I have been briefed on the findings of the Department of Labour’s investigation into the allegations made in a recent documentary on the wine industry.
The Western Cape Government assisted in this investigation, and welcomes the issuing of contravention notices. We also note the law that gives farmers 60 days to take corrective action, and 14 days to rectify the most critical failures.
Of particular concern were the contraventions found at one farm, where workers did not have access to safe drinking water, and where housing was not of an acceptable standard.
While we acknowledge that the farmer has 14 days to deal with these concerns, I have instructed the Farm Worker Support unit within the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, to assist in improving this situation urgently.
My department attended an engagement today (17 November 2016) with the Department of Labour and wine and agriculture organisations during which the investigation was discussed.
Together we agreed on a clear way forward, which will include joint information sessions with the Department of Labour and Agri Western Cape around health and safety training. This has been identified as a key concern. All parties also agreed to increased co-operation and sharing of information pertaining to issues on wine farms.
I am also meeting Social Development Minister Albert Fritz to work on putting systems in place to detect any violations on farms timeously, through the Provincial Department of Social Development’s network of social workers.
This investigation has brought clear evidence to light that there are employees in our economy who receive very poor treatment. This was never ever acceptable, and it still isn't. It will not be tolerated. I will be engaging with organised agriculture. We will take a hard line against these acts, and root out offenders.
We cannot allow unethical operations at some farms to put people's well-being and an entire industry, which employs over 200 000 people, in jeopardy.
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