For a tea estate worker, every cup of tea comes with a kettle full of hardships.
75% workers suffer from monthly wage gap after written and unwritten deductions
87% workers get cash in hand ranging from INR 3500 - 4500 per month
Over 50% workers do not even get a pay slip
Carried in rusted tankers, drinking water is often yellow or even brown due to its high iron content
Staggeringly high number of cases of Jaundice, Typhoid and Cholera due to unsafe drinking water
There are 0 toilets in any tea gardens
Women are forced to take leave during menstruation and hence lose out on their daily wage
Going to isolated spots makes women extremely vulnerable to infections and predatory attacks
Both garden and factory workers refrain from consuming water due to poor sanitation facilities
More than 75% of maternal deaths in Assam occur in tea plantations
70% healthcare centres within estates are rarely visited by doctors and do not even provide basic medical facilities
48% government hospitals are located from anywhere between 5kms to over 30kms away from the plantations
In case of an illness, a worker has to report to the health care centre twice a day. Failure to do so results in a pay cut instead of a paid sick leave
Failure to provide protective gear, leading to heavy exposure to harmful pesticides
Factory workers do not have access to safety gear even while operating heavy machinery in the high risk zones of factories
Less than 1% workers reported to use all work-related safety measures
Safety gear is provided only at the time of audits
Often employed on daily wages teachers in some estates are not even secondary examination qualified
In some instances, students in the third standard were unable to write numbers and alphabets
78% female workers and 40% male workers are illiterate or can only sign
In some instances housing conditions are so poor, on rainy days water pours inside through the holed roof and workers have to use umbrellas even inside their homes
According to the PLA of 1952, it is mandatory for estates to provide and maintain housing accommodation of the workers
Despite deduction from wages, workers asserted that they have not received any help upgrading their living conditions
These are just some of the hardships
that workers deal with on a daily basis.
Take the quiz. Know what you don’t know.
A tea plantation worker in Assam earns between INR 137-167 per day
More than 75% maternal deaths in Assam occur in tea plantations
Tea plantation workers in Assam receive safety gear for protection against life-threatening pesticides only during audits and official visits
More than 45% workers reported suffering from water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, typhoid and jaundice due to the hazardous quality of water provided by tea estates
95% women in tea plantations in Assam are anaemic
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An agenda for change to respect, protect and fulfill human rights in Assam Tea Plantations
This paper is based on the findings of research studies by the Tata Institute for Social Sciences (TISS) and the Bureau for the Appraisal of Social Impacts for Citizen Information (BASIC). It is part of a series of papers written to inform public debate on development and humanitarian policy issues.