Govt. of India has announced lockdown of the entire country till 14th April leading to the temporary closure of operations in most tea estates and factories across India. The plucking season in Assam and West Bengal starts in mid-March and lasts till November-end. The workers who continued to work and earn their daily wage until 24th March, now rely on the support of the Govt. and the plantation for their daily survival.
The Govt. of Assam has recently issued a directive to the Labor Department to provide necessary advisory to all public and Pvt companies including plantations to extend their cooperation and not to terminate any contractual/casual workers or reduce their wages. They have also decided to operationalize a Special Operating Procedure (SOP) across all the 685 tea estates. Apart from monitoring the health of 750,000-odd tea workers in the estates, the government has decided to temporarily take over estate hospitals, creches, and clubhouses in the tea gardens. Additionally, each of the estates will be provided with Rs 5,000 to sensitize the workers and officials about COVID-19.
The Fairtrade certified estates Jamguri Tea Estate. Flo ID: 2896, Chedaideo Purbat Tea Estate. Flo ID: 36593, Nagri Farm Tea Estate and Chamong Tee Exports Pvt. Ltd FLO ID has been carrying out training on preventive measures for all its workers and staff before the lockdown with the support of health practitioners. Installation of hand sanitizing units and distribution of soaps to workers are some of the additional measures taken by the plantations.
To spread awareness among both the workers, non-workers, and general residents, Chamong is carrying out an outdoor campaign through their group of medical officers who have circulated the message through loudspeakers in the surrounding areas of the plantation. Social distancing and WASH are the important measures actively promoted by the plantations.
Social distance during weighing
Nagri Farm has issued a notice requesting all workers and residents to cooperate with the Health Department in spreading the awareness and diligently reporting of any sickness. They have appealed to all Trade Unions, educational and religious institutions and village heads to come together and support in organizing more awareness programs among the residents.
In Sri Lanka during the nationwide curfew period, Tea plantations are allowed to work and companies are offering work to their workers one stretch from 7 am to 1 pm.
Recently a 02 -day virtual meeting was organized between NAPP and Sri Lanka HL Management to discuss the impact of COVID19. Post the meeting, plantations have proposed to form a voluntary health team in each garden to monitor and report the situation from their respective regions, to maintain a track on the movement of people in and around the plantation areas and set up a proper mechanism to inform local authorities in case of any emergencies.
Some of the pro-active measures taken by the plantations include: spraying disinfectant in and around their development centers, operation areas, and surrounding facilities, carrying out health awareness sessions for its workers and management, distributing educational flyers in local languages, providing coriander water to boost immunity and advising on the usage of traditional sanitizing methods such as turmeric water due to the shortage in supply of hand sanitizers in the market.
Idulgashina Bio Tea Garden FLO ID 1550 deployed Voluntary Health team in their estate for creating general awareness to the workers and public and report management on the prevailing situation while Henfold Estate and Hatton Plantations FLO ID 18792 resorted to a public addressing system with the help of the local church and distributed flyers. Video clips on preventive measures were shown in all their divisions and neighboring estates. Due to the shortage of supply in producing the large stock of sanitizers, they have advised the workers to use traditional sanitizing methods such as turmeric water. The parent company- Hatton Plantation stepped up to support the plantations by supplying turmeric and coriander to all the estates, providing special cash advances to the workers to purchase grocery items and have promised to provide 7500 masks and sanitizers to use in the common places to the 12 estates.
Tropiflora Pvt Ltd FLO ID 4960 & Idulgashinne Bio Tea Garden are in talks with giant mask manufacturers to procure good quality masks at an economical rate. Specific instructions have been given to the workers to avail leave if they are unable to adhere to the preventive measures or not keeping well. Special transport service was organized by Tropiflora for bringing the workers to the gardens to cut the foliage. Laxapana Estate issued salary advances and holiday wages to the workers before the curfew to purchase their required provisions.