NEWS
24/11/2016 15:51 GMT | Updated 24/11/2016 18:02 GMT

14-Week Strike At Robertson Winery Finally Ends

It took an international documentary and boycotts to end the strike.

David Harrison/Gallo Images
Management says it is

The 14-week strike at Robertson Winery has ended. Farmworkers will return to work on Monday after agreeing to an eight percent or R400 increase — whichever is greater.

The Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU) secured backdated pay to 8 August 2016, and a full annual bonus for the workers. The bonus would be paid on Friday.

The agreement makes provision for increases in 2017 and 2018 of (consumer price index) CPI, plus 1.5 percent and 1 percent respectively.

Under the agreement, disciplinary action would not be taken against strike leaders, according to CSAAWU. The strike was accompanied by boycotts and garnered international attention. The Sunday Times reported a month ago that supermarkets in Denmark pulled the winery's products off its shelves after a documentary exposed allegations of slave labour at the winery.

150% increase 'implausible and impossible'

In a statement, CSAAWU said that, although they had not been successful in their demand for R8,500 a month, the wine industry would never be the same.

CSAAWU had previously said that the company's workers earned between R2,900 and R3,500 a month, before deductions.

According to Robertson Winery, the cost-to-company of an employee following the strike agreement will now be R4,264 per month.

"Some of the poorest paid workers in this country have mobilised a strike for more than three months in a sector where strikes are unheard of," CSAAWU said.

"Some of the poorest paid workers in this country have mobilised a strike for more than three months in a sector where strikes are unheard of."

Robertson Winery Managing Director Anton Cilliers said CSAAWU's demand for an increase of 150% was "implausible and impossible to consider".

He said management was "committed to the overall improvement of the lives of all our employees" and that employees received free medical services and access to housing loans and subsidies "where applicable".

Cilliers said the winery would engage with CSAAWU to improve their relationship.

— GroundUp