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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Time to greet friends and family..... Workers fear lean season hindrance to tea wage talks....Gorkhas Observe Black Day to Denounce Terrorism

Time to greet friends and family
RAJEEV RAVIDAS, TT, Kalimpong, Oct. 5: The hills are ready to celebrate Dasain tomorrow, setting aside for sometime the sorrow that had descended after the recent earthquake which took several lives and damaged properties.
For the people in the hills it is that time of the year when those who stay away from their houses for their livelihood come to their hometown.
“As always I am happy to be home to celebrate Dasain with my family. Last month’s earthquake certainly makes this Dasain a special one, especially so when my family and friends say that on September 18 they all got a second birth,” said Roshan Pradhan, a call centre executive who stays in Delhi.
With the region still recovering from the losses caused by the tremors, which also triggered a series of landslides, many families have chosen to tone down the celebrations. “The excitement and the vigour are not quite there. We don’t feel like celebrating knowing that there are people who do not have roof over their heads,” said Kritika Moktan, a senior analyst who works in Bangalore.
For most people who stay elsewhere, this year’s Dasain is a mix of happiness and gloom.
While there is the joy of meeting family and friends, there is also a sense of loss.
Pravin Singh who stays in Mumbai said he would be spending the next few days with his family and friends in Kalimpong.
“Frankly, I did not understand the impact the quake had on the people here while I was in Mumbai. It is only over the last two days after I met my friends here that I am beginning to get a sense of the magnitude of the impact,” he said.
Pravin added that there is more reason for him to celebrate Dasain this year because his family members and friends are all safe.
“The close shave gives me all the more reason to celebrate this year’s Dasain. A few seconds here and there, and it could have been a different story altogether,,” he said.
The Gorkhas celebrate Dasain by seeking blessings from the elders of the family.
The elder members apply tika (made of rice and curd) on the foreheads of the young people and bless them. The family members gather for a feast to complete the celebrations.
Workers fear lean season hindrance to tea wage talks
TT, Siliguri, October 5: Trade unions fear that if tea wages for Dooars workers are not revised before Diwali, planters may delay the negotiation and extend it to next year citing the three-month lean season starting from November.
Around 2.5 lakh tea workers are yet to get the new scale to be revised from the existing Rs 67 per day.
The trade unions had been insisting on Rs 90 a day like the hill workers, a proposal that has been shot down by planters who have argued that Darjeeling Tea is sold at a much higher price than CTC, which is grown in the Dooars. So, the salary of hill workers could not be compared with those in the plains.
“We had been waiting eagerly for Durga Puja to end and want the wages to be finalised at the earliest. It would be best if it is settled before Diwali, which is around 20 days away,” said Aloke Chakraborty, the Darjeeling district president of Intuc, the trade union of the Congress.
“If no decision is reached till Diwali and the current month ends, it will be difficult for us to negotiate as the lean season will commence from November. Planters, who will not earn during these months because of halt in production, may delay the negotiation till the next season starting in March 2012,” said Chakraborty.
The current wages are paid on the basis of a three-year tripartite agreement signed in 2008.
It expired on March 31 this year and since then there had been seven rounds of unsuccessful tripartite talks. The last was held on the first week of September.
“During the course of the negotiation, we brought down our demands considerably but the planters have refused to relent even then,” said Sukra Munda, the chairperson of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad-backed Progressive Tea Workers’ Union
“Given the trend of talks, we doubt whether any agreement will be signed at all in the coming lean season. It is best to bargain and convince planters in the next 15-20 days to agree to a revised scale, that is, before Diwali and immediately after Puja.”
The state labour department has called another round of tripartite talks on October 13.
“We are now hoping that the talks succeed as already six months of the current fiscal has passed. Workers want an early solution, as they are aware that their counterparts in the Darjeeling hills are earning Rs 90 a day. They will surely get arrears as the new agreement will be effective from April 1, 2011 but it is a test of patience,” said Samir Roy, convener of the Defence Committee for Plantation Workers Rights, an apex body of tea trade unions.
Planters, however, said the gardens had suffered considerably in the September 18 earthquake.
“Most of the gardens in the Terai and the Dooars have suffered damage and some have incurred losses worth crores,” said Prabir Bhattacharjee, the secretary of the Dooars Branch of the Indian Tea Association. “Regarding settlement of wages, we were never reluctant to negotiate. We had already submitted detailed information to the state government about the expenses incurred to run a tea estate.”
“It is not the question of lean season but the affordability of the tea companies that has to be kept in mind. The trade unions should rationalise their demands. We too had proposed a revised wage and do not want to drag on the issue. We are hopeful of a positive outcome at the meeting called by the state labour department next week,” he added.
United Sikkim kicks aside quake trauma - Players reach Delhi for Durand Cup

