India: CAO Investigation report low wages & poor working conditions at Tata-World Bank Plantations
In 2009, through a $7.8 million investment by the Bank, Tata created Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (or APPL), the second largest tea producer in Assam. The APPL project affects 155,000 people - including 30,000 tea plantation workers and their families. In response to reports from workers on 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 independent grievance office which holds the World Bank Group accountable to its own policies. After a three year investigation, the CAO’s final report is released, confirming many of the workers’ complaints. The report finds that despite a share program meant to increase worker profits, workers suffer from low wages, poor working conditions, inadequate living quarters and struggle to access basic healthcare. Additionally, the report finds that workers handled hazardous pesticides without proper training or equipment, conditions which even lead to the sudden death of at least one employee.