Media Statement from KDHP
Munnar, September 11, 2015: KDHP is deeply saddened by the turn of events as workers have not reported for work since 7th September, 2015 causing huge damage to standing crop which will result in huge loss running into several crores. The tea plantations in Kerala are going through one of its worst financial crises in its history and if this situation continues, it could affect the very existence of the company.
There is a misinformation campaign that is being carried against the company by vested interests even though the company is at the forefront in taking care of employee welfare and adhering to and providing amenities to its employees well beyond the statutes. The company is very proud of the fact that almost all employees are shareholders in the company. The company also employs children of its workers as managers in its plantations and children of management staff, staff and workers study together in the same school where the education for workers children is free.
For the year ended on 31st March 2015, the profit after taxes was Rs 5.02 crores as against Rs 15.55 crores in the previous year, a steep fall by 68% compared to the previous year which was mainly because of the sharp drop in tea prices last year. In view of the poor profits, the Statutory Bonus payable for the year was the minimum bonus of 8.33%. However, the Company had voluntarily and as a matter of goodwill, added another 1.67% to the Statutory Bonus and declared a bonus of 10% on 24th August 2015. The company tried to distribute this bonus on 25th of August 2015, however majority of the workers did not accept it as their demand was 20%.
From 26th August onwards, several divisions in the company resorted to "Go Slow" tactics and the company posted an Appeal Notice in the concerned divisions to return back to normalcy as the industry is going through a serious financial crisis. While the company was in talks with the recognised unions regarding the bonus issue, suddenly, on Monday the 7th of September, 2015, majority of workers did not report to work and several thousands of workers blocked the roads and started protests in front of the Head Office resorting to shouting slogans and throwing stones. The Company's MD and three other colleagues were gheraoed near the Munnar Panchayat Community Hall by several thousand workers until 6:30 pm. A large mob attacked the Forest Range Office in an attempt to assault the MD, IR Manager and two other colleagues who were taken to the Forest Office after the meeting at Panchayat Hall on 7th morning. Fortunately they managed to escape just in time. Management staffs have been evacuated from Munnar as the situation has become dangerous and violent.
The company wishes normalcy would return at the earliest as huge loss is being incurred on a daily basis as workers are not turning up for work and it is a strike like situation.