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5 Mär 2021

David Cowan, BBC

Kenya: Tea pickers sue James Finlay over injuries allegedly caused by working conditions

"Kenyan farm workers launch Scottish legal bid against tea giant", 5 March 2021

Seven farm workers from Kenya are suing one of the world's biggest tea producers for damages in a personal injury court in Scotland.

The tea pickers allege they have suffered severe health problems because of working conditions on farms run by James Finlay Kenya Ltd...

The seven men and women are suing for damages of £15,000 each in the All Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court in Edinburgh.

Their advocate in Kenya, Isaac Okero, says they have suffered injuries including spinal damage.

He told BBC Scotland: "The tea workers are saying that on account of the years of service that they have provided to James Finlays Kenya Ltd, and the circumstances and conditions under which they were compelled to work, they have suffered severe degenerative injuries which have severely impacted on their lives.

"These injuries are both physical and mental."

Mr Okero said a number were still working when the legal action...but only one is now still in employment.

The others have either been forced into retirement or unable to continue working...

Two years after the case began in 2017, a sheriff ordered Finlays to give the tea pickers' legal team access to the farms in Kenya, allowing them to inspect their working conditions.

Finlays mounted a challenge in the courts in Nairobi, arguing successfully that the Scottish order could not be implemented unless it had been endorsed by a Kenyan court.

The tea pickers appealed against that decision and a judgement is expected in May...

Last February, the tea pickers staged a demonstration of how they work at another tea farm in Kenya, watched by members of their UK legal team...

In a statement, a spokesman said: "James Finlay (Kenya) Ltd intends to fully defend all related claims brought in either the Nairobi High Court or the All Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court."...

"We aim to achieve the highest standards of health and safety and welfare for everybody connected with our business.

"We have a well-established health and safety programme for all of our global business units, including our Kenyan business."

It concludes by noting that its Kenyan business is certified by the Rainforest Alliance, which requires regular standards audits, and has adopted the ETI (Ethical Trading Initiative) Base Code...