How 7000 women tea plantation workers brought Munnar to a halt

Kerala Chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy had to step in to break the deadlock and bring an end to the nine-day protest.

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Workers of Kanan Devan Hills Plantation Company sit in a dharna in front of the companys head office in Munnar

Munnar in Kerala is known for its tea production, but the last two weeks has seen the town come to a standstill. 7000 women tea plantation workers took to the streets with various demands, forcing the Chief Minister of Kerala to step in and resolve the issue.

The Kannan Devan Hills Plantation (KDHP) company is the first ever employee-owned plantation company in the country. KDHP had said that tea plantations in Kerala were going through the worst financial crisis in their history. 
What was the strike about?

Over 7000 women workers from Kannan Devan Hills Plantations protested for nine days, demanding a better bonus and facilities, including medical facilities. The protest road blocks by the women, affected Munnar as a whole and the town came to a standstill. The workers had been keeping the trade unions away and were directly holding talks. 

Factory and outlets shut, tourism hit

A total number of 10,979 people work in the company. The company’s 16 factories shut down for the nine days as a result of the strike. The Kannan Devan outlets were also not allowed to be kept open by the workers. Tea production for the company took a major hit and the tea leaves also withered away for nearly weeks. The company has stated losses could go up to several crores.

Tourism in Munnar also took a hit as a result of the strike that lasted nearly two weeks. Road blocks by striking women made many tourists change their plans. Travellers were reportedly stranded on the road with no food and transport as a result of the strike.
Kannan Devan Hills Plantations reaches settlement

Chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy stepped in to break the deadlock between the management and workers. A meeting was held with representatives of both parties on Sunday. The Kannan Devan Hills Plantations Company has given a 8.33% bonus and an additional 11.67% as ex-gratia to the employees by September 21. The company will also be scaling up medical facilities for workers as per their demand. The increased wages issue will be taken up on September 26 by the appointed plantation labour committee.

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