The impact of Fairtrade on the quality of life of workers on wine estates in the Western Cape Province, South Africa
Fairtrade is an international organisation aimed at creating empowerment, sustainable livelihoods and fair trading opportunities for small-scale producers and hired labourers in the Global South. The organisation Fairtrade International and its independent certification body FLO-CERT form part of the larger Fair Trade movement. As South Africa's wine industry is still characterized by oppression of its farm workers, the organisation urges for a profound transformation of the industry. Fairtrade's engagement in South Africa is unique as it emerged from an initiative of local producers seeking the certification in 2003. Since then, the number of Fairtrade grape and wine farms has steadily increased and expanded to other wine-producing countries. Thus, after more than ten years of Fairtrade operation in this industry, it is worthwhile evaluating the impact of this international initiative on local farm workers on wine estates. This study uses the capability approach as a theoretical platform from which to assess farm workers' quality of life. The investigation draws a comparison between conditions for workers on Fairtrade-certified farms and conditions for workers on non-certified wine estates. Quantitative research methods were used to gather relevant information. The findings prove the hypothesis of a positive impact of the Fairtrade intervention, but only in certain categories. Labourers on Fairtrade-certified farms were found to be better off concerning financial provision for retirement, contractual status and opportunities to participate in professional training and to join unions. The data furthermore supports the hypothesis that Fairtrade workers are more satisfied with their jobs on wine farms. For further research, longitudinal studies and participatory research approaches are recommended to obtain in depth-information about farm workers' views on Fairtrade.