Your article addressing the recent strikes in South Africa implies
that workers in the wine industry are involved in the unrest (Don't buy South African wine: striking workers' plea to foreign buyers,
25 January). This is not the case and has the potential to do
unimaginable damage to an industry that is working hard to ensure the
ethical treatment of workers.
The article states: "Unions and
charities supporting the Western Cape's 500,000 farm workers say pay and
working conditions are so bad that South African wines, table grapes
and Granny Smith apples should be as unacceptable to the responsible
British consumers as they were under apartheid." The prominence given to
the views of the union Bawusa and its boycott call is saddening. Our
industry supports the Wine and Agricultural Industry Ethical Association
(Wieta) and fair trade; and the ANC and the Congress of South African
Trade Unions have actually called for an end to the strikes.
date, there is no evidence any of the protests have involved workers
employed on wine farms. And in any case Bawusu represents only a tiny
proportion of wine farm workers, about 2.3%. In the article, Bawusu
spokesman Nosey Pieterse is quoted as saying: "In the first 10 years of
democracy, the wine industry grew tenfold, from 20m litres' output
before 1994 to 220m litres." His figures are wrong: in fact South Africa
exported 417 million litres of wine in 2012; but exports in wine do not always equal profits.
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