|Industry statement in response to vineyard strike action15 November 2012
We are greatly saddened by the civil unrest taking place in parts of the Cape Winelands. According to reports on the ground, the crowds burning vineyards and packsheds are not the workers from the farms involved and whose livelihoods are now under threat.
We hope there will be a speedy and effective resolution as the situation is adversely affecting many vulnerable workers and vulnerable farmers and will negatively impact the wine industry. To destroy wine-growing infrastructure and assets will result in joblessness as workers who would otherwise have been active in vineyards, and cellars will have no work at all this season. Similarly, calling for a boycott of Cape wine can only lead to further job losses.
Our wine industry, through its support of the Wine and Agricultural Industry Ethical Association (WIETA) and also FairTrade, is working hard to ensure the ethical treatment of workers. We urge all players involved to put their weight behind these initiatives.
WIETA is a not-for-profit organisation whose stakeholders include producers, retailers, trade unions, NGOs and government. Amongst its members are trade unions Sikule Sonke and FAWU; and NGOs such as Women on Farms and The Centre for Rural and Legal Studies.
The WIETA code is premised on the base code of the International Labour Conventions` Ethical Trading Initiative and also incorporates South African labour legislation. It precludes the use of child labour, asserts that employment should be freely chosen and that all employees should have the right to a healthy and safe working environment. Amongst the conditions it sets are that workers should have the right to freedom of association, a living wage and to be protected from unfair discrimination. Worker housing and tenure security rights should also be respected.
WIETA and the wine industry are working together towards achieving the goal of having all producers compliant with WIETA codes in the foreseeable future.