Terry Morriss

This page is to show the various interesting contributionsbits from Terry Morris


September 10 2015

Dear David,

In responce to Duncan Allan concerns I attach a BBC report on the Plantations in Assam from the 8th September which unfortunately will exacerbates the situation. I found the programme very disturbing and very sad.
My very best wishes



A disturbing report from Radio 4's File on Four and BBC News.

Was this the inevitable outcome in Assam with the dramatic change in Management over the decades?


Living conditions on an Assam tea estate

8 September 2015 


Several of the world's biggest tea brands, including PG Tips, Lipton, Tetley and Twinings, have said they will work to improve the tea estates they buy from in India after a BBC investigation found dangerous, disgusting and degrading living and working conditions. The joint investigation by Radio 4's File on Four and BBC News also found evidence of child labour being used on some estates. The company which owns Doomur Dullung described the allegations in the report as "baseless and false”. The other companies mentioned in this report all acknowledged there were issues in the tea industry and said they would work to try and improve conditions on estates in Assam.

The BBC's South Asia Correspondent, Justin Rowlatt reports:

Several of Britain's biggest tea brands, including PG Tips, Tetleys and Twinings, have said they will work to improve the tea estates they buy from in India after a BBC investigation found dangerous and degrading living and working conditions.

Harrods has stopped selling some tea products in response, and Rainforest Alliance, the ethical certification organisation, has conceded the investigation has revealed flaws in its audit process.

The joint investigation by Radio 4's File on Four and BBC News in Assam, north-east India, found workers living in broken houses with terrible sanitation. Many families have no toilets and say they have no choice but to defecate amongst the tea bushes. Living and working conditions are so bad, and wages so low, that tea workers and their families are left malnourished and vulnerable to fatal illnesses. There was also a disregard for health and safety, with workers spraying chemicals without protection, and on some estates, child labour being used.

Toilets overflowing

Plantation owners in India are obliged by law to provide and maintain "adequate" houses, and sanitary toilets for workers. Yet homes on the tea estates were in terrible disrepair, with leaking roofs and damp and cracked walls. Many toilets are blocked or broken.

Workers said their homes were not repaired despite repeated requests to management, often over many years. The drains are open and unlined and many clogged with effluent. In some cases, cesspits are overflowing into the living areas of people's homes. Many homes have no electricity, and on one estate workers had to drink rainwater piped from a stream. A manager on an estate owned by the world's biggest tea producer, McLeod Russel, admitted there is "a huge backlog of repairs". McLeod Russel's Assam estates supply tea to the companies that own PG Tips, Liptons, Tetley and Twinings. The manager described conditions for some workers as "not acceptable" and said the estate has just 464 toilets to serve 740 homes.

The head of the Assam branch of the Indian Tea Association, which represents tea producers in India, also accepted that conditions appeared to be well below standard. "Let me be clear," Sandip Ghosh, told the BBC, "cesspools and open defecation are not acceptable to me or the association. These issues need to be addressed."


Many Indians live in dismal housing, but Indian law says decent housing and sanitation are part of a tea worker's pay. This is the justification plantation owners give for the extremely low wages in the industry. Tea workers in Assam earn 115 rupees a day, just over £1 ($1.50), significantly below the minimum wage (177 rupees in Assam). This combination of appalling conditions and low pay on tea plantations can be deadly. Studies have confirmed levels of malnutrition on tea estates are very high, even by India's woeful standards. Nine out of 10 patients from tea plantations are malnourished, according to the medical director of Assam Medical College, one of the main general hospitals serving the tea region. Professor AK Das says malnutrition makes tea workers and their families vulnerable to diseases caused by their unhygienic living conditions. "Diseases of poverty" are common, he says, with lots of patients coming in with diarrhoea, respiratory tract infections, skin lesions and serious infections like TB and meningitis. He describes a tragic cycle: children come in so weak from malnutrition they struggle to recover from curable illnesses, and then quickly relapse after they are released from hospital. As a result, Prof Das says, tea workers' children - and their parents - are significantly more likely to die of their illnesses than other patients at the hospital.

Child labour

And the BBC found other abuses. One girl, who said she was 14, was picking tea at the prestigious Doomur Dullung estate. She said she had been working full time for two months. Doomur Dullung is owned by one of the oldest tea companies in the world, Assam Company, and supplies Twinings, Yorkshire Tea, Harrods and Fortnum and Mason. Two other children said they had been employed full time on estates owned by Assam Company since they were in their early teens. The UN rules on child labour say no child under 15 should work full time.

Exposure to chemicals. There was also a disregard for health and safety on some tea estates.

