Third round of talks on Kerala plantation workers wages fail

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 5 (IANS) The third round of the tri-partite talks to discuss plantation workers’ demand for a hike in their daily wages from Rs.231 to Rs.500 ended on Monday without breaking the deadlock and will continue on Wednesday.

The talks, held over several rounds starting Monday morning, included trade union leaders, women representatives of plantation labourers from Munnar, estate owners and in the last round, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

Emerging from the talks, state Labour Minister Shibu Baby John who is acting as the interlocutor between the aggrieved parties, however expressed confidence that things are moving in the right direction.

“I see positive signs emerging from the day-long talks and we all agreed to resume our talks on Wednesday. I am optimistic about the way things are going ahead. The chief minister gave a patient hearing to all sections,” he said.

The trade union leaders said that they have no other option but to continue the indefinite strike that is going on at Munnar in Idukki district and other places with around three lakh plantation workers skipping work since last Monday.

Meanwhile two women protesters in Munnar who were on a hunger strike fell unconscious on Monday evening and were taken to hospital.

On Wednesday when the state cabinet meets, the government will look into a package prepared by Additional Chief Secretary K.M. Abraham, who is also the finance secretary, and this is expected to resolve the issue when the Plantation Labour Committee will again meet that day.

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