A ‘Decent Cuppa’: Worker Power and Consumer Power in the Sri Lankan Tea Sector

Huw Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
209 Downloads (Pure)


Consumers are increasingly seen as playing an important role in global labour governance through the establishment of voluntary certification programmes that promise better economic and social conditions for workers in global value chains. In the Sri Lankan tea sector, however, these private forms of governance (Rainforest Alliance (RA), UTZ Certified and the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP)) at best have no effect and at worst are associated with indecent forms of work. Rather, conditions of work are defended by powerful trade unions that exercise structural power via their strategic position in the value chain and associational power through links with political parties and residual ethnic ties within and between nation-states. It is evident that through close collaboration between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the tea sector unions,workers are able to leverage institutional power through both national and international labour standards to reinforce decent work for those at the very bottom of the global value chain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalBritish Journal of Industrial Relations
Issue number0
Early online date20 Aug 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Aug 2019

Structured keywords

  • MGMT Work Organisation and Public Policy
  • MGMT theme Work Futures


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