Inside Story

Trouble brewing or storm in a tea cup?

Tea plantations in India are accused of exploitation and human rights violations.

After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, but for many of those who work on the plantations where tea leaves are grown there is a price to pay.

Workers complain of poor conditions and low wages. One child protection group in India says that is attracting traffickers, who are luring away children, who end up in cities as domestic workers, or in prostitution.

The World Bank is also investigating alleged labour violations concerning a share scheme at a plantation in India.

Amalgated Tea has denied any wrongdoing.

Tea is a multi-billion dollar global industry. Sri Lanka is the market leader with exports worth some $1.4 bn a year, China is second, selling just short of a billion dollars worth of tea abroad, while India – once a world leader – now exports about $867m worth of tea.

Plantation owners Al Jazeera spoke to in Sri Lanka said they take care of workers ‘from the womb to the tomb’.

So while tea is enjoyed the world over, what is the real cost to those who help produce it?

Presenter: Jane Dutton 

Guests: Sukti Dhital – A Human Rights Lawyer and Executive Director of Nazdeek, which is working closely with tea workers in Assam, India. 

Roshan Rajadurai – Chairman of the Planters’ Association in Sri Lanka, and CEO of two plantation companies. 

Sarah Saadoun – A Researcher and Co-author of the report: The more Things Change: The World Bank, Tata and Enduring Abuses on India’s Tea plantations’.