Some important issues around conditions for tea workers in Assam have been highlighted in the media recently. We take these very seriously and this is something we have been working to address for a number of years.
Many of our programmes in Assam focus on young women and every time I visit I am struck by their desire for change, their hope for the future and how we must continue to support them to make it happen.
It’s widely acknowledged that the issues are complex and deep-rooted and can’t be solved by one organisation alone. The Ethical Tea Partnership believes that to make sustainable change happen in Assam, producers, tea companies, governments, and communities need to work together.
ETP is committed to working on long-term programmes that tackle the historic problems in the tea industry. One example is our work with the Indian Tea Association (ITA) and a number of other organisations on The India Roadmap to develop projects that will change and improve workers’ conditions. Since the Roadmap was developed, the ITA has confirmed that significant investment in sanitation has been made by tea producers in Assam, with the construction of an additional 5,000 toilets since the end of 2016.
One of our main priorities is to empower workers to actively identify the changes they want to see on the most important issues for them. We are running several projects on this including a programme on four tea estates in Assam with a population of 27,000 people and we are looking to further develop this.
Wages for workers in Assam are set by a formal process between the local Government, trade unions, and tea producers. While we acknowledge that this can be a complex process, we would encourage all sides to work together for the best possible outcome for workers.
Improving tea workers’ lives is at the heart of what we do and we will continue to work with our members and tea producers to improve conditions in Assam and around the world.
Sarah Roberts, Executive Director, The Ethical Tea Partnership
The Ethical Tea Partnership is a not for profit organisation which brings together tea companies with development agencies, NGOs, governments and trade unions.Our priority is to deliver social impact programmes to improve tea workers’ lives.