News24

HRW report one-sided, malicious: Agri SA

2011-08-23 18:41

Cape Town - Agri SA has rejected the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on human rights conditions in South Africa's fruit and wine industries as being "one-sided, malicious, unfair, and highly irresponsible".

"Agri SA questions the research methodology and therefore the credibility of the relevant findings," Agri SA president Johannes Möller said on Tuesday.

He said that it should be noted that all deciduous fruit export farms, which were the focus of the HRW investigation, were third party accredited for GlobalGap (good agricultural practices) and Ethical Trade certified as required by the international retail trade.

"It is therefore highly unlikely that the allegations as contained in the report could be a true reflection of prevailing circumstances on farms in the Western Cape," Möller said.

What’s in the report

The HRW report, released earlier on Tuesday, said workers in the province who helped produce South Africa's renowned wines and fruit were denied adequate housing, proper safety equipment, and basic labour rights.

Government, along with the industries employing these labourers, should take immediate steps to improve their working and housing conditions, it said.

The 96-page report - "Ripe with Abuse: Human Rights Conditions in South Africa's Fruit and Wine Industries" - documented conditions that included on-site housing unfit for living, exposure to pesticides without proper safety equipment, lack of access to toilets or drinking water while working, and efforts to block workers from forming unions.

Möller said Agri SA and its affiliates subscribed to national legislation and international norms on labour standards and required from its farmer members to do so as well with due regard to the valued contributions of farm workers to the success of the farming industry and the need to treat them accordingly.

"Where real problems do exist, Agri SA and its affiliates are committed to assist in finding solutions," he said.

"Agri SA will also not protect any farmer who is guilty of human rights abuses or serious breaches of the law and demands that due legal process should be followed."

Small percentage of industry interviewed

Agri SA questioned the adequacy and composition of the research sample of 260 people. Of these, 85 were apparently farm workers, 32 former farm workers, and 16 farm dwellers.

"How can such a small, and probably carefully selected sample ever be used to describe the situation of 121 000 farm workers," he asked.

Only 14 farm owners or representatives of farm owners were interviewed representing less than 0.3% of the about 5 000 producers in the Western Cape.

A wide spectrum of representatives from other organisations formed the balance of the sample.

‘Objective, authoritative research needed’

The report stated that, "in many cases interviews with farm workers or farm dwellers were arranged with the assistance of organisations that work with or provide services to those populations. Trade unions facilitated interviews with some of their members".

Möller said this resulted in a situation where 161 of those that were interviewed were not directly involved in farming.

"Some of those organisations are also known to be antagonistic towards commercial farmers as well as organised agriculture and have in the past been unwilling to co-operate with the farmer organisations to address alleged transgressions collectively. Agri SA's input was largely ignored.

"It is a potentially dangerous situation for agriculture if perceptions are created by the outcomes of impaired research on which policy decisions could be based."

Agri SA would therefore welcome objective and authoritative research into the labour conditions on farms as well as into the drivers of certain trends.

"For this reason Agri SA is consulting with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as an independent body to facilitate such research," Möller said.

Comments
  • tryanything - 2011-08-23 19:15

    Another distraction stunt ...How many Black wine farmers were interviewed...????

      Andrew - 2011-08-23 19:49

      @tryanything... This is no distraction!! I've had a close look at the report and with maybe the exception of wine farms that have made some strides to correct the condition of farm-workers, on the whole farm-workers live in an abusive relationship with farm-owners!! This problem is not unique to SA and is a worldwide problem. So AgriSA must take the condemnation like a man and not start blaming the politicians, but do something real to improve the lot of those that work on farms.

      Andrew - 2011-08-23 19:49

      @tryanything... This is no distraction!! I've had a close look at the report and with maybe the exception of wine farms that have made some strides to correct the condition of farm-workers, on the whole farm-workers live in an abusive relationship with farm-owners!! This problem is not unique to SA and is a worldwide problem. So AgriSA must take the condemnation like a man and not start blaming the politicians, but do something real to improve the lot of those that work on farms.

      tryanything - 2011-08-23 20:15

      Andrew I agree with you but I get the feeling that most of these surveys are possibly orchestrated to a point. Farm workers are not looked after as well as they could be ...A deductable expense to make them feel a little more useful would go a long way for the farmers..My comment was a bit slanted as I believe this survey may have been published a little late.AgriSA like you say should take the bull by the horns by removing the need for articles like these. I would not like to be a farm labourer anywhere. ....

      tryanything - 2011-08-23 20:15

      Andrew I agree with you but I get the feeling that most of these surveys are possibly orchestrated to a point. Farm workers are not looked after as well as they could be ...A deductable expense to make them feel a little more useful would go a long way for the farmers..My comment was a bit slanted as I believe this survey may have been published a little late.AgriSA like you say should take the bull by the horns by removing the need for articles like these. I would not like to be a farm labourer anywhere. ....

