Experts traveled to 50 plantations in Assam, northern India during 2018, interviewing 510 workers on the working and living conditions of the Oxfam Development Agency and the Tata Institute at the University of Mumbai, India. With a sobering result: people do not earn even half their living wages, have too little to eat, no pesticide protection, tea plantations lack toilet and clean drinking water. And they only get 1.4 percent of the retail price of tea in Germany. Eighty-six percent of its revenue remains in supermarkets and tea companies. In this state, according to Oxfam, among others, are Teapot and Ostfriesische Tea Company (OTG) with Meßmer and Milford brands, and private label discounters such as Lidl and Aldi. Together they control almost 90 percent of the market.
Tea is the most established drink in the world after water. North India's Assam, as the region, has the largest share in the world of tea production with an eleven percent quota. But employees at the tea plantations there have a study titled "Black Tea, White Vest" according to the often bad.
That starts with pay. "Out of almost three euros for a packet of black tea with 50 tea bags, about 2.60 euros remain in a supermarket and manufacturer in Germany. 20 Cent gets middlemen, 16 cents plantation owners and workers get only four cents," the study reads. So people earn only once between € 1.73 and € 2.14 on plantations. "This is less than half of what is needed in Assam for a decent living," Oxfam complains of these "starving wages."
Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed on the plantations do not have enough to eat, half of the households go with food cards. This, according to Oxfam, is quasi official proof that people did not earn enough to survive. In addition, they are extremely dependent on the plantation owner concerned. If they lose their jobs, they will not have shelter and access to education and health services.
According to Oxfam, working conditions on plantations are catastrophic, partly due to the use of pesticides and lack of protective clothing. Therefore, more than half of people suffered from eye and respiratory diseases. Because there is also a lack of toilets and problems with clean drinking water, Oxfam often causes diseases such as cholera, jaundice and typhoid.
Of the bad conditions, the study mainly affects women picking tea leaves, working hours up to 13 hours a day. Men in tea factories would be better paid.
According to Oxfam, German tea companies are aware of the complaints
According to Oxfam, German tea companies are aware of the conditions on the plantations, especially since they have repeatedly pointed to this. They planted the plantation. This is not always reliable. Investigators also found violations on plantations certified by Rainforest Alliance / UTZ.
According to Oxfam, consumers in Germany cannot understand where the main suppliers' tea comes from and under what conditions it is harvested and processed. Only general information is provided on the packages. "Messmer Classic teas come from all over the world – but the local conditions are very different. We pay attention to fair wages and good working conditions while shopping," writes about packages from Meßmer. It is also stated that only 30 percent of this tea was grown by certified farmers.
Supermarkets have a special responsibility
Since over half of the tea in Germany is sold in supermarkets, Oxfam sees a special responsibility here. "The contractual terms that supermarkets dictate to their suppliers for both branded and branded tea decide how much room to negotiate fair contracts remains as the chain progresses." But the organization also urges tea companies to be transparent about procuring Assam teas to inform and work to respect labor and human rights and pay living wages.
Assam tea is just one example of gross misuse of other products. "Many German companies work too little to ensure respect for labor and human rights in their supply chains." Because of this, Oxfam has been calling for a "supply chain law" with other social and church organizations and unions for some time now. Therefore, companies would be held liable if they violated the supply chain, labor and human rights and harmed the environment.
Oxfam believes that tea packages should make it clear where the tea comes from and what the supply chain looks like. Tea companies should ensure that investigators inspect the plantations without notice, and the results will be announced.