South Africa launches new seal to guarantee ethical practice

03 May, 2012

The South African wine industry has launched a new seal, which will guarantee that the wine has been produced in line with fair labour practices, outlined and audited by the Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association (WIETA), which was established over a decade ago.

South African wine producers who meet the criteria set by WIETA will be entitled to use the seal on their wines. It is anticipated that the first seals will be granted later in 2012, to currently compliant producers. The fully traceable seal is modelled on South Africa’s Sustainability Seal, launched in 2010; it is hoped that ultimately the two will be combined.

The launch of the seal will be combined with a programme to fast-track the implementation of fair labour practices on wine farms and in cellars. Under the aegis of WIETA, this fair labour initiative is supported by the Food & Allied Worker’s Union (FAWU), Sikhula Sonke, Women on Farms and established industry organisations such as the SA Liquor Brandowners’ Association (SALBA), Wine Cellars SA and producer organisation, Vinpro.

The fast-track programme will be implemented in three phases, starting with the simultaneous training of workers, owners and management in labour law and the WIETA code of fair trading principles, which acknowledges the International Labour Conventions’ Ethical Trading Initiative and also incorporates South African labour legislation. All training manuals will be supplied, free of charge, by WIETA.

After the initial training phase, all producers will be required to complete assessment forms to determine their levels of compliance and will be given further support from WIETA in taking the necessary steps to address gaps.

In the final stage of the process, producers will be required to pass a full WIETA audit, involving on-site inspections. To be entitled to carry the WIETA seal brand owners will have to enter an annually renewable, legally binding agreement with WIETA and, to ensure traceabilty, brand owners will have to identify all suppliers. At least 60 per cent of these suppliers will have to be WIETA accredited and the remaining 40 per cent will have to demonstrate that they are preparing themselves for accreditation.

Commenting on the new drive, Linda Lipparoni, CEO of WIETA, said: “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.

“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 industry has no place for the few who, by perpetuating unfair labour practices, are tarnishing the majority who recognise that the ethical treatment of workers is both a moral and legal obligation.”

The WIETA seal will recognise other audits when assessing credentials of farms and cellars. The wine industry will also continue to embrace and promote Fairtrade and Fair for Life programmes.

Keywords: wine, wosa, south africa

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