Cosatu’s retail boycott threats empty

Cosatu has warned that it would ensure a retail boycott against farmers unwilling to pay their workers R150/day.

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“There are plans to have farmers who want to continue paying their farm workers R69 a day identified through the Ethical Trade Initiative [ETI] and for an economic boycott of ‘bad farmers’ in local and international retailers,” said Tony Ehrenreich, Cosatu’s Western Cape provincial secretary.

The ETI was an organisation based in London that encouraged brands, retailers and their suppliers to take responsibility for improving the working conditions of the people who made the products they sold. As of 15 January 2013 they had not received any communication from Cosatu requesting a boycott of produce from farms that were not paying their workers R150/day.

South African retailer Pick n Pay has indicated that they would not boycott farmers unless they went against labour laws, which currently stipulated the minimum wage as being R69 per day.

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Neal Quirk, director of operations at Pick n Pay said that their policy was to deal only with suppliers who comply in full with all provisions of South African labour legislation. “We conduct regular audits of our suppliers regarding their employment practices.”