersons, whom they accused to be partial to Pompilai Orumai, and policemen.

Four media persons, a policeman and a woman worker suffered minor injuries and the police carried out a lathi-charge to avert a confrontation.

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