Global: Human rights violations persist across the tea sector despite ‘plethora’ of human rights standards & policies, study finds
"Human Rights in the Tea Sector – The Big Picture", 18 May 2022
THIRST’s new report...finds that despite a plethora of human rights standards, policies and conventions, and a thriving industry, breaches of the human rights of workers and farmers persist across the tea sector.
The report is the first phase, focusing on Assessment, in a three-year tea sector-wide Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA). It does not contain analysis or recommendations. These will come in the subsequent phases of the HRIA...The third phase will be Action planning – co-creating with industry stakeholders a ‘highway map’ for a fair and thriving tea industry, and the final phase will be Accountability – monitoring and evaluating progress...
...on every human rights dimension we examined, there were sector-wide breaches. THIRST’s literature review...’found that:
- Women across tea-growing regions experience economic and employment discrimination, sexual abuse and coercion and violation of maternity rights. Trade unions tend to be male-dominated so women’s voices often go unheard.
- The sector is characterised in multiple origins by very low incomes – often below international poverty lines – even when they meet legal minimum wage levels and are agreed through collective bargaining.
- Occupational health hazards such as musculoskeletal injuries from carrying heavy loads, spraying pesticides without the protective equipment, and exposure to tea dust in factories are common across the sector.
- Housing in many parts of the sector is dilapidated with toilets in poor condition or non-existent; many workers do not have access to safe drinking water, leading to risk of cholera and typhoid, while medical care is often rudimentary.
- Forced labour and child labour has been identified in the tea industries of multiple countries.
- Older people in tea growing regions are highly vulnerable to rights abuses, losing their homes and access to medical care on retirement.