Gender Equality: Tamil Nadu Tea Plantation Corporation Limited (TANTEA)

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TANTEA is one of the biggest Black Tea producer in India with high quality clonal tea plantations spread over nearly 4,500 ha in Nilgiris and Coimbatore districts of Tamil Nadu and managed by 40 highly qualified professionals, more than 440 supporting staff and nearly 9,000 workers.

TANTEA, which started with the socio-economic objective to rehabilitate Sri Lankan repatriates, who were all absorbed in TANTEA subsequently in a phased manner. Right from the beginning, it firmly believed that an educated woman is equal to a teacher and will lead the family in a good manner. She will be able to pass good values to her children as well. In other words, she was considered to be a light in darkness. Hence, TANTEA has successfully engaged female workforce without making any differentiation in wages.

Challenges

Normally, society is having a belief that women are physically weak and any kind of heavy physical labour oriented work could not be entrusted to them. Hence, a number of hurdles were there in providing equal wages to women and male workmen for same work without any discrimination. Providing statutory benefits to women employees equal to menfolk was a big challenge.

Solution

It has proven to be one of the sustained gender empowerment exercises wherein there is complete assistance provided to the women employees. Besides, large number of women are deployed as Field Supervisors, Assistant Field Conductors, Field Conductors in all TANTEA factories, who are also engaging with other women workers assisting them in data feeding related works using computers. Their grievances are addressed on a daily preferential basis.

Woman Harassment Committee has been formed containing women employees as members to hear the grievances on sexual harassments.

On retirement of a worker, change of employment assistance is being given in TANTEA, without any discrimination on account of gender, which is reflected as 63 per cent women workers at present.

Outcome

This is a long-term process and couldn’t be achieved overnight. The woman workers are task-oriented and pluck more leaves in tea plantations. More number of women workers mean both the adult members in a family are earning. This has provided better livelihood opportunities to the families. This has also led to an improvement in standards of living for the families of these repatriates with better education, health, mortality and so on.

TANTEA relies on gender equality and without the assistance of all the genders, one organisation could not achieve its goal, as determined. TANTEA has 8 divisions, largely managed by women. It has successfully removed all discriminations in wages. At present, out of 4,852 employees working with TANTEA, 3,067 are women, i.e., 63 per cent of the total workforce. Its largest division, Pandiar Tea Division employs 872 workmen, out of which, 585 are women; the Lawson Tea Division is the second largest with 847 employees, out of which, 537 belong to feminine gender. Women workers enjoy over 65 per cent majority when it comes to workmen category alone.

Necessary and instant medical assistance is also being provided to the women workers as per their needs. Benefits like maternity leave, necessary intervals while working for feeding their new-born babies, leave with wages, sickness benefits etc are being given as per the Plantation Labour Act. TANTEA is proposing to employ more women employees as and when the need arises.

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