      Andrew - 2011-08-24 07:53

      @tryanything...A good reply to my comment! Thanks

  • So What If.. - 2011-08-23 19:26

    At Agri SA. Please remember that the information contained in this document (HRW Report) is totally irrelevant and aimed at creating even further division between black and white in this country. Obviously created by the ANC to try and score points with the (happy) locals in the Western Cape.

      Alex Dowding - 2011-08-23 23:12

      Precisely! Western Cape = the only province targeted for this report. Western Cape = the only province not under ANC rule. Coincidence? I think we all know the answer to that.

  • Babba x - 2011-08-23 19:35

    ANC driven hogwash...

  • Karoobloed - 2011-08-23 19:40

    Letis face it - RSA is on the whole a developing country and farmwokers in the 3rd world do not have excellent working conditions. However, AgriSA could do well to try and improve the working conditions of our labourers. It is the right thing to do.

  • GT - 2011-08-23 19:41

    The alarm bells rang when they reported the wien industry at profitable. The only people that mak money from grapes are government from tax and bottle stores. The industry is halfway to total collapse

  • Davearch - 2011-08-23 21:02

    For goodness sake, if you produce a report NAME the villans so they can be corrected. Typical cowardly report !!

  • Kleinjan - 2011-08-23 21:56

    Automate your wine cellars and get rid of the manual labour. They are causing too much problems. In other words: "Replace them with machines"

  • To The Point - 2011-08-24 00:00

    THE ANC will eventually destroy farming and the majority who support the ANC will suffer most – become jobless – they will starve and experience firsthand what mugabe did to the former food basket of Africa. I do not blame farmers wanting to leave. Africa must learn you cannot sit up a tree and farm. Somalia and other messed up African countries are manmade disasters brought about by unruly independence and foolish greedy corrupt leaders backed by a population of lazy breeders. They must learn you cannot keep raping the land and burning everything there is to cook “pap” from the maize the charitable countries send them. They must realize without putting back what you take from the land it will become a desert. The world will eventually stop feeding these reckless scavenger countries as it becomes more difficult to feed their own. Over populated countries must be taught, having children you know you cannot house, feed and educate is premeditated child abuse. They keep abusing their children hoping the world will see it on the news and rush to feed the parents who will produce the next littler of abused children. The actions, mentality and the behaviour of these people and the striking union members, depict what Africa is and will remain till dooms day. Giving them Chinese wigs and hair extensions will not change their thinking or ways. Why does evolution only take place in the northern hemisphere?

  • To The Point - 2011-08-24 00:03

    THE ANC will eventually destroy farming and the majority who support the ANC will suffer most – become jobless – they will starve and experience firsthand what mugabe did to the former food basket of Africa. I do not blame farmers wanting to leave. Africa must learn you cannot sit up a tree and farm. Somalia and other messed up African countries are manmade disasters brought about by unruly independence and foolish greedy corrupt leaders backed by a population of lazy breeders. They must learn you cannot keep raping the land and burning everything there is to cook “pap” from the maize the charitable countries send them. They must realize without putting back what you take from the land it will become a desert. The world will eventually stop feeding these reckless scavenger countries as it becomes more difficult to feed their own. Over populated countries must be taught, having children you know you cannot house, feed and educate is premeditated child abuse. They keep abusing their children hoping the world will see it on the news and rush to feed the parents who will produce the next littler of abused children. The actions, mentality and the behaviour of these people and the striking union members, depict what Africa is and will remain till dooms day. Giving them Chinese wigs and hair extensions will not change their thinking or ways. Why does evolution only take place in the northern hemisphere?

  • VELOCITY - 2011-08-24 08:32

    Interesting. So what do the HRW have to say about farm killings in SA? What about black on white violence in our suburbs...anything? Any word about the discriminatory and racist employment practises in our economy? Any comment about the withdrawel of funding by the ANC government from old age homes, care centers and NGO's in general? The rape of women and children (babies) in our townships? No credebility I say, tell em to ef off to Somalia and do something worthwhile other than cruising around the wine route in sunny South Africa trawling for easy targets - like the whites.

  • debbie.van.niekerk - 2011-08-26 10:43

    Well done for calling them on it Agri SA. What a bogus report and trust them to only do it in the WC. Hmmmmm NOT a ANC territory...STRANGE that eh.

  • pages:
  • 1