Darjeeling: The recent meeting between the Darjeeling Tea Association and the trade unions failed to resolve the ongoing arrear impasse. In January 2018, the daily wages of tea garden workers had been increased by Rs 17.50. In majority of tea gardens in the Hills, the increment took effect from March 2018.”Though a year has passed, still the arrear has not been paid in around 60 per cent of the tea gardens in the Hills,” said Balam Tamang, president, Darjeeling sub division committee, Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, which is affiliated to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. There are 87 gardens in the Hills. On March 1, the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union had issued an ultimatum to the gardens that if arrears were not paid within March 6, the dispatch of tea would be stopped from March 7. The joint forum of tea trade unions had threatened to stop plucking of leaves, if arrears were not paid by March 10. “Arrears could not be paid to tea workers because of financial paucity. By stopping plucking and dispatches the financial situation would further get compounded which would be detrimental to the interest of the workers and the onus of which would be on the trade unions themselves,” said Sandeep Mukherjee, principal advisor, Darjeeling Tea Association. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata BoseThe unions have decided to continue the agitation. “The meeting failed because the Darjeeling Tea Association did not agree to pay arrears by March 10. They have not announced a fresh date for a meeting also. We will continue with the protests,” Tamang said. The joint forum has also decided to continue with the agitation. “We will wait till March 10 as declared earlier. If they fail to pay the arrear we will stop plucking tea leaves from March 11,” said Saman Pathak, a member of the joint forum.