Riots in South Africa may not be connected to wine

10 January, 2013

Wines of South Africa has moved to reassure the trade that riots in the Western Cape don't appear to be connected to the wine industry.

A report on the BBC website said that rubber bullets and tear gas had been used to control striking fruit pickers in the region, with several reports linking the strikes to vineyard workers. 

The strikers are asking for their daily wage to be more than doubled to about £11, according to the BBC. The action was taking place in De Doorns.

A spokesperson for WOSA told Off Licence News: “It doesn’t appear strike action in the Western Cape is connected to the wine industry but we’re keeping an eye on the situation, going forward. The South African 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. Amongst the conditions WIETA sets are that workers should have the right to a living wage and to be protected from unfair discrimination.”

Last November, WOSA expressed saddness at civil unrest which lead to the destruction of vineyards. The trade body said at the time: “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.”

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