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India: Guwahati rally during UN Forum highlights human rights abuses in Assam tea supply chains

Author: Anirudha Nagar & Jayshree Satpute, Open Democracy, Published on: 29 November 2017

"From Geneva to Guwahati: demanding fair wages for Assam's tea workers", 27 Nov 2017

…[T]ea workers, their families, and allies gathered for a rally…in Guwahati, the capital of Assam, which is India’s largest tea growing state...The rally is part of a larger wage campaign in Assam…calling for higher wages for…tea workers who earn woefully low wages...The concurrence of gatherings…– from [UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in] Geneva to Guwahati – is a reminder that companies across the tea supply chain continue to fail workers, in violation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights...

…In November 2016, the World Bank Group’s (WBG)…Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO)…released an investigation confirming alarming conditions at Assam’s second largest tea producer, Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL)... The CAO found that wages were so low on APPL’s Assam plantations that the WBG’s labour standard…was being violated...The [Assam tea plantation] industry claims that when other services they provide to workers under the Indian Plantations Labour Act, 1951 are accounted for, the overall calculation rises above the minimum…

Global tea buyers…are required by the UN Guiding Principles to use their leverage to make improvements [such as influencing] local suppliers to push for fair wages in upcoming wage negotiations…[and assessing] their own sourcing practices to ensure they are not contributing to the suppression of wages in Assam.

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Related companies: APPL (Amlgamated Plantations Private) Tata Group