IMG_20150221_153228A heated debate is going on in India whether or not the tea worker is paid ‘minimum wage’ as prescribed by the annals of Government. The employers state vehemently  that they are doing their best on the tripartite level on a platform which saves them from the “Minimum Wages Act” by way of an addition of other fringe benefits to the mutually agreed wage.

But the debate does not stop there, and we at Siliguri are making it a point to break away from the past of the slavery model and take it up during our 2015 November edition of India Tea Forum. Establishment of a Tea Park here invited entrepreneurs to set up units to add value to tea to be able to realise higher returns from their sales in order to improve the state of affairs.

For the last one hundred years we have not been able to add anything else to the Indian tea industry other than the wheat grinding rollers used as CTC machines (which have engulfed 95% production), and this is where innovations are necessary both on a production and marketing level to take Indian teas to new heights and reward tea workers with better wages.

“Natural teas” is a new term being used in India by certain sections of tea doyens just as “speciality teas” is used in the West. Whether or not they mean exactly the same thing, they both lead to the same point–an attempt at a higher price realisation and thus higher wages for tea workers everywhere.

 Images courtesy of the author.