By now, you’ve probably seen the exposé in The Guardian on what is being called the “Tea Maid Trade.” Men and women operating as “recruiters” prey on young girls living on tea plantations in Assam, India. Thousands of girls have reportedly ended up trapped as domestic slaves in middle class homes in Delhi.1
As the biggest single shareholder, if Tata Global Beverages commits to help improve the working conditions of the employees of Amalgamated Plantations, they could play a much needed leading role in ending slavery in Assam, India by taking these three essential steps:
1. Publish the Tata Global Beverages Code of Conduct. Make public a code of conduct, which ensures zero tolerance for modern slavery and includes measures for effective remediation when modern slavery is found.
2. Ensure that plantation workers are paid a full cash living wage and are able to opt out of investment schemes, across all plantations. Pay should be backdated accordingly.
3. Establish an independent grievance mechanism to enable workers to report violation of their rights, both individually and collectively, as verification that the code is being implemented.
Unfortunately, the problem of human trafficking in Assam is not new. But right now we do have a window of opportunity to act and call for change. Due to growing global media coverage, Tata is feeling the heat. Tata has announced that it has commissioned an audit on the living and working conditions in the APPL tea plantations. This is a good first step, but we’re asking Tata to do more.
Tell Tata Global Beverages to help prevent the trafficking of young girls working on their tea plantations.