In August 2016, FLA Participating Company Syngenta was scheduled to begin the first phase of its pilot project for ensuring minimum wage payments to seed production workers, as a step toward fair compensation at Syngenta-supplying farms in India. The first phase of the project will cover approximately 750 farmworkers in all production capacities in as many as seven villages producing hot pepper seeds in the state of Maharashtra, with the second phase (set to begin in October) covering nearly 2000 corn de-tasseling workers in ten to 15 villages in Andhra Pradesh. For Syngenta, the project is meant to "test the sustainability of minimum wage payments in the field, in the long run, and across our entire business eventually."
Non-payment of minimum wages has been a consistent finding of the FLA's independent external monitoring reports in the Indian seed supply chain for many years, discussed in depth in two reports from 2012 and 2015 (Wages of Inequality and Procurement Price and Credit Practices in India). Syngenta's pilot project is part of a broad commitment by all FLA-affiliated companies to uphold the compensation element of the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct, which affirms that "every worker has a right to compensation for a regular work week that is sufficient to meet the worker's basic needs and provide some discretionary income," in addition to meeting all legal minimum-wage requirements.
The launch of the pilot project follows up on recommendations made at a jointly organized Syngenta-FLA multi-stakeholder consultation in Hyderabad on January 19, 2016 for Syngenta and a group of peer companies to proceed with industry pilots on ensuring minimum wages. The stakeholder meeting was designed to bring together a broad cross-section of relevant perspectives on how Syngenta and others can bring about system-wide transformation wherever prevailing wages fall below the legal minimum in agricultural settings in India, and included presentations from representatives from the International Labour Organization (ILO) India Office, Just Jobs Network, MV Foundation, Glocal Research, the Prayas Center for Labor Research and Action, and Syngenta India. A summary report of this meeting, along with Syngenta's pilot project action plan, appears below.