Digital solutions to empower marginalised workers in the tea supply chain

by Madeleine van Hilten working at Traidcraft Exchange responding to Fairer Futures for Businesses and Workforces

I am interested in exploring

We are looking to develop a grievance mechanism for marginalised workers on tea estates in India to identify issues faced by workers in terms of working and living conditions and human rights. This needs to be a low-tech solution (text messages) as workers do not have smart phones. Grievances are to be aggregated anonymously on a website that carries different levels of access for various stakeholders. The work needs to be done in collaboration with an Indian CSO who will design questions and test ways to collect information from teaworkers.

We are also looking for an online tool to publicise data from tea brands in terms of which estates they source from. We could for example use Wiki Data or develop a website like htpps:// but for tea. The tool needs to allow companies to input their supplier data , it needs to analyse the data provided, and it needs to be able to translate the data into local languages. Collaboration with various CSOs in Africa and Asia is required.

My motivation is

Historically tea workers in regions like Assam in India have been denied a decent living wage and minimum working conditions. The recent Minimum Wage Act of the Government of India has not been applied to tea plantations in Assam, meaning the workers receive a wage lower than the legal minimum. The minimum welfare measures and working conditions stipulated by the Plantation Labour Act (PLA) have also not been adhered to by the tea companies. Government schemes and benefits meant for the poor such as health insurance schemes, housing, and other benefits are denied to tea workers. Laws enforcing fundamental human rights including right to education and right to health are not implemented in the tea estates. In order to support this community, we are pushing for corporate accountability by asking tea brands to publicise where they source from, and by empowering tea workers to voice their concerns to enforce improvements to their quality of life.

Project focus

I want to focus on:

  • Accountability & Care


I am looking for an academic partner in:

  • Data science & engineering
  • Social science (e.g. geography, politics, sociology)
  • Computer science and HCI

I am looking to work in these areas:

  • Web design and digital innovation

Sandpit events

I am going to: London March, 6th 2020


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