Until food lands in the supermarkets, these have often covered long delivery routes. Oxfam has been looking at these paths very closely for years, for example in wine, pineapple, or bananas. Over and over again, Oxfam proves the breach of human rights and environmental standards.
“Black tea, wise vest” is a new study in the Oxfam shows how Indian workers on tea plantations are exploited for the benefit of German companies.
4 cents for working
From the selling price of Assam tea, tea dealers and German supermarkets keep run 86 percent, the workers receive 1.4 percent. How much of a pack of tea costs the three euros can be calculated.
The figures are even clearer: of the three euro sales price, 2.60 euro remain with supermarkets and manufacturers. 20 cents go to the intermediaries, 16 cents receive the plantation owners. So there are 4 cents for the person who works in the chain. Due to this imbalance a tea-production to decent working and living conditions is not possible. Those who work on the tea plantations often have to give up a life.
Exploitation on several levels
The findings of the Oxfam study are based on the findings of more than 500 men and women working in the Indian state of Assam, which is considered one of the most important tea growing regions worldwide, on a total of 50 plantations examined. Oxfam commissioned the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) of the Mumbai research university to conduct the survey. The Research Institute “Bureau for the Appraisal of Social Impacts for Citizen information” (BASIC) had analysed data on trade and market concentration in the value chains for tea from Assam for Oxfam.
The terrifying picture of research. They show how workers are dependent on plantation owners and how they are exploited on several levels:
Workers earn per day between 137 and 170 Indian rupees. This is converted between 1.73 and 2.14 euros. That’s not even half of a living wage in Assam.
More than half of the workers do not have enough to eat. More than a quarter gets less than 1,800 kilocalories per day. Half of the respondents receive food cards from the government, which are issued only to families living below the poverty line. According to Oxfam, this is equivalent to an official commitment that tea workers do not deserve enough to survive.
On plantations no or bad protective linings are issued. As workers come into contact with pesticides, more than half of all respondents complain about eye irritation, allergies and respiratory diseases.
There are no toilets on the plantations, moreover, the supply of clean drinking water is poor. Workers often have to drink contaminated water. Almost every second respondent has suffered from diseases such as typhoid fever, Cholera or jaundice.
On the majority of the plantations examined there are no doctors and too little other medical personnel. In the case of accidents at work or illnesses leading to job loss, there is no social protection.
The plantation owners are responsible for access to education and health services and the provision of housing. This leads to extreme addiction: Losing a family member, his work on the plantation, losing the whole family, not just an income, but also the roof over your head, access to education and health care.
Women are particularly affected by the inhumane working conditions. In the fields put the majority, men often work in tea factories, where the work is paid slightly better.
In addition, women usually take over the unpaid care and care work and therefore perform about 13 hours of physical work per day. The pressure on women to work during pregnancy and maternity, is high. Pregnant women do not get easier work and women return to work shortly after birth. In addition, temporary employees are not entitled to maternity benefits. Maternal mortality is significantly higher in tea growing areas than in the Rest of India.
Human rights violations, despite the certificate
Tea trade companies and German supermarkets rely on certifications that come primarily from the organization “UTZ/Rainforest Alliance” in Assam when monitoring their suppliers. However, Oxfam’s research shows once again that the approach of certification does not work: many of the violations occurred on certified plantations. Oxfam reports: “therefore, German companies must not rely primarily on certification or present it as a solution.“Another reason against self-commitments, the leaders of the trolls often tout as the Holy Grail.
Because large companies do not disclose their supply chains, it is difficult or impossible for the end user to determine the conditions under which their tea was grown. Instead of showing transparently where the tea comes from and under what conditions it was grown, the packs of Assam tea carry inscriptions such as” Made in Germany “or notes such as:” the teas … come from all over the world – the local conditions are very different. When purchasing, we pay for fair remuneration and good working conditions.“Oxfam criticises:” in view of the comprehensive research results from Assam, however, it cannot be assumed that the companies actually guarantee this.”
Supply chain law as a possible solution
In Germany, environmental and development organisations, trade unions and ecclesiastical organisations have long demanded a supply chain act. To this end, companies would have to make, inter alia, a declaration of principles on respect for Human Rights and commit themselves to transparency. In addition, they themselves would have to identify adverse effects of their business activities, take measures to avert such effects and review their effectiveness over and over again. In addition, a functioning complaint mechanism would have to be established. But as with all the other complexes of the economy, the commitment is proclaimed as a holy grail, the intervention and coercion as with every Bertelsmann Foundation 4 victim is completely rejected for the economy.
According to Oxfam, companies would thus be held responsible for the conditions along the value chain of their products. After all, these companies would benefit the most.
According to the Oxfam analysis, more than half of all teas in Germany are sold via supermarkets. However, Oxfam points out that the tea from Assam is only one example of many. “Oxfam and other organizations have repeatedly documented blatant grievances with a variety of products from around the world. Despite these often proven maladministration, German companies do too little to ensure that Labour and human rights are respected in their supply chains.”