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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Brewing Misery: Condition of Tea plantation workers and small tea farmers

Report
Date of publication:
2015
Published by:
Centre for Workers' Management
Geography:
India
,
Kerala
,
W Bengal - Darjeeling
,
W Bengal - Dooars & Terrai
Topic:
Multiple
Child labour in many forms and guises is again back among the tea garden workers. It was inevitable, given the low wages in tea (lowest in any organised industry, lower than even the agricultural minimum wage) and the thin line that most workers have to walk on between starvation and survival. Of course, there is a view that poverty is not the cause of child labour but the reverse is true. Child labour deprives generations of children of the education that can make them and their families climb out of poverty and the need for labouring at an early age. The present study shows the hard to climb language barrier in the tea garden educational system and the abject poverty that provides the etiology of child labour in the tea gardens. The present report seems to be a serious totalising effort to understand and change the predicament of the tea worker. This totalisation may be superseded, but will definitely remain a landmark. Young trade union activists, workers and intellectuals, worked on this report with diligence, sobriety and commitment. That is a sign of hope for the proletarian movement in India. I would like to recommend it to be used as a handbook by activists and all who are interested in the tea industry.

THIRST Briefing East and South East Asia

THIRST publication
Date of publication:
2020
Published by:
THIRST
Geography:
East Asia
,
South Asia
Topic:
Multiple
The briefing is the desk research conducted by THIRST to address the lack of information available on tea production, the conditions of workers and smallholder producers in East and South-East Asian countries. This research was conducted in May and June 20020 and included academic papers, news articles and other media resources, as well as reports and documents written by NGO's, international organizations and national government agencies. Because of the scarcity of information, the resources drawn on for the review include literature with a principal focus on tea worker conditions and rights as well as literature in which these issues are mentioned only briefly. The sections cover the recurring themes and most serious issues arising in the literature. It should be noted that the research revealed no information about the conditions of tea workers in Burma, Laos and Taiwan.

THIRST Briefing:Pempila Orumai: the women workers'uprising in South India

THIRST publication
Date of publication:
2019
Published by:
THIRST
Geography:
India
,
Kerala
Topic:
Wages
,
Women
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'.

THIRST Briefing: Initial Impact of COVID-19 on Tea Workers

THIRST publication
Date of publication:
2020
Published by:
THIRST
Geography:
Africa
,
India
Topic:
Health
,
Multiple
,
Small tea growers
,
Wages
Tea estates tend to be in remote, rural areas and as such, there have been few reports of infections in those areas to date. However, measures to combat the pandemic is having serious social and economic impacts on tea companies and their workers. Concerns facing the tea industry currently and potentially in the aftermath of the pandemic include: - Loss of valuable crops-and wages - due to lockdown; - Inability to process tea due to factory closures; - Inability to sell tea due to closure of auction houses and reduced demand; - Inability to transport tea due to road, rail, air and sea restrictions, and ports closures; - Screening of returning migrant workers potentially carrying the virus; - How to manage the virus if it enters tea estates - insufficient access to clean water and healthcare facilities and overcrowded housing; - Long-term economic impacts of current financial hit;

Can the Dalit woman speak?

Report
Date of publication:
2020
Published by:
Organization: Sage Journals
Geography:
India
,
Kerala
Topic:
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.”

CAO Assessment Report: Regarding Labour Concerns in Relation to IFC's Tata Tea Project in Assam

Report
Date of publication:
2013
Published by:
Compliance Advisor Ombudsman
Geography:
Assam
,
India
Topic:
Housing
,
Multiple
In February 2013, CAO received a compliant from three NGO's from Assam on behalf of workers concerned about labor and living conditions in Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited's (APPL) tea plantations in Assam, India. The three NGO's are People's Action for Development (PAD), Promotion and Advancement of Justice, Harmony and Rights of Adivasis (PAJHRA) and the Diocesan Board of Social Services (DBSS). The CAO determined that the complaint met its three eligibility criteria and began an assessment of the complaint. After conducting an assessment including field visits from April 4-9, 2013, and June 29- July 3, 2013, the NGO's and the company could not reach an agreement on ground rules for the assessment to be finalized. Moreover, the parties were unable to agree on the role of local NGO;s and their broader networks in considering a dispute resolution process mmoving forward. The case will accordingly be handled by CAO compliance. This Assessment Report provides an overview of the assessment process, including a description of the project, the complaint, the assessment methodology, and next steps.

