Statement: Ringtons Ltd regarding Lujeri Tea Estates Ltd
Lujeri Tea Estates Ltd (“Lujeri”) is a long-established Malawi tea production company. It operates over 3,200 ha of tea and employs over 12,000 people in its peak production months. It operates four tea factories which process both the estate cultivated green leaf and leaf grown by over 12,500 smallholders. Lujeri is certified by Rainforest Alliance, UTZ and Fairtrade.
In 2020, Lujeri was named as a defendant in a claim being brought in the English Courts against both it and its ultimate UK parent company. The claim is being brought by UK law firm Leigh Day on behalf of 31 Malawian female field workers who are alleging that they have been subjected to sexual abuse and /or gender discrimination by their immediate male supervisors while employed by Lujeri. In June 2021, the claimants withdrew their claim against Lujeri Tea Estates. However, Lujeri Tea Estates is committed to offering full compensation to claimants who have a bona fide claim.
Lujeri takes the claims that have been made very seriously and has been attempting to investigate them. On learning of the allegations Lujeri immediately put a robust internal investigation in place and contracted Impactt – the internationally-recognised ethical trade consultancy – to conduct a full independent review of their Gender Equality Sexual Harassment and Discrimination (GESHD) policies and procedures and to make recommendations on further improvements to drive positive engagement on GESHD matters at all levels of the company. These actions demonstrate Lujeri’s determination to stop the potential for abuse of any employee and commitment to ensuring they have a workplace environment where there is zero tolerance of any form of harassment or discrimination.
Ringtons and Lujeri hold regular update calls and monthly update reports against their remediation plan (including independent commentary by Impactt) are shared by Lujeri. Lujeri is continuing to investigate and is committed to ensuring internal safeguarding procedures are in place to protect its employees and that any wrongdoing identified is dealt with appropriately. Ringtons will continue to work with Lujeri and Impactt to ensure that actions taken are appropriate and ensure and appraise Lujeri’s commitment to remediation