In Defense of Living Wages For Tea Plantation Workers

Evidence from Assam

The state of Assam has India’s largest tea-growing area and contributes over 50% of the country’s tea production according to the Tea Board of India (2019). The tea sector in Assam has witnessed dramatic changes, particularly in terms of land utilization, production, consumption, and price mechanisms. In order to compete in a race to the bottom, tea plantation owners do not provide decent working conditions to their workers and deny them the mandated social and employment security. Assam has the highest number of temporary workers employed in tea plantations in the country. Despite the tea industry’s growth potential, export intensity, and ability to absorb labour, the plantation workers are poorly paid and work and survive in precarious conditions.

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