CAO Investigation of IFC Environmental and Social Performance in relation to: Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), India

Website
Date of publication:
2020
Published by:
Compliance Advisor Ombudsman
Geography:
Assam
,
India
Topic:
Casualisation
,
Child Labour
,
Discrimination (not gender)
,
Forced Labour
,
Freedom of Association
,
Health
,
Housing
,
Nutrition
,
Wages
,
Water and Sanitation
,
Women
In 2009, through a $7.8 million investment by the World Bank, Tata created Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (or APPL), affecting 30,000 tea plantation workers and their families. In response to workers’ reports of violations of wage and labour laws, restrictions on freedom of association, poor hygiene and health, hazardous conditions for pesticide sprayers, and concerns with the share program, three local NGOs – PAJHRA, PAD and DBSS – filed a complaint in 2013 with the World Bank’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) – the World Bank’s independent grievance office. This CAO web page provides the CAO’s 2016 report (following a three year investigation, confirming many of the workers’ complaints), responses from Tata and the IFC, and CAO’s 2019 monitoring report. which finds that while some aspects of the companies’ action plans are on track serious concerns remain about workers’ health, well-being and rights.

Certified Unilever Tea: Small Cup, Big Difference?

Report
Date of publication:
2011
Published by:
SOMO
Geography:
India
,
Kenya
Topic:
Casualisation
,
Discrimination
,
Housing
,
Sexual harassment
,
Wages
,
Women
For this study one hundred tea workers were interviewed on a total of eight tea plantation companies, all supplying tea to Unilever. Seven of these plantations are located in India and the remaining plantation concerns Unilever's own tea plantation in Kenya. It was found that working conditions on tea estates that supply Unilever are problematic despite having been certified by the sustainability standard system, Rainforest Alliance. This in turn raises concerns about the effectiveness and credibility of this standard. Workers reported sexual harassment and ethnic and gender discrimination, all constituting violations of ILO, Rainforest Alliance standards and Unilever's own code of business principles (CBP). In addition, the poor housing conditions for casuals and the casual status of many de facto permanent workers are Rainforest Alliance standard violations. NB Unilever has since acknowledged some of these problems and taken steps to address them: see https://www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/what-matters-to-you/kericho-tea-estates.html

Challenges, Opportunities, and Ways Forward for the Indian Tea Industry

Initiative
Report
Date of publication:
2016
Published by:
Ethical Tea Partnership
,
Indian Tea Association
,
The Sustainable Trade Initiative
Geography:
India
Topic:
Multiple
On 9th April, the Indian Tea Association (ITA), the Tea Research Association (TRA) Tocklai, the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP), and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) hosted the largest gathering of organisations interested in the future of the Indian tea sector. TEAM UP India brought together the whole of the tea supply chain, with 165 delegates from over 50 organisations in attendance. Delegates included producer companies, Indian and International packers, UN organisations, specialist implementation agencies, international funders, certification bodies, tea associations from both India and abroad, smallholder and bought leaf sector representatives, and development partners. The objective of the event was to determine how to develop and scale-up approaches to deal with the sustainability challenges facing the Indian tea industry and communities so that producers thrive, workers lives' and the environment are improved, and buying companies can be assured that they are sourcing sustainably produced teas.

Connectivity and the Tea Sector in Rwanda: Value Chains and Networks of Connectivity-based Enterprise

Report
Date of publication:
2015
Published by:
Oxford Internet Institute
Geography:
Africa
,
Rwanda
Topic:
Technology
East Africa was the world's last region without submarine fibre-optic broadband internet access, and until the summer of 2009 had been forced to rely on slow and costly satellite connection for access. However, the region as recently been connected via fibre-optic cable, in theory, allowing much greater speeds at much lower prices. This rapid transformation in the region's connectivity has prompted politicians, journalists, academics, and citizens to speak of an ICT-fuelled economic revolution happening on the continent. However, while some research has been conducted into the impacts of ICTs on economic processes and practices, there remains surprisingly little research into the impacts of changing connectivity on economic processes and practices in East Africa. Here we summarise research examining the effects on this changing connectivity in the Rwandan tea sector.