Knowledge is power

In the first initiative of its kind, THIRST has created this knowledge hub in order to bring together all of the valuable resources regarding the treatment of workers in the tea industry that are scattered all over the internet. We’re always trying to expand our knowledge hub. If you know of, or have created, any other relevant resources that should be included in this collection please contact us.


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CAO Investigation of IFC Environmental and Social Performance in relation to: Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), India

Website
Date of publication:
2020
Published by:
Compliance Advisor Ombudsman
Geography:
Assam
,
India
Topic:
Casualisation
,
Child Labour
,
Discrimination (not gender)
,
Forced Labour
,
Freedom of Association
,
Health
,
Housing
,
Nutrition
,
Wages
,
Water and Sanitation
,
Women
In 2009, through a $7.8 million investment by the World Bank, Tata created Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (or APPL), affecting 30,000 tea plantation workers and their families. In response to workers’ reports of violations of wage and labour laws, restrictions on freedom of association, poor hygiene and health, hazardous conditions for pesticide sprayers, and concerns with the share program, three local NGOs – PAJHRA, PAD and DBSS – filed a complaint in 2013 with the World Bank’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) – the World Bank’s independent grievance office. This CAO web page provides the CAO’s 2016 report (following a three year investigation, confirming many of the workers’ complaints), responses from Tata and the IFC, and CAO’s 2019 monitoring report. which finds that while some aspects of the companies’ action plans are on track serious concerns remain about workers’ health, well-being and rights.

Certified Unilever Tea: Small Cup, Big Difference?

Report
Date of publication:
2011
Published by:
SOMO
Geography:
India
,
Kenya
Topic:
Casualisation
,
Discrimination
,
Housing
,
Sexual harassment
,
Wages
,
Women
For this study one hundred tea workers were interviewed on a total of eight tea plantation companies, all supplying tea to Unilever. Seven of these plantations are located in India and the remaining plantation concerns Unilever's own tea plantation in Kenya. It was found that working conditions on tea estates that supply Unilever are problematic despite having been certified by the sustainability standard system, Rainforest Alliance. This in turn raises concerns about the effectiveness and credibility of this standard. Workers reported sexual harassment and ethnic and gender discrimination, all constituting violations of ILO, Rainforest Alliance standards and Unilever's own code of business principles (CBP). In addition, the poor housing conditions for casuals and the casual status of many de facto permanent workers are Rainforest Alliance standard violations. NB Unilever has since acknowledged some of these problems and taken steps to address them: see https://www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/what-matters-to-you/kericho-tea-estates.html

Countries Where Tea is Reportedly Produced with Forced Labor and/or Child Labor

Website
Date of publication:
Published by:
Verité
Geography:
Worldwide
Topic:
Child Labour
Verité provides this well-sourced web page, including details of reported child and forced labour in several tea producing countries, and explores what trafficking and/or child labor look like in the production of tea, and what governments, corporations, and others are doing to address the issue.

Equalitea – Small Tea Growers Programme

Initiative
Date of publication:
Published by:
Traidcraft
Geography:
Bangladesh
Topic:
Small tea growers
Our EqualiTEA programme works with smallholder tea growing families living in rural and often very isolated areas. Through a combination of technical training, encouraging tea growers to work together and providing a vital support network, the project team are working hard to transform lives and make the tea sector profitable for even the most disadvantaged farming families. We’ve been working to expand our work in India and keep reaching more smallholder tea growers. In Bangladesh our work is more pioneering – tea growing is relatively new to Bangladeshi farmers and there is a growing domestic market. We initially set up around 1,000 new tea growers in Bangladesh, but we’re now expanding the programme to help even more smallholder farmers earn a fair income in the tea sector. This programme is benefiting about 170,000 people.

Ethical Tea Partnership

Organisation
Date of publication:
Published by:
Ethical Tea Partnership
Geography:
Worldwide
Topic:
The Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) is a not for profit organisation whose members are involved in the sourcing, trading or packing of tea and also include retailers. It convenes the tea industry, development partners, NGOs and governments to improve the lives of tea workers, farmers and the environment in which they live and work. Our priority is to work on long-term programmes to tackle the deep-rooted issues and some of the most complex challenges that tea workers and communities are facing.

