Sunday, August 28, 2011

Abuse in fruit farms in South Africa

Farmers who make significant contributions to the production of South Africa's fruits and wine reportedly face abuse in the Western Cape province, where they are denied fundamental rights, including the right to adequate housing, safety and health. They lack basic necessities like toilets and drinking water.

Human Rights Watch reports that there are attempts to stop farm workers in the Western Cape from forming Unions. [Source]. This is in violation of workers' right to organize, provided in the Constitution on South Africa and international conventions such as the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention that was ratified by South Africa in February 1996.

According to Human Rights Watch, farm workers in the Western Cape work under dangerous occupational safety and health conditions and the government has failed to protect them from exploitation and abuse, despite the fact that the country benefits enormously from fruit and wine industries - powered by the workers.

The following video by Human Rights Watch, shines light on the plight of farm workers in the Western Cape of South Africa.

South Africa is a respected member of the International Labour Organization (ILO), a UN agency that promotes social justice and labour rights.

The government recognizes, at least on paper, the need to protect workers from poor working conditions, exploitation and other forms of abuse. Reports of widespread workers' abuse in modern-day South Africa damages the image of the "rainbow nation" abroad. The government should take steps to restore the dignity of farm workers in the Western Cape.

Human Rights Watch recently published a detailed report about untold violation of workers' rights in the Western Cape. The 96-page report, titled "Ripe with Abuse: Human Rights Conditions in South Africa's Fruit and Wine Industiries" (pdf format) includes photographs of some of the dilapidated structures where farm workers live.
Photo source: BBC.

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