Its parent company, Tata, is facing calls to apologise after a crop sprayer allegedly paid as little as 8p an hour died of suspected poisoning at a
plantation in India.
Two fellow workers caught up in protests over his death were shot dead by riot police and another 15 were injured, according to a report by the International Union of Foodworkers.
Charities and trade unions are now demanding action from Tetley, whose parent company part-owns the Powai Tea Estate in Assam.
Tetley, famous for its flat-capped cartoon workers in TV adverts, distanced itself from the allegations last night.
It insisted that no tea produced at the Assam plantation goes into its teabags sold in Britain.
The company also stated that it does not operate or manage the plantation, nor does it employ the staff there. The claims were also fiercely denied by the plantation’s owner – Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd – a separate company in which Tata holds a 49.8 per cent stake.
Campaigners have blamed 25-year-old Gopal Tanti’s sudden death in May on pesticides he was employed to spray on crops at the site.
Almost 2,000 workers work there, with many said to receive 93p for working days of between eight and 12 hours, according to the IUF, which represents 2.8million workers in 124 countries.
At a typical supermarket price of £2 for 80, Tetley teabags cost British shoppers about 2.5p each.
Jasper Gross, author of the IUF report, said: ‘I believe that Tetley is linked to core human rights violations and the death and killing of tea
Charity War On Want said the deaths appeared to put to shame Tetley’s claims to be an ethical producer.