Enjoyed a good cup of tea this morning? I did until I read this. Conditions on this Bengal plantation are appalling with workers exposed to health risks without protection. A worker dies after spraying chemicals on crops. How these poisons might have affected the tea I’ve just drunk I can’t say.
The plantation belongs to a large multinational concern. The pastoral images on its web site lull us into a sense that this is a benevolent caring concern who spend time supporting the poor and dispossessed. They also trade on their long establishment which gives an air of respectability:
“Amalgamated Plantations’ origins date back to the pioneering days of tea, when James Finlay in 19th century, played a dominant role in the Indian tea industry.
A century later, in 1976, Tata and Finlay joined forces to form Tata Finlay. This partnership, opened up new frontiers of growth and business. Some years later, Finlays divested their share to the Tata Group.
In 1983, a newly energized company was formed – Tata Tea.” As we know Tata also makes cars along with everything else imaginable.
This is the company’s vision:
“The most trusted provider of quality teas and differentiated agricultural product supply solutions.”
“Enduring partnerships with customers and suppliers.
Agricultural productivity in the regions where we operate.
The quality of life in the communities we serve.
Value for all stakeholders.
An organisation which fosters innovation and empowerment.”
“Fairness and respect.
Celebrate successes / Recognise achievements.
Promote work-life balance.
Close to ground empowerment.
Discuss, decide and then support.”
Elsewhere we find the company extending its interests “beyond tea” with agriculture claiming “the hottest chilli (don’t say if it’s genetically modified or if they’re into that), aquaculture (fisheries). (Don’t know what effect it has on fresh water supplies here) and dairy.
“The majority of APPL shares are in the hands of by two companies owned by the Tata Group.
Tata Global Beverages owns 49.07 per cent of APPL, while Tata Investment Corporation owns a further 15 per cent. APPL is a key supplier to another Tata-owned firm, Tetley Tea.
Both Tata and Tetley Tea deny any involvement in the management of APPL.
It was revealed this week that the head of the Tata Group, Ratan Tata, had been selected by David Cameron to sit on the newly formed Business Advisory Group. The group, which also includes BAE systems chairman Dick Olver and Sir Michael Rake of BT and Easyjet, will advise on ‘critical business and economic issues facing the country,’ Downing Street said.” (Source Morning Star)
The story is yet another one of the history of exploitation of people and environment for maximum profit.