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Women plantation workers’ protest enters seventh day

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Women plantation workers’ protest enters seventh day
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Munnar: The women tea plantation workers in the high range Idukki district, who are on strike since the past six days demanding hike in wages, Friday 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, 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.

The agitators prevented S Rajendran MLA from entering the protest site. He had to go back owing to the opposition from the plantation workers.

In a bid to find a solution, Labour Minister Shibu Baby John and Electricity Minister, Arayadan Mohammed, had 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 on Thursday, 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.

Although there were reports that the protesters were allegedly being helped by 'militant' outfits, the Home Ministry has denied it.

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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