World Bank investment on Assam’s tea plantations: hearing the voices of workers?

Photo by Rajan Zaveri.

Barriers to raising workers’ voices

While there are several unions offering membership in Assam, only one union — the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) — is recognised by the state as having to the right to negotiate with the tea industry through collective bargaining agreements. ACMS’ dominance stems from its close relationships with both tea plantation management and the political establishment.

Complaint to the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman

Fulfilling freedom of association for Assam’s tea workers will require ensuring more pluralistic and democratic worker representation, allowing other existing unions to take part in the wage-setting process, and ensuring access to local remedies for addressing labour violations.

What next?

The CAO report is expected to draw conclusions about whether the IFC’s due diligence obligations were met when it first decided to invest in APPL. The report is also expected to determine whether over the past seven years the IFC took adequate pro-active steps to ensure that APPL achieved compliance with the IFC’s performance standards.

About the authors

Francesca Feruglio is a co-founder of Nazdeek, a legal empowerment organisation working to bring access to justice closer to marginalised communities in India. She is also a researcher at the Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, UK.

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Accountability Counsel amplifies the voices of communities around the world to protect their human rights and environment.

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Accountability Counsel

Accountability Counsel

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Accountability Counsel amplifies the voices of communities around the world to protect their human rights and environment.