Laborers pick tea leaves in Kanyam Tea Garden. Only a few tea industry workers are hired on permanent basis. Photo: Bhim Chapagain/Republica
Only 3,244 of over 3 million workers permanent: Survey
ILAM, Aug 6: A total of 3 million workers are engaged in tea industry of Nepal. But only 3,244 them are hired on permanent basis, a survey shows.
The survey conducted jointly by Central Bureau of Statistics, and Nepal Tea and Coffee Development Board shows that 59 percent of the permanent jobholders in tea industry are male. In terms of seasonal temporary workers, however, the number of female workers is way higher. According to the survey 74 percent of the total workforce in tea industry, or 2,309,166 workers, are female.
According to the survey, 18,180 workers in the tea industry are promoter themselves or family of promoters.
The survey findings show that a large number of workers in tea industry are devoid of facilities promised by the state. Though labor laws of the country says that anyone working for at least 240 days should get permanent status, this is not happening in tea industry.
Worse is, temporary workers cannot claim minimum wage fixed by the government, according to laborers and industry insiders.
Further, companies, which have taken government-owned tea gardens or plants, are not paying even minimum wage to workers. Privately-owned companies are providing at least minimum wage to workers, laborers say.
Meanwhile, the number of available workforce for the industry has dwindled in recent years due to lack of job security as well as pay and perks and other facilities as enshrined in labor laws. Despite this, promoters of tea industries are not serious about retaining this workforce in the tea industry.
Talking to Republica, Ramesh Khadka, a laborer in the tea industry, said that many workers are not even paid minimum wage fixed by the government. "We were not even paid Dashain allowance last year despite the law clearly stating that workers are entitled Dashain allowance equivalent to a month's salary," he said, adding that most of the workers are paid between Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,700 per month.
Laborers are also not getting salary increment as per the grade provision which all workers completing at least one year of service are entitled.