Fairtraders’ protest brews
Members of Fair Trade Stirling and of Fair Trade Falkirk have challenged Sainsbury’s decision to abandon the Fairtrade mark on some of its own-brand tea in favour of its own scheme.
On Saturday, members of both groups presented a letter to Stirling Sainsbury’s deputy manager Barry Lowe asking for their approach to be reconsidered.
Fairtrade guarantees tea producers receive an additional premium payment – on top of the price for their tea – to invest in their businesses and communities as they see fit. Stirling and Falkirk campaigners share the concern expressed by tea farmers that they will lose control of the social premium they would earn under Sainsbury’s alternative scheme, with suppliers instead having to apply to a UK-based board for their funding. They are also worried that standards will be controlled by Sainsbury’s, and themed Black History Month event in Stirling. Thanks to everyone who participated.” are not set independently. Tea farmers will not be represented in the scheme’s governance, whereas with Fairtrade certification producers are part of deciding how standards are set, monitored and reviewed.
Fair Trade Stirling co-ordinator Jon Cape said:“This is part of a national campaign to challenge and raise awareness of Sainsbury’s decision to replace the Fairtrade Mark on its Red Label and selected other teas with its own‘fairly traded’version. We have worked with Sainsbury’s over the years to promote fair trade and hope they will reverse their decision.”
The nationwide campaign is supported by CAFOD, Christian Aid, The Women’s Institute, Traidcraft Exchange and Tearfund. British tea drinkers account for three quarters of Fairtrade tea sales globally, with Sainsbury’s the world’s largest retailer of Fairtrade. Online petitions asking Sainsbury’s to keep the Fairtrade mark have already attracted over 130,000 signatures (see www.change.org/p/ sainsbury-s-don-t-ditch-fairtrade).
Stirling councillor Alasdair Tollemache, who took part in the campaign, said:“Sainsbury’s have been a leading retailer of Fairtrade products, making a real difference to the lives of tea farmers and their families.”