Goodricke Group Limited & Ors.
The State of West Bengal & Ors.
WPA 639 of 2023
Decided on May 3, 2023
Calcutta High Court has put an interim stay on Bengal government s advisory to hike wage for tea garden workers by Rs 18 a day. The court order followed appeals filed by some tea companies such as Goodricke Group Ltd and Indian Tea Association challenging the advisory issued by the state on April 27. Justice Raja Basu Chowdhury directed the state government not to give effect to the advisory till June 12, 2023. The argument made by senior advocate Arijit Chaudhuri and instructed by Mrs. Sharmishta Ghosh, partner, Fox & Mandal, that the labour commissioner cannot sidestep the process laid down under the Minimum Wages Act for increasing wages. The process involves setting up a committee with representatives of the industry and other stakeholders. State labour minister Moloy Ghatak had announced the hike after a meeting with representatives of tea planters associations and trade unions in Siliguri on April 13. Following the hike, the daily wage of workers stood at Rs 250 a day. The announcement did not go down well with the tea firms which claimed to be under financial stress. Wage accounts for over 50 per cent of the cost of production of tea.