The laborers are responsible for supplying tea for some of the top tea brands of the United Kingdom. They include Fortnum & Mason’s Tea, Yorkshire Tea, Twinings, Tetleys, Liptons, and PG Tips. The tea manufacturing organizations involving Assam Company and McLeod Russell own these plantations. The main ethical issue is the housing conditions of the laborers.
Numerous cases of terrible sanitary conditions, damp and cracked walls, and leaking roofs have been reported by the media. A lot of washrooms are broken or blocked and various cesspits are swarming into the living areas of homes of many people. For toilets’ purposes, the tea bushes are often used by people. Also, electricity is absent in various homes. In addition to this, rainwater channeled from the river is used by plantation laborers for drinking purposes.
These disastrous conditions have been reported repeatedly by the workers to the management of the plantations. Yet still, no required repairs have been done by the managers. In India, it is the legal responsibility of the plantation owners to maintain and provide adequate sanitary toilets and houses.
Another ethical issue is of low wages to the workers. This legal responsibility is used as a justification to offer low wages to the workers. In comparison to the minimum wage in the region, i.e., 177 Rupees, the very low wage is offered to the plantation workers, i.e., 115 Rupees.
Various plantation laborers and their families experience starvation as a consequence of these low wages. Moreover, due to their unhealthy living conditions, they are also exposed to various diseases. It has been reported by the doctors that different diseases are found within the communities of tea workers such as a huge number of patients suffering from serious infections such as meningitis and TB, skin lesion, respiratory tract infections, and diarrhea. It has also been found that in comparison to other patients treated at the hospital, parents and children of these plantation workers are more likely to die of their illnesses.
It has also been reported by the media that access to the residential areas of the plantation laborers has been blocked by the management of plantations. Although public access to these areas is provided by law so that these sites can be visited by related people in order to check the welfare of the laborers.