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South African wine to carry ‘fair labour’ seal

South African wine bottles will carry a new seal from later this year, designed to highlight fair labour practices followed by producers and their suppliers.

Producers who meet the rigorous criteria drawn up by the Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association (WIETA) will be able to use the seals, which are modelled on South Africa’s Sustainability Seal.

‘By introducing the seal we want to acknowledge and accredit wineries and farms that follow ethical practices, and protect them from potential negative publicity resulting from those who flout the law,’ said Linda Lipparoni, WIETA CEO.

‘After almost 20 years of democracy and exposure of the country’s wine producers to international best practice, we have reached a level of maturity where no abuses of human rights should be countenanced.’

The launch of the seal will be combined with a programme to fast-track the implementation of fair labour practices on farms and in wineries.

The three-phase implementation includes training in labour law and the WIETA code of fair trading principles for workers, owners and management.

Producers will have to pass a full WIETA audit, including on-site inspections, entering an annually renewable, legally binding agreement with WIETA.

And at least 60% of suppliers will have to be WIETA-accredited, with the remaining 40% preparing for accreditation.

In August last year the South African wine industry was devastated by a report from the organisation Human Rights Watch, entitled Ripe with abuse: Human Rights conditions in South Africa’s Fruit and Wine Industries.

The report – which many senior commentators denounced as misleading and unreliable – claimed workers on fruit farms and in wineries were exposed to pesticides, badly paid, lacked basic sanitation, and subject to many other abuses.

Written by Richard Woodard

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