We are part of the Malawi 2020 Coalition, led by the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP), Oxfam and IDH, which aims to create a sustainable Malawian tea industry where workers earn a living wage and smallholder farmers thrive.
Joining forces for a living wage and living income in the tea sector in Malawi
Since 2013, Twinings has been working as part of a coalition led by the ETP, IDH and Oxfam, to better understand wages in the tea sector. It started with an in-depth analysis of pay and benefits in Malawi, Indonesia and India. The report ('Understanding Wage Issues in the Tea Sector') highlights that salaries on tea estates are comprised of a combination of cash and in-kind benefits and are set et the regional or national level and not by individual companies. The report also highlights that in Malawi, while tea estates are paying above the legal minimum wage and providing a range of other benefits, wages and standards of living were extremely low. Therefore the coalition has chosen to focus their efforts over the coming years on Malawi.
In 2015 Twinings signed the Malawi 2020 Memorandum of Understanding for the Revitalisation of the Malawi Tea Sector which aims to create a sustainable Malawian tea industry where workers earn a living wage and smallholder farmers thrive. The programme’s roadmap focuses on several drivers to achieve the goal such as training smallholder farmers in good agricultural practices; improving the wage-setting process through greater worker representation in unions; supporting healthier workforces through the provision of fortified meals; and providing greater opportunities in the sector for women.
As this is such an ambitious and complex programme, collaboration is key, and we are working with a wide range of stakeholders across the value chain including producers, other tea companies, retailers, local unions, certification organisations, NGOs and the Malawian government, to deliver meaningful and sustainable change.
“A sustainable, competitive and profitable tea industry can only be achieved with genuine collaboration from all parties.” Bryony Osmond, Twinings Senior Tea Buyer.
We have already seen significant progress in the sector, since signing the MOU, with the first collective bargaining agreement signed and wages increase, now the lowest paid worker receives 70% more than the legal minimum wage. Through the ETP, Farmer Field Schools have been established providing training to improve tea quality, farm productivity and farmers’ income.
We are committed to pursue our efforts in order to reach the ambitious Malawi2020 Goals.
“Twinings have worked with Lujeri to complete a robust analysis of the social situation on the estates and developed plans to remedy weaknesses and improve processes. “ Sebastian Hobhouse, CEO of Lujeri Tea Estates Ltd.