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Keywords:

  • Fair Trade certification;
  • tea plantations;
  • patron–client relations;
  • workers' perceptions;
  • India;
  • intermediary organisation

This article analyses the impact of Fair Trade certification by focusing on its interactions with the patron–client relations traditionally established between management and workers in tea plantations in India. It argues that the invisibility of Fair Trade among workers, which generally reinforces existing patron–client relations through Fair Trade premiums, inversely hides the patronage of the management, and that workers are empowered when a premium is invested in a community development project led by an independent third-party organisation.