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Siliguri: Simulbarie tea garden located on the outskirts of Siliguri has been locked out by the owners following a dispute with the workers.

The move has rendered some 1,200 tea garden workers jobless in the spring season, which happens to be a lean period as regards the plucking of tea leaves and tea production.

The management of Simulbarie issued a notice this morning announcing the suspension of work until further order. It has pointed out the hostile attitude of the workers as the immediate reason for the lockout.

Coming out in support of the garden owner, Terai Indian Planters Association (TIPA) said that the management was compelled to suspend work as the workers were not willing to work for eight hours a day as is stipulated by law.

The workers, on the other hand, have said that the management was looking for an excuse to shut the garden so to avoid paying them in this lean season.

They said that negotiations were on to fix the duty hours but the managed suddenly announced the suspension of work.

CPI-M’s trade union CITU and Congress’ trade union INTUC enjoy influence over the vast majority of the workers at Simulbarie tea garden.