Our tea is provided under the Ethical Tea Partnership (www.ethicalteapartnership.org.uk) who ensure that the employees working on the tea estates are treated fairly in relation to their wages and conditions of employment
Full details of this scheme are shown below. It ensures that all local legislation in the producing countries are adhered to and also ensures that union agreements between the tea estate owners and the employees are honoured.
This ensures that the following areas are covered:-
* Terms and Conditions of Employment
* Health and Safety
* Maternity Provision
Tea estates are communities of several thousand people and this scheme ensures that everybody associated with the estate are dealt with fairly and safely including the dependants of the employees of the tea estate. Tea estates have usually been established for many years and can be described as small towns where the inhabitants all depend on the tea estate for their livelihoods.
It is in the very best interests of the tea estate owners to ensure that their employees and their families are well looked after and the way this is achieved and monitored is best described by the extract below of a report written by a U.K. Government department.
Ethical Tea Partnership
Evolution of Ethical Tea Partnership
The Ethical Tea Partnership began work in 1997, initially as the Tea Sourcing Partnership. It was started by a number of UK-based tea packing companies with shared beliefs about the social and ethical conditions under which the tea they bought is produced. In September 2004 the name was changed to the Ethical Tea Partnership – both for clarity and to mark a new phase of growth involving more active communication with stakeholders and a more proactive role in the ethical trading of tea.
Objectives of Ethical Tea Partnership
The Ethical Tea Partnership exists to promote social responsibility in the tea trade. Its objective is to verify that, as a minimum, producers comply with local laws, union agreements and some international standards. This is validated by an independent monitoring programme open to all estates that supply its members. The long-term aim is to demonstrate that all tea bought by its members is produced in a socially responsible way. The Partnership also aims to champion the issue of ethical trading of tea with tea producers, consumers and all other stakeholders, through dialogue and open exchange of ideas.
Participation in the Ethical Tea Partnership
Membership is currently open to European and North American tea packing companies; membership will shortly be opened to tea packing companies in Australasia. There are currently 17 member packer companies (15 of which are UK, two overseas) covering over 47 brands of tea in 32 countries. The Partnership’s initial focus has been on seven tea-producing countries – India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Zimbabwe – chosen because they represent 65% of world tea exports. In these countries there are around 1,200 tea estates supplying members; by the end of 2004, just under half had been monitored.
Deals with six main issues relating to living and working standards: employment (including minimum age and wage levels); education; maternity; health and safety; housing; and basic rights, checking compliance with local laws and union agreements and some international standards. (The Partnership is aligning itself with the ETI base code.)
The tea industry
A partnership approach is taken; the partnership is a not-for-profit, non-competitive and unincorporated association of members
Type of standard:
Estates supplying the Ethical Tea Partnership members are monitored by independent monitors. There is a rolling programme, with each estate having a full monitoring visit every four years. There are three stages to the monitoring process:
i. Estates complete a questionnaire.
ii. A monitoring visit is carried out by a team of monitors from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). The report is sent to the Ethical Tea Partnership.
iii. Grading is determined by the Partnership and an Action Plan developed (addressing how to put right any non-compliances).
The Grading and Action Plan is sent to the estate and followed up by the Partnership. A follow-up visit takes place when the tea producer has corrected non-compliances, or where the Partnership wishes to confirm the change in grading.
Type of assurance:
Monitoring visits are carried out by a team of monitors from PWC. Non-compliances are reported to Ethical Tea Partnership who are in touch with the estate and then inform PWC when they should return to verify that actions have been taken.
Stages of supply chain covered:
The Partnership covers tea packers and their tea buyers; the monitoring covers tea estates. However, the Partnership aims to work with all stakeholders (people or organisations active within the tea supply chain and/or ethical trading) on the issue of ethical trading of tea.
Where a critical failing is present (eg fire safety) immediate action must be taken. Where capital investment must be made to meet the local law, a capital expenditure plan must be submitted to show that the improvement will be made. Selling marks which fail to meet the Partnership’s standards and are not prepared to engage in a programme of rectification will be removed from the Approved Supplier List and members will not buy from these estates.
Type of results:
The Ethical Tea Partnership has a system of 'graded certification'. Tea estates are graded after the monitoring visit has taken place. Grades are determined by the Partnership after the monitors’ report has been received. (Grades range from A-F: grades A-C merit a certificate, grades D-E do not, Grade F Indicates a fail and estates are removed from the members’ Approved Supplier list, unless they show that they are ready to immediately work to remedy the non-conformance.)
Openness of results:
The results are confidential – information on tea estates is not shared outside the Partnership (due to its commercial sensitivity). However, the Partnership does produce overall monitoring tables, by country, and makes a shortened version of its annual report to the ETI public on its website
The Ethical Tea Partnership is not-for-profit and non-commercial. Partnership members invest over £1.4 million/year to fund the work (including the monitoring programme). The monitoring is free for tea producers, but they invest to make the necessary improvements.
• It is a democratic organisation, with each member company having an equal vote.
• Quarterly General Meetings (where major decisions are taken, voted by the members) are open to all members.
• The Management Committee, formed from members, meets regularly to help review the Partnership’s progress and provide direction.
• Ethical Tea Partnership also engages with stakeholders, eg through a large-scale Stakeholder Forum, through continued involvement in the Ethical Trading Initiative, and through dialogue with organisations such as the Fairtrade Foundation.
For more information please visit; www.ethicalteapartnership.org