The stakeholders* in the Laborie Dialogue Initiative (LDI) has reconfirmed their commitment to establishing a representative multi-stakeholder social dialogue platform. It invited like-minded civil society groups to join them in working towards sustainable transformation of the rural economy and to coordinate and share initiatives to improve the economic viability of the agricultural value-chain, including worker welfare and the livelihood of rural communities.
The LDI unanimously rejects the recent violent strikes and the destruction of property in the Ceres area. Stakeholders agreed that the opportunism and political exploitation for short-term gain that has been experienced in recent years during events like these, should be exposed and that those who make themselves guilty of intimidation, violence and damage of property should be held accountable for their actions. Continued violent and destructive actions are perpetuating historic stereotyping and misperceptions of the various stakeholders at the expense of workers and employers and cannot be condoned.
The LDI calls on the media to fairly report on events in a balanced way. Misinformation and exploitation of vulnerable workers by third parties via the media has been highly problematic in recent years.
The LDI encourages constructive workplace engagement and finding of constructive solutions. The LDI welcomes the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration’s (CCMA) proposed workplace mediation procedure for the agricultural sector which will be piloted in the next 3 – 4 months in the fruit sector in the Western Cape. This pilot forms part of the Fruit Industry Social Compact (FISC) developed by the Fruit Industry Value-Chain Round Table (FIVCRT) process under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and Fruit South Africa.
A similar round table has been established by the wine sector recently. Where appropriate common issues such as the development and implementation of best practices and procedures to deal with many rural challenges will be addressed jointly by the two round tables.
The LDI is considering approaches by various stakeholders to join the original group to work towards inclusiveness and fast track similar processes on a national, provincial and regional level. Stakeholders are convinced that joint and transparent initiatives such as the LDI is the only way to pave the way towards a new dispensation through which huge socio-economic challenges in rural areas could be addressed.
Anton Rabe, HORTGRO: 083 453 3422
Katishi Masemola, FAWU: 082 467 2509
Rico Basson, VinPro: 082 698 4761
* The LDI was formalised in June 2015 when the industry organisations Vinpro and HORTGRO representing the wine and deciduous fruit industries respectively, and FAWU (Food and Allied Workers’ Union) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The parties are committed to six focus areas, namely Economic Development; Social Development and Upliftment, Human Resource Development; Market Access, Development and Trade Promotion; Knowledge Management and Information Systems; and Technical Research, Transfer and Intelligence. The CCMA agreed to participate with the initiative, whilst AWETUC, representing several unaligned unions, are currently considering joining the LDI formally. AWETUC has attended a number of LDI meetings in recent months.