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World India: Hundreds of thousands of tea pickers in Assam on indefinite strike

17:25  11 october  2020
17:25  11 october  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

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Over 400,000 workers on Indian tea plantations that supply the world’s largest tea companies have gone on strike over the government’s failure to Assam accounts for the production of half of India ’s annual 1,235m kgs of tea leaves. For years, the owners of the vast plantations in Assam have been

But tea is big business in India and Assam in particular, and a cartel of owners have persuaded the state that they cannot afford The turning is barely a couple of hundred yards further down the road. It is a typical middle-class Delhi street. Yet there are tens of thousands like them unable to escape.

Les cueilleurs de thé se sont joints aux agriculteurs, qui protestent contre la libéralisation de la vente de fruits et légumes. © Biju BORO / AFP Tea pickers joined farmers in protesting the liberalization of the sale of fruits and vegetables.

The strike began this Friday, October 9 to demand wage increases. These workers joined the farmers, who have been protesting for two weeks now against the new selling prices for fruit and vegetables.

With our correspondent in Bangalore, Côme Bastin

The State of Assam produces nearly 50% of India's tea, and it is found on many tables around the world. But since Friday, the hundreds of thousands of little hands in the tea gardens have refused to return to work. The government had promised them large daily wage increases and canceled them.

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India is the world’s second-largest tea producer , after China, and its Assam and Darjeeling teas are famous. (In this video by Paul Salopek, watch how tea is produced on a plantation in West Bengal. ) Thousands of tea pickers toiled on the remote plantations. Many were indigenous Adivasi women

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Abhijeet Majumdar, president of the Tarai Sangrami Cha tea workers union, accuses the owners of large farms.

“Since 1951, the Tea Plantation Labor Act has existed,” he denounces. In principle, it guarantees a minimum wage, housing and a school for children. But gradually, employers have become so important that they can deny these rights. For example, today they only pay 2 euros for a day's work! You realize ? "

Anger of the farmers

The tea unions said they would remain on strike until their demands were heard. Meanwhile, farmer protests have rocked India for two weeks. Farmers are fighting a new law that liberalizes the selling prices of fruit and vegetables.

In Punjab, railroad blockages are such that the state could run out of coal in the days to come. It is arguably the biggest social movement in India since the lockdown began.

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