Feather Touch

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Feather Touch

 

Profile of CONTIGO´s partner Feather Touch

Kolkata to Göttingen (Source: Google Earth)

Products

Leather products, focus on ECOfriendly leather from vegetable tanning

Goat leather, vegetable tanning

Location

Kolkata, in the state of West Bengal, India – distance to Europe: 7,300km

Founded in 2005

History

  • Nandeswar Prasad Chowdhury, former product development officer for EMA (Equitable Marketing Association; Kolkata´s first Fairtrade marketing organisation) found Feather Touch as a marketing organisation for different handicrafts from groups in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal
  • 2000: Death of founder; son Vivek Chowdhury (19 years at the time) takes over the family business
  • 2005: Feather Touch moves to an own production site in Kolkata and specialises in leather products
  • 2010: CONTIGO meets Feather Touch for the first time
  • 2013: Deepening of the cooperation between CONTIGO and Feather Touch; focus on own designs and high quality
  • 2015: Feather Touch specialises in high-quality products made of ECOfriendly cow-hide leather. Ranges with goat and buffalo leather are produced as well
  • 2016: Development of own ECOfriendly leather varieties in cooperation with an associated tannery
  • 2017: Start of an own, rented tannery
  • 2017: Relocation of production site to the southeast of Kolkata is targeted, plot of land and the building admission are already available

Cooperation with CONTIGO since 2010

Structure of the company

Number of employees: 

  • Internal employees / at the central workshop: 40-45 employees
    • thereof 20 employees with fixed salaries in these departments: administration, purchase, design & product development, sample making, cutting and quality control
    • 6 producer groups with 20-25 employees in total, paid by piece-wage, produce bags and wallets
  • External / decentralised producer groups:
    • 2 groups for production of wallets and small leather items
    • 1 group for shanti leather: owner Zameer Ahmed, cooperation with Feather Touch since 14 years
    • 1 group for spray painted leather goods
    • 6-10 people in each producer group

Work environment: 

Own production building: two former residential buildings, 3-storey

  • Ground floor: offices for accounting, administration, design and show room
  • Adjoining buildings at the same level: warehouse, workshop with special machines for embossing, skiving, clicking, as preparation for further worksteps
  • Upper floors: on each floor three rooms for several production groups (each 3-6 people), material storage
  • Attic storey: quality control and reparations
  • Technical equipment:
    • Light and bright rooms with day light
    • Ventilation/ air conditioner
    • Modern technical equipment and machines for cutting, embossing, skiving, clicking
    • On each floor bathroom facilities and inspected fire-extinguisher

Organisation of work force:

  • Production groups with leader and team:
    • Team consists of handcrafters with different skills and experiences (un-skilled, semi-skilled and skilled) for simple glueing tasks up to complex works (cutting and sewing)
  • Production at the central workshop:
    • entire bag production
    • production of ECOfriendly leather ranges
  • Production at decentralised workshops:
    • Workers produce leather accessories in their own workshops in the surroundings of Kolkata
    • They receive prepared material packages, as well as advance payment for operating and labour costs

Sales

  • Exports (100%) to Austria, UK, Germany, Italy, Australia, Netherlands

Goals

  • To build a modern production site with all production steps on one level; relocation of production to the southeast of Kolkata is targeted
  • To increase the number of women in production. This will be in place as soon as the new premises are set up

Special features

  • Financial support of an evening school in a neighboring informal settlement: children and teenagers receive art and computer lessons from volunteers
  • Pollution certificate for waste management, issued by Westbegal Pollution Control Board

Why does CONTIGO work with Feather Touch: Feather Touch is an upcoming company with focus on continuous improvements of design, quality and working conditions.

 

Fairtrade classification

FTA = Fairtrade Approved

 

Fairtrade aspects

Feather Touch8

Feather Touch complies with the following Fairtrade Principles:

No child labour

No discrimination

No discrimination due to gender, disability, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political orientation, or infection with HIV

Many different religions work together at Feather Touch.

Fair wages

  • Minimum wage in the state of West Bengal: (INR = Indian rupee) for tannery and leather industry
    • un-skilled: INR 7,776/ month
    • semi-skilled: INR 8,553/ month
    • skilled: INR 9,409/ month
  • Employees with fixed wages:
    • wages in quality control and back work: INR 6,000 – 6,200 / month
    • wages in production (semi skilled): INR 7,500 -9,000 / month
    • wages of specialists: INR 11,000 – 12,000 / month
    • all above mentioned wages are minimum and increase depending on order situation (bonus, overtime)
  • Staff in production groups (at the central workshop as well as at decentralised workshops) receive piece-rated wages:
    • minimum wage: INR 8,000 / month. The team leader receives INR 15,000 / month. Income depends on order situation and attendance time of worker
  • Predominantely cash payment
  • Wages are 10% higher than paid for comparable jobs in the region
  • Salary increment every year (due to inflation)
  • Higher wages in case of overtime on Sundays and bank holidays
  • Bonus payment for salaried staff (1 monthly salary)
  • Bonus payment for group leaders and good performing staff in the production group  (50% of monthly salary)

Humane working conditions

Working hours: 

  • 8 hours/day (Saturday 10:30am-7:00pm)
  • 30 minutes break
  • 6 days/week

Social benefits:

For all salaried employees:

  • Paid festival holidays (17 days per year)
  • Continued payment of wage in case of sickness or accident (12 days)
  • Recreation holidays (4 days)
  • Payment of contributions to health insurance ESI (=Employee State Insurance): employer pays 4,75%, employee pays 1,75% of monthly wage
  • Payment of contributions to pension scheme PF (=Employees´ Provident Fund), employer and employee pay each 12 % of monthly wage
  • In case of need or family reasons: interest-free loans for all employees with individual refunding
  • In case of overtime: Feather Touch provides food and accomodation

Occupational safety:

  • All safety standards are met
    • Protective clothing is provided: breathing masks, protective glasses
    • First aid kit is available
    • Fire license (with regular external controls, internal training)
    • Two emergency exits, external staircases

Transparency

  • Payroll is available
  • SAR (Self Assessment Report) was duly submitted to CONTIGO

 

Monitoring

  • Personal visits in Kolkata (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
  • Feedback interview during several visits in Germany

 

Country information

See Encyclopaedia Britannica: India 

 

Photos

Visiting Feather Touch in Kolkata (2018)

 

Visiting Feather Touch in Kolkata (2014)

2014_Feather Touch1 2014_Feather Touch2 2014_Feather Touch42014_Feather Touch52014_Feather Touch6 2014_Feather Touch8

Visiting Feather Touch in Kolkata (2013)

Visiting Feather Touch in Kolkata(2011)

Author: Janina Lange on 30. September 2018
Category:

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