ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Accumulation and Labour Process in Tea Plantations in South India

Agolamooladhanavum Dakshinenthiyaile Thottamthozhilaalikalum (Global Capital and Peripheral Labour: The History and Political Economy of Plantation Workers in India) by
K Ravi Raman, translated into Malayalam by Rajendran Cherupoyka, Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Bhasha Institute, 2022; pages and price not indicated.

In September 2015, the collective of the women plantation workers, the Pembilai Orumai (Women United), organised a massive strike against the Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company, the largest tea garden in South Asia located in Munnar, Kerala. Their demand included an increase in the daily wages from `232 to `500 along with an annual bonus of 20%. Over 12,000 workers
participated in the strike. What immediately attracted the media and the political parties was the social power of women workers to mobilise a massive protest without any support from the dominant trade unions.

They demanded a fair implementation of the welfare measures as provided by the Plantations Labour Act, 1951. These included leave with wages, medical infrastructures, housing, education, and recreation. The precursor for the women workers’ movement in Munnar hills can be seen in the 150-year-old history of the daily life of the tea garden workers and the structure of the work itself. Those who had an opportunity to read K Ravi Raman’s Global Capital and Peripheral Labour: The History and Political Economy of Plantation Workers in India (2010) would be surprised by the mobilisation power of the women workers, as the book had argued that even in the middle of the 20th century, they had to struggle against the patriarchal plantation fiefdoms in southern India.

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Updated On : 21st Aug, 2023
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