One of the main achievements of the CSAAWU in 2017 was the work around ethical standards. The union together with partners in Scandanaivian countries managed to raise awareness amongst union/solidarity partners that the ethical label on wine that are sold in the countries do not meet all the ethical standards that are challenged. The basis of ethical trade and Fair Trade initiatives is to ensure that basic minimum social conditions are met as a minimum barrier to entry into markets. Codes of conduct are developed, setting out the standards to be adhered to, and those who sign a code agree to some kind of verification process.

Wine exports are the single largest agricultural export from South Africa. Europe is the largest market for South African exports, with the UK, Germany and Sweden the top three destinations by volume (Sawis, 2011). At the base of the wine industry are many small supplier farms that sell to wine producers (cellars). Cellars have become concentrated among large corporate producer-wholesalers who buy grapes in bulk to produce wine. 

Given that CSAAWU members are mainly working on wine and fruit farms understanding and engaging in ethical standards are key.

The union started to focus on:

Business Social Compliance Initiative or BSCI Code2), adopted in 2012 by Systembolaget, the Swedish state-owned alcohol retail monopoly, in the distribution of value and power in the chain; and these monopolies collaborate on the BSCI Code of Conduct. Systembolaget functions as regulator as well as monopoly owner of alcohol retail.

·      WIETA (Wine Industries Ethical Trust Association) Wieta is no more than a codi cation of existing law, incentivising industry to comply with the law. Therefore, the meeting of Wieta’s standards does not imply a transformation of labour relations in the industry but merely requires producers to do what they should already be doing by law. 

·      Fair Trade- this is also an ethical code but works slightly differently to the other codes.

CSAAWU has participated in meetings and workshops organised by these three standard settings boards. We have engaged them about the quality of the audits that are conducted on farms and about transparency.

The CSAAWU “ethical wine campaign” is an attempt to demand proper standards and expose the hypocrisy of the audits and the lack of compliance of the farmers and wine producers.

In 2017, CSAAWU leaders were hosted in Norway, Sweden, Germany and Denmark on speakers tours to build awareness of the contradictions in the wine industry and build solidarity.