Winery Employees Strike for Living Wages in South Africa

by Vins
Published: Updated:

The employees of Robertson Winery and other vineyards in South Africa endure long working hours, low wages, and “abysmal” working conditions, according to a November 2016 CorpWatch report. Vineyard workers are paid below the legal minimum wage, discouraged from unionizing, and work in environments that expose them to toxic pesticides. They are housed in dilapidated structures and lack consistent access to clean drinking water.

CorpWatch reports on an ongoing strike by 220 Robertson’s vineyard workers, in the context of a long history of worker exploitation in South Africa’s winery industry. The Robertson workers are demanding a monthly wage of R8,500 ($628). The vineyard has countered with an offer of just R4,000 a month ($295).

The primary source for this article was a Danish documentary, Bitter Grapes—Slavery in the Vineyards, by journalist Tom Heinemann. This documentary made an impact on Danish supermarkets, which removed Robertson wines from their shelves as a result of the conditions exposed in the film.

Source: Richard Smallteacher, “Robertson Winery Accused Of Slavery-Like Practices In South Africa,” CorpWatch, November 4, 2016,

Student Researcher: Sean Minix (Indian River State College)

Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)