Media: South African wine industry rooted in human misery, says report

23 08 2011
in Johannesburg
The Guardian, Tuesday 23 August 2011
Unsuitable housing, pesticide dangers and barriers to union membership catalogued by Human Rights Watch monitors
South African vineyard worker
Just 3% of workers in the Western Cape agricultural sector have union representation. Photograph: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images

There is no question of its flair for producing a world-class chenin blanc, cabernet sauvignon or pinotage at an affordable price. But the provenance of South Africa‘s wines is altogether less savoury, an investigation by human rights monitors has revealed.

Workers on the country’s wine and fruit farms lead “dismal, dangerous lives,” according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), which found on-site housing unfit for habitation, exposure to pesticides without proper safety equipment, lack of access to toilets or drinking water while working and barriers to union representation.

Farm workers contribute millions to South Africa‘s economy, with products that are sold in Tesco and other British supermarkets, yet they are among the lowest wage earners in the country, the group’s report says. Read the rest of this entry »

Solidarity: 14 year old boy missing after attacks by 3 farmers 11 February 2010

14 02 2010
12 February 2010
Sikhula Sonke Farmworkers Union

Eon Fortuin, the 14 year old boy who was attacked by three farmers has disappeared. The boy was taken to the police station on Tuesday 9 February; he appeared in Court the same day and according to Mr Blacky Swarts a captain at the Robertson police station told us that he was taken to the boy school in Ottery on Wednesday. Sikhula Sonke contacted the social worker at the school; who told us she heard that the boy was there, but that he disappeared on Wednesday 10 February. We believe that the boy was traumatised, by the ordeal, taken out of bed while sleeping, beaten till he was bleeding, tied like a dog and then he had to spend a night in jail and has appeared in Court without support from any family member. Read the rest of this entry »

Solidarity: Workers on Hydro Wine Estate forced to leave farm in 10 days

30 07 2009

Note by AEC: Members of the Anti-Eviction Campaign joined Sikhula Sonke today in their picket of Stellenbosch wine farms that have been treating their workers badly.  We were very horrified by the stories we heard.  The AEC is in full solidarity with the farmworkers and support’s Sikhula Sonke’s action to prevent the continued eviction of farm workers especially when they are bribed to leave their homes.

MEDIA RELEASE – 30 July 2009
Farm workers on Hydro forced to leave farm before or on 8 August 2009
Sikhula Sonke members embark on a stay over at Hydro Wine Estate and Spa, Thursday 30 July 09.

Workers on Hydro were offered R50 000 to leave the farm before the 8th of August 2009. Workers are living in the most appalling conditions and Hydro Management refuse to do something about it. They want people to leave the farm to upgrade the farm houses for tourist accommodation. Read the rest of this entry »

Media: Zuma expected to address farmworkers

29 07 2009

July 29, 2009 Edition 1
Francis Hweshe –
Cape Argus

A GROUP of farmworkers who slept outside Parliament last night as a visible protest against their living conditions and wages are expecting President Jacob Zuma to address them today.

The workers, from across the province, were led by farm worker trade union Sikhula Sonke and supported by various organisation, including Cosatu and the Anti-Eviction Campaign. Read the rest of this entry »

In Solidarity: A week of radical actions including a march on Parliament by Sikhula Sonke, the farmworkers trade union

28 07 2009
MEDIA RELEASE by Sikhula Sonke
Sent in solidarity by the Anti-Eviction Campaign

Farm workers in Stellenbosch demand an end to inhumane forced evictions, appalling housing and retrenchments: 27 July to 1 August 2009

Farm workers embark on a week of radical action, Monday 27 July to Saturday 1 August. They come from the Boland, West Coast, Breede River, Witzenburg, Overberg, Oostenberg, Breede Valley and Swartland. This action takes place on the eve of the famous Stellenbosch wine festival and coincides with several uprisings for service delivery across the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Media: Farm workers protest over poor living conditions and evictions

27 07 2009

July 27, 2009 Edition 1
Francis Hweshe – Argus

FARM workers have vowed to spend two nights outside Parliament during a week of “revolutionary action”.

Today the workers, from Breede River, Witzenburg, Overberg, Oostenberg and Boland, plan to start their protest by spending the night on a wine farm in Stellenbosch, to highlight the plight of workers there. Read the rest of this entry »


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