Prolonged bending to gather tea for James Finlay Kenya is argued to accelerate the aging of pickers’ backs by up to 20 years. Since tea pickers’ health is at risk, they are moving on the legal measures to save them from health-related issues.
The Kenyan Tea Pickers Hardships
More than 1,000 Kenyan tea pickers can now file a class action lawsuit in an Edinburgh court after alleging that they were subjected to abusive and exploitative working conditions on a Scottish-owned tea farm.
- James Finlay Kenya Ltd. (JFK) has been ordered by the court of session, Scotland’s highest civil court, to stop attempting to thwart the lawsuit through Kenyan courts by attorneys representing the tea pickers. According to the judge, Lord Braid, the company engaged in “vexatious and oppressive” tactics to undermine the claim.
- One of the world’s largest providers of tea and coffee, Finlay’s has plantations in Kericho, Kenya, that cover 10,117 hectares (25,000 acres). The company is based in Aberdeen, and among its clients are high-end retailers like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Starbucks.
- The business has defended its health and safety record, and its goods have the Fairtrade logo and certifications from the Rainforest Alliance and the Soil Association. Finlay’s Kenyan estates are “a flourishing community of thousands of employees and out growers and their families who live there, work there, and study there” on the company website.
However, in prior evidence, employees alleged that their stifling working environments had seriously and permanently damaged their musculoskeletal systems. They claimed that to get paid. They sometimes had to fulfill weight targets of 66 pounds of tea every day while working up to 12 hours per day, carrying up to 26 pounds of the tea leaf pickings through rugged terrain on their backs.
JFK argued that the Scottish claim constituted an assault on Kenyan sovereignty and later pursued blocking proceedings in Kenya to stop the suit from proceeding in Scotland. However, JFK was accused of conducting a “deliberate campaign to defeat the ends of justice and cause distress,” according to the workers’ attorneys.
Patrick McGuire of Thompsons, the selectors’ attorney, stated that the claim was based on a combination of “oppressive” working conditions and a remuneration plan frequently based on impractical picking targets. He emphasized how crucial it is to pursue the matter in Scotland: “These workers will not be able to seek justice or obtain compensation in Kenyan courts. No group proceedings or legal aid are available, and attorneys cannot provide no-win, no-fee contracts.
“This is about throwing a light on what happens on these farms,” he added, hoping the historic proceedings would broadly affect the business. Every business in this industry needs to take a close, honest look at its procedures.
The company’s defense that Scottish courts lack jurisdiction over work injury claims from Kenya will be discussed later in the Court of Session.
The Court’s Judgement
JFK should be instructed to stop his activities in Kenya, a judge for the Court of Session concluded.
That will make it possible for the Scottish lawsuit to resume.
- Kenyan tea pickers’ court case was put on hold.
- Kenyan pickers compete to earn Scotland Finlay’s
- Kenyan farmers file a lawsuit against a tea industry giant.