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A Plea From The Women of Munnar

By Sisters of Munnar

28 September, 2015


Penkal Otrumai
Women of Munnar

Dear Sister,

We are the women of Munnar who have been coming to your kitchen and drawing rooms as a hot cup of tea – the dried powder that awakens you and makes your meetings and life lively has the stamp of our fingers and lives in it. So there is no need for a lengthy introduction.

But we wonder whether you really know us- you must have seen picture post card like images of ours plucking the tender leaves of the evergreen tea bushes with a smile on our faces. Sometimes, we would be having leeches biting our legs as we pose for the photograph with blood oozing down our ankles. Many of us have severe back and knee ache from carrying the unnatural weight of the sacks on our backs. The steep slopes that we climb are also arduous for our body. Yet we have been doing all of it as this is the only occupation we know which has been passed down to us from our mothers and aunts.

You might be wondering what provoked us last month to come together in protest against the years of silent subjugation to the system that has been providing us with employment and a life. There are many among you who doubt the force behind us that has given us the sudden energy and strength to do this uprising. We know there are many speculations and doubts about the politics of this assemblage. We know that many of you doubt the intentions of our rejection of trade unions and the decision to stay away from the struggle front they are now creating. We request you to come here and talk to us and see for yourself why we have chosen this path of struggle.

We want to assure you that at this point our coming together that we proudly call PENKAL OTRUMAI ( and not Penpilai Orumai as is being reported) is a spontaneous uprising against all that is denying us a decent existence as a human being. If you have any doubt, please visit us and see the basis on which we have chartered our demands. It is just that we cannot take this anymore and survive/ sustain with what we are given. We are not afraid of working hard. We have not asked for any unnecessary benefits. We demand 20% bonus and a daily wage of Rs 500. If this is going to create a loss for the Tea company that is providing us with employment, we have very little empathy for the situation. We cannot be blackmailed with lock-out threats and wage cuts anymore.

Having said all this, we request you all to come together in the form of appeals to the Government and Management, visit us in Munnar to give moral support and see for yourself and start a discussion about the real issues that this situation has brought out. We can no longer sweep under the carpet the lives of people who are supporting a certain kind of luxury and comfort that some enjoy. We can no longer take for granted the silent sorrows and life stories of a large segment of the society.

Please break your social, cultural and political barriers and be with us. The hot cup of tea you all enjoy will taste and refresh better …

Sisters of Munnar

Please flood the mail box of Kannan Devan Hill Plantations with request letters to concede the just demands of the women workers. kdhptea@gmail.com. Message the Chief Minister of Kerala Oomen Chandy at oc@oommenchandy.net Minister for Labour Affairs Shibu Baby John at +91 9496455500.

Also Read

A Green Blood Women's Revolution In Munnar 
By Binu Mathew

The Munnar 'Green Blood Women's Revolution':
Sweat, Blood And The Bitter Cup Of Tea 

By Binu Karunakaran


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