The women workers want to keep the unions out after the unions allegedly consented to a reduction in bonus last year

Rejecting trade unions Kerala tea workers demand their due
news Friday, September 11, 2015 - 14:48
Rejecting all trade unions and political parties, 4,000 women who work in Kannan Devan Hills Plantations Limited took to the streets of Munnar five days ago to demand better wages.
In a departure from other workers’ protest in Kerala, the tea workers of the KDHP (formerly Tata Tea), reportedly have no leader or action committee, and are determined to keep political parties and unions out.
Speaking to Asianet News, some of the protesting women denied that there was a mafia behind them, as some political groups had claimed.
“This is the reason we avoided our men for this protest – just to prove that we don’t have anyone behind us and it is our own need,” they said.
Majority stakeholders in KDHP, the workers have alleged that company officials are lying about losses. Mostly engaged in picking tea leaves, the plantation workers together hold 68 percent of KDHP’s shares, while 18 percent is held by former owners Tata Tea and 14 per cent by a trust and others.
Workers have alleged that the company is making profits, but they see only a small sliver of it while the biggest portion goes to the officers.
Besides this, they also want their daily wage to be increased from Rs 230 to Rs 500, and a 20 percent hike in bonus. Lastly, they want wages to be paid to them directly and not through the trade union.
Why no trade unions?
The women workers want to keep the unions out after the unions allegedly consented to a reduction in bonus last year.
All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) was the first to form its unit in Munnar, under the leadership of former deputy speaker and veteran trade union leader CA Kurian.
The Congress-affiliated Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) affiliate Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) too made in-roads.
However, until last year, all three trade unions allegedly agreed to a reduction in bonus from 17 percent to 10 percent after the company claimed fall in profits. Additionally, the workers have alleged that the unions colluded with the management to cut down on their allowances.
Communist Party of India MLA ES Bijimol Peerimedu told The News Minute that this was a warning sign. “This protest shows that people lost faith in present systems, I extend my all support to the protests. All workers are being exploited, that should be changed,” she said.
Though Minister for Labour and Skills Shibu Baby John had assured the workers that their problems would be solved soon, all the comprimise meetings ended in vain and he has has also called for a meeting next Sunday to discuss the matter.