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MEC launches investigation into wine industry work conditions

| Wine and liquor

The Western Cape MEC of economic opportunities Alan Winde will investigate allegations of dire employment conditions for those working in the wine industry after a documentary by a Danish filmmaker painted a bleak picture showing the exploitation of employees.

Reports emerged of some Danish businesses boycotting the sale of South African wines after the airing of Tom Heinemann's documentary in Sweden and Denmark last week.

Winde in a statement on Tuesday said the allegations are viewed in a serious light.
"I have directed my department to investigate the matter further and submit an interim report to my office within the next two weeks. The Western Cape government stands firmly behind the rule of law in all cases," he said.
The wine industry nationally provides 289 000 jobs and is an important employer, especially in rural areas, Winde explained.

"To offer assistance to workers in the agriculture sector, the Western Cape government has put in place a dedicated support unit which immediately investigates any instances of employee-employer grievances brought to its attention.

"We have world-class wine farms and programmes that ensure ethical and globally recognised best practice. Issues in this industry are not the norm, and we therefore take very seriously any matters raised with us."

Winde said non-profit company VinPro, along with industry bodies, labour and the provincial government, would engage with stakeholders, including Danish retail and the Swedish liquor authority, Systembolaget.

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