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19 Май 2023

Boiling point: Strengthening corporate accountability in the tea industry


The tea industry faces challenging times. Production costs continue to rise while prices remain depressed, due in part to global oversupply. Climate change poses an existential threat, making growing conditions tougher and less predictable. In these difficult economic circumstances, it is workers and their communities who pay the price – through dangerous plucking quotas in exchange for poverty wages, systemic sexual harassment and violence and even loss of livelihood, housing and food rations when management abandons unprofitable estates.

At the same time, the multinational companies selling tea to consumers continue to turn huge profits. In this report, the Resource Centre demonstrates use of its Tea Transparency Tracker (the Tracker) and data held by Open Supply Hub to link 70 public allegations of human rights abuse identified in 2022 at the supplier level to 16 tea buyers. These include allegations from estates and factories in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Kenya and Uganda, concerning violations which can be grouped into three key categories: the right to freedom of association, health and safety infringements, and abuses related to wages, benefits and living standards.

This report demonstrates the need for greater action by leading tea companies to implement their commitments to the UNGPs, comply with emerging legal requirements and ensure worker welfare along their supply chains – and sets out recommendations for tea buyers and policymakers.