Nine-day women’s stir at Munnar plantation ends

Kochi/Munnar  (IANS) A nine-day protest by more than 7,000 women plantation workers demanding better conditions, both in terms of bonus and facilities, ended late on Sunday as the demand of bonus was accepted by the plantation company.

The deadlock was broken after a day-long consultation in Kochi led by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, and attended by his cabinet colleagues, trade union leaders and representatives of the workers and the Kannan Devan Hills Plantations (KDHP) Company Private Limited.

Announcing the decision, Chandy said he wished to thank all those people who took part in the deliberations.

“The talks were very cordial and the management agreed to the wish of the government and as a result, they have agreed to hike the bonus. Last year, it was 19 percent and this time they have decided to give 8.33 percent bonus and an additional 11.67 percent as ex-gratia,” said Chandy.

He said the demand for increased wages would be taken up by the officially approved ‘plantation labour committee’ which will meet on September 26.

“With regard to the demands of the workers on scaling up medical facilities, that was also agreed and the necessary changes would be made in the rules,” added Chandy.

The women workers, who have been on the street in Munnar every day for the past nine days, met Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan.

Minister for Scheduled Tribes P.K. Jayalekshmi was with the protestors since Sunday morning.

Chandy spoke to Jayalekshmi and informed her that the meeting was a success and the demands was accepted by all. She conveyed this to Achuthanandan.

Greeting the announcement with bursting of crackers and clapping of hands, the women labourers thanked all for the decisions.

Achuthanandan told them that he will be with them if these decisions were not implemented.

The highlight of the strike was that these women labourers had chased away legislator S. Rajendran of the Communist Party of India-Marxist on Friday.

Gomathy, a plantation worker and one of the leaders of the protest, said they were happy that their strike reaped rewards.

“We are all waiting for September 26, when the committee meets to decide on increasing our salary,” said Gomathy.

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