Concrete improvements in working conditions through continuous work

The working conditions at South African vineyards have been addressed in the media and among stakeholders in recent years. The continuous discussion around this theme and the consequent measures have led to concrete improvements in working conditions. Altia, too, engages in continuous work to develop the responsibility of its supply chains.

In late 2016, a group of journalists reported on the shortcomings in working conditions in South African vineyards. According to the documentary, aired in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark, there were shortcomings related to housing conditions, for instance, as well as wages and deductions made from wages.

Since late 2016, work has been done to investigate and improve working conditions. We have regularly met with other relevant importers and our customers to follow-up the situation and the progress in corrective actions by relevant producers in South Africa. At the request of customers and on our own initiative, we have mapped our supply chains all the way to the origin of the grapes, and have asked our wine suppliers to respond to our corporate responsibility questionnaire to get up-to-date information on how they work in terms of responsibility. We have also discussed the subject with our suppliers and partners.

During 2017, Altia’s customers commissioned several amfori BSCI audits and targeted audits to be carried out at South African wineries and vineyards. The audits and reports show that challenges still exist at some sites, for example in relation to occupational health and safety, and working hours, while also good practices have come up at other sites, for example comparing paid salaries to living wage and the consideration of occupational safety as part of remuneration. The measures taken since 2016 have also resulted in concrete improvements, including for example improvements in housing conditions for workers, corrections to the practices for wage deductions and, improvements in safety when handling chemicals.

The majority of Altia’s South African suppliers and partners have been audited in accordance with the amfori BSCI Code of Conduct (formerly the BSCI Code of Conduct) during 2015–2017. In April 2017, Altia itself became a member of amfori BSCI to improve its possibilities and capabilities to develop responsible sourcing. amfori brings together over 2,000 companies operating in the sectors of retail trade, wholesale trade and importing, and, through amfori BSCI initiative, offers its members training and tools for developing social responsibility in supply chains.