[LISTEN] The bittersweet story behind transformation in the wine industry

We know from the revolts along the wine routes in 2012, and documentaries highlighting the living conditions of farm workers that the wine industry doesn't paint a pretty picture.

In a discussion hosted by Koketso Sechane, Standing in for Eusebius Mckaiser, manager of transformation and development at Vinpro, Phillip Bowes says that there have been significant improvements for wine farmers, but Graham Knox from Township Winery, called him out by saying that he’s being selective and strongly opportunistic.

Bowes says that the topic at hand is crucial and should be taken seriously. He adds that there are going to be some strong implications as the DTI Minister has signed off on some recent amendments.

The wine industry is lagging behind in many respects in terms of transformation and demographic transformation.

Phillip Bowes, manager of transformation and development

What I do know though is that there are significant improvements in terms of some of the approaches we have seen to transformation.

Phillip Bowes, manager of transformation and development

In response to Bowes statement, Township Winery’s Graham Knox had this to say:

I think it’s important that we understand that whatever transformation took place in the lives of farm workers has been paid for in blood.

Graham Knox, township winery

Knox says that nothing was granted to farm workers as thousands of seasonal workers are still unemployed due to the vindictive nature of the owners.

We have developed a document called the Farm Workers Rights Charter and that charter has already been presented to the wine and food industry.

Graham Knox, township winery

These industries were involved during the process of developing the charter says Knox. He adds that the character could revolutionalise the lives of farm workers.

My advice to Mr Bowes is that they should not be selective in choosing which elements they are using says Knox. He adds that he fundamentally differs with Bowes statements.

We perceive this an being opportunistic in identifying the softer issues in the codes.

Graham Knox, township winery

Knox says that they had serious problems with three wine projects because they were labelled to the world as empowerment projects, but they were solely dependent on the white farmer and the white business man.

Listen to some more disputes in the audio below...


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