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1 Dic 2019

Accountability Counsel

India: Reports show workers on Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited plantations faced long hours, inadequate wages and poor health & safety

"India: Assam Tea Plantations"

Accountability Counsel and local civil society organizations support tea workers and their families in Assam, India, in their efforts to improve and protect their health, wellbeing, and human rights on tea plantations. The World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) owns 16% of these plantations...

In February 2013, three local civil society organizations...filed a complaint to the World Bank Group’s Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO). In this complaint, they raised concerns about inhumane labor and working conditions on three plantations run by Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL). The plantations are majority owned by the Tata Group (41% by Tata Consumer Products and 25% by Tata Investment Corporation). The complaint cites long working hours, inadequate compensation, poor hygiene and health conditions, coercion and pressure of plantation workers, and lack of freedom of association. All of these conditions violate IFC’s Performance Standards.

The complaint to the CAO also raises concerns about the worker shareholder program... many workers have...been pressured into buying shares, often without information on what it means to be a shareholder or the risks of investment.

In November 2016, the CAO released a scathing investigation report that found that this shareholder plan had failed as APPL workers were not given proper information about their rights as shareholders. It also found that living and working conditions were substandard and wages were not protecting the health of workers.

The IFC was supposed to create an action plan that would directly, and in a timely fashion, address the CAO’s findings. Unfortunately, the IFC ignored most of the findings and endorsed a limited action plan that only addresses a small subset of issues.

In July 2017, Accountability Counsel and our partners met with workers from three APPL plantations in Assam to verify whether the limited promises under the action plan were being fulfilled. The exposé – called Project AccountabiliTEA – documents, through photographic evidence, that the IFC had broken its promises yet again.

In January 2019, the CAO released a monitoring report confirming that in the last two years, the IFC has failed to keep their word on promises made following the CAO’s investigation report. The CAO found serious lapses in IFC’s supervision of APPL, including no evidence the IFC followed up with APPL in relation to a series of incidents of death and injury documented by the complainants on three APPL plantations in Assam in 2018. Workers on APPL plantations and their families are continuing to face oppressive living conditions, unfair wages, and the curtailment of fundamental freedoms....

The IFC issued a letter of response to the CAO Monitoring Report in March, 2019 committing to a facilitated dialogue and sector wide study.

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