Unilever publishes global suppliers to give tea estate workers more power

12 September 2019

Unilever’s decision to publish the details of every tea estate it buys from will give workers on tea estates more power, wherever they work in the world, according to the international development charity Traidcraft Exchange.

 

The move comes in the wake of the successful ‘Who picked my tea?’ campaign led by Traidcraft Exchange which saw all 6 of the UK’s biggest brands release previously unpublished supplier data.

 

“Unilever’s decision to publish its global supplier list gives the women who pick the tea we drink more power to push for better pay and conditions, wherever they work in the world,” said Tom Wills, Policy Adviser for Traidcraft Exchange.

 

“Making the supplier list public means tea workers can complain directly to a global brand when standards fall short of what is being advertised to western consumers,” added Tom Wills.

 

The British-Dutch multinational company’s move follows on from its decision in January to publish details of all of its UK and Ireland suppliers, including those for its leading UK brand, PG Tips.

 

Before the ‘Who picked my tea?’ campaign was launched in May 2018 none of the UK’s biggest tea brands disclosed where they bought their tea from. Yet by April 2019 Yorkshire Tea, Twinings, Tetley, Clipper, PG Tips, and Typhoo had all felt compelled to respond to public pressure.

 

The campaign focused on tea grown in Assam because pay and conditions for workers there are amongst the worst in the world and tea grown in Assam is a key ingredient in many English Breakfast blends and speciality teas consumed in the UK.

 

Undercover investigators hired by Traidcraft Exchange confirmed evidence of low wages and appalling conditions for the women who pick the tea we drink in the UK. These backed up claims made by local organisations operating in India.

 

More than 15,000 people wrote to the big 6 UK tea brands asking them to publish the full list of tea estates they buy from in Assam. Hundreds took part in ‘Who picked my tea? On tour’ in public events across the UK.

 

“Transparency is an important first step but it is not the end of the journey. All tea brands must take action to ensure that their suppliers’ workforces are paid fairly and treated well, across all of their operations,” concluded Tom Wills.

 

ENDS

 

For more information contact Mary Milne: mary.milne@traidcraft.org or 07759 222 201 

 

Notes for editors:

Tom Sharman