Kerala plantation labourers to launch indefinite strike from Monday

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 26 (IANS) A day-long marathon meeting of the ‘plantation labour committee’ (PLC) held here in the Kerala capital on Saturday failed to break the deadlock over the demand of Rs.500 as daily wage for plantation workers, following which the trade unions announced an indefinite strike from Monday.

Around 10,000 women plantation workers, working in the Munnar tea plantations owned by the Kannan Devan Hills Plantations (KDHP) Company Private Limited, went on a strike earlier this month. After nine days, their demand of 20 percent bonus was accepted.

At that time, when talks was held under Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, it was decided that their demand of raising their daily wage from Rs.231 to Rs.500 would be considered at the PLC meeting.

After the nearly nine-hour-long meeting, state Labour Minister Shibu Baby John told reporters that the trade unions demanded Rs.500 as daily wage, which the Association of Planters Kerala (APK) did not agree to.

“The state government has put up some suggestions before the APK. They said they will look into it and return for the next round of talks scheduled for Tuesday evening,” said John.

Meanwhile, the trade unions announced that they will go ahead with an indefinite strike starting on Monday.

The women workers in Munnar, who were anxiously waiting to hear the outcome of the talks, said they were not going to budge from their demand of Rs.500 as daily wage.

A male plantation worker told reporters in Munnar: “If it was an all-women strike earlier, we the men would also join the indefinite strike from Monday. We are waiting for the return of our women leaders from the capital city and tomorrow (Sunday), we will meet as many employees as possible to launch our strike from Monday.”

APK representatives termed the situation “most unfortunate”.

“We will have no other option but to declare a lockout, if they (unions) insist on Rs.500,” said an APK representative.

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