Carrying forward a lineage that dates back over 136 years to the British Colonial Raj era, the Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company Private Limited (KDHP) succeeded Tata Tea Limited on 1st April, 2005, when the latter exited most of its plantations in Munnar to focus on the growth of its branded tea business. During the year 2004-2005, owing to the general crisis prevalent in the tea industry at the time, Tata Tea Ltd restructured and came up with a proposal to transfer its holdings in the Kanan Devan Hills Village. This was done as part of a restructuring exercise evolved through a detailed study, particularly taking note of the prevalent crisis in the tea industry.
Thus, the Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company was formed, making it the largest employee-owned tea company in the world. Encompassing the Participatory Management System of operations, where the shareholders of the company are mainly its employees – a novel concept in the plantation industry credited to the farsighted vision of the company’s Founding Managing Director, Late. Mr. T.V. Alexander – about 60% of the subscribed share capital of the company is held by its employees, and almost 99.9% of its employees are shareholders of the company. With 12,000 plus employees and 12 departments governing the various functional areas of the company, KDHP covers a total area of 23,783 hectares, all located in the High Ranges of Idukki District in Kerala. As the largest tea corporate in South India, the company also occupies a prestigious place on the tea map of Kerala, constituting 24.3% of the total tea area in the State and accounting for 31.5% of the production in the State.
A unique feature of the Kanan Devan hills Plantations Company Pvt Ltd is the implementation of the Participatory Management System, introduced with a view to ensure full participation of the employees in the management of the company. As part of this three-tier structure that encompasses all the sections of the employees of the company, one worker representative and one staff representative are nominated as Directors on the Board of the company. The employees identified as the Best Worker and Best Staff in a year are nominated to the Board during the following financial year.
To create a healthy, innovative, productive and fulfilling work environment the concept of employee ownership and participation in management – a first in the plantation sector is practiced in KDHP.
To have closer association between all employees, a formalized Participatory Management System has been put in place in the form of committees of management consisting of representatives of all categories of shareholding employees at the Division (the primary work unit of a tea estate), Factory, Estate and Company levels. Such committees of empowered employees suggest improvements in various matters pertaining to their relevant operations, employee welfare and safety, corporate policies and strategies etc. Relevant information is provided to enable the committees to function effectively..