Fine Teas for Starvation Wages – Tea exports from Darjeeling to Germany

Report
Date of publication:
2019
Published by:
Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung
Geography:
India
,
South Asia
Topic:
Wages
German importers are of central importance for tea producers in Darjeeling in the state of West Bengal, northern India. Companies such as the Ostfriesische Tee Gesellschaft (OTG), Teekampagne, TeeGschwendner, and others purchase roughly a quarter of the region’s yearly tea output. In addition, they are the most important buyers of the early tea harvests (first flush and second flush), which command the highest prices. Hamburg is Europe’s central shipping terminal for tea, with almost half of all tea imports into Germany re-exported out of Germany at a high price. The price margins along the tea supply chain from Darjeeling to Germany are extremely disparate. A calculation by a German tea importer in the top price bracket (market segment A) for loose-leaf tea shows that only around 30 percent of the shelf price remains in India, with a maximum of 22 percent making it to the company that operates the plantation. The tea pluckers receive the equivalent of between 1.4 percent and 2.8 percent of the tea’s retail price in Germany.

Gain the Ownership of Newly Built Estate Houses

Date of publication:
Published by:
Geography:
Sri Lanka
Topic:
Housing
Around 244,500 households comprising a total population of 966,700, live in Sri Lanka’s plantation sector. Of the existing housing stock, around 160,000 (or 65 percent) were categorised in 2005 as obsolete and non-upgradable housing (generally being ‘line-rooms’ and temporary sheds); and that estimate was reaffirmed in 2015. This type of housing is urgently in need of reconstruction for the humane and hygienic living conditions of their residents. In fact, the main demand of the plantation community today, is for adequate shelter and the right to housing, land and property. This Briefing Paper looks at the historical background to the reasons for the housing crisis in the plantation sector; a brief overview of housing programmes since the privatisation of the plantations in the early 1990’s, as well as earlier advocacy in this are by the Institute of Social Development. Section 4 presents and interprets the findings of a socio-economic survey on housing rights in the plantations, conducted by the ISD in 2015 and finally summarises its main findings and makes a number of recommendations for enjoyment of the right to housing, land and property of the Plantation community.

Green Gold – The Empire of Tea

Book
Date of publication:
2003
Published by:
Iris and Alan MaFarlane - Ebury Press
Geography:
Assam
,
India
Topic:
Iris MacFarlane was the wife of a tea plantation manager in Assam in the 1950s. Green Gold begins with her account of life in Assam during this period, observations of the living and working conditions of workers on the tea estate, and the challenges to her attempts to improve them. The main book by her son, Alan, traces the history of tea, its links with the British Empire and its impact on those that grow, trade in, profit from and drink it. He quotes extensively from historical documents including first hand accounts from tea pioneers as far back as 1866.

Harvesting Hunger: Plantation Workers and the Right to Food

Report
Date of publication:
2014
Published by:
FIAN
,
IUF
,
Miserior
Geography:
Worldwide
Topic:
Nutrition
[I]t can be estimated that roughly 200 million agricultural workers are chronically undernourished… Several factors have worsened the situation for plantation workers over the last twenty years… The impact of market dynamics on the working conditions of [tea] plantation workers and how this in turn leads to a violation of their right to food is examined in detail in the section on the tea sector. This sector is characterized by the concentration of market power and in particular by a very strong vertical integration, with three companies controlling 80% of global tea trade. Two of these companies (Unilever and Tata) are also the main tea packers and thus cover the most profitable segments of the chain (apart from retail). Sourcing costs for packers and retailers have gone down in the last decades. For producers, downward price pressure of plantation crops, rising oil prices and in some countries the depreciation of the US dollar against their local currencies made the tea business difficult.

Human Rights Grievance-Handling in the Indian Tea Sector

Report
Date of publication:
2016
Published by:
Corporate Accountability Research
Geography:
India
Topic:
A large range of grievance mechanisms are available in the tea sector and one of the questions examined in this case is why so few grievances have been brought through transnational non-judicial grievance mechanisms. A key focus is therefore on barriers of access to redress, including entrenched informal barriers based on the structure of social relations and organisation at the local level. The case study also examines the operation of formal transnational complaint handling mechanisms including the Rainforest Alliance certification system and the International Finance Corporation’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (‘CAO’), and their interaction with local grievance mechanisms operated by government, trade unions or plantation management. Where transnational grievance mechanisms have been used, their relatively weak leverage has meant that they have had little impact on facilitating individual remedy. However, where involvement of transnational non-judicial grievance mechanisms has provided visibility, legitimacy or other forms of indirect support to organising grassroots workers, the case suggests that engagement with these mechanisms can sometimes have a small, positive effect on reinforcing wider pressures for improvements to working and living conditions in the sector.