The concept of sustainability must also embrace the people who work on farms, their livelihoods, their dignity, and their health and safety.
The Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) scheme covers health and safety and, since 1994, the government has passed extensive legislation to protect workers, including permanent and temporary workers on farms.
The South African wine industry is keen to redress the wrongs of the past and has actively supported WIETA, the Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association. WIETA was formally established in November 2002.
WIETA is a not-for-profit, voluntary association of many different stakeholders, who are committed to the promotion of ethical trade, at first in the wine sector, and now in agriculture as a whole. Stakeholders include producers, retailers, trade unions, non-governmental organisations and government.
WIETA's mandate is to improve the working conditions of workers in the wine value chain by:
- formulating and adopting a code of good practice governing labour and health and safety standards for those involved in primary growing and secondary production operations;
- promoting the adoption of and adherence to the code of good practice among all producers and growers;
- educating producers and workers on the provisions of the code;
- appointing independent social auditors to ensure that members of the association observe and implement the code of good practice; and
- determining ways of encouraging implementation of and compliance with the code, and deciding what measures to take in the case of non-compliance with the code.
In May 2012, WIETA introduced a new seal:
This seal, which will be used either on the front or back labels, or placed on the neck alongside the sustainability seal, will testify to reasonable working conditions, based on rigorous and closely monitored qualification criteria. This is believed to be a world first among wine-producing countries. The seal is a parallel effort to Fair Trade or Fair for Life, which are also recognised as ethical certifications. WIETA will consider recognising ethical, health and safety audits by other bodies. However, the WIETA standards and audit methodology will not change. Only those brand owners who meet the criteria set by WIETA will be entitled to use the seal on their wines. Brand owners will be required to enter an annually renewable, legally binding agreement with WIETA. To ensure total traceability, brand owners will have to identify all their suppliers. At least 60% of these suppliers will also have to be WIETA accredited, while the other 40% would have to demonstrate that they were preparing themselves for accreditation.
The ultimate goal is to have one seal, issued by the Wine and Spirit Board, that certifies the Wine of Origin information (vintage, date, variety), the environmental sustainability (IPW) and the ethical treatment of workers (WIETA).
For more information, visit www.wieta.org.za