On one estate owned by Assam Company workers were spraying pesticides without the protective equipment required by law. These workers said although protective equipment was given out once a year, it would wear out within a couple of months and was not replaced. They reported side effects including breathing difficulties, numbness of the hands and face, a burning sensation on the skin and profound loss of appetite. On one McLeod Russel estate, workers were spraying chemicals with overalls but no other protection. Professor Das said he regularly sees patients suffering serious side effects from pesticide exposure. Assam Company has called the BBC's allegations "baseless and false". McLeod Russel said the safety and living conditions of workers is the company's priority. It said protective equipment is provided free to workers, they are trained in its use and that regular spot checks are conducted to ensure compliance.

Tea estates also police access to the workers' living areas very tightly, despite access being guaranteed by law. Tea workers are vulnerable to exploitation because the plantations control so many aspects of their lives. The right of public access is supposed to enable people to visit them to check on their welfare. Yet the BBC was denied entry to the workers' living area of one of McLeod Russel's estates, and were even imprisoned briefly within the factory compound. The fact that there is a very serious issue with living and working conditions on tea plantations in Assam is well known. In January last year Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute published a major study into conditions on estates part-owned Tata, the giant Indian industrial conglomerate that also owns Tetley Tea. The report said the "inhumane" and "abusive" conditions it found were endemic throughout the industry. Tata told the BBC it is addressing "a number of serious social issues" on its estates and says it is working hard to improve living and working conditions.


In response to the BBC's other findings, Tata said it is committed to the "fair and ethical treatment" of people across its supply chain and said its membership of the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) demonstrated its commitment to improving conditions in the tea industry. The Ethical Tea Partnership is an organisation set up by UK tea companies to improve the lives of those who make tea. Its executive director, Sarah Roberts - also speaking on behalf of Twinings - acknowledged its members are "very aware of the challenges" in tea-growing regions. She said the Ethical Tea Partnership is working with the industry to make positive improvements to the lives of those who produce tea. The focus is to improve conditions in the industry, Ms Roberts said, "so everyone, whether in India or anywhere else, has a good life".

The welfare of workers is of "utmost importance", according to Fortnum and Mason, which pointed out all its teas are sourced in conjunction with the Ethical Tea Partnership. Unilever, which owns PG Tips and Liptons, says it takes the issues the BBC has raised seriously, but that progress has been made. However, the company recognises "there is still more to be done to raise standards" and says it is "working with our suppliers to achieve responsible and sustainable practices". Harrods says it has removed Doomur Dullung tea from its shelves in response to the BBC investigation, but noted it hasn't bought any tea from the garden this year. Meanwhile Taylors of Harrogate, which owns the Yorkshire Tea brand, told the BBC the company was "extremely concerned" by the BBC's findings and said it was "investigating as a matter of urgency".

'Failing frog'

All the estates the BBC visited have been certified by the Rainforest Alliance and awarded its "frog seal", displayed on the packaging of many leading tea brands. Rainforest Alliance is an NGO that claims to work to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods. It says its frog seal signals that businesses are managed according to "rigorous criteria" designed to "protect workers, their families and local communities". Stephen Ekka, an activist with the local NGO PAJHRA, is campaigning to improve conditions on the tea estates. He told the BBC he believes the Rainforest Alliance's frog logo "is more about selling tea than about empowering workers". Rainforest Alliance acknowledged issues with the certification process. "Clearly an auditing process, because it rests on an annual inspection, is not going to be perfect," its director Edward Millard said. He admitted housing was a "systemic problem" in Assam and said "a really serious and long term upgrading of housing conditions" was necessary. If its auditors had found any evidence of child labour or workers using pesticides without protective equipment, he told the BBC, then the plantations in question would have been decertified.


Terry Morris

This page is for the writings and Memories from Terry


January 15 2015

I thought this article might be be a suitable followup to Derek Perry’s on January 9th about growing Tea in New Zealand--Terry


Northern Ireland’s tea plantation

Although I live in the republic of Ireland the concept of a Tea Plantation just a few hours away in the north is intriguing. I wonder if they would like the services of a ex planter? 

                                                                  Will Tea Plants grow in Northerh Ireland 

Will teaplants grow in Northern Ireland?

Suki Tea, based in Belfast, has placed an order for 2,000 tea plants from Tanzania with the aim of growing them on land in County Down. Portaferry in Northern Ireland has been as the site for a tea plantation. The reason? It has a virtually frost-free climate, thanks to natural inlets. So Suki Tea, based in Belfast, has placed an order for 2,000 tea plants from Tanzania in the hope that it can emulate the UK’s only other tea plantation at Tregothnan in Cornwall.

