Zhengan Tianci / SHANGBA TEa GARdEn
The Shangba tea garden, operated by Zhengan Tianci Ecological Technology Company, is located in the Chinese province of Guizhou, in Zhengan county, in the municipality of Shangba. The municipality Shangba consists of three small villages with about 500 people and belongs to the administrative area of the small town Banzhu, which has about 30,000 inhabitants. The complete county of Zhengan has around 600.000 inhabitants. The district is characteristically rural. There are no noteworthy industrial companies in the surroundings.
The organic certified Shangba tea garden has a very large area of approx. 530 hectares and is located at an altitude between 1400 and 1600 meters above sea level.
In the vicinity of the tea garden, there are more or less 280 households. Traditionally, three generations lived under the same roof in the rural regions: the grandparents, one or two couples and one to two kids. With the great economic growth of China, the situation in the countryside changed. Today, far less young people live in the villages. The percentage of people aged 55 years or more increased significantly. Many young adults live and work in the far located big cities, because they find there better income opportunities and a more interesting life.
Although the ratio of young adults and families in the area of Shangba is higher than in the rest of rural China due to the favourable income opportunities, in the villages still live many grandparents with their grandchildren. The parents, employed elsewhere, normally see their kids only once a year for the Chinese Spring Festival, when almost all Chinese people visit their hometowns.
The villagers are essentially self-sufficient. They grow vegetables, cereals, tobacco etc., they breed sheep, goats and cattle, keep pigs and chickens and/or pursue further activities in contractual employments.
The majority of the residents have a school education. China has a nine-year long compulsory education. In Shangba there is an elementary school from the first to the sixth grade. This school is located about 2.5 km far from the tea garden and can be reached easily. Older pupils from seventh to ninth grade attend a boarding school in the town of Banzhu, about 10 kilometres far from Shangba. These students generally spend the week in the boarding school and come back home during the weekends. School attendance is free, families only need to pay for the accommodation at the boarding school. Schools for higher education or universities charge fees and are not affordable for many rural families.
Zhengan Tianci as employer
The agricultural land of the Shangba tea garden is not leased to individual small farmers, as it was common in China, but owned by the state Shangba Educated Youth Farm, in which young intellectuals from all Chinese cities had to fulfil their agricultural service in the past. Zhengan Tianci rented the Shangba tea garden from the Shangba Educated Youth Farm.
The Zhengan Tianci company employs exclusively workers from the surrounding villages. Like all other Chinese companies, Zhengan Tianci is obliged to observe the statutory labour law. In China, all employees in a company have a statutory entitlement to a regular work contract. This applies to both, long and short term employees. The Zhengan Tianci Company employs 24 permanent workers in the final processing factory and 66 in other areas of the business. In addition, there are about 120 workers in the Shangba tea garden, of which 100 are seasonal workers with a temporary contract.
Independent small farmers, who are not employed as regular workers in a company, are neither protected by the Chinese nor by the international labour law (ILO standards).
Work contract / labour law
The Chinese labour law is extensive and varies a bit from province to province; therefore, we will focus here only on some aspects. In addition to the labour laws listed below there are e.g. also detailed dismissal protection regulations and rules for marginal employment. State trade unions (workers’ representatives) exist and employee representative councils can be elected at the request of the employees. In contrast, there is no right to strike in China.
Social insurance contributions (pension, health, unemployment, accident and maternity insurance)
Premium amounts correspond to the wage. For each type of insurance there are set minimum levels for the contribution assessment.
Example for social insurance contribution level:
Contributions for a permanent employee with the minimum wage of 1500 RMB (ca. 190 Euro) monthly.
altogether 56% of the gross salary = ca. 840 RMB (ca. 107 Euro)
altogether 20% of the gross salary = ca. 300 RMB (ca. 38 Euro)
Minimum levels for the contribution assessment and contribution rates for employers and employees in the individual social insurance types
Employer's contribution: 19% = 475 RMB (ca. 60 Euro) per month
Employee's contribution: 8% = 200 RMB (ca. 25 Euro) per month
Employer's contribution: 6% = 300 RMB (ca. 38 Euro) per month
Employee's contribution: 2% = 100 RMB (ca. 13 Euro) per month
Employer's contribution: 0,7% = 15,40 RMB (ca. 2 Euro) per month
Employee's contribution: 0,3% = 6,60 RMB (ca. 1 Euro) per month
Employer's contribution: 0,9% = 26,30 RMB (ca. 3 Euro) per month
Employee's contribution: not applicable
Employer's contribution: 0,5% = 25 RMB (ca. 3 Euro) per month
Employee's contribution: not applicable
The wages of the company Zhengan Tianci are above the legal minimum wage level. The basis for the assessment of the social insurance contributions is therefore correspondingly higher.
Permanent employees of Zhengan Tianci receive at least 3300 RMB (ca. 420 Euro) per month.
Temporary workers of Zhengan Tianci receive at least 80-200 RMB (ca. 10-25 Euro) per working day. For 22 working days per month that amounts to a total of 1760-4400 RMB (ca. 224-559 Euro) per month.
If one considers that the people live in their own houses, do not have to pay rent, pursue agriculture for private sustenance and obtain additional income from the selling of their products, the live of the people in the Shangba tea garden is not bad. The economic success of modern China has reached now also the rural areas, provided that the people are employed by a company as it is the case with Zhengan Tianci.
Fairbiotea development partnership
The development partnership with Fairbiotea supports the sustainable development in the areas of ecology, economy and welfare. This includes the development of an organic nutrient cycle, nature and wildlife preservation, fair working conditions and the development of economic profitability as the fundament for the financial feasibility of sustainable measures. In addition, hygiene and quality management, sustainability certifications and the implementation of their contents are also equally part of the development plan as the declared willingness for a close cooperation between Zhengan Tianci, Shangba tea garden, Fairbiotea and the responsible third country organic control body (for further security checks and for the control of the compliance with the development plan).
Hygiene and quality management for the European market
Zhengan Tianci as the operator of the Shangba tea garden is also responsible for the compliance with EU statutory food regulations. If necessary, the company must adopt and finance corrective measures in hygiene and quality management, in order to fulfil the EU regulations at all times.
In the production process at the Zhengan Tianci tea factory, electricity is used as much as possible and the use of wood and coal is limited to a minimum. Therefore, contamination of the tea with combustion residues detrimental to health is reduced. The central final processing factory processes, standardises and cleans the tea. Only trained staff is employed.
For small holder businesses, this kind of management, sustainable development and organic security is not realisable.