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23 May 2023

Sri Lanka: Workers on Sri Lankan tea plantations supplying major companies including Lipton, Tetley and Yorkshire Tea living in poverty and squalor and subjected to abuse by supervisors; incl. company responses

An investigation by The Guardian has identified abuse, poverty wages, unfair wage deductions and squalid living conditions on 10 Sri Lankan tea estates certified by Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade. Workers report verbal abuse by supervisors, not receiving owed wages and say they often have to skip meals as they cannot afford food. Some workers are forced to send their children out to work to make ends meet. Workers also report a lack of access to adequate sanitation facilities, with one estate resident dying after drinking contaminated water.

The estates are reportedly supplying major tea companies Lipton (owned by ekaterra); Tetley (owned by Tata Consumer Products) and Yorkshire Tea (owned by Taylors of Harrogate). Company responses are outlined below.

Company Responses

Tetley (part of Tata Tea) View Response
Taylors of Harrogate (part of Bettys & Taylors Group) View Response
Ekaterra View Response

Timeline