Statement on independent assessment of APPL plantations
17th November, 2014
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16th July, 2014
Tata Global Beverages (TGB) is committed to the fair and ethical treatment of people across our supply chain. Therefore, when a number of serious social issues were alleged in relation to Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), a company in which TGB is a significant shareholder, we were deeply concerned and commissioned an independent third party, Solidaridad, to assess the living and working conditions of the workers at the APPL plantations.
The Solidaridad research methodology used involved field research, direct observation techniques and secondary research and covered 1000 workers from APPL plantations. For the last several years, Solidaridad through its programmes have supported tea producers and tea companies in more than 10 tea-producing countries to improve the social and environmental impacts.
The Solidaridad report was received by TGB in early June 2014. At that time TGB committed to responding within 45 days, including an announcement on any action to be taken as a consequence of the report.
TGB welcomes the recommendations put forward in this report and are currently working together with Solidaridad , on the basis of the report to identify priority areas for action at APPL.
The Solidaridad report found that, contrary to the allegations made , the shareholding scheme for workers of APPL was entirely voluntary. The report also found that wages paid to workers are governed by an industry-wide agreement, with the result that APPL is fully in compliance with the law on wages paid. It additionally found that workers considered that they had job security on APPL plantations. The report also noted some areas where living and working conditions could be improved.
In addition to commissioning the Solidaridad report, TGB has already addressed a number of issues identified by our own internal investigation including but not limited to: updating the Grievance and Redress Process and re-invigorating the employee participation in the Employee Estate Councils at APPL plantations.
Following receipt of the report, TGB is now in the process of finalizing a medium and long term action plan as a result of its findings. In line with our commitment to the fair and ethical treatment of people across our supply chain, this action plan will include the following :
- Working with the management of APPL to continue to improve the social living and working conditions of workers. This will include housing, sanitation, health & nutrition as well as the broader social challenge of urban migration.
- Engaging with external stakeholders to continue to drive industry-wide improvements.
TGB will continue to provide updates on the progress made in the development and implementation of this action plan.
Update: 2nd June, 2014
We have now received the independent assessment report submitted by Solidaridad and are in the process of evaluating the submission and its findings. Tata Global Beverages will recommend to the APPL Board any actions to be taken, based on the findings of this assessment. We intend to announce any action being taken within 45 days of receipt of the assessment findings.
Statement on independent assessment of APPL plantations
7th March, 2014
Tata Global Beverages (TGB) is committed to the fair and ethical treatment of people across our supply chain. Therefore, when a number of serious social issues were alleged in the recent past in relation to Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), a company in which we are a shareholder and a buyer for our brands in India, we were deeply concerned. We are committed to determining the facts with regard to these allegations, and will recommend necessary actions based on these facts.
The management of APPL has confirmed to us that they are in compliance with all legal requirements on wages, they treat their employees fairly, and their employees receive many benefits over and above many other tea plantation companies in India.
However, as a concerned shareholder, TGB has appointed legal advisors to verify compliances by independent review. The legal advisors will also appoint and commission an independent third party Solidaridad to make an assessment into the living and working conditions of the workers at the APPL plantations. Since APPL is a separate company, TGB has sought and obtained the consent of APPL to fully cooperate with this assessment and APPL has indeed agreed to this. APPL has assured us that they are fully committed to this approach.
This assessment will be carried out by Solidaridad. Solidaridad is an international network that has emerged as one of India’s largest sustainability organisations with a solid commitment to make sustainable production happen in a variety of sectors including the tea sector. (www.solidaridadnetwork.org ). The assessment will be carried out using a combination of desk and field research. For last several years, Solidaridad through its programmes have supported tea producers and tea companies in more than 10 tea-producing countries to improve the social and environmental impacts.
The assessment will address the issues raised to date including, but not restricted to, the following areas:
- Background of the tea industry in Assam
- Workers welfare – including living conditions, facilities and utility provisions
- Analysis of the health situation in the APPL gardens - including drinking water, sanitation and medical facilities
- Assessment of working conditions in APPL gardens – including wages, health and safety, status of the work force, employer employee relations and trade unions
- The restructuring of the gardens and employee ownership – including the restructuring process, employee shareholdings
- Assessment of efficacy of voluntary standards
This independent assessment is expected to take a period of around 60 days to complete. Tata Global Beverages, in consultation with its legal advisors, will study the results of the assessment and will thereafter suitably act on the recommendations.