Monday, April 1, 2019

Tea estate workers in east demand minimum wages

Tea estate workers in the eastern region started protest against factory owners as they have not implemented the monthly minimum wage and social security scheme, though tea factory owners have been claiming that the rule is not applicable to the tea industry as it requires seasonal workers only, not full time as in other industries.
The new labour and social security laws have guaranteed the minimum wages and social security to the workers. The government has made it mandatory for employers to pay industrial workers a minimum wage of Rs 385 daily and create a social security fund by this fiscal year but tea factories have not yet implemented the rule. However, the tea factory owners are complaining that the tea industry should not be in the 'industrial category' as it requires only seasonal workers.
The workers have intensified their protest against tea factory owners for not implementing the Labour Act, according to the central president of the Nepali Congress-affiliated Nepal Tea Estate Workers Association.
The tea factory owners have been paying their workers only Rs 278 for the last nine months – claiming that they are seasonal workers – through the workers have been demanding the government fixed the minimum daily wage at Rs 385 for industrial workers.
Only two tea factories in Dhankuta and three in Ilam have implemented the new law, according to the president of All Nepal Tea Workers Association. The government had formed a high level committee to study the tea sector last year. Its report has not yet been made public.
The Nepal Tea Producers Association said that it would be forced to shut down the factory if the industries implemented the law and paid the minimum wages fixed by the government. However, the tea producers claimed that the tea industry globally had separate labour laws. The industry is governed by the Tea Labour Regulation 1994.
According to the new Labour Act, employers require to provide a provident fund equal to 10 per cent of the basic salary for temporary employees and bonus. The previous law had provisioned a 5 per cent provident fund but only to permanent workers. There are nearly 50,000 tea workers in five districts in the eastern region.

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