MPs in RS demand hike in tea workers' wages, universal maternity benefits

A demand to provide better wages and facilities for tea workers, checking police harassment of goldsmiths and ensuring better reach of maternity benefits under the National Food Security law were raised in Rajya Sabha on Monday.

During the Zero Hour, Shanta Chhetri (AITC) said many tea factories have closed down due to high labour costs and fall in tea prices.

While the West Bengal government has gradually increased wages of tea workers to Rs 176 per day from Rs 67 per day in 2011, Chhetri urged the Union Government to implement the Minimum Wages Act in tea gardens.

She also demanded the government provide subsidy for modernisation and replantation, set up centrally located hospital for tea workers besides ensuring scholarship for children of tea workers pursuing higher studies.

The member also demanded that the Centre take action against those wrongly misrepresenting the brand 'Darjeeling tea' as 'Nepal tea'.

With regard to maternity benefits of Rs 6,000 under the National Food Security Law, Congress leader L Hanumanthaiah said this should be rolled out on a national basis as a report says two out of three children die due to malnutrition.

Demanding the government protect goldsmiths, BJP leader Kailash Soni said traders of gold and silver are in distress due to ra"police harassment".

Despite record sale of the precious metal, goldsmith are "harassed" and "tortured" under section 411 of the Indian Penal Code, he said, and urged the government to address this issue.

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