Shining a Light on Wages in the Tea Industry

A report Understanding Wage Issues in the Tea Industry has just been published. It is the result of a multi-stakeholder project led by the ETP and Oxfam with additional funding from IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative and Unilever, and which has the support of the certification organisations Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified.

The report assesses the pay and benefits of workers on tea plantations in Malawi, India and Indonesia, identifies the systemic problems that are locking in low wages, wages that are often less than what is needed to cover households’ basic needs, and most importantly, outlines how the project participants will use their various spheres of influence to bring new organisations into the project and develop action plans to tackle the issues raised.

ETP has started discussing the report with tea producers and other key stakeholders and will continue to use its expertise and convening power to develop and support initiatives that address the challenging issues the project has identified.

Alison Woodhead, GROW spokesperson at Oxfam says

“No matter how big and powerful, individual tea companies or certification organisations cannot tackle the deep-rooted and complex barriers to a living wage on their own. The best chance we have of eradicating poverty wages is for the whole industry – producers, governments, retailers, trade unions, companies and certification organisations – to work together to find a solution. We are delighted that process has now started and will continue to support its progress.”

Sarah Roberts, Executive Director of ETP says

“This project has already been very useful in terms of increasing understanding of the factors which affect the wages of workers on tea plantations. This gives us all a much firmer foundation from which to deal with the challenges ahead. There is much that we can build on from this initial work, including strengthening the diverse coalition of interested organisations willing to work together. It will need all of our combined efforts to make progress. At ETP, we will continue to use our expertise, convening power and relationships inside and outside the tea supply chain to increase the impact of the work that we are all doing to improve the lives of tea workers.”