Even though a lot of auditing against social and environmental standards goes on in the tea industry, complex and entrenched issues, such as harassment and discrimination, still persist. Because they are difficult to resolve through auditing alone complementary approaches are required.
Harassment and/or discrimination in the workplace, coupled with lack of effective reporting mechanisms can leave workers feeling unsafe, vulnerable, and unmotivated. This can result in lower productivity and increased absenteeism. At tea processing factories in Kenya the following issues are known to happen:
- Discrimination by gender, religion, and ethnicity
- Harassment and intimidation in the work place
- Unfair job and housing allocation
- Verbal, physical, or sexual abuse
How ETP is helping
Originally we worked with the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and rolled out their widely-respected Supervisor Management Training programme at Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) factories, which was developed in consultation with private companies, NGOs, and trade unions.
In 2012, together with IDH and KTDA, we developed our own training programme and began rolling it out to all 65 of KTDA’s processing factories, privately-owned tea estates, and smallholder farmers. We also developed a Social Issues Training manual as part of the project. The training covers:
- Gender awareness and advocacy
- Gender-based violence and human rights
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Contractual issues
- Workplace communication and reporting
- Kenyan-specific law on gender, discrimination, and harassment
Overall the training has had a very positive impact both in the workplace and across surrounding communities. A key result of the training has been the setting up of gender committees. The committees have worker representatives from different parts of the factory and they advise management and the factory board on gender issues, support the development of relevant policies, and resolve issues relating to discrimination and gender issues within the workplace.
- Over 1,000 members of KTDA’s 9,000 staff have been trained
- 800 smallholder farmers trained
- Gender committees established at all KTDA factories and female representation on each factory’s board is now compulsory
- Employment practices have changed so that job roles are now open to both male and female candidates
- Women now work in traditionally male roles such as driving trucks
- A new system has been introduced to allow female smallholder farmers to collect payments for green leaf
- Shift in attitude towards controversial issues such as female genital mutilation
As part of our partnership with IDH the training will be delivered to every KTDA factory as well as private factories in Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda.