Ethical trade in action


WIETA's Code of Conduct requires members to inform their suppliers of the content and requirements of the code. WIETA's engagement with the wine industry has led to an agreement that the need to consolidate the wine supply chain will require considerable support going forward.

Robertson Winery recently took the initiative and made a decision to support all their grape grower members through the WIETA accreditation process.

The 28 growers in the Robertson area started their ethical journey in 2011. They were supported in their efforts by Magda Vorster and Alna van Antwerpen, and their team from Barvallei. Magda reported that the farms initially reacted differently. Some were fearful. Others tackled the experience with enthusiasm.

A support programme was developed which focused on two aspects: labour relations and safety in the workplace. Many farm managers had knowledge of legal compliance but lacked the necessary administrative procedures to fully support the compliance requirements.

Health and safety remained with biggest challenge, with up to 70% of farms requiring technical advice and support to become fully compliant. Farms had the opportunity to take their workers for occupational health and safety training. For many workers, this was the first time they got to serve on a health and safety committee, and exhibit their organisational skills. It also provided management with the chance to explore participative leadership skills.

The key to building the commitment to sustained ethical performance lay in building relationships of trust: trust in the support process; trust between the support team and the farms; and trust between the workers and management. Workers were also taken through sessions on awareness of ethical trade and their rights.

All the sites are expected to be reviewed for accreditation by April 2012.

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