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The VinPro board has decided to renew its support for Wieta (Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association) as a vehicle for ethical trade accreditation in the wine industry, and lifted its moratorium on a subsidy of R2 500 per producer or cellar obtaining full Wieta accreditation.

This follows a withdrawal by VinPro in November 2012 of its support to Wieta, as well as its subsidy, due to involvement of certain interest groups serving on the Wieta board in incidents of violence and intimidation that accompanied farm worker strikes.

After due consideration by its board, VinPro informed its members that good progress has been made to reposition Wieta, including:

  • Stronger producer representation through two VinPro/WCSA representatives and one primary producer representative, along with Salba and Wosa board members.
  • Setting up and enforcing a code of conduct and stricter corporate governance, which require greater accountability of individuals and their organisations and will ensure the confidentiality of producers’ information.
  • Alignment of the Wieta code with Labour Legislation and international codes.

“VinPro is satisfied that the code of conduct will allay fears of negative actions by board members as far as possible. It will also require that all representatives and their organisations regulate actions that counter the Wieta code or SA Labour Legislation and practice corporate responsibility,” said VinPro executive director, Rico Basson.

“The structure of the broadly representative Wieta board has been put together according to the specific organisations and not individuals. Neither VinPro nor any other participating group could dictate which individuals should be nominated by the respective stakeholders.

“The influence of the international market on the long-term sustainability of the South African wine producer cannot be emphasised enough. This due to increasing pressure from the overseas wine trade for ethically acceptable practices.”

VinPro emphasised that participation in Wieta is a voluntary choice.

At the Wieta annual general meeting at the end of May, the producer’s voice was strengthened by the following representation: VinPro, WCSA, Salba, Wosa and a primary producer representative. VinPro will thus be represented by two individuals once VinPro and WCSA’s merger has been finalised. Labour representatives include Bawusa, Fawu, Women on Farms and the Centre for Rural and Legal Studies.