Typhoo's response to allegations of abuses in its tea supply chain
The reported incidents
...In 2022, we have only purchased, or used in our blends from remaining stock, tea from a fraction of the mentioned tea estates. Details are outlined below:
- Bugambe, Uganda - as Rainforest Alliance certified, they are one of our key suppliers in Uganda. Our Responsible Sourcing Manager personally visited McLeod Russel Uganda tea estates in April 2021, including Bugambe, where they seemed to show exemplary practices on social protection...and exceptional environmental protection. The key limitation observed during the visit was the challenges of the economics of the tea supply chain – low tea prices limit the capacity of investing in farms’ development and additional wellbeing programmes. We have attached a message from McLeod Russel Uganda as part of our investigation into the matter that highlights the solution was ‘amicably solved’...
- Sri Lanka - the farms are on Typhoo’s approved list as they are Rainforest Alliance certified...We are working with Ranfer, our agent in Sri Lanka, to get a deeper understanding of the situation in the context of the media report and the statement...from The Planters’ Association of Ceylon.
- India, Apeejay Tea - since Apeejay Tea gardens are no longer Rainforest Alliance certified, these gardens have been delisted from our sourcing.
- India, Darjeeling Organic Tea - We have consulted with the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) as part of our investigation into these reports, who have expressed the issues of strikes and protests about nonpayment of wages and bonuses as part of the bigger economic problem facing the entire Darjeeling tea industry...In the case of DOTEPL, the company has gone into insolvency and bank liquidation. Several properties are now being considered for alternative uses and not as standalone tea estates.
- India, Lepetkata Tea Estate Assam - as Rainforest Alliance certified, the estate is on our approved list however it is not in our supply chain. We have not purchased or blended tea from that estate in 2022.
However, as Luxmi Tea is a trading partner on other origins, we have consulted with the Ethical Tea Partnership whose team in India reached out to Luxmi directly. The following are the details on the case of the health and safety incident of the girl whose hair was caught in the CTC machine (Lepetkata Tea Estate in Assam):
The Luxmi tea representative explained that the worker crossed a demarcated line. The worker wa immediately given treatment in Dibrugarh and then shifted to Guwahati hospital. Immediate action was taken to give her the best treatment. The girl is under Luxmi Tea Garden’s care, full wages are being given, apart from workmen compensation, as per government law...
Additionally, Luxmi Tea has expressed their openness for further engagements to enhance worker awareness and improvements in H&S practice. They explained that they employed two quality agencies... for imparting safety awareness training to workers with the aim of making each factory a zero-accident unit....We have published a new Supplier Code of Conduct, with expectations made clear that suppliers have the responsibility to inform us should an incident arise, so that we can collaborate on remediation. This is not always the case...
How we are responding to the BHHRC allegations
As outlined above, work has already begun to understand the issues raised and find ways to support our suppliers in a resolution. These steps include:
- Putting on hold all sourcing or usage from tea estates when we hear allegations.
- Investigating by talking to the management of these producers, to our contacts on the ground in these countries, getting statements from the Tea Board and Planters Association, and corroborating information through the Ethical Tea Partnership’s in-country teams.
- Where necessary, we are revising our relationship with these suppliers. Where we can, we want to support them in finding solutions. If that is not possible, we will remove them from our approved supplier list.
- We will continue to closely monitor working conditions throughout our supply chain paying particular attention to the countries and suppliers mentioned in the BHRRC’s latest report, via our ongoing programme of social audits.
[The full response is attached]