The owner of Tetley tea has come in for a fresh round of criticism from human rights campaigners following the deaths of three tea plantation workers in India.

According to the Metro, a crop sprayer who was allegedly paid just 8p an hour died of suspected poisoning from pesticides at a tea plantation in Assam, India.

Two co-workers were shot dead by riot police during protests sparked by the death, the International Union of Foodworkers said, while another 15 were reportedly injured.

Tata Global Beverages part-owns the Powai tea estate on which the worker died but the site does not produce tea for Tetley in the UK, the company said. Tata added that it does not manage the plantation or employ the staff there.

The controversy comes after War on Want criticised Tata, which owns Tetley, in July over the low wages paid to tea pickers. The group said the recent deaths again called into question Tetley’s ethical credentials.

In February, Tetley secured certification from the Rainforest Alliance so consumers would know the tea was “produced in a way that respects the environment and the tea growers and pickers,” chief executive Peter Unsworth said.

Read more
Report slams tea brands over worker conditions (28 July 2010)
Tetley gets eco nod from Rainforest Alliance (19 February 2010)