Publication Type:

Journal Article


Volume 240, p.63 - 94 (2019)



This article looks at the effectiveness of Fairtrade’s labour rights commitments through the lens of convention theory. It zooms in on workers involved in the cultivation, harvest, and processing of tea as Fairtrade’s single most important plantation product. Based on data generated in 2016 through a mixed methods study on the role of Fairtrade certification for tea plantation workers in India and Sri Lanka, we find a wide gulf betweenliving wages and plantation workers’ actual earnings, as well as a separation between Fairtrade’s role and trade unions. This “test” of certification standards as a compromise between “civic” conventions concerned with equality and productivity-oriented “industry” conventions suggests that, in actual certification practice, industrial conventions reign.

Cite this Research Publication

K. Siegmann, Ananthakrishnan, S., Fernando, K., Joseph, K. J., Romeshun, K., Kurian, R., and Dr. Viswanathan P. K., “Testing Fairtrade’s Labour Rights Commitments in South Asian Tea Plantations: A Good Match between Civic and Industrial Conventions?”, vol. 240, pp. 63 - 94, 2019.