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20 Feb 2023

Unilever's response to allegations of abuses in its tea supply chain


In India, of the 22 tea estates named, we sourced from nine* during 2022. We raised the issues at the Appeejay tea estates (some of which have since changed ownership) and understand that these issues have now been resolved. We were also aware of the accident at the Lepetkata estate and raised this with the producer, receiving confirmation of what action had been taken to address this and prevent further occurrences.

We were not aware of the remaining cases. As these are not direct Unilever suppliers, we are engaging with both our direct supplier and the relevant tea producers.

In Sri Lanka, according to our records, during 2022 we sourced from the following companies listed in your correspondence: Bogawantalawa; Elpititya; Hatton; Hapugastenne; Kelani; Kotagala; Madulsima and Maskeliya; but not from the estates mentioned...

Cross-industry work remains critical, including through organisations such as the Ethical Tea Partnership while issues such as the earning of at least a living wage or income in global supply chains...are also critical to help improve working conditions and raise living standards overall...

We will be updating our global tea supplier list before the end of the first quarter of this year.

*The nine estates we source from are: Limbuguri Tea Estate (Assam); Napuk, Jaboka, Muttrapore and Kharjan estates in Assam; Baradighi Tea Garden in West Bengal; At Fatemabad Tea Garden in Assam; Hirajuli Tea Estate in Assam; Lepetkata Tea Estate in Assam.

[The full response is attached]

Part of the following timelines

Bangladesh: Nearly 150,000 tea workers stage a nation-wide protest urging a wage increase equivalent to $3 per day

Bangladesh: Over 400 tea workers face 'acute food crisis' after tea plantation closure; incl. co. response

India: Tea estate given show cause notice for failing to provide proper hospital, kitchen & sanitation provisions for workers; incl. co. responses

India: Hundreds of workers at Limbuguri Tea Estate protest factory closure & low wages; incl. co. response

Sri Lanka: Twenty major plantation companies challenge wage raise for tea workers; incl. buyer responses

India: Hundreds of workers at Nalani tea estate protest land acquisition; incl. co. responses

Sri Lanka: Workers dismissed for protesting introduction of "unfair" new targets and wage system; incl. co. responses

India: Tea worker severely injured in factory accident spotlights lack of safety provisions for workers; incl. co. responses

India: Tea workers undertake protests - including hunger strike - over non-payment of wages and entitlements; incl. co. responses

Sri Lanka: Tea workers protest wage cuts for workers who fail to meet 'unrealistic', increased work targets; incl. co. responses

India: Tea workers fear for safety amid elephant attacks which destroyed housing; incl. co. responses

India: Around 7000 tea workers across ten estates strike over unpaid wages; incl. co. responses

India: Thousands of tea workers strike over unpaid bonuses; incl. co. response

India: Tea worker suffers leg injury after factory accident; incl. co. response

Uganda: More 250 tea workers strike over employer's failure to implement agreed salary increase; incl. co. responses

India: Tea workers protest non-payment of salaries; incl. co. responses

India: Tea estate announces suspension of work after workers protest demanding unpaid dues; incl. co. response

Company responses and non-response to allegations of human rights abuses in tea supply chains