Frocester Estate was the first supplier of fairly traded, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified natural rubber. There the joint body , where representatives of the workers and the management decide on the use of the Fair Trade premium payment, decided to use that extra income for 2007 to bring piped water to 64 housing units: clean drinking water for 227 people. The supply from the new well feeding the system is not enough to cover all needs, e.g. laundry still has to be done by hand in the nearby river. Nevertheless, this is the first time in the history of this kind of so-called ‘labour lines’ that clean drinking water has been available where the workers live.
It is particularly important to note that the first Fair Trade premiums alone would hardly have sufficed to finance this project. But the newly-appointed plantation manager contributed some construction materials which were ‘just lying idle’ (including a pump kit), the management bore part of the cost, and the workers themselves contributed labour and some additional cash. In one instance the workers paid Rs. 5900 for a tank, the management paid for the well, and the Fair Trade funds were used to pay for pipes and fittings. Additional taps were installed with the money from the workers, who also paid for two public shower cubicles. Two parts of the new system require pumping stations in order for the water to reach the workers’ housing. The management pays for the first 11 litres of fuel needed every month, and a ‘water committee’ collects Rs. 25 per month from each family to ensure that the pumps can run all month long.
This story is also an illustration just how important it is that all concerned co-operate, and of what can be achieved if everyone works together. The project has also resulted in improved labour relations on the plantation.