Background to the establishment of WIETA
WIETA was formally established in November 2002. The association arose out of an Ethical Trade Initiative pilot project in the wine industry. The pilot not only assisted the ETI and South African partners in learning about, developing and refining inspection methodologies in monitoring their base code, but was instrumental in bringing together stakeholders in the wine industry of the Western Cape to discuss and debate issues around ethical trade. The experiment has had considerable success in the wine industry and this led to the members taking a decision in October 2005 to extend the work of WIETA wider to agriculture as a whole, while continuing to serve the needs of the wine industry.
What is WIETA?
WIETA is a not for profit, voluntary association of many different stakeholders in the South African wine and agriculture industry, who are committed to the promotion of ethical trade in this sector.
WIETA’s mission is to improve the working conditions of employees in these industries by:
- Formulating and adopting a code of good practice governing employment standards for those involved in primary agriculture (growers and farmers) and secondary agricultural production (wineries. Fruit, flower and other pack sheds).
- Promoting the adoption of and adherence to the code of good practice among these industries.
- 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;
- Determining ways of encouraging implementation of and compliance with the code and determining measures to be taken in the case of non-compliance with the code.
What is contained in the WIETA code?
The code contains the following important principles:
- Child labour shall not be utilised
- Employment shall be freely chosen
- The right to a healthy and safe working environment
- The right to freedom of association
- The right to a living wage
- Working hours shall not be excessive
- Harsh or inhumane treatment is prohibited
- Unfair discrimination is prohibited
- Regular employment shall be provided
- Worker’s housing and tenure security rights will be respected
The code is based on the ETI base code and South African legislation, and sets out in more detail what each of the above principles entails within the context of the wine, fruit and flowers industries.
The fair trade partnership involves producers, traders, retailers and consumers. The movement started in the
How did it start?
The fair trade movement started in the 1940s, when small US and European organisations began trading directly with handicraft producers in least developed countries. These so-called Alternative Trading Organisations (ATOs) were for the first time offering an alternative method to conventional trade by ensuring producers and their communities a fair price for their goods.
The impacts of such alternative trading relationships proved to be very successful in the upliftment of livelihoods in underdeveloped areas. As a result, during the next decades the model was replicated in other commodities’ supply chains, e.g. agricultural goods. Many small farmers in the South were in fact victims of middlemen who often cheated on the quality and quantities of their produce. At the same time, the rules of global trade became increasingly harsher for Southern producers and workers, and exploitative practices a daily habit.
Fair trade was born with the aim to establish trustful partnerships between producers, workers, traders and consumers and to achieve a way of trading that is fair and focused on sustainable development.
Currently fair trade is an active global movement supported by thousands of producers and traders, millions of consumers and a huge network of grassroots and support organisations.