Low wages fuelling modern slavery for tea workers

Low wages fuelling modern slavery for tea workers

Assam in India is one the biggest tea producing regions in the world. Yet, tea workers receive as little as AU$2.80 a day, not enough to meet their basic needs. Low wages leave workers vulnerable to modern slavery. Traffickers prey on their desire for a better life, trapping them in exploitation and sexual slavery in Indian cities. Between 2012 and 2017, at least 4,754 children went missing in Assam.  
 
Project Didi Australia and Be Slavery Free are calling on T2 Tea to commit to a living wage for tea workers in Assam. 
 

Started in Australia, T2 Tea is owned by Unilever. Unilever has industry-leading policies for fair compensation for their direct employees, but these need to be extended to those in their supply chains to ensure the workers that pick T2’s tea receive a living wage.
 
Oxfam found workers on plantations in Assam currently receive around AU$0.06 per 100g of bagged black tea. T2 Tea sells 100g of their Assam black tea for $12. A new campaign is calling on T2 to put in place measures to ensure workers receive a wage that allows them to live with dignity and safety.  
 
The campaign asks people to send a message to T2 Tea, using an email template. For those wanting to get more involved, they are calling on people to host a ‘tea party’ via Zoom, with a hosting kit provided.
 
Chloë Spackman is Project Didi’s President.
 
“It’s a critical time to be calling for change in the tea industry,” she said.

“COVID-19 has illuminated the insecurity and potential for exploitation in global supply chains. Without a living wage, workers lack the safety net to withstand crises and ensure safe, healthy futures for their families.”
 
Project Didi Australia, works with partners in Nepal and Australia, to support futures of hope, dignity and independence for survivors of trafficking and abuse.
 
Carolyn Kitto is Co-director of Be Slavery Free, a coalition that works to to disrupt modern slavery.
 
“I have visited the tea plantations where T2 Tea sources its tea in Assam on many occasions,” she said.

“The conditions people are living in are substandard and it is no wonder they are deceived by the possibility of a different future for their children.”

For more information, visit the campaign website here.

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