Will declare tea plantation workers’ strike ‘illegal’: Mamata Banerjee

Silguri (West Bengal) [India] June 10 : West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said her government would declare the proposed tea plantation workers' strike as illegal.

She also blamed the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for inciting tea plantation workers to go ahead with their strike.

Over 4.5 lakh tea workers in West Bengal have announced a strike on June 13 to demand payment as per Minimum Wage Act.

Banerjee made the announcement while speaking to the media at Uttarkanya, the secretariat for North Bengal in Siliguri.

"The CPI (M), Congress and BJP are doing negative politics. Before the elections, BJP said the Centre would take over seven tea gardens, but nothing has been done," said Banerjee.

She further added that "if the tea industry closes down due to politics of hate, the CPI(M), Congress and BJP have to take responsibility".

"We will declare the bandh called on June 13 by the tea workers illegal," said the Chief Minister, adding that she was in favour of trade unions in general, not for any particular union.

She also highlighted that the government was ready to negotiate with the tea plantation workers, but only when the tea gardens are open.

The Chief Minister further claimed that her government had done a lot for the tea plantation workers. "Our Government has provided a lot of benefits to tea gardens. We have helped the tea workers by giving them 3 months' wages, rice at Rs 2/kg, mobile ambulances. What we have done for the tea gardens, none did before us," said Banerjee. The West Bengal Chief Minister urged the people to let the hills be peaceful. "Lets the Hills keep smiling, let the Hills be in peace. I come to the Hills every month to know the situation first-hand, which never happened before. I love the Hills, so I will come here again and again, whatever anyone says," asserted Banerjee. About bringing the situation in Darjeeling under control, Mamata Banerjee said, "The law will take its own course".

She also warned Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) for resorting to violence in Darjeeling and said the state government would not go for any compromise and deal with those who violated law.

"They (GJM) have become politically bankrupt and resorted to violence. I hope good sense will prevail on them. We cannot live in peace by resorting to terror and violence." The GJM resorted to violence and announced strike to oppose Mamata Banerjee government's move to make Bengali a compulsory subject till standard 10th in schools.

The state government had to call in the Army to maintain law and order. Mamata reassured everyone that "I am continuing to monitor the situation from here"..

Source: ANI