Who picked my tea?

Many British blends include tea from Assam, where people get poverty wages, are scared to speak up and have no way out. The big British brands know this but aren’t doing enough to challenge it.

But you can get them to do more. It starts by asking a simple question: who picked my tea?

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When auditors come for inspection... we’re nervous and can’t tell them the truth... Out of fear, we say that we get all the facilities and that everything is ok.
— Maloti, Assam Tea Worker
 

Life in Assam...

To protect the people who spoke to us, we’ve changed their names, and we aren’t using photos which could identify them.

People like Maloti (pictured above) work long hours in the tea gardens carrying heavy loads, often without proper equipment or even shoes.  Workers are paid just £1.50 a day, and the services the estates are supposed to provide – like housing, clinics and schools – are often poor quality or even non-existent. 

"They don’t repair the houses. We register complaints to the management, they note it down, but that remains in the register, they give no importance."

These appalling conditions are well known in the UK tea industry which has been buying tea from Assam for years. But British brands aren’t doing enough to challenge Assam tea estate owners or to improve their own buying practices.

That’s why Traidcraft Exchange is launching a campaign to ask British tea brands to do the right thing and step up on behalf of people like Maloti.

So please add your voice and ask the big tea brands: ‘Who picked my tea?’ 

Assam facts

 
 

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1 in 3 people in Assam live below the national poverty line.

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Women in Assam are 30 times more likely to die in childbirth than UK women.

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More than a third of India's child trafficking cases originate in Assam

 
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'What you can't see, you can't fix'

The tea workers in Assam face many complex issues - but one common thread is that no one takes responsibility for their situation. UK tea brands need to start being part of the solution, not part of the problem.

An important first step the brands could take right now is to tell us which estates in Assam they buy from.

Transparency like this would help open up the secretive world of tea-buying. It would shine a light on exploitation and mean that consumers – and more importantly people in Assam – could hold companies to account.

 
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Between them, the six biggest UK tea brands have more than 67% of the retail market: that’s why we are targeting them first.

 

What can I do?

 
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Ask 'Who picked my tea?'

Take two minutes to ask the big tea brands 'who picked my tea?' Together we can send a powerful message that we want the people who pick our tea to be paid a decent wage and treated with respect.

 

Let friends and family know

The more people who contact the tea brands, the more they will listen to us. So why not order postcards for friends and family?  Or share the email action on social media or via email?’ 

Order our ‘Get Involved’ pack

Want to find out about other things that you and your local community can do? Tea party, social media selfies, or your own crafted letter to the brands…there are lots of ways to get the message out. Order our ‘Get Involved’ pack  for tips and ideas!

 

Still got questions?

Why does the campaign focus on Assam? Why is it targeting the six biggest brands? And what about Fairtrade certified tea? Answers to these and other questions can be found in the Who picked my tea? FAQ s.

And if you want to know even more… Our report ‘The Estate They’re In gives more detail about situation of the Assamese tea workers, the role of British tea brands, and how transparency can trigger wider change in the tea industry. The report is available for download here.

 

About the campaign

The Who picked my tea? campaign is part of a wider project run by fair trade and ethical fashion movements across Europe. ‘Trade Fair Live Fair’ is funded by the European Union to raise awareness of our reliance on the people who supply us with the things we use everyday like food and clothes.

Partners include Fashion Revolution, the Fair Trade Advocacy Office, the World Fair Trade Organisation (Europe), Fairtrade International, Platforme pour la Commerce Equitable (PFCE) and many smaller fair trade organisations across Europe.

 
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Keep in touch

To hear more about the tea campaign and other Traidcraft Exchange news, join our mailing list...

 

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