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Published:  23 July, 2008

South Africa's Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association (WIETA), which was set up at the end of last year to improve the lot of the country's vineyard workforce, has appointed prominent labour law and labour relations consultant Nicky Taylor as its first CEO. As the programme co-ordinator of the initial pilot study, Taylor played a key role in the formation of WIETA, whose stakeholders include the national Government, organised labour, wine growers, wine producers and NGOs. The Association is funded from membership levies and monies derived from the export of duty-free wines to EU countries (42 million litres are currently exempt from the Common Customs Tariff), which is then handed over to WIETA by importers and supermarkets. The UK body the Ethical Trade Initiative UK (ETI) has also made 25,000 available for 2003. Su Birch, CEO of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), a charter member, said: Apart from the obvious moral imperative that has driven its establishment, we are confident that protection of worker rights and better working conditions will lead to greater productivity and improved quality output, which can only enhance our competitive advantage internationally. And this holds true for other agri-producers operating globally,' she said. WIETA's code covers such issues as child and forced labour, the working environment, alcohol dependence, freedom of association, housing, discrimination and wages. The right to bargain collectively is also enshrined in the code. In addition to the start-up costs for running the body, the first 40,000 of the 80,000 committed by the UK trade to WIETA for 2003 will also be used to appoint and train an independent social auditing team to monitor compliance with WIETA's code of best practice. Other projects on which this money will be spent include workshops; the creation of a manual to support producers in their adherence; and helping workers understand their rights. Money will also be made available to finance the travelling to the UK of labour and NGO representatives, who are to participate in an international Ethical Trade Initiative Conference to be held in London. They will present the WIETA model to delegates from all over the world. * For more on South Africa, see Tim Atkin's feature.