South Africa: Hortgro calls for compliance in ag industry

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South Africa: Hortgro calls for compliance in ag industry

Representatives of South Africa's deciduous fruit industry reaffirmed their commitment to worker welfare and compliance with labor legislation.grapes mixed in box _ ffp

Industry body Hortgro emphasized the Sustainability Initiative of South Africa, in particular, as a means of enforcing the minimum wage and preventing human rights abuses.

SIZA, established in 2012, is gaining ground as a unifying body for fruit industry audits in South Africa. The body encourages compliance with labor practices by providing tools and guidelines to members, as well as a self-assessment system for producers to complement third-party audits.

Hortgro CEO Anton Rabe encouraged utilization of SIZA, stating that the industry would proactively enforce standards and would not tolerate violations of the minimum wage.

"The fruit sector has an independent, legitimate and transparent national platform in SIZA through which compliance with labour standards can be measured and demonstrated by individual producers.

"SIZA is widely recognised by international and domestic trade stakeholders and will be able to provide facts and statistics relating to compliance with labour legislation, health and safety issues, as well as minimum wages," Rabe said.

In practice, the system should differentiate non-compliant employers from the compliant, Rabe added.

HortGro highlighted the need to clear up false perceptions against the agricultural industry, "by removing the space for opportunists and those wishing to destroy the agri-sector by continued manipulation of public perceptions based on half-truths, rhetoric, populist statements and generalisations based on exceptions."

The organization outlined a nine-point pledge including rejection of worker exploitation, encouragement of pay above the minimum wage, commitment to SIZA and support of clear "rules of engagement" for stakeholders.

"If any cases of non-compliance are found, HORTGRO has undertaken to assist its members to ensure corrective action is taken. Any unilateral behaviour by employers to negatively adjust the working and wage conditions of workers contra to the parameters contained within legislation, will not be tolerated," the organization said.

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