WOSA Questions Bias of Human Rights Watch Report on Wine Farming
Su Birch, CEO of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), has challenged the Human Rights Watch report entitled Ripe with Abuse: Human Rights Conditions in South Africa`s Fruit and Wine Industries. She said the 96-page report, purporting to accurately document conditions on farms, had used a questionable basis for the selection of many of the respondents interviewed in the study, while interviews with workers had not been independently verified and nor had employer reaction to allegations been sought. As a result, it was extremely difficult to respond to specific allegations highlighted by the study.
According to its authors, the report was based on interviews in 2010 and 2011 with “over 260 people, including 117 current or former farmworkers and an additional 16 farm dwellers.”
Birch said: “Readers of the report have no basis for understanding how representative the sample of respondents is. The study relies on anecdotal evidence that uses the cover of respondent protection to avoid substantiating the claims it makes. Moreover, the media release, provocatively entitled South Africa: Farmworkers` Dismal, Dangerous Lives and distributed internationally to announce the report, does not present a sufficiently comprehensive picture of conditions across the wine industry and as a result, is potentially misleading.
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