BIJOY GURUNG, TT, Bijoy Gurung, Gangtok, Oct. 5: A 20-member squad of United Sikkim football club with co-owner Bhaichung Bhutia reached New Delhi yesterday for the Durand Cup, the quake deterring little the players who were determined to fight the panic attacks that followed.
The team had been in Siliguri from September 24 to practise at the Kanchenjungha Stadium as the quake had hampered their training in Gangtok. The team could undergo only light training at Gangtok’s Paljor stadium for three days from September 21.
“The team is ready for the Durand Cup. All the boys are fit and raring to go after an eight-day training camp in Siliguri. Our first aim is to qualify for the semi-finals,” said chief coach H. Stanly Rozario over the phone from New Delhi.
He added that although the team’s preparations for the tourney had been hampered because of the earthquake, the squad is now ready.
United Sikkim used to practice daily at the Paljor Stadium in Gangtok. But the training had to be stopped for six days after the earthquake that killed 60 people in Sikkim and caused widespread damage.
“The preparations were a bit affected and the boys were scared. They could not sleep properly for the first few days (after the quake). Every time an aftershock came, they used to run outside their flats,” said Rozario.
The club office at Baluwakhani in Sikkim suffered severe damage when the building in which it is located collapsed on September 23 after an adjacent structure tilted on it. Several trophies, cups, computers, kits and other equipment were buried under the collapsed building.
On September 24, members of the main squad of United Sikkim travelled to Siliguri for practice sessions at the Khanchenjungha Stadium.
The club also played three friendly matches during the camp.
United Sikkim had been placed in a quarterfinal group with Indian Air Force and Shillong Lajong. Only one team from the group will qualify for the semi-finals.
“Both our opponents are strong teams. The IAF gave a tough fight to Lajong yesterday before losing 1-2. We have to win against IAF and then play the deciding match against Lajong,” Rozario said.
The club will play against IAF on Friday and Lajong on October 9.
“Our boys have started improving their scoring rate and they had a good outing in Siliguri against the lower sides. We are expecting more (from them) in the Durand Cup,” said Rozario.
The finals of the Durand Cup will be on October 15.
Senior manager Arjun Rai said the Siliguri camp has prepared the players for the Durand Cup.
“The warm weather of Siliguri has acclimatised the players for a similar weather in New Delhi,” he said.
Rai added that Renedy Singh, who has been playing as a substitute till now because of his knee injury, will be available for a full match in the championship.
“Renedy has played a full match in a friendly game at Nagaland and he is fit,”said Rozario.
Bhaichung, who has also not played full matches till now because of a calf injury, played a full game at the exhibition match.
“Although he has not recovered fully, we want him to play for at least for some time, especially during the final 15-20 minutes of the matches in Durand Cup. His presence will be a huge boost for our team,” said Rai.
With Nim Tshering Lepcha out of the team for a couple of months because of a knee injury, United Sikkim’s Namibian recruit Quinton Jacobs has been handed over the captaincy since September.
Apart from Bhaichung and Renedy, the other players to watch out for are Jacobs, two Nigerian strikers Babatunde Oladele and Daniel Bidemi, national team striker Sushil Kumar Singh and defender Gobind Singh.
Gorkhas Observe Black Day to Denounce Terrorism
PTI, BHIMAJULI (ASSAM), OCT 04, 2011: The All Assam Gorkha Students' Union (AAGSU) today observed Black Day today to denounce the terrorist attack on the Gorkhas here in Sonitpur district during the Durga Pujas two years ago.
AAGSU, The apex organisation of Gorkha students and youths in Assam, observe the day in memory of the 12 persons, including seven Gorkhas, who were killed in an attack by NDFB (anti-talk) insurgents on October 4, 2009, AAGSU Information and Publicity Secretary Nanda Kirati Dewan said.
Calling for peace and tranquility, AAGSU members took out a silent candle light march centrally here, while its district, zonal, regional and college units also held candle light gatherings in small groups across the state to register their protest against the massacre.
Dewan said the members wore black masks and badges to denounce terrorism of all forms.
The Gorkhas, known as brave fighters, will not tolerate any attempt to terrorise people and make Assam a haven of terrorism," he said.

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