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Tata Coffee: Brewing a fair-play concoction

The Financial Express - February 26, 2005
Tata Coffee Ltd, one of the world's largest integrated coffee companies, has received SA 8000 (Social Accountability 8000) certification, the first plantation company in the world to get such a certification and second in the Tata Group. This certification, based on the principles of eleven conventions of International Labour Organisation (ILO) aims to improve and promote safe workplace condition. SA:8000 is also supported by WTO.

Tata Coffee says this certification is also due to following the fair employment practices incorporated in the Tata family of companies. At the same time, getting a certification like this has helped the company commercially too, says Tata Coffee managing director MH Ashraff. ''By getting the SA 8000 certification we have proved that Tata Coffee is a fair employer.

It has also elevated our status among international buyers, who are increasingly looking at aspects like labour policy, child labour policy, remunerations, environment etc before entering into relationship with a company''. Other than the quality of the coffee sold by the company (six Tata Coffee products are among the ten best Indian coffees of 2004, selected by renowned coffee expert Kenneth Davids), the labour friendliness and welfare measures have put the company in good stead with buyers.

The company is also fetching a premium in the global market for most of its coffees. Tata Coffee SA-8000 policy envisages aspects like providing a decent working condition to all employees, not engaging children below 18 years for any type of work and no forced labour. The company also ensures safe and healthy work environment, equal treatment for all employees without any discrimination in hiring, compensation, promotion, termination or retirement.

In addition, the company has extended its welfare measures to all employees and families (Tata Coffee has 6,500 employees of which 5,950 are labourers.) It has set up 'Swastha', a centre for specially abled youth in the district of Coorg.