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The South African Wine Initiative is an organization that seeks to create global awareness of the exploitation of workers and environmental abuses as they allegedly relate to the South African wine industry and its practices.

Contents

Strike-breaking with mechanical harvesters

Until the late 1990s, all grapes in South African vineyards were harvested by workers by hand. Workers received low wages, as little as 95 Rands a week, and were housed in dangerous and unsanitary conditions. Workers organized strikes in order to negotiate better pay and housing conditions. Mechanical harvesters were originally brought in as a strike-breaking ploy, however vineyard owners quickly saw their economic benefits for the profitability of their businesses. Each machine replaced 200 workers and could be operated by only one driver. As a result of the introduction of these machine during the last year of Apartheid (1994) thousands of South African workers were left unemployed and homeless.

The dop system

The South African wine industry was also responsible for the "dop system", which involved replacing partial monetary wages for work with payments of wine. This practice is now illegal, but its existence over several hundred years has caused the Western Cape's grape-pickers to suffer the highest rate of Fetal alcohol syndrome in the world. According to Mariette le Roux, some 25,000 FAS children are born in South Africa every year.[1] Research conducted in 2000 put the incidence of FAS in De Aar at 12 percent of the town's residents, some 80 percent of whom are unemployed and poor.[1] The wine industry does not currently carry any responsibility in terms of addressing these issues.

Animal parts in wine

Mechanical harvesters are machines that straddle grape vines and through a combination of vibration and suction harvest grapes off the vine. As a consequence of this action, an indeterminate number of insects, reptiles, small mammals and bird's eggs are processed with the grapes as they are turned into wine. Manual laborers claim that since there is no human perception and decision-making in the mechanical reaping process, these creatures end up in a "destalking screw" where their blood and debris contaminates the wine.[2]

Cape Dwarf Chameleon

Of particular concern is the decimation of the CITES-protected Cape Dwarf Chameleon population.[3] South African law (ordinance 19 of 1974, 44.1C) states that it is illegal to produce a product with a part of a protected species without the necessary permit. To date the Department of Cape Nature Conservation has issued no such permit to the South African Wine Industry. Thus, advocates for environmental rights claim the use of mechanical harvesters is illegal if their use endangers the chameleon.[4]

See also

External links

Citations

  1. ^ a b Alcohol ravages South Africa's children
  2. ^ South Africa Wine Initiative Website
  3. ^ [tva-cee.satfrance.com/cites_base/documents/liste_especes_en.pdf Pdf list of CITES-protected Endangered Species.]
  4. ^ South Africa's Wine Industry: A Horror Story
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