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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Tanzania – Children working in commercial agriculture, tea: A rapid assessment

Report
Date of publication:
2002
Published by:
ILO
Geography:
Tanzania
Topic:
Child Labour
A Rapid Assessment to investigate the worst forms of child labour (WFCL) in commercial agriculture, specifically tea plantations, was conducted by six researchers representing the Tanzania Plantations and Agricultural Workers Union (TPAWU). The assessment was conducted in two districts of Rungwe and Lushoto in Mbeya and Tanga Regions respectively and covered both medium scale tea farms and large estates. The intention of this study was to obtain mostly qualitative information on the worst forms of child labour on tea plantations, particularly in these two districts. The specific objectives for undertaking this study were to find out the causes of the worst forms of child labour in tea commercial agriculture, to assess the working conditions, and to examine the characteristics of the worst forms of child labour in terms of age, sex and number (magnitude and extent).

Tea Break: a Crisis Brewing in India

Report
Date of publication:
2005
Published by:
Action Aid
Geography:
India
Topic:
Multiple
,
Small tea growers
,
Wages
Tea is a national institution in the UK. But in the tea plantations of India, there lies a tale of poverty, hunger and denial of workers' rights. Since the late 1990s, at least 60,000 workers have lost their jobs as tea prices have fallen and plantations have closed down. Tens of thousands of workers are threatened by further closures. On the plantations that remain open, workers are suffering wage cuts, tougher picking demands, increasing short-term, insecure contracts and appalling living and working conditions. Action Aid joined together with Indian Civil Society groups and conducted interviews with workers on Davershola tea plantation owned by Hindustan Lever, a Uniliver subsidiary, and with smallholder tea growers in the Gudalur valley in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, in 2004 and April 2005. The interviews provide a snapshot of the problems facing workers and tea growers throughout the Indian tea sector.

Tea but no Sympathy. Social Sustainability of Tea Consumed in Finland

Report
Date of publication:
2019
Published by:
Finnwatch
Geography:
India
,
Sri Lanka
Topic:
Climate
,
Education
,
Housing
,
Multiple
,
Wages
,
Women
Millions of people in tea producing countries are directly engaged in the production of tea and many more depend on it for their livelihood. Labour rights abuses are prevalent and well-documented at tea plantations in many of the producing countries. This report explores the working conditions in the production of the tea consumed in Finland. The tea plantations covered are suppliers to both Finnish tea houses and international brands. More than one million kilos of tea is consumed in Finland each year. The Finnish tea market’s value is approximately 55 million euros. The biggest Finnish tea houses are Forsman Tea and Nordqvist, but international brands Twinings (market leader) and Unilever dominate the market. Private label tea products are also gaining in popularity. The majority of the tea consumed in Finland is imported from other European countries as ready-made tea products for the consumer market. In addition, all of Finland’s major grocery retail chains, Kesko, S Group and Lidl Finland, source their private label teas nearly exclusively from Central European tea houses. One private label product is sourced from a Sri Lankan manufacturer. The demand for organic tea is on the rise but beyond the scope of this report. The current climate crisis has a significant impact on the cultivation of tea. Tea is said to be one of the crops most adversely affected by climate change. Changes in its yield, quality and production areas will have an impact on tea prices and demand for tea, the livelihood of millions of people and the economy of the production countries. Tea cultivation also has adverse ecological impacts. The industry needs to develop mitigation and adaptation strategies to cope with climate changes.

Mainstreaming Sustainable Management of Tea Production Landscapes

Initiative
Date of publication:
Published by:
Rainforest Alliance
,
VECO
Geography:
East Asia
,
Vietnam
Topic:
Climate
,
Small tea growers
Tea production in Vietnam is concentrated in... areas that are particularly at risk of food insecurity and land degradation. The current problem of soil erosion is expected to intensify due to climate change and a growing global demand for tea which will likely increase pressures on already nutrient-deprived farmland. The high use of chemical fertilizers and herbicides has resulted in poor soil health and undermined Vietnamese tea’s reputation on international markets, contributing to low prices for farmers. Improved soil conservation measures can help reduce the pressure on tea farming landscapes but have not yet been widely applied in Vietnam. Since 2016, over 3,180 Vietnamese tea farmers have been trained... in sustainable land management practices as part of The Rainforest Alliance’s project “Mainstreaming Sustainable Management of Tea Production Landscapes”. Initial results show that farmers’ income has increased by an average of 30% due to a reduction in chemical use and higher prices for quality tea leaves.

