Knowledge is power
In the first initiative of its kind, THIRST has created this knowledge hub in order to bring together all of the valuable resources regarding the treatment of workers in the tea industry that are scattered all over the internet. We’re always trying to expand our knowledge hub. If you know of, or have created, any other relevant resources that should be included in this collection please contact us.
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The Kanan Devan Hills Plantation Company (KDHP) is one of the main tea growers in Kerala. Owned by James Finlays and SOn until the mid-60's when it went into partnership with Tatas who took over completely in 1983. Tata's was seen as a benevolent employer who brought many improvements to workers' housing and conditions. In the early 2000's Tata's realized that the real money was in tea packaging and marketing rather than cultivation. As a result, they embarked on the revolutionary (for the tea sector) idea of turning into an employee-owned enterprise. Workers were given training and supported in getting bank loans to buy shares in the new company, in which Tata's retained a 28% share. The company practices what it describes as a participatory management system with 'Divisional Advisory Committees (DACs) set up to discuss issues relating to tea cultivation and management as well as social issues for workers. The DACs consist of workers as well as management. At least two of the labourers must be women. The company supports its workers with various perks under the Plantation Labour Act (PLA) and not only to supplement their income. Such arrangement appeared to work well until 2015, following an announcement that workers' annual bonuses would be 10% rather than the anticipated 20%. Thousands of women went on strike calling themselves 'Pempila Orumai' - meaning #women's unity'.
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Organization: Sage Journals
Dr Ravi Raman explores in this paper the caste, class and gender dimensions of the Pempila Orumai uprising against male-dominated management, trade unions and politicians: “The case study involves both contemporary ethnographic and in-depth historical accounts sourced from the Dalit women’s protests at tea plantations in the south Indian state of Kerala in 2015 (along with pertinent secondary sources). The article explores how ‘self-organizing’ by the mis-organized, during the course of the struggle, turned them into active political subjects: a ‘subject position from which to speak’. Exposing certain theoretical constraints within the postcolonial approach and incorporating insights from deeper subjective aspects of the labour process, social reproduction in postcolonial perspectives, and the feminist literature on intersectionality as an integrative narrative, an attempt is made to supplement the postcolonial organization studies and open up the gateway to its advancement.”