We joined Traidcraft Exchange in calling on the six biggest tea brands to publish a full list of their suppliers in Assam, India and tell us who picks our tea. Transparency in the tea supply chain is the first crucial step in brands accepting their responsibility to workers in their supply chain. Without transparency, workers don’t know where the tea they pick ends up and what rights they might have under a brand’s code of conduct.
We joined Traidcraft Exchange in calling on Yorkshire Tea, Twinings, Tata (Tetley), Clipper, Unilever (PG Tips) and Typhoo to increase transparency in their supply chains by publishing full lists of their suppliers in Assam, India. Workers on tea plantations in Assam receive poverty wages, just $2 a day, and the housing, schooling and health services available to them are poor quality or non-existent. This leaves workers vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking as they seek better opportunities for their children. Traffickers dupe poor families into giving up their children with the promise that they will be cared for and receive a good education but instead, they are trafficked into domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.
Big tea brands are aware of these risks and have the power to challenge their suppliers to ensure workers are protected, and improve their own buying practices. In under a year, all six big tea brands answered our question and told us who picks our tea.
Since we joined the campaign in June 2018, thousands of Freedom United supporters sent messages to the big tea brands asking them ‘who picked my tea?’. Our loud collective voice made us hard to ignore and directly pushed the tea brands to take action. All six responded by publishing their lists of suppliers, not only in Assam but even worldwide. This means that we as consumers can stand in solidarity with tea pickers in Assam and around the world through the tea we drink as we seek to remove their vulnerability to trafficking and exploitation, and demand that tea brands uphold their code of conduct.