Almost coming in the category of “many have tried and few succeeded” Suki Tea says that research suggests that it should be possible to grow tea at Portaferry. If all goes according to their plans they are hoping to be producing their own Portaferry blend in about five years.

Suki began life only seven years go  at a famers market Now it provides 45 different teas for the market suppling customers directly as well as the trade. And last year t the Great taste Awards, two of it’s teas – Chamomile and Earl Grey Blue Flower – were both awarded two stars. Can they achieve the same with their home grown tea in a few year’s time?



Terry tells the Editor:

I had a call recently from someone in the USA asking about music and entertainment

in Assam, which led me to digging into files from the past. I thought it might be of

interest to the readers of Koihai to remember the Digboi Christmas production over

50 years ago. Although most of the cast were from the Oil Company in Digboi there

were several planters involved including myself?  


November 16 2014

The Christmas Concert 1963

The Christmas Concert.

Joyce Costelloe and a slightly younger version of myself  

'Les Girls' from the 1963 Christmas party



Back row left to right:

 Sam Weller, Bob Muir, Arthur Cornish, Arnold Birchenough,

Joyce Costelloe, Chris Ball,  Pat Costelloe, Maurice Pead,
John Braithwaite.


 Front Row

Eileen Birchenough No.13  Betty Cornish No.15  Barbara Bernard.  

Eve Ball No.16
Malathy Sitaram No.18  Foumi Pead.  Peggy Coard No.2 
Jean McFarlane No.19  Sally Powrie.



  [Extract from the Digboi news letter December 1963] 


                             SUCCESSFUL PRESENTATION BY  

                                 DIGBOI THEATRE GROUP       


THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS reached Digboi early this year with Joyce Costelloe’s
ambitious and successful “Christmas Review” staged by the Digboi Theatre
group on
December 20th and 21st 1963.

 It was a show that had everything just as the programme promised, plenty of variety,
slick presentation, colourful costumes, rousing music with songs and dances and
lots of glamour  in the “leg” department. It was a show that revealed a surprising
amount of so-far unsuspected talent. It is impossible to comment on and name
people in the more than thirty items, every  one very enjoyable and a hit. The audience
were able to participate in many of the songs including the picturesque finale of
carols amid a whirling snowstorm.

 A critic is supposed to find fault, but it’s difficult not to overdo the praise for this
first-class  entertainment. From the effective Christmas backdrop designed by
Mary Eadie to the subtle lighting effects achieved by B.K.Nath and A.N. Choudhary
and the lively commentary by  Peggy Coard.

 Outstandingly brilliant, though some of the items were, teamwork was certainly
the operativeword throughout this fast-moving show. Joyce Costelloe really spread
her wings and encouraged everyone to have a go, writing many of the scripts
herself, plus music and lyrics. Producing and directing; and with Terry Morris
performing brilliantly on the drums as usual, Joyce was at the piano throughout
the entire show.

Thanks to Stage Manager Charles McFarlane and assistants Jack Bernard and Sam
Weller, the show went off without mishaps in spite of Ted Humphrey’s well conceived
“surprise”, a flaming Christmas Pudding, brought on at the end of the show, which
almost set the place on fire!

The cast included: Sam Weller, John Braithwaite, Eileen Birchenough, Betty Cornish,
Barbara Bernard, Eve Ball, Chris Ball, Arnold Birchenough, Malathy Sitaram, Foumi
Pead, Pat Costelloe, Ted Humphrey, Peggy Coard, Arthur Cornish, Bob Muir,
Fean McFarlane, Sally Powrie,


Produced and Directed by Joyce Costelloe.


September 1 2015


We thank Terry Morris for sending this article from the BBC

India and China hold talks on border dispute

File photo of Indian Army personnel at Bumla Pass on the India-China border in Arunachal PradeshImage captionIndia and China dispute several Himalayan border areas

Senior Indian and Chinese officials are meeting in Delhi for talks aimed at resolving a contentious border dispute, the first discussions since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power.

China's special representative Yang Jiechi is in Delhi for talks with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.

The talks are seeking to improve ties before Mr Modi visits Beijing in May.

The neighbours were involved in a bitter two-week stand-off near their de facto border in September 2014.

The two countries share an ill-defined 4,057km (2,520 miles) border and fought a brief war in 1962.

Tensions flare up from time to time and numerous rounds of border talks have been unsuccessful so far. The latest meeting in Delhi is the 18th round of boundary talks.

Since taking over as prime minister last summer, Mr Modi has spoken of his desire for better relations with China and called for an early settlement of the border dispute.

In September during his visit to India, Chinese President Xi Jinping said he was committed to working with India to maintain "peace and tranquillity".