Highlights from the 2024 Co-Creating a Family-Friendly Tea Conference

On May 21, International Tea Day, The Centre with support from Save the Children in Sri Lanka, hosted the 3rd annual "Co-creating a Family-Friendly Tea Industry" conference in Sri Lanka. The conference brought together 127 participants from across the tea industry, government, NGOs, CSOs, and donor organisations, who engaged in dynamic dialogues on business and human rights.

One of the main aims of the conference this year was to give the voiceless a voice: namely, the smallholders and small to medium-sized private tea estates, who produce 70% of Sri Lanka’s tea.

Here are some key takeaways from our discussions:

  • Innovate and Diversify: Increasing revenues is crucial for promoting human rights in the tea sector. A shift from a command-and-control management style to one that focuses on empowerment and incentives can make a significant difference. Start by asking how to double wages and work backwards from there.

  • Worker Retention Challenges: Private estates face ongoing financial struggles, which impact their ability to retain workers.

  • Collective Support: Organisations like the Tea Board and Tea Research Institute play a vital role in addressing human rights issues in the industry.

  • Addressing Worker Abuse: There are alarming reports of physical and verbal abuse, particularly among female and young workers. Addressing these issues is critical for the well-being of the tea workforce.

  • Raising Awareness: There is a need for greater awareness and advocacy for human rights within tea estates. It's often external stakeholders, not estate workers or owners, who raise these issues.

  • Value People as Much as Tea: It's essential to ensure that the value given to tea is equally reflected in how we treat our workers.

Please watch our recap video above for more highlights. We look forward to keeping the momentum going and working together to turn these discussions into positive change for tea communities!

Published on   26/06/2024
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