Industrial Relations and Adivasi Resistance in the Tea Plantation Sector in Assam

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Mridusmita DUARA, Krishna Kanta Handiqui State Open University, India
Sambit MALLICK, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, India
The present study, carried out in seven districts in Assam (India), examines how evolving dynamics of industrial relations both in its form and execution require historical sensibilities. The seven districts include Dibrugarh, Sibsagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Sonitpur and Kamrup (rural). The domination of the owning classes over the tea workers is interwoven with class conflicts and gender discrimination. The tea industry in India was created to satisfy England’s demand for higher quality black tea and hence the East India Company brought tea to India from China. Tea, as a commercial product, was first cultivated and expanded by the British. Indeed, it is the outcome of the toil and struggle of the Adivasi workers or indigenous people of central and east India who were made to migrate to Assam under extremely brutal conditions. Such oppressed communities have been waging struggles to protect their rights in the tea estates in Assam. The study examines the factors contributing to organised physical violence between management and tea workers, ineffective trade union practices, sexual division of labour and sexual abuses in the tea estates resulting in declining labour conditions. Declining labour conditions may be attributed to the withdrawal of the State from its basic responsibilities and commitment and social welfare activities. The study is based on in-depth personal interviews with plantation workers, trade union members, owners of the tea estates and management staff located in the seven districts in Assam mentioned above.