Exploitation and environmental destruction often go hand in hand, also in Dhaka Bangladesh. Photo: Marco Doringer
A study by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation comes to the conclusion that the tea pickers are being exploited in Darjeeling, India. The fact that the person who does the actual work is exploited is also part of the system in Germany
The Nepalese tea-growing region of Ilam is 60 kilometers west of Darjeeling. Below the bazaar town of Phikkal, the members of the Kulung family pick around 2.500 kilos of tea leaves per year, which they roll and dry themselves. Because they pay attention to quality and only the first two sheets and the so-called "Tip" pick, tea connoisseurs now pay 80 dollars per kilo.
Although the demand is there, they get 500 kilos of tea for their 500 kilos of tea – 5 kilos of tea leaves make one kilo of tea – but not sold for that price, "because they weren’t allowed to". In order to export abroad, they need a permit from the government, but after two attempts, the Kulungs have given up applying for the permit. This leaves only the tourists who help out on the farm from time to time as customers who pay for the quality fairly.
Minimum wage: $ 2.5 a day
In neighboring Darjeeling, the tea pickers get 1.4 to 2.8 percent of the sales price that is achieved in Germany. According to a study by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (RLS), a quarter of Darjeeling tea goes to Germany. The minimum wage for tea pickers in Darjeeling is 177 rupees a day, about 2.5 US dollars, and that too has only been won in recent years.
However, the predominantly female pickers only guaranteed 100 days of work a year and that only thanks to a law of the previous government from 2005, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005.
The tea pickers are dependent on food aid from the government, says the RLS study. Some of the workers on the tea farms visited by the RLS also suffer from malnutrition.
A tea garden in Darjeeling. Up and down for $ 2.5 a day. Photo: Gilbert Kolonko
What Nepal has to do with Darjeeling became clear in the summer of 2017 when a 100-day strike by independence advocates in Darjeeling destroyed 70 percent of the tea harvest. As tea farmers in the Ilam district told me several times, some buyers from Darjeeling came and bought tea leaves. In addition, many wholesalers from Kolkata came and bought masses of tea from Ilam to mix with the Darjeeling.
These allegations were denied in Darjeeling and Kolkata. The quality of the tea leaves does not differ roughly between Ilam and Darjeeling, the Indians only have a lead in further processing: With typical Darjeeling tea, the fermentation of the tea leaf is stopped at an intended time.
In the meantime, the Ilams tea farmers are at least thinking about establishing their own brand: Ilam tea.
According to our own research, the pickers in Ilam get three to five dollars a day. But then things go back in the usual direction: Above all, individual tea farms that rely on cheap workers and large tea factories for mechanical mass production are growing.
"For a while I tried to set up a cooperative with other tea farmers so that we could establish our own brand of our organically grown tea, which is not machine-cut", says Deepak Kulung and adds: "So it would also be easier to get an export approval and a fixed foreign customer base."
Then Deepak paid that he had already won teashades in Germany, who wanted to buy a certain amount at a fair price every year. But his own tea camp love him little time to pursue the project intensively: "The cost of living in Nepal has risen dramatically in recent years and the school fees for our son (her only child) have to be paid regularly."
The reality in Phikkal in 2019 looks like this: Below Deepak’s tea farm there was still a football field at the beginning of 2017, now there is a tea factory there. The holder pays the farmers of the area 40 to 60 Nepalese rupees for each kilo tea leaf – that’s 33 to 50 Eurocent.
That people who export work, only a fraction of the profit is given, but is part of the system. In 1984, the Indian-born professor Asit Datta, in his book World Trade and World Hunger, explicitly showed how countries in the so-called third world are being exploited by the West with gagged contracts and why emerging countries like Brazil will remain emerging countries.
30 years later, Datta published the book Poverty Certificate. Only the numbers had changed, the politically wanted system of exploitation remained the same – and Brazil was still an emerging country.
Contractors, subcontractors, I-AGs
But this system also prevails in Germany. The construction industry, for example, is booming, but the worker who actually does the job is often fobbed off with a low wage. That was also the case before the European Community. Previously, too, construction contracts were up to six times "misplaced". This means that sometimes five subcontractors grab money beforehand.
This is often black work, because the contractor who ends up the work exports, otherwise no profit for itself can generate. That the minimum wage for a skilled construction worker is only 15.20 euros, for one "Bone work", which breaks the bones in the long run, according to the opinion of trade unionists, is also due to the fact that the level of union density in the construction industry is low: when IG-Bau was founded in 1996, it had 720.000 members. In 2018 still 245.000.
Anyone who talks to the unorganized workers often has an argument that also caused Deepak in Ilam: no time to talk about it.
Plastic collectors in India and Bangladesh are already I-AGS. Photo: Gilbert Kolonko
In some IT areas, starting salaries of 50.000 euros per year is normal even without a union. There is usually just another company sitting between the client and the person who does the work, which surrenders an average of 20 percent of the money.
Since public contracts in the area with a daily fee of 800 to 1.000 Euro are advertised, remains a donor pay for the work exported. An IT entrepreneur whose name of the editors is known, explains opposite Telepolis, Why this will remain in the next few years: "First, because the IT market is booming. For this purpose, the ‘workers’ are in our area of self-confident, do not be afraid of changes and can sell their worker better. Many also work as a self-standing."
Then he advises the skilled workers in the construction industry, also to be self-contained and offer their labor more expensive. "15 euros hourly wage for such a strenuous work are an urgency", Also finds the IT entrepreneur.
Bicycle curiosis and a growing market
What modern companies such as delivery program make so new ones can be considered in Berlin. First, they have developed a monopoly. For this purpose, a army was created by poorly paid bicycle curtors who have to make and maintain their main finishing agent, the bike, themselves. For the restaurant owners, it is a must to be registered with delivery country – that brings a monopoly on a growing market.
"We pay Lieferando 13 percent of every meal that is ordered through their system. I drive the food itself. The costs of Dafur brings the one Euro, which the customer pays for delivery service, not", Say Ricki (Name of the Editing), who with his wife has a small restaurant in Berlin-Wedding: "The first 14 days after registration boomed our business: up to 25 orders a day." At that time the restaurant was guided on the side of delivery country as a new customer.
Now there are one to five orders a day – most are regular customers. But, so Ricki paid from a stormy day in June this year: "Suddenly spat our delivery country-device supply box without end." Even orders that far exceeded their specified catchment area of 3.5 kilometers. The reason was that almost all restaurants had set the delivery company because of the storm.
The next day was returned at Ricki-everyday life. So he inquired how he could make his little restaurant with delivery country well: "If I wanted to appear higher in the Lieferando ranking, I had to pay Lieferando between 8 and 11.14 euros for each delivery".
With an average order value of 25 euros, Ricki cannot cope with this, and even rougher restaurants can only do that for a short time. However, Ricki knows that in this day and age he has to offer delivery service in order to survive: "I will now excite with notes and special prizes in my environment advertise that the customers can order food without delivery now directly from us."
Whether customers have come along, who have used themselves that delivery country for them variant "cooks", it will show.