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29 Mar 2021

Malawi: Women plantation workers are suing their employer Lujeri and UK parent company PGI in the UK courts alleging systemic sexual harassment & abuse

Women working on plantations in Malawi have filed a claim in the UK courts against their employer Lujeri and its UK headquartered parent company, multinational PGI, for a failure to protect women employees from rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, coercion and discrimination by male workers.

The claims included 22 cases of sexual harrassment, 13 cases of sexual assault, 11 cases of coerced sexual relations and 10 cases of rape. Half of the workers were working in macadamia orchards. Many workers reported they had lost their jobs or faced wage deductions due to the abuse, and the majority feared reporting the abuse in fear of losing their jobs or facing retaliation.

The international tea brands who list Lujeri in Malawi as a supplier on their website include Tetley, Unilever (PG Tips, Lipton), Ringtons, Betty’s and Taylors (Yorkshire Tea).

The lawsuit has been brought in England by the law firm Leigh Day. and will be determined under Malawi law. PGI argued that as a holding company it was not involved in operations, and applied to strike out the claim. Lujeri argued that the claims should be brought in Malawi instead. A hearing on both concerns by these companies were scheduled to be addressed in the English High Court on 28 and 29 June 2021.

According to Leigh Day partner Sapna Malik, the workers called for Lujeri and PGI to stop challenging their claims, provide compensation and learn about the situation on the ground and take measures to end the abuses.

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