In February 2013, with the support of Nazdeek, three Assam-based organisations – PAJHRA (Promotion, Advancement, Justice and Human Rights of Adivasi), DBSS (Diocesan Board of Social Service) and PAD (People’s Action for Development) in Assam, India – filed a complaint with the World Bank Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO)on behalf of tea garden workers against Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), a subsidiary of multinational corporation, Tata Global Beverages.
In the complaint, the organisations exposed serious and systematic violations of human rights law committed against tea garden workers. The complaint asserts that APPL is also in contravention of Indian labour laws and World Bank’s own standards (IFC Performance Standards). Marketing itself as socially responsible company, Tata Beverages is the world’s second largest distributor of tea, which is sold under multiple brands around the world, including Tetley.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank Group, invested US$7.8 million to adopt a “worker-shareholder” model in 24 Tata-owned tea plantations in North-East India. APPL was established to manage the project. IFC owns approximately 20% of shares in APPL and Tata Global Beverages owns close to 50%.
Status of Complaint
(Last updated Nov 2013)
Following allegations of retaliation and harassment faced by workers involved in the complaint process, APPL management has refused to participate in mediation with the NGOs representing the workers.
On November 25, 2013, the CAO assessment team completed their assessment and has now referred the complaint to the Compliance office within CAO. The assessment report is expected to be released by the end of December 2013.
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