Posted by Stuart Bell

Tea from India: Human Rights Impact Assessment

This report presents the findings of the Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) for the ALDI Nord Group of companies (hereafter “ALDI”) on the tea supply chain originating from India, conducted by Ergon Associates and ASK. The assessment included an extensive desk-based analysis of existing human rights issues and value chain context, internal and external stakeholder engagement, systematic assessment of human rights impacts and the development of recommendations to mitigate, prevent and/or remedy the identified impacts.

The source material for the study consisted of a combination of data provided by desk research, data supplied by third party initiatives and input from a range of stakeholders including industry, workers, trade unions, civil society and sectoral experts and researchers. The HRIA considered the different perspectives of all rightsholders identified as impacted by ALDI’s India tea supply chain activities, including tea estate workers and communities, particularly women and tribal groups (Adivasi). Trade unions and civil society organisations with a history of supporting tea industry workers were engaged to understand their views on the most significant rights issues for workers and the most important steps commercial actors can take to address them.

The key issues found in this study include:
– Low wages
– Weak standards of health, nutrition and social security
– A dependency of workers and their families on estate management for provision of most basic facets of life (food, healthcare, education, housing, medical care), which frequently fall well short of an adequate standard of living.
– Women workers – who are estimated to comprise between 40% and 70% of the workforce on estates selling into ALDI’s supply chains – face discrimination and are disproportionately affected by low pay and underperforming social services.
– Furthermore, most of the workforce in ALDI’s supply chain identify as Adivasi. The majority of tea workers in Assam are usually descendants of Adivasis from other parts of India, who migrated to the Assam region. Despite becoming a mainstay of the tea industry and its key production states, members of migrated Adivasi face marginalisation and social exclusion.

The HRIA includes detailed analysis of these and other human rights issues and their root causes, description of the tea value chain and as well as ALDI’s action plan for addressing the most salient impacts.