Fairtrade certification of plantations seeks to productively intervene in the continuity of exploitative labor conditions that tea plantation workers in South Asia have experienced since the plantations’ inception under colonial rule. Based on a mixed methods study conducted in 2016 in India and Sri Lanka, this article engages with the puzzling reinterpretation of certification as a reward for workers’ commitment rather than for management's compliance. By taking labor process theory on a journey to transnational labor governance in Indian and Sri Lankan tea plantations, the article argues that Fairtrade certification provides plantation companies with tools to ‘harvest workers’ consent’ to management's pursuit of profit.
The research underlying this article was supported by Fairtrade International.
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.