CAO Cases

Arne Hoel, The World Bank

South Asia

India / Tata Tea-01/CAO Vice President Request

CAO Vice President Request
Date Filed
May 01, 2012
Labor issues and worker health, safety, and security
Case Status
Open - Compliance



This case relates to labor related aspects of IFC's investment in Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), a company which manages tea plantations in the Northeast India. APPL is the second largest producer and supplier of tea in India and employees over 30,000 people on its 25 tea estates in Assam and West Bengal.


IFC’s equity investment was designed to support the implementation of a sustainable employee-owned plantation model. Employees were provided the opportunity to purchase shares in APPL. As part of the investment, IFC was required to assure itself that its client operated in accordance with IFC’s Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability.


CAO Action

The compliance appraisal of IFC's investment in APPL was initiated by the CAO Vice President in May 2012 based on unresolved concerns submitted by the International Union of Food Workers (IUF) to IFC's Communication Portal for Performance Standard 2 (PS2).  Concerns in relation to the investment were triggered by incidents on two APPL plantations in 2009/10 which led to disputes with unions representing APPL workers. After completing a compliance appraisal in January 2013, CAO concluded that the issues warranted further investigation.


In February 2013, CAO received a complaint from three NGOs on behalf of tea workers working and living in the company’s tea plantations [Tata Tea-02]. The complaint raises concerns about labor and working conditions at three different plantations, specifically citing long working hours, unpaid compensation, poor hygiene and health conditions, and a lack of freedom to associate among plantation workers. Furthermore, the complainants question the worker share-buying program, contending workers have been pressured into buying shares, often without proper information about the risks of such an investment. This complaint was transferred to the compliance function in November 2013. A compliance appraisal in regard to the complaint was finalized in February 2014 with a decision that the issues raised in the complaint merited further investigation.


CAO decided to combine the complaint-triggered compliance process [Tata Tea-02] with the earlier CAO VP–triggered compliance process [Tata Tea-01]. 


CAO’s investigation report was released in November 2016. While noting that IFC’s investment in the company had potential for significant development impact, CAO’s investigation identified a number of non-compliance findings related to IFC’s assessment and management of environmental and social (E&S) risk associated with the investment. Given the vulnerable status of workers and the client’s responsibility to provide a range of basic services to workers, CAO found that IFC’s pre-investment E&S review of the investment was not commensurate to risk. Shortcomings in this review led to the development of mitigation measures that were insufficiently detailed and did not address key risk areas. During supervision, CAO found that IFC did not assure itself of compliance with its Performance Standards. As a result, E&S compliance issues raised by the complainants remain unaddressed. CAO’s investigation also made a number of specific non-compliance findings in relation to IFC’s assessment and supervision of living and working conditions on the plantations, reported use of banned pesticides, information disclosure, consultation and response to security incidents.


All documents relating to this case are available under "View Documents" below.



IFC has released a public response to CAO’s investigation report.  CAO is monitoring IFC’s actions in response to the investigation findings and will issue a monitoring report by April 2018.   


Status as of November 9, 2017

Project information

Project Name & Number
Tata Tea 25074
Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL)
South Asia
Environmental Category
$7.87m Equity

Case Tracker



  • Under Appraisal: Completed
  • Under Audit: Completed
  • Monitoring: In Process

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