Working conditions of WC farmworkers under the spotlight

Authorities in the WC are expected to investigate conditions at several wine farms.

Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA.

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Labour Department plans on conducting inspections at several wine farms across the province to check the working conditions of farmworkers.

This comes after the department served non-compliance notices to five farms in the Robertson and Drakenstein areas after finding them guilty of not complying with certain labour laws, such as clean drinking water for farm workers and protective gear.

The companies will have to ensure the issues are corrected within 60 days or face prosecution.

The inspections follows allegations of poor working conditions on wine farms raised in the Danish documentary Bitter Grapes: Slavery in the Vineyards.

The department's chief inspector David Esau says following these findings, they will now be conducting inspections at other wine farms.

“We wanted to check whether these farms were the exception to the rule so we want to visit about 10 farms. We also want to do a comparison to see what the general state of compliance is on these farms.”

Meanwhile, the provincial Economic Opportunities and Tourism MEC Alan Winde says the department will work together with other stakeholders to act decisively against farms where these type of issues are found.

“We were made aware that social workers were on site in a number of these cases. We want to make use the social workers as eyes and ears to deal with these transgressions, as we want to deal with these transgressions.”

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)