“You must be the change you wish to see in the world”- Mahatma Gandhi

The start of some genuine change?

Time will tell but at last there is a global recognition for what is needed.

Tea is the most popular drink in the world after water, with an estimated 70,000 cups consumed every second. By any calculation, this is a successful and profitable industry and yet the story on the tea plantations is one of genuine human cost.

  • One in four children in Kenya’s tea and coffee-growing regions are malnourished, leading to stunted growth.
  • One in 10 children in the tea-growing regions of Malawi die before their fifth birthday.
  • On tea estates, Workers may face low wages, long working hours and struggle for basic needs such as housing, healthcare, access to water and even education for their children.

It’s difficult to conceptualise that the average morning cup of tea is very often created at the expense of millions of underpaid individuals living in poverty. It has long been a controversial issue; one often not talked about. However, this week the founder of the London Tea Exchange, Aliur Rahman, will be a United Nations in New York to present to the General Assembly on a “Fair Pay” scheme to try and start a momentum of change to this picture.

EP is proud to be working in support and in November, will be launching the programme to Industry, both in the UK and abroad. It is all part of a commitment to global social sustainability. For hospitality, the industry believes in social sustainability as well as great produce; so, we know already that many feel supportive of this charter. After all, tea is one of our most important products.

The tea industry has long had difficulties maintaining fair pair and working conditions. Such issues of fair pay have had huge knock-on effects on rural communities in India and especially women working in these environments. It is not just India but across many of the global great tea estates. However, Bangladesh has already agreed to improve wages by over 40% and Sri Lanka is following on this path.

Change is needed. These economic issues do create problems with health, sanitation, food rationing as well as strained social networks and an overarching inability to improve economic movement. An additional issue faced by women working in these plantations is a lack of access to governmental schemes which have previously been put in place to improve conditions.

The tea industry is governed by several standards however the issue of pay has been absent. This is largely because of the difficult nature of the subject and international bodies, whilst accepting there is a major imbalance often found it easier to leave out.

London Tea Exchange feel that this is a fundamental issue and have campaigned on the issue over the past two decades. The Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations is fully supporting London Tea Exchange on the campaign and the goal is to lift over 120 million people working in the industry out of poverty. Aliur has been recognised for his work and the significant impact to the industry and recently Awarded an OBE and Freedom of the City of London. The new, incoming, Lord Mayor wants to see the city become the first Fair Pay City in the world. All this is only the start as many other mayors from across the world are in support of the need for this charter.

The United Nations have stated that:

“We urge all stakeholders in the global tea industry – from growers and producers to traders and consumers – to endorse and implement this Charter. Let us unite as a global community to ensure fair pay, decent working conditions, and sustainable practices which will hereby create a global tea industry that we and future generations can all be proud of.

The Fair Pay Charter is a starting point which will develop with time and collaboration.”

Through spreading awareness about this global issue and implementation of schemes to aid fair pay hopefully we can see a drastic improvement in wages and the living conditions of the millions connected to the tea industry.

If you would like to learn more, or join us for the launch of the Charter, please do contact izzy.mchattie@epmagazine.co.uk