Bettys and Taylors of Harrogate has said they will work to improve the working and living standards of people who work on tea plantations after a BBC investigation uncovered dangerous and degrading living and working conditions in Assam in India.
Child labourers were found to be working on tea plantations which also failed to provide adeuate housing or toilet facilties.
The plantations which supply Taylors along with PG tips, Tetleys and Twinings also failed to provide protective equipment for workers who earn just 115 rupees a day, just over £1 , significantly below the minimum wage (177 rupees in Assam).
Keith Writer, our Sourcing Director said: “Our family business welcomes the BBC’s efforts to raise awareness of the challenges that exist within the tea industry.
“As a values-led family business with ethical trading at our heart, we’re committed to improving working and living standards throughout the communities we source from.
“We know that Assam is a challenging area to buy from. The UK buys just 1.5% of India’s tea output, reducing the UK tea industry’s ability to influence positive change. A complex political and cultural landscape further adds to this challenge.
“For this reason, we’re committed to continuing to work with others – such as our certification partner Rainforest Alliance and Ethical Tea Partnership, of which we are a founding member, as well as the wider sector – on a range of initiatives that are improving standards across the industry.
“There’s no easy solution, but we’re committed to working with others to drive the agenda.”
The joint investigation by BBC Radio Four and BBC News found that nine out of ten hospital patients from tea plantations are malnourished.