Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association (WIETA)

The South African agricultural industry is a rapidly growing industry that is making significant progress in acquiring greater market share in a very competitive global environment. Industry has since adopted ethical parameters by which it has come to measure its impact in tackling many of the widespread development challenges affecting those employed in the sector.

Background to the establishment of WIETA

WIETA was formally established in November 2002. The association arose out of an Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) pilot project in the wine industry. The pilot not only assisted the ETI and South African partners in learning about, developing and refining inspection methodologies in monitoring their base code, but was instrumental in bringing together stakeholders in the wine industry of the Western Cape to discuss and debate issues around ethical trade.

What is WIETA

WIETA is a not for profit, voluntary association of many different stakeholders, who are committed to the promotion of ethical trade, at first in the wine sector, and now in agriculture as a whole. Stakeholders include producers, retailers, trade unions, non-governmental organisations and government.

Mission Statement

WIETA's mission is to improve the working conditions of employees in agriculture by:
  • Formulating and adopting a code of good practice governing employment standards for those involved in primary growing and secondary production operations;
  • Promoting the adoption of and adherence to the code of good practice amongst all producers and growers;
  • Educating producers and workers on the provisions of the code;
  • Appointing independent social auditors to ensure that members of the association observe and implement the code of good practice;
  • Determining ways of encouraging implementation of and compliance with the code and determining measures to be taken in the case of non-compliance with the code.

What is contained in the WIETA code?
The code contains the following important principles:
  • Child labour shall not be utilised
  • Employment shall be freely chosen
  • The right to a healthy and safe working environment
  • The right to freedom of association
  • The right to a living wage
  • Working hours shall not be excessive
  • Harsh or inhumane treatment is prohibited
  • Unfair discrimination is prohibited
  • Regular employment shall be provided
  • Worker's housing and tenure security rights will be respected
The code is based on the ETI base code and South African legislation, and sets out in more detail what each of the above principles entails within the agricultural context.


The auditing team
WIETA has appointed a team of 16 social auditors, who are contracted to work for the organisation on a part time, independent contractual basis. These persons have been appointed in consultation with the various stakeholders represented on the executive. The social auditors are familiar with the sector, have an excellent understanding of employment legislation and its practical implementation.

The pre audit phase

The lead up to the audit is carefully planned and gives sufficient time to the team to seek information from producers, for the producer to prepare information, and for the inspection team to then digest and use this in planning the actual inspection.

Carrying out the audit
On the day of the inspection, the team will hold a briefing meeting with management and workers, or worker representatives. These could be either union representatives, or where none is active, worker-elected representatives, including at least one man and one woman who should be asked to ensure that their colleagues understand the process. This briefing meeting allows an explanation of the procedures and ensures that, where management did not pre-inform workers of the inspection, they have some understanding of the purpose and process.


All information obtained from management on terms and conditions of employment is verified through:
  • A series of private interviews with a representative sample of employees (men and women of different job grades and languages, and permanent and temporary employees),
  • A review of the documentation kept by management, and
  • An inspection of the workplace and housing allocated to workers.
Reporting back on the findings
After the interviews and the workplace and records have been reviewed, the team will meet separately to agree upon the day's findings. Thereafter, the team will hold a closing meeting with the farm or producer participants who were present at the opening meeting.


The WIETA audit committee meets on a monthly basis to discuss the accreditation of members. This team comprises one trade union, one producer, one Department of Labour and one NGO rep on the WIETA exco. The group look at blind copies (i.e. without company names) of the audit reports, improvement plan and verification details, and makes a final decision about the accreditation of the member concerned based on the documentation submitted to it. A member will be accredited where the audit report reveals that it complies in full with the code, or where an improvement plan, signed off by both parties, stipulates the steps that have been taken subsequent to the audit to rectify any non compliance. If the WIETA accreditation committee feels that non-compliances are not yet fully addressed, or that verification is incomplete, it will request further discussion with the member concerned to reach agreement on accreditation.

Download "Overview" of WIETA (pdf format).
Tel: +27.218552374   Fax: +27.218552373   Email:  
Corner of Winery Road and R44 , Between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, 7600, South Africa