Vinpro Press Release

11 July 2019.

Vinpro condemns opportunism in SA wine industry, supports legal processes

The South African wine industry organisation Vinpro strongly condemns opportunism and will continue to support any individuals or entities who follow due ethical and legal procedures to counter or avoid exploitation of any form.

This follows two recent instances in which South African wine farms were accused by certain labour groups of not acting in an ethical or lawful manner.

“We have faith in the judicial system and the ethical accreditation processes the industry has in place and will continue to support any individual or entity who have followed due legal procedures in cases brought against them,” Vinpro MD Rico Basson says.

In latest developments, Windmeul Cellar, the May family and Drakenstein Municipality may come to a formal agreement regarding the family’s accommodation following a mediation process. Mediation discussions took place this week after the Land Claims Court dismissed the May family’s bid to have their eviction from Windmeul Cellar in Paarl rescinded in a written judgement mid-June.

According to a statement by Windmeul Cellar on 13 June 2019, the May family raised certain allegations against Windmeul Cellar in fresh court proceedings subsequent to the family’s legal eviction on 26 March 2019 after nearly a three year legal process. Only one person, Zonwabile Alfred May, was previously employed by Windmeul Cellar, but his employment was duly and legally terminated in November 2008 after he was found guilty of illegally selling liquor on the property.

Since the eviction the May family has set up camp outside the gates of Windmeul Cellar’s premises and has chosen not to accept the emergency accommodation offered by Drakenstein Municipality. The allegations against Windmeul Cellar were considered by acting Judge Justice Canca, who dismissed the application.

According to Windmeul Cellar the recent mediation discussions took place in good faith and they were confident that a formal agreement would be to the benefit of all parties involved.

In another instance, a labour group made allegations of poor working conditions against 10 Stellenbosch wine farms, by handing out flyers to attendees at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival on 7 and 8 April 2019.

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) conducted an investigation following discussions with Wieta (Wine and Agriculture Ethical Trade Association) and the Stellenbosch Wine Route, in which the Department found that none of the allegations could be substantiated on any of the farms. According to the WCDoA report, the investigation included engagements with agri workers as well as the producers and/or farm management.

Although the outcome of the Windmeul mediation and the findings of the investigation into the Stellenbosch farms were positive developments, Basson speaks out strongly against commentary by certain labour groups in the media aimed at instigating sensationalism and opportunism.

“The South African wine industry is on a journey with key stakeholders. We know our supporters are with us on this journey and we will not be distracted by opportunistic commentary that disregards the historic context, current realities and transformation and development plans we’ve set ourselves for social and environmental sustainability,” Basson says.

He condemns the actions of groups who deliberately seek to cause disruption and break down relationships between stakeholders in the wine industry, to the detriment of the parties involved and South Africa as a whole.

“This, while various forums have been put in place to facilitate open dialogue between Government, industry and civil society. Despite several invitations to participate in these forums, the parties who make these statements have thus far chosen not to. It is encouraging that there are a number of labour groups who do work constructively with Government and industry partners towards a stronger, more sustainable South African wine industry,” says Basson.

Issued by: Vinpro

Media enquiries:
Wanda Augustyn
Vinpro Communications Manager
Tel: 021 276 0463

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