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12 May 2023

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

In August 2022, it was reported that workers across ten estates owned by Darjeeling Organic Tea Estates Private Ltd (DOTEPL) launched protests demanding three fortnights' worth of wages and other dues they had not been paid. The protests included a relay hunger-strike and sit-ins, and called for the workers to receive their owed wages in one instalment.

In September 2022, it was announced that the workers would return to work, after negotiations between DOTEPL and the unions resulted in an agreement for workers to receive two fortnights of wages and one month's worth of salary. However, it was later reported that some tea estates were refusing to pay workers' annual bonuses in one instalment, resulting in protests from the unions and a 'Blood Tea' campaign to demand the annual bonus be paid in one instalment.

By the end of the month, the management of the ten estates under DOTEPL had allegedly abandoned the tea gardens without paying workers their owed dues and annual bonus.

In December 2022, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Morrisons, Ringtons, Tetley, Tesco, Typhoo and Unilever to respond. The full responses can be found below.