Understanding Wage Issues in the Tea Industry

Understanding Wage Issues in the Tea Industry

Wage levels are an issue of concern across the globe as individuals, companies and governments wrestle with how wages paid to workers relate to costs of living, corporate and national competitiveness, profitability and broader macroeconomic trends and challenges.

This report examines wages in the tea industry with a focus in three case study areas: Malawi, West Java (Indonesia) and Assam (India). It looks at hired labour on plantations and, in particular, tea pluckers. 

Researchers found a number of deep rooted and complex factors keeping wages low. A key problem is that pay is set for the whole sector - there is no difference in pay from one plantation to the next - and that it is pegged to the legal minimum wage which is often well below the level needed for meet a family's basic needs. Other issues include the huge variation in the quality and take up of 'in-kind' benefits such as childcare or housing and the fact that workers, particularly women who make up the majority of the workforce, have little say in negotiations over pay. 

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