Oxfam has criticized top British supermarkets for buying tea from gardens in Assam, where workers suffer from cholera and typhoid.
The international organization which works for reducing inequality and injustice, criticized the supermarkets for fuelling poverty, abuse and gender discrimination in their supply chains originating in India and Brazil.
Several companies from Assam supply tea to British supermarkets, including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Lidl, Aldi and Morrisons.
“Poor pay and harsh working conditions are common on foreign farms and plantations that supply tea to UK supermarkets,” a report by Oxfam said.
Oxfam is an international confederation of 20 organizations working together with partners and local communities in more than 90 countries.
The report said interviews with workers of 50 tea plantations in Assam revealed that cholera and typhoid because workers had no access to toilets and safe drinking water.
The Oxfam report said female workers in tea plantations in Assam worked for up to 13 “back-breaking” hours a day.
Oxfam said Aldi, Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have confirmed that they sourced their own-brand tea from companies whose suppliers included the estates visited by the charity.
It was shocking that Oxfam found that of the 79p paid by shoppers for a 100g pack of black Assam tea in the UK, supermarkets and tea brands receive 49p, while workers collectively received only 3p.
The charity said workers on the Assam estates could earn a living wage if they were paid just 5p more of the retail price.
It is sad that the British supermarkets’ quest of profits continues to turn blind eyes to poverty and human rights abuses in the supply chains, especially from Assam.
The British supermarkets should ensure that the workers in the tea plantations get proper wages, ensure equality for women workers, and also should be transparent about the source of their products.