Tea brands and supermarkets capture over two thirds of the price paid by consumers for Assam tea in India, with just seven percent remaining for workers of estates, according to a report released yesterday. The new research, commissioned by Oxfam and undertaken by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), called for urgent action from supermarkets, tea brands and State authorities to end the suffering of Assam’s tea workers.
The grasp by supermarkets and brands on the share of the end consumer price for tea makes poverty and hardship for workers in Assam more likely, stated the report, after interviewing 510 workers in 50 tea estates in the State to determine the main challenges faced by workers. But, combined with rising costs and the impacts of the climate crisis, it is also contributing to a severe economic crisis for the entire Indian tea industry.
‘The research also found that despite working for over 13 hours a day, workers earn between Rs 137 to Rs 167. It found that tea brands and supermarkets typically capture over two thirds of the price paid by consumers for Assam tea in India – with just 7 per cent remaining for workers on tea estates’, according to the release. For a 200 gram packet of branded Assam tea sold in India for Rs 68, less than Rs 5 is left for workers while tea brands and supermarkets retain around Rs 40.
The report ‘Addressing the Human Cost of Assam Tea’ stated that the proposed Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill can enable the struggling Assam tea industry viable. It can also ensure fair wages and decent working and living conditions for tea plantation workers and their families.