#Tetley Tea involved in #Indian slave trade

UPDATED March 4, 2014 @ 10:28 GMT

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Tetley Slave

Clarification on the recent Guardian article on Tetley Tea

The Guardian has highlighted a very serious social issue which deeply concerns us, but has mistakenly claimed that the plantation in question supplies Tetley internationally.  The simple fact is that this plantation does not supply Tetley internationally. The report was also wrong to suggest that criminal trafficking is a consequence of the amount the tea industry pays in India and overlooks the fact that trafficking, sadly, can occur in any quarter of society.   Tea pickers’ wages in Assam are set not by any individual company but by an industry-wide wage settlement arrived under a tripartite agreement between the Assam government, the workers union recognized by the government, and the India Tea Association. Therefore, such wages apply equally to all tea plantation companies in Assam, which have been supplying and continue to supply many of the world’s tea brands.

The tea plantation Company described in the Guardian article is an independently managed company called APPL (Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited) in which Tata Global Beverages holds a minority stake. As a responsible company, Tata Global Beverages, owner of the Tetley brand, decided last week to commission an independent third party audit on living and working conditions in the APPL tea plantations and will address any areas and issues identified.

Source = Tetley UK

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India’s tea firms urged to act on slave trafficking after girls freed

March 1, 2014

“This article is the subject of a legal complaint made on behalf of Tata Global Beverages Limited.”

Slave traders took girls as young as 11 from an Indian plantation that supplies tea to Tetley and sold them on to a life of abuse as domestic servants, an investigation has revealed. The girls were taken from the Nahorani estate in Assam, owned by a consortium that includes Tetley’s parent company, Tata Global Beverages, and the World Bank’s investment arm. Workers on the estate are paid 94 rupees (91p) a day – barely half the 169 rupee legal minimum wage for Assam. Anti-slavery campaigners say the low wages help traffickers to lure girls away with the promise of a better life elsewhere. Auditing by the Ethical Tea Partnership, which certifies estates for some of the biggest names in the industry, including Twinings and Mars Drinks, failed to detect the trafficking. An Observer and Guardian investigation set out to track the traffickers from Assam to the national capital, Delhi. At least 21 people were rescued in a series of raids. The results can be seen in a Guardian Investigations documentary.

One young woman, 19-year-old Somila, was found with minutes to spare after she called her father – who was travelling with the documentary team – to say the traffickers were threatening to sell her into prostitution in Bombay. Somila, who was bought by her final owners for £250, described how she had suffered serious abuse and spoke angrily about the traffickers who lured her from Nahorani. “They should realise that they cannot separate daughters from their parents and make us fools. They speak lies and make us fools. They cheat us,” she said. Tea companies promised action after the Observer first exposed the slave trade from Assam’s tea estates last year, but little has changed. Kailash Satyarthi, founder of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan child rescue movement, which helped to free the girls, said companies had to take responsibility. “The owners of these international tea estates don’t care for these people, they don’t pay them minimum wages. Forget about the decent wages, they don’t pay the survival wages,” he said. “The reality is abuse, the reality is a kind of sexual exploitation, the reality is endless slavery,” he said.

Nahorani is one of a group of 24 estates in Assam owned by Amalgamated Plantations. The largest shareholder, with a 49.66% stake, is Tata, which bought Tetley for £271m in 2000. It is one of the world’s richest companies, worth £60bn. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) – whose remit is to create the opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives – invested £4.75m to take a 15.6% stake, arguing that it would be “promoting competitiveness in an industry that is vital to the Indian economy”. The IFC’s own watchdog is investigating complaints about working conditions on the estate and a workers’ share-buying programme.

Source = The Guardian

Mirror

Tetley tea girls scandal: Girls as young as 11 sold as slaves to middle class Indian families

March 1, 2014

Girls as young as 11 who pick tea leaves for Tetley are being trafficked into a nightmare life of slavery and sexual abuse. Youngsters earning less than £1 a day working on plantations in India are tempted by promises of a better life as domestic servants for middle class families in big cities. The trafficking gangs even trick their poverty-stricken parents into SELLING their children to them, a disturbing investigation reveals. They promise the youngsters will earn so much money they can regularly send cash back home. But many of them end up as slaves, sold by the traffickers into homes where they are often beaten and used for sex in a scandal that has been dubbed the “Tea-Maids” trade. Now a child rescue organisation has begun tracking down tea-picking children who have gone missing. It has saved 20 youngsters so far, some taken from the vast Nahorani plantation in the Assam province part-owned by Tetley’s parent firm, Tata Global Beverages, and the World Bank’s investment arm.

Today Tetley confirmed that rescued children had been working for one of its contractors. It insisted it takes the safety of workers seriously. But anti-slavery campaigners fear there are still hundreds more youngsters to be rescued – and blamed low plantation wages for fuelling the trade. Workers on the Nahorani estate are paid the same as all other tea workers in Assam – just 94 rupees, 91p, a day. Kailash Satyarthi, founder of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan child rescue movement which helped free the girls, said the tea companies had to take  responsibility for the conditions that have led to the trafficking scandal. He said: “The owners of these international tea estates don’t care for these people. Forget decent wages, they don’t pay survival wages.”

He said that while tea companies were raking in huge profits, traffickers were operating under their noses to trick the girls and their families with dreams of good jobs and better living conditions. Mr Satyarthi said: “The reality is endless slavery. The reality is abuse.” Investigators from Guardian Films accompanied the rescuers on their mission. And dramatic pictures show the moment one slave is rescued and reunited with her father (see case study below).

Source = The Mirror

Angry TATA Global Beverages instructs lawyers over Tetley tea slavery allegations

By Ben Bouckley+, 03-Mar-2014

TATA Global Beverages is instructing defamation lawyers after a video documentary in The Guardian online claimed its Tetley tea brand is supplied by a plantation paying such pitiful wages that girls are driven into slavery. The newspaper’s hard-hitting short video documentary ‘Assam’s Modern Slaves The Real Price of Tetley Tea’ documents conditions at an Assam tea plantation owned by Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), within which both TATA and the World Bank’s investment arm (IFC) hold shares.  Journalist Gethin Chamberlain stats that tea pickers at the Narahani plantation who live on the estate are paid as little as 91p (around $1.50) per day for a six day week, just over half of the basic minimim wage in India.

Source = Beverage Daily

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