South Africa: unified norms encouraged in face of labor unrest

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South Africa: unified norms encouraged in face of labor unrest

South Africa has launched its first unified farm production audit this month in an effort to bring together workers from across the supply chain under set norms.

The Sustainability Initiative of South Africa (SIZA), managed by Fruit South Africa, aligns international and local standards. It enables the agricultural industry to assess practices through one clear system and eliminates the need for multiple audits.

Colleen Chennells of Fruit South Africa said the program launch comes at an important time, marked by two weeks of violent labor unrest in Western Cape. She emphasized the necessity to bring together workers from all levels of production under a common vision.

"In light of the demonstrations that have taken place in the past two weeks, the need for a program like SIZA has become actually even more apparent. To get everybody onto the same page. To get everybody buying into one standard, one code, one vision. In a strange way it’s sort of highlighted the need for SIZA," she told

A key part of the SIZA program is worker consultation.

"It’s about actual workers too. It’s about bringing more people to the table, defining what the issues are. The second part of why I think it will make a difference is, once you start getting information later down to our data platform, we can start finding out where the issues are, what the issues are," she said.

SIZA works in various steps including training, self-assessment and a third-party ethical audit that integrates worker opinion. The system helps farms identify risk and determine ethical compliance with the goal of informing industry efforts to improve.

The program hopes to register 500 farm sites in the first year and 2,000 in the first three years. Beyond actual farms, the program seeks to involve importers, exporters, retailers and NGOs.

Chennells said the program is currently focusing on growth. A series of information sessions are scheduled throughout the country to encourge greater membership. The non-for-profit program will use membership fees to support projects related to ethical matters in the industry.

Related stories: South Africa launches standarized audits for fruit industry

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