Almost 450 thousand tea workers in India's eastern state of West Bengal have gone on an indefinite strike, demanding an increase in wages, medical allowances and other benefits.
The strike -- called by the Coordination Committee for Plantation Workers -- has shut down hundreds of tea plantations in India's largest tea-producing region. Union leaders say they called the strike after months of talks with plantation companies failed to resolve the workers' demands.
The Tea Planters Association says it wants to attach certain conditions to the pay raise, including linking pay increases to increased productivity. India is the largest exporter and consumer of tea in the world. Its tea industry has been hit in recent years by competition from other producers such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Kenya.