It is one of the flagship plantations of the world’s biggest tea company, stretching across more than 30,000 acres of land and employing 16,000 people. But the Kericho tea estate in Kenya, operated by Unilever – manufacturer of PG Tips and Lipton – is at the centre of controversy over allegations of sexual harassment and poor working and living conditions for some employees, the Ecologist can reveal.

Some female workers at the estate suffer sexual harassment at the hands of company supervisors, according to Dutch research body SOMO. The organisation, which monitors the operations of multinational companies, says it has also uncovered ‘deplorable’ housing conditions at the Kericho plantation, harassment of workers belonging to trade unions, and a number of problems relating to the increasing casualisation of the estate’s workforce.

SOMO makes the claims about the plantation – which is certified by the Rainforest Alliance – in a report due to be published later this month. Previous reports by SOMO, and by the Kenyan Human Rights Commission (KHRC), alleged 'rampant' discrimination and sexual harassment of women at the Kericho estate, poor housing conditions, casualisation of labour, violations of employment regulations and low wages.

Unilever denies the allegations however, saying it is not aware of any current problems relating to sexual harassment at its Kericho plantation, and...

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