On Saturday, Achutanandan visited the protestors – around 4,000 women who pluck tea leaves – in Munnar

Stir against Kanan Devan intensifies in Munnar VS calls it Tatas fraud company
news Sunday, September 13, 2015 - 14:20

 

Nine days after they began their protest, workers of the Kanan Devan Hill Plantations (KDHP) firm in Munnar have remained resolute in keeping away politicians, with the exception of a few. Former chief minister and Kerala's Opposition leader V S Achutanandan was given a rousing reception for his remarks on the “fraud company”.

On Saturday, Achutanandan visited the protestors – around 4,000 women who pluck tea leaves – in Munnar, skipping a hunger strike by a junior leader of his own party. Addressing the workers, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) called Kannan Devan Hills Plantations Limited a “fraud company” run by the Tata Group.

Read: Rejecting trade unions, Kerala tea workers demand their due

Beginning his speech by saying “Munnarin Makkale Vanakkam” to loud applause, Achutanandan said:  “The company claims that 98 per cent of its share belongs to the employees. But the truth is far away from their claims. Kanan Devan is a fraud company run by Tata. The lion's part of the tea powder produced by Kanan Devan is purchased by Tata. And Tata sells this for exorbitant rates.”

The previous day, the women had chased away his fellow party member S Rajendran, alleging that he had taken favours from the company. The protestors also released a list of 150 political leaders, who allegedly accepted favours from the company, including houses. Also on the list is Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee vice president A K Mani.

Read: 'Don't need you', agitating tea estate workers shoo away politician who came to 'support'

Another political leader to have found favour among the protestors is Communist Party of India MLA ES Bijimol. However, they reportedly rebuffed her efforts to get them to accept the support of the CPI (M), which they associated with Rajendran.

The woman also chased away two Congress leaders.

Backgrounder

Around 4,000 women workers of the Kannan Devan Hills Plantations Limited have been demanding a hike in their wages from Rs 230 to Rs 500, a 20 percent hike in bonus. Lastly, they want wages to be paid to them directly and not through the trade union. They have rejected the support of all trade unions which they allege, betrayed them and were responsible for a reduction in their bonus.

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.  

 

 

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