Yorkshire Tea responds to BBC report on child labour in Assam
Date: 10 Nov 2015
Yorkshire Tea, part of Taylors of Harrogate, have presented their conclusions from their own inquiry following BBC reports of child labour and other problems on tea estates in Assam.
The company said that unannounced audits had found no evidence to support the BBC's accusation of the use of under-age labour. This would be in direct contravention with the Rainforest Alliance standard, and it would have been surprising that any estate certified under the standard would allow it. The company did say there might be some confusion on borderline examples due to the fact that many families in Assam don't record the exact birth date of their children, but the central allegations seemed to be unfounded.
In addition, most areas saw workers properly issued with personal protective equipment when using agro-chemicals. One group of tea gardens was shown to have problems with the use of this equipment, and they have been de-certified and the company no longer buys tea from them. It said that it was keeping a relationship with the supplier to help them to improve performance so that they could gain re-certification in due course.
Some criticisms about living conditions were found to have validity, and the company is working with the suppliers to ensure that improvements are made quickly.
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