That’s Bitter, That’s Terrible – lack of access to clean water on Tetley tea plantations in Assam

Report
Date of publication:
2018
Published by:
IUF
Geography:
India
,
South Asia
Topic:
Water and Sanitation
The IUF reports that “workers and their families on tea estates in India owned and operated by Amalgamated Plantation Private Limited that supplies Tetley tea have limited access to potable drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities… workers, especially women workers, have formed committees in each plantation. For the past 2 years the committees have held meetings to educate workers on the human right to water and sanitation. Through consultation with workers they have formulated a concrete plan to put to the management and collectively negotiate solutions.” It calls on Tetley: “1. To recognize their responsibility and act to ensure that all tea plantation workers in their supply chain can effectively access their right to water and sanitation, and 2. To guarantee that the plantation management engages with the water and sanitation teams in good faith to resolve the human rights violations.”

The Darjeeling Distinction: Labor and Justice on Fair Trade Tea Plantations in India

Books
Date of publication:
2014
Published by:
Sarah Besky - University of California Press
Geography:
W Bengal - Darjeeling
Topic:
Certification
,
Women
In this nuanced ethnography, Sarah Besky narrates the lives of tea workers in Darjeeling. She explores how notions of fairness, value, and justice shifted with the rise of fair-trade practices and postcolonial separatist politics in the region. This is the first book to explore how fair-trade operates in the context of large-scale plantations. Readers in a variety of disciplines—anthropology, sociology, geography, environmental studies, and food studies—will gain a critical perspective on how plantation life is changing as Darjeeling struggles to reinvent its signature commodity for twenty-first-century consumers.

The Estate They’re in – How the tea industry traps women in poverty in Assam

Report
Date of publication:
2018
Published by:
Traidcraft
Geography:
Assam
,
India
Topic:
Housing
,
Nutrition
,
Wages
,
Water and Sanitation
Evidence gathered by researchers working for Traidcraft Exchange found that on estates that are believed to supply UK tea companies: A culture of surveillance and control by management goes unchecked; Wages – agreed across the Assam tea sector – are below Assam and Indian minimum wage levels; Housing is often leaky and in a state of disrepair; Sanitation is minimal or non-existent with open defaecation the norm when working; Local health facilities often lack medicines and staff and better ones are far away; Food rations are insufficient and of poor quality… As a first step [Traidcraft suggested] the big UK brands should be transparent about which estates they buy from.

The Future of Tea: A Hero Crop for 2030

Initiative
Date of publication:
2014
Published by:
Forum for the Future
Geography:
Worldwide
Topic:
Multiple
This report shares the findings of the Tea 2030 project. It provides insights into the potential future of the global industry, presenting different scenarios on what the tea sector might look like in 2030, as well as a series of recommendations as to how the sector might collaborate and respond. Tea 2030 is a project bringing together some of the most influential organisations in the global tea industry, including the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP), Fairtrade International, Finlays, IDH - the Sustainable Trade Initiative, Rainforest Alliance, S&D Coffee & Tea, Tata Global Beverages, Twining, Uniliver, and Yorkshire Tea. Facilitated and managed by Forum for the Future.

The Global Business of Forced Labour

Report
Date of publication:
2018
Published by:
Sheffield University
Geography:
Worldwide
Topic:
Forced Labour
The two-year Global Business of Forced Labour study investigated the business models of forced labour in global tea and cocoa supply chains. Forced labour is work brought about by physical, psychological or economic coercion. Extensive on-the-ground research with the cocoa industry in Ghana and the tea industry in India revealed agricultural workers are paid severely low wages and are routinely subjected to multiple forms of exploitation. The project involved in-depth interviews with more than 120 tea and cocoa workers, a survey of over 1,000 tea and cocoa workers from 22 tea plantations in India and 74 cocoa communities in Ghana, and over 100 interviews with business and government actors.

The more things change…The World Bank, Tata and Enduring Abuses on India’s Tea Plantations

Report
Date of publication:
2014
Published by:
Columbia Law School
Geography:
India
,
South Asia
Topic:
Health
,
Housing
,
Nutrition
,
Wages
,
Water and Sanitation
The report is based on three years of research and visits to 17 out of 24 plantations and describes pervasive violations of workers’ rights on the plantations owned by Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd. (APPL) in the states of Assam and West Bengal, in India… The report assesses the claims of the workers against the standards of the Plantations Labour Act (PLA), India’s post-independence law that regulates working conditions on plantations and requires plantation owners to supplement meager wages with adequate housing, health care, and food rations, in addition to ensuring adequate water and sanitation. The report documents failings on all fronts.