Aug 24, 2015

the working life

On a rain-curtained veranda in a worker-owned tea plantation I read the much-discussed NY Times report about working conditions at Amazon's corporate headquarters —14 hour work days, each employee is encouraged to anonymously inform on their colleagues, every measurable employee performance metric graded on a curve such that a certain percentage of the workforce must be fired each quarter, etc.

When the rains finally ceased I photographed the covered patio and then a plantation that rolled on much further than I could see even after climbing its highest hills.

So I'm vacationing now in the middle of a workplace, KDHP—a vast tea plantation that is structured a bit differently than Amazon. [Above is a view through a telephoto lens of workers picking tea leaves on the next hill over. For the next image, I've hiked over to that hill.]

The company’s 12,700-plus employees are shareholders and hold approximately 69 % of the company.

"When Tatas handed over the plantations to the workers, it was running at a loss of [1.25 million dollars] . Last year, KDHP clocked a net profit of  [6.5 million dollars]. Productivity has increased 58% in 2009-10."  - The Times of India, 13\10\2010

As of 2014 an independent survey found a 97% satisfaction rate among this KDHP workers.

CEOs like Amazon's Jeff Bezos believe that Big Data, the quantification and computerized evaluation of every aspect of production and consumption, will lead to limitless profits and fulfillment. I don't think any of my readers needed me to travel half way around the world to suggest that there might be better ways to motivate a workforce.

Nonetheless, it's raining as I post this, it was raining all afternoon of nearly everyday I've been here and I've got to do something with all the reading I'm doing.

Mostly, now I'm reading the great Hindu epic, The Ramayana and No God, but God about the beginnings of Islam.

If I've missed anything important about Donald Trump please feel free to mention it in the comments. Comments are appreciated. You click on "No Comments" below to make the comments window show up. It's not a very good design.


  1. Hi Brian! So good to see you're on the road again, and in such a wonderful place! The photos are beautiful... wish I was there, rain and all! I love the way you contrasted the two companies. When we see pictures like these we can easily forget that those people are also living in 2015 and running a business! Safe travels and enjoy! Waiting for more pics! Hugs

  2. Thanks, Ines. It's great to hear from you. I've been without internet for days and I'm afraid I've just posted far more words than images. The photography has been going very well recently, but I'm way behind and traveling with a tiny tablet instead of a computer. And some of what I'm doing will have to await my return.