Action Card - December 2019
Who picked my tea?
In October Oxfam released a report entitled
‘Addressing the Human Cost of Assam Tea’
uncovering the dire working conditions and hardship faced by many of the workers in Assam.
Many tea workers earn well below the national minimum wage and barely more than the World Bank’s extreme poverty line.
Unable to meet their basic living costs, half of the households included in the research were forced to use ‘below poverty
line’ ration cards in order to feed their families. They struggle to access good quality housing, healthcare, clean drinking
water and education for their children.
Women in the estates experience the greatest hardship. Due to systematic inequalities they are the ones who tend to carry
out the lowest paid plucking roles as well as shoulder the majority of the unpaid domestic care work. They are often
exploited, marginalised and disempowered and are commonly subject to domestic violence. Tea estates do not automatically
provide women with accessible toilets or maternity benefits.
‘Who picked my tea?’
This campaign launched by Traidcraft saw individual tea brands Yorkshire Tea, Twinings, Tetley, Clipper, PG Tips, Typhoo,
Ringtons, as well as supermarket M&S reveal their suppliers in Assam. This signifies progress and has made the tea sector
one of the most transparent sectors in the UK. Knowing that this information is available also acts as a stimulus for these
companies to work to challenge the appalling working conditions on the tea estates. However, there still remain several
well-known supermarkets who have failed to provide information on where they source their ‘own-label’ tea.
In order to overcome the human suffering of Assam tea workers, Oxfam is calling for improved transparency for consumers.
Therefore more supermarkets and tea brands need to reveal where their tea is sourced and how much is paid at each stage
of the supply chain. In addition, Oxfam is asking them to commit to supporting the living wage for tea workers and an
improvement to their living and working conditions, particularly for female workers.
· Write a letter and give it to your supermarket manager.
· Call on supermarkets to list all of the tea estates in Assam, Darjeeling and southern India from which they source
· Ask them to reveal how much is paid at each stage of the supply chain and the action that they are taking to
overcome the exploitation of women tea